India is a vast country with different languages in different parts of the country. These regional languages differ from each other so much so that it is not possible to communicate with the people of other regions of the country. English is important in India due to the following reasons:
- There are more than sixteen hundred languages in India. English bridges this gap and connects people of one region to the other.
- English is important for international relations, trade and commerce and is the language of diplomacy.
- Most of the books of science and technology are written in English. Therefore, English is a key to learning and acquisition of scientific knowledge.
- English promotes tourism and propagates our cultural heritage.
- English is a window to the world of internet.
- It puts forth our views strongly before the world and makes us world citizens.
- It offers a lot of avenues for employment.
Materials Used in English Language Teaching
The teaching of any subject is usually based on an analysis of the nature of the subject, teaching and learning principles rooted in research and theory related to psychology of education and philosophy of education. Any teaching-learning enterprise deals with syllabus, approaches/methods, materials and evaluation. In this article we shall deal with teaching-learning materials. Materials play an important role in teaching any subject. In teaching a language, two types of materials are used: Materials for Classroom Teaching: These materials are exclusively prepared for teaching a language, for example textbook/s etc and Authentic Materials such as pamphlets and brochures, which are meant for purposes other than teaching but are also used in a language classroom.
Materials for Classroom Teaching: These materials are prepared by the English language experts to fulfill the needs of learners. They provide standard information but there are monotonous. They fail to motivate the learners and promotes teacher burnout and nor do they provide contextual/situational or real world language. Hence, it is necessary for the English language teachers to develop their own materials according to the needs of learners and societal demands.
Authentic Materials: Authentic materials have real language. In order to achieve the objectives of English language teaching it is important for the English language teachers to exploit other materials around them according to the needs of learners and to create interest in them. These materials are effective and easily available.
Authentic materials provide resources for ELT teachers and offer them the opportunity to expose learners to materials produced for real life and out of classroom contexts. The focus is on the message and means and context are often used to help to communicate it. If teachers use authentic texts sensibly, they provide learners with alternatives to learn real English usage.
Sources of Authentic Materials: There are a lot of sources for authentic materials, which are economic and easily available every time and everywhere. They are: Agony Columns, Audio Cassettes, Brochures, Cartoons, Comics, Currency, Directories, Greeting Cards, Images, Internet, Invitation Cards, Advertisements, Journals, Magazines, Maps, Menus, Movies, News Papers, Notices, Post-Cards, Pictures, Product Labels, Puppets, Recipe, Songs, Stamps, TV Programmes, Tickets, Wall Papers, Weather Reports etc.
Advantages of Using Authentic Materials
There are a lot of advantages of using authentic materials in English language classrooms. They provide situational language and students are exposed to real discourse. Not only are they interesting for learners but are also very helpful in developing social language skills. Authentic materials develop creativity among teachers as well as learners and are highly motivating. They provide knowledge of real situations of life and make the learners aware of these situations. They develop ability of interpretation and are very economic and easily available everywhere. These are helpful in minimizing the level of hesitation among the learners and not only can the same material can be used to teach different classes but also encourage the learners to read for pleasure.
Research Methodology: This is a qualitative study. It uses percentages to draw conclusions.
Objectives: The objectives of the study are to find out if the teachers are aware about authentic materials and whether they use such materials in the classroom. What kinds of materials are used and the difficulties faced in using these materials.
- Do the English language teachers of secondary schools of Hyderabad know about authentic materials?
- Do they use them in English language classrooms? If yes, what kind of authentic materials do they use in teaching English? Give examples.
- Which type of authentic materials do they find more useful and motivating in teaching English?
- When and how do they use these materials?
- What kind of difficulties do they face in using authentic materials?
- What is the reaction of the Head Master, when the teachers use these materials?
- What is their opinion about authentic materials after using them?
Tools: The study uses open-ended questionnaire for data collection. The questionnaire has eight questions.
Sample: 30 English language teachers were selected from 19 secondary schools. The teachers were selected on the basis of simple random sampling.
Analysis and Interpretation: The analyses are done in a sequential order.
What do you know about Authentic Materials?
In response to this question, 50% of the total teachers affirmed that they were aware of authentic materials.
Do you use them in English language classroom? If 'Yes', what kind of authentic materials do you use in teaching English? Give example.
In response to this question, it was observed that 30% of the total teachers were using news papers, 10% of them use magazines and news papers, 10% use pictures, 3.33% use T.V. News, 3.33% use Audio Tapes, 3.33% use story books while 3.33% use story cards.
Which type of authentic material do you find more useful and motivating in teaching English?
In response to this question, 26.67% opined that news papers are more useful and motivating, 3.33% favoured pictures, 3.33% favoured audio-video tapes, 3.33% story books while 3.33% opined that T.V. News are more useful and motivating.
When do you use these materials?
36.67% teacher informed that they use it during teaching while 10% of the total teachers use authentic materials after teaching, 3.33% use it any time.
How do you use these materials?
In response to this question, 10% of the total teachers mentioned that they use articles from magazines and newspapers for reading. 3.33% give projects based on authentic materials, 6.67% show pictures and ask the students to explain them while 30% teachers' views were not clear about it.
What kind of difficulties do you face in using authentic materials?
3.33% opined that it is time consuming, 3.33% felt due to technical problems it becomes difficult, 26.67% opined that it is very difficult for learners with poor language background while 3.33% opined they didn't face any difficulty in using authentic materials.
What is the reaction of the Head Master / School Manager, when you use these materials?
46.67% of the total teachers responded that the Head Master / School Manager appreciate and encourage it while 3.33% teachers' views were not clear about it.
What is your opinion about authentic materials after using them?
43.33% of the total teachers' opined that if authentic materials are used properly, it can be very useful for English Language Teaching. These materials improve the speaking skills and make English Language Learning interesting.
The following research was done for the survey of use of authentic materials by the English language teachers of secondary schools of Hyderabad. The following conclusion can be drawn from it:
- It has been found that only 50% of teachers are aware of authentic materials.
- Most of the teachers use news papers as authentic materials.
- It shows that it is more beneficial for those students whose educational background and previous knowledge is better.
- The school administration has a positive attitude towards authentic materials.
- According to the teachers using authentic materials, authentic materials are causation of co-operation and motivation among students.
- These materials promote ability of conversation and explanation of the students.
- These materials make the teaching learning process interesting.
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Mr. Md. Shakil Akhtar is Lecturer in Education at R. M. College of Education, Saharsa, Bihar. His area of interests are ELT, and developing authentic materials.
Dr. D. Vishwa Prasad is Assistant Professor of Education at Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad. His areas of interest are ELT, innovative pedagogies, and teacher education