Authentic materials can be described as anything created for native speakers of a language both on paper and online. Newspapers, brochures, TV shows, songs, restaurant menus, this list can go on and on. Authentic materials enable language learners to interact with the real language and content rather than the form, that has a positive effect on learner motivation and relate more closely to learners’ needs. Besides, authentic materials contain cultural aspects and they are highly effective when we aim to raise the cultural awareness.
The idea of using authentic materials with language learners has long been accepted among ESL practitioners. In today’s digitalized world the availability of authentic materials for students and teachers has increased tremendously. The main disadvantage of having such an immense virtual library at the click of your mouse is that visiting many separate websites can take a long time.
Aggregation technology helps to consolidate many websites into one page that can show the new or updated information from many sites.
For example, using www.indeed.ca website alone you can get access to job postings that are listed on job boards, newspaper sites, and niche sites. It collects millions of job ads and puts them all in one place where job seekers can search for any job they want, anywhere they want to work.
If you are discussing housing with your learners, check out www.padmapper.com. It aggregates listings from various online sources including Craigslist and Kijiji. Then, it displays all these listings on an interactive map creating a unique platform for you and your learners to work on vocabulary or speaking activities.
You do not need restaurant takeout menus in your class any more. Just go online to www.skipthedishes.ca and local restaurants using the service will pop up on screen. Browse dozens of restaurants by types of cuisine, choose their dishes within a click… and discuss them with your learners.
These websites and numerous other aggregation websites help you locate resources you need with minimum efforts to create endless number of tasks for your learners from ordering food for a potluck to writing cover letters and applying for a job… with a hidden agenda to prepare them for life in Canada, to introduce them to Canadian culture, and to help them improve their English language skills.
See you online!