Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Impact of Using Authentic Materials on Vocabulary Achievement

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Impact of Using Authentic Materials on Vocabulary Achievement

Article excerpt


In learning a foreign language, our goal is authentic communication. In other words, we want to use the language in the real outside world. We should provide students with update knowledge and expose them to the world of authentic language use and bring the real world into the classroom. Actually, it is not appropriate to learn solely from textbooks. One of the most important tools in teaching and learning a foreign language is the materials used in our classes. Therefore, selecting the appropriate materials can motivate learners and can exert positive influence on the process of learning. Materials play a crucial part in language learning and teaching. This accounts for the fact that discussions about the roles of materials appear in the process of course design (Nunan, 1991). Materials not only provide learners with a wide range of useful information but also play an important part in enhancing learners' motivation, which is one of the key issues in facilitating language learning (Dudley-Evans & St John, 1998; Nonaka, 2001).

Learners want to use their English as quickly as possible. Learners are motivated to learn the English they need; therefore, it is argued that teachers should use 'authentic' materials rather than the materials that are simplified or the materials that are specially written for language learners. Most of language teachers know the importance of creating an authentic atmosphere in their classroom and its great impact on facilitating learners' learning process. Given the fact that authentic materials facilitate learning process, foreign language vocabulary is viewed as a primordial factor in successful communication (Levelt, 1989).

Richards and Reynandya (2002) believed that vocabulary is the core component of language proficiency. In fact, the more lexical knowledge students possess, the more they are permitted to understand what they hear, read, and write. Language teachers should know building and maintaining a large word stock is an essential part for improving learners' proficiency in a language. With regard to the relationship between authentic materials and vocabulary learning, one way of improving learners' vocabulary treasure is to ask them to prepare their own materials usually based on the texts downloaded from internet. In addition, involvement in creating an authentic product has been shown to increase the level of motivation for learning new vocabularies (Rogers, 1988). Therefore, using authentic materials positively enhances vocabulary learning process, and authentic vocabulary teaching creates a positive classroom environment.

Vocabulary is often described as the cornerstone of language teaching (Lewis, 1993). Without enough vocabulary, learners would be unable to form the simplest form of utterances, and therefore unable to communicate at even the most basic level. Vocabulary acquisition is often prioritized in the learning process by students and teachers (Knight, 1994). Learning vocabulary through different approaches requires teachers to plan different activities and exercises. Besides, students who become good test takers are not able to speak and write competently when they graduate from high schools. The gap between academic English that language learners are expected to understand and simplified English that language learners are often taught is too great. (Hussin,, 2000; Tomlinson, 2010). Rivers (1983) argued that the acquisition of an adequate vocabulary is essential for successful second language use because without an extensive vocabulary, we would be unable to use the structures and functions we have learned for comprehension processing.

The main objective of this study is to explore the effectiveness of using authentic materials within existing EFL classrooms. It would be affected by some hypotheses predicting which types of materials (authentic or non-authentic) significantly affect vocabulary learning.

It is seen that many students at high school level in Iran have many difficulties in comprehending what they read in English. …

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