Materials should be clearly linked to the curriculum they serve. The curriculum cycle below illustrates the three phases of the curriculum development.
- Authentic materials refer to the use in teaching of texts, e.g. photographs, video selections and other teaching resources, that were not specially prepared for pedagogic purposes.
- Created materials refer to textbooks and other specially developed instructional resources.
Phillips and Shettlesworth, 1978; Clarke, 1989; Peacock, 1997
- They have a positive effect on learner motivation because they are intrinsically more interesting and motivating than created materials. There is a huge source of authentic materials for language learning in the media and on the web, and these relate closely to the interests of many language learners.
- They provide authentic cultural information about the target culture. Materials can be selected to illustrate many aspects of target culture, including culturally-based practices and beliefs and both linguistic and non-linguistic behaviour.
- They provide exposure to real language rather than the artificial texts found in created materials, that have been specially written to illustrate particular grammatical rules or discourse types.
- They relate more closely to learners’ needs and hence provide a link between the classroom and students’ needs in the real world.
- They support a more creative approach to teaching. Teachers can develop their full potentials as teachers, developing activities and tasks that better match their teaching styles and the learning styles of students.
However, critics of the use of authentic materials point out that:
- created materials can also be motivating for learners. Published materials are often designed to look like teenage magazines and other kinds of real-world materials and may be just as interesting and motivating for learners.
- authentic materials often contain difficult language and unneeded vocabulary items. Since they have not been simplified or written based on any lexical or linguistic guidelines, they often contain language that may be beyond the learners’ abilities.
- created materials may be superior to authentic materials because they are generally built around a graded syllabus, and hence provide a systematic coverage of teaching items.
- using authentic materials is a burden for teachers. In order to develop learning resources around authentic materials, teachers have to be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time locating suitable sources for materials and developing activities and exercises to accompany the materials.