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The Pros and Cons of Using Authentic vs. Graded Material in Second Language

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of using authentic materials and authenticity in foreign language is also increasing day by day in the outside world or in classrooms as well while teaching English as a second language. Authentic materials are texts or speech samples that are generated in the real world by native speakers for native speakers.

This could include newspaper articles, street signs, menus, etc.

On the other hand, graded materials are texts or speech samples that have been specifically designed for foreign language learners. They are often simplifications of authentic materials.

When designing a lesson or creating a curriculum, language teachers have to make many decisions. One of these decisions is whether to use authentic or graded material. So, what’s the difference between the two? And what are the pros and cons of using authentic vs. graded materials in classrooms while teaching English as a second language? Keep reading to find out!

Note: You can also upgrade and become a master of teaching English as a second language in any country with confidence with our recommended 500 Hour Advanced Post Graduate Diploma in TESOL/TEFL course.

What is the difference between authentic and graded material?

Authentic materials are text, audio, or video material that exists in the real world, rather than having been designed for language learners. This kind of material is not simplified or censored, which means they will better expose students to language as it is used in the real world.

Graded materials, on the other hand, have been specifically designed for language learners with variations in the complexity of the material depending on the proficiency level of the student.

For example, graded materials may have a simplified vocabulary and grammar or added annotations to help learners understand the context. Graded materials also often come with built-in opportunities for practice and reinforcement.

The pros of using authentic material

Authentic materials are fantastic tools to jumpstart your students’ language learning. They provide a realistic portrait of how language is used and thoughts are expressed in the real world, which can be beneficial to learners. This form of material also acts as a source of motivation for learners by exposing them to real texts and therefore giving them a goal to aspire to when it comes to their language learning.

Authentic materials are also a fantastic supplement to language learning that requires fewer resources to access than other forms of material. All you need is an internet connection to access a wealth of material ranging from podcasts and online newspapers to online videos and clips of television shows.

The cons of using authentic material

One of the major drawbacks of using authentic materials is the lack of structure and guidance that many language learners need to succeed. This is because authentic materials are not designed with language learners in mind and as such, they rarely offer any form of guidance or help to make sense of them. This can often lead to frustration and confusion among learners as they struggle to understand the material. Additionally, authentic materials often contain elements of the language that are difficult or beyond the level that most language learners are at. This means that they may struggle to access the more complex aspects of the language they are presented with.

The pros of using graded material

Graded materials, on the other hand, provide a great deal of structure and guidance for learners. These materials are designed specifically to meet the needs of language learners and as such, they often come with much built-in support such as explanatory notes, built-in practice and reinforcement exercises, and other helpful features to make them easily digestible.

Additionally, graded materials are often tailored to particular language levels, making it easier for language learners to identify the material accessible to them according to their level.

The cons of using graded material

The major downside of using graded material is that it is often overly simplified and censored. This means that the language used in graded material does not reflect the complexity and subtle nuances of real-world language. This can limit a language learner’s ability to understand and use the language in the real world as they may lack the necessary skills and knowledge to do so.

Additionally, some learners may struggle to access the simplified language used in graded materials, as they may struggle to relate the materials to the real world, making them less engaging.

So, which learning material should you use?

The answer to this question is not simple as it ultimately depends on the individual language learner and their needs. For an inexperienced learner, graded materials may be the better choice as they provide more structure and guidance.

However, as they become more proficient it is important to introduce them to authentic materials then as this will better expose them to real-world language. In summary, authentic and graded material, both have their pros and cons and it is important to consider both when planning for your language learners. At the very least, it is important to provide a balance of the two to ensure that your learners are getting the best of both worlds.

In case, if you’re an aspirant ESL teacher or an experienced one who wants to master and upgrade their teaching English skill then we do recommend you our 500 Hour International Advanced Post Graduate Diploma in TESOL/TEFL, which will definitely help you to achieve your teaching goals.


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