To the problem of using authentic audio and video materials in teaching foreign languages

The given article reviews researches surrounding authentic audio- and visual materials and «authenticity» concept in foreign language learning. It is noted that the formulation of the universal definition of the «authenticity» concept is complicated by the fact that it includes not only certain conditions, but also different types of authenticity. The authors concluded that there is no global, generalized definition of authenticity. It is emphasized that authenticity is a combination of a number of conditions, different types of authenticity, and the degree of the presence of one or another type can be different depending on the situation. The article analyzes each of the elements of the lesson - authentic material, study assignments, the situation at the lesson, learning interaction - as having its own criteria, which makes it possible to distinguish authentic from non- authentic. It is proposed to ensure a harmonious combination of all the parameters of authenticity, since in each specific communicative situation, the availability of one or another type of authenticity can vary. The authors claim that methodical adaptation of the authentic material for the educational purposes is acceptable, and in some cases even desirable, if it does not violate its authenticity.


Updating of secondary and vocational education systems and the requirements to the level of mastering a foreign language which increase in the conditions of integration into the world community dictate the need of searching for the new technologies for teaching a foreign language as a means of intercultural communication. The solution of this task depends on the professional competence of the pedagogical staff, taking into account that in the conditions of updating the content of the secondary education the requirements for the professional teacher training are increasing. Practice shows that updating the educational program without improving simultaneously the teaching methodology reduces the efficiency of updating educational standards [1; 6]. The goals of general secondary education have changed, new curricula and new approaches have been developed in the study of disciplines through integrated educational systems, and updating of education requires the use of non-traditional methods and forms of organization of instruction. The foregoing stipulates the urgency of the problem of integration in education, which provides for the creation of fundamentally new educational information with the appropriate content of educational material, educational and methodological support, and new technologies [2; 139]. This suggests that at the moment there is an active search for the new methods of teaching foreign languages that meet the modern understanding of the role of a language in the communicative process and in the life of society as a whole. Teaching foreign languages today is widely associated with the use of interactive teaching tools that provide the opportunity to demonstrate the real process of communication in a foreign language through authentic audio and video materials, as well as realizing the possibility of the educational environment to become closer to the actual conditions of functioning ofthe language and culture studied. Particular attention is paid to the use of authentic audio and video materials as the means embodying the cognitive-communicative direction in the methodology of teaching foreign languages. The use of these materials in the educational process implies not only methodological, but also technological competence of a specialist which being an integral part of his professional competence represents a set of knowledge, skills, habits and abilities to use the informational resources and technologies, software and networking tools for professional activities. In other words, the current issues appear to be the ones of increasing the level of the professional competence of future specialists in the field of the using authentic audio and video materials at the various stages of FLT (foreign language teaching). The professional competence of a foreign language teacher is understood first of all as the formation of professionally important competences of the future teacher.

Despite the fact that during the recent years some experience has been gained in the field of using the authentic audio and video materials in the FLT, the analysis of the actual situation shows that the potential extensive screen capabilities in teaching are negligible. In addition, the audio and video materials are often involved in a fragmentary way, without taking into account the context of the main curriculum. To a certain extent, this is due to the psychological unwillingness of the FL teachers, often the lack of the video courses applied to the native textbooks as well as the thematic and aspect inconsistency of program requirements and the sequence of linguistic and speech material in audio and video materials. The main reason is the lack of the methodological support for working with the authentic materials of this kind. The analysis of the sources devoted to this problem revealed controversial and unresolved problems in the methods of using authentic audio and video materials. First of all, the problem consists in the fact that methodologists do not have a common opinion about the definition of the concept «authentic audio and video materials», the preference of using authentic video (audio), the unified terminology associated with its application, the criteria of its selection and adaptation, showing / listening to audio and / or video fragments / whole movie (telecast), the duration of audio / video recording at the lessons, the multiplicity of their presentation, the effectiveness and ways of realization of their teaching potential. Teaching aids and their audio and video applications are often not accompanied by proper methodological support. The lack of the authentic audio and video materials selecting criteria, the ideas and knowledge of the methods of their presentation and effective use, as well as the teaching - methodological complex (including methodical work - outs, the system of exercises) for teachers leads only to a discussion of what the learners see on the screen or using the authentic materials as an illustration of the issues concerned, which serves as an indicator of the absence of the systematic approach in working with the audio and video recordings.

Main part

Authentic materials are used to recreate a natural atmosphere of another language. Authentic materials include books, newspapers, magazines, tutorials, leaflets, menus, maps, postcards, photographs, tickets, etc. Authentic materials are spoken or written materials not specially written for classroom use but taken from the media or real life [3; 116].

Authentic materials are traditionally divided into:

  • – audio (songs, radio news / talk show / advertising, etc.);
  • – visual (picture and post cards, graphs and diagrams, posters, illustrations from magazines, etc.);
  • – audio-visual (video, video clips, etc.);
  • – printed (books, newspaper articles, tourist information leaflets, informational brochures, flyers, etc.). [4-6].

Here it seems necessary to emphasize the difference between audio, video and audiovisual material. When working with video, one channel of perception is used (visual). This material presents an alternation of descriptions and dialogues, and drawings and photos are static. But the printed text makes it possible to return to the information read. The audio material is linear; there are also alternating descriptions and dialogues. At the same time, the audio material demonstrates intonation and rhythm. In the video material (without sound), the situation is not described, but is shown. It presents the image dynamically, with the accompanying information, gives an opportunity to analyze the features of non-verbal behavior, but the return to the fragment seen is possible only with the use of technical means. Audio material (as well as video material with sound) is different from the video material (without sound) by one, but rather significant fact - the presentation of the oral speech. And yet this material is not informative enough as sometimes the cause of the action, the explanation of the result, etc. remain behind the scenes whereas in the printed text this can be compensated by stylistic and linguistic means.

Thus, when applying a separate type of the authentic material in the process of a foreign language teaching as a whole, definite shortcomings that affect the effectiveness of the learning process and the possibility of the most complete presentation of the foreign social-cultural reality appear. This puts forward the requirement of complex use of the authentic material in the educational process.

Considering the problem of authenticity in the Methods of teaching foreign languages, it should be noted that the concept «authentic» entered the science along with the communicative method of teaching, the strategic direction of which was learning to communicate in real life situations. In English, «authentic» means «natural». This term is most often used to characterize the materials used in the educational process. Nevertheless, in modern native methodological science there is no clear boundary between the concepts «original», «native» and «authentic», as well as there is not always a clear connection with the notion of «adapted» (for example, «authentic means only slightly adapted material»).

In the European methodical literature of the recent years, the problem of authenticity is given great attention. Despite various interpretations, traditionally the material that was not originally intended for educational purposes is called an authentic one [7-9]. However, there is no consensus on what material should be recognized as an authentic from the methodological point of view, and the discussion is still being held about the different types of authenticity. For example, H. G. Widdowson considers authenticity not so much as a property inherent in a speech product, but rather as a characteristic of the learning process. He differentiates the concepts of «original» and «authentic». All cases of using the language for non-educational purposes are considered to be original or native ones. Authenticity is considered as a property of educational interaction [6]. It is not enough therefore to bring into the class a clipping from a foreign newspaper, it is necessary to make authentic the process of working with it. Teaching children to perceive the work with the text not as an exercise, but as an authentic communicative activity, the teacher stimulates the natural interaction at the lesson. In other words, authenticity in the methodical plan is not something brought from the outside in the form of a text intended by the author for native speakers, and not for foreigners. Authenticity is created in the learning process, during the interaction of learners with the text, with the teacher and with each other. Thus, the traditional contrast between the language used at the lesson and the «real» language is removed. «Educa- tional» does not necessarily mean «unauthentic»; it all depends on how the teaching material will be used.

L.V. Lier develops the system of conditions necessary for an authentic educational process and distinguishes three types of authenticity: authenticity of materials, pragmatic authenticity and personal authenticity.

Authenticity of materials does not exclude the use of texts specially created by methodologists with an orientation toward language learners, but takes into account the preservation of the properties of authentic text (such as connectivity, an informative and emotional saturation, consideration of the needs and interests of the intended reader, use of a native language, etc.), as well as the authenticity of the using the teaching materials at the lesson.

Pragmatic authenticity includes the following aspects: the authenticity of the context in which the language is used, i.e. the adequacy of certain language tools in a particular situation; authenticity of the goal, i.e. the expected result of speech interaction; the authenticity of this interaction.

The authenticity of interaction (or interactive authenticity) is not always compatible with the authenticity of the goal, if the pedagogical aims are meant. During the interaction with the students the teacher often reacts not to the content side of the statements, but to the mistakes made and focuses on correcting them, thereby violating the authenticity of the interaction. Some conventionality of the educational interaction apparently is inevitable: it is explained by the peculiarities of the school environment, where the educational goals are at the forefront, while in authentic communication the goal is the process of natural communication itself. However, the process of speech correction can also be carried out in the form of informal communication, for example, a request, or support with a reformulation of the student's thought in the correct form. It is also recommended to write down learners' errors for subsequent correction.

As for the personal authenticity, it is associated with the individual characteristics of the learners. A person characterized by personal authenticity, in the opinion of L.V. Lier, clearly understands what he is doing and why, is aware of responsibility for his actions, is able to make choices, adjust his behavior (including speech), depending on the situation [8].

M.P. Breen distinguishes four types of authenticity: 1) the authenticity of materials used in the learning process; 2) the authenticity of the perception of these materials by learners; 3) authenticity of educational assignments; 4) the authenticity of the social situation at the lesson [9; 62].

M.P. Breen gives the priority to the authenticity of materials. However, there is no consensus on which text can be recognized as authentic from the methodical point of view. Authenticity is a relative concept.This property is inherent not in the text as such, but in the text in a specific context, which, in the opinion of M.P. Breen, create three other types of authenticity [9; 68].

K.S. Krichevskaya [10; 13] defines native literary, folklore, graphic, musical works, objects of real reality, such as clothes, furniture, dishes and their illustrative images as authentic ones.

K.S. Krichevskaya singles out the materials of everyday life into an independent group: pragmatic materials (announcements, survey questionnaires, signs, labels, menus and bills, maps, advertising brochures about tourism, leisure, goods, work vacancies, etc.) which in terms of accessibility and household nature of application seem to be quite significant for creating the illusion of familiarization with the environment of native speakers and believes that their role is higher than that of authentic texts from the textbook, although they may be inferior to them in terms of volume.

We believe that the concept of «pragmatic materials» should also include audio and audio-visual materials, such as informational radio and television programs, news bulletins, weather forecasts, information announcements on the radio at airports and train stations. The use of such materials is extremely important as they represent the model of a modern foreign language and create the illusion of participation in the daily life of the country, which serves as an additional incentive for increasing the learners' motivation.

K.S. Krichevskaya gives the following classification of pragmatic materials, depending on their use in certain areas:

  1. Educational — professional sphere of communication;
  2. Social-cultural environment of communication;
  3. Everyday sphere of communication;
  4. Commercial sphere of communication;
  5. Family-household sphere of communication;
  6. The sports - recreational sphere of communication [10; 14].

E. S. Krichevskaya's classification is in many respects identical to the definition of authentic materials given by G. I. Voronina [11; 56] which understands texts borrowed from the communicative practice of native speakers as authentic. She identified two types of authentic texts, represented by various genre forms:

  1. functional texts of everyday use, performing instructive, explanatory, advertising or warning function;
  2. informative texts that perform an informational function and contain constantly updated information.

Formulation of a universal definition of the «authenticity» concept is complicated by the fact that it includes not only certain conditions, but also different types of authenticity. In each specific communicative situation, the availability of one or another type of authenticity may vary. If on the one hand, the educational process can be carried out on the authentic material, that is, to teach a foreign language on the basis of authentic materials from original sources and not intended for educational purposes, on the other hand, the materials of such kind often represent complexity and may not always correspond to the tasks set as well as the teaching conditions. In this connection, from the point of view of E.V. Nosonovich and R.P. Milrud, the optimal solution will be the use of authentic materials taking into account all aspects of the authentic speech fragment and, at the same time, the methodological requirements for it. These materials, designed to realize the stated educational goals and being as close to natural samples as possible, in their opinion, can be considered authentic ones [12, 13]. Such authentic materials appear in the foreign language learning interaction environment and correspond to the norms and tasks of the natural communication process, the methodological requirements, the intellectual level and the learners' language level of the [12; 14].

After analyzing different authors' approaches of to this issue, we share the point of view of O.S. Dvorzhets, who understands the authentic audio / video recordings as any radio / television product, as well as art / documentary films (fragments) recorded from various sources on videotape or digital media used as the didactic material with the possibility of multiple viewing, usage of «stop» and «pause» modes, a quick search for the desired fragment and adaptation to the conditions of the educational process [13; 137].

Analyzing existing approaches to the definition of authenticity we should enumerate the following ones:

  1. authenticity relates to the language produced by a real speaker/writer for a real audience, conveying a real message [14];
  2. authenticity relates to the qualities bestowed on a text by the receiver, in that it is not seen as something inherent in a text itself, but is imparted on it by the reader/listener [7, 9];
  3. authenticity relates to the interaction between students and teachers [8];
  4. authenticity relates to the types of task chosen [8, 12, 13, 15, 16];
  5. authenticity relates to the social situation of the classroom [9, 16-19];
  6. authenticity relates to assessment [15, 20];
  7. authenticity relates to culture, and the ability to behave or think like a target language group in order to be recognized and validated by them [21].

According to A. Gilmore ‘Authentic material is a stretch of real language, produced by a real speaker or writer for a real audience and designed to convey a real message of some sort. «Using these criteria, he assumes that it is possible to say whether a text is authentic or not (within these terms) by referring to the source of the discourse and the context of its production» [22; 98].

Taking into account the specificity of authentic audio and video materials, it is advisable to distinguish the following functions performed by them in the educational process: informative - educational, organizingcontrolling, developing, educational- heuristic, illustrative - visual and integrative.

  1. Informative - educational function of authentic audio and video materials is expressed in the fact that they:
  • – create a speech pattern (pronouncing, intonation, lexical-grammatical);
  • – recreate the conditions of natural speech communication, and also display any spatial and temporal situations, both real and imaginary, no matter as a whole data or decomposed in any sequence;
  • – transmit the dynamicity of the sound series and / or images, allowing to view phenomena in the process of movement, change, development, i.e. most truthfully, vitally;
  • – provide synchronous presentation of information by sound and / or visual series in the counterpoint of speech (audio) and image, which mobilizes the attention of students, assists their compilation, provides optimal conditions for the perception of educational information;
  • – perform the functions of analysis and synthesis, which allow us to consider the objects as a whole, and in a dissociated form, highlighting the relationships between the individual parts.
  1. Organizational-controlling function:
  • – provide the «presence effect» or «complicity effect», which promotes empathy and stimulates speech activity;
  • – contain a huge motivational potential: students are interested in foreign-language radio / television broadcasting, they listen/watch authentic audio and video materials out of curiosity, interest, with a sense of «ease»;
  • – reduce the negative motivations of training - fear of stress, which often accompanies the usual classroom activities; some «anonymity» of the listener / viewer even in conditions of using authentic audio and video materials allows him/her to perceive learning audio / video information in a more relaxed way despite all its density and large volume;
  • – have the effect of «compulsory concentration of attention» (N.I. Zhinkin's term) [23], in which, in connection with the general «atmosphere of attentiveness,» even a negligent student becomes attentive, and the collectivity of perception leads to the emergence of a phenomenon known in psychology as «collective attention»;
  • – having a suggestive effect (a factor of suggestion), contribute to the involuntary memorization of information;
  • – differ in the a set tempo of presentation, limited time frames;
  • – obey the law of proximity of image elements (video); on the TV screen objects are located close to each other, this tends to be perceived as a single whole - if the student sees two characters on the screen, he is already tuned to the perception of their conversation.
  1. Educational-heuristic function is expressed in:
  • – developing a sense of respect for the people and culture of the country of the target language;
  • – presence of emotional coloring of authentic audio and video materials: their beauty (in the deepest sense) contributes to the education of aesthetic qualities.
  1. Developing function of authentic materials is expressed in:
  • – activation of cognitive activity of students, increase of the role of the independence factor;
  • – development of such personal qualities as observation, imagination, attention, thinking, language memory, etc.
  1. The illustrative - visual function is expressed in the fact that authentic video materials:
  • – are a synthesis of all kinds of visibility (visual, auditory, motor, mixed, language, situational-model, subject, figurative, etc.);
  • – give an opportunity to demonstrate not only the sound side of speech, but also paralinguistic, extralinguistic and other non-linguistic components, which bear an important information load; even thebackground on which verbal communication occurs in authentic video recordings (natural noises), has its own regional value;
  • – serve as a means of distant immersion in a natural environment at all stages of foreign languages teaching, thereby partially compensating for its absence;
  • – in addition to the contents that carry in itself the intention of its authors, they enable the studentspectator to create his own «psychological context» and attach his own meaning to the image depending on experience, cultural level, and his/her attention, which allows him/her to be an accomplice to an action l.
  1. Integrative function is expressed in the fact that authentic audio and video materials can serve as a connection between the parts of the lesson, facilitate the ordering and systematizing of learning points (for example, performing various tasks united by a common stimulus - listening to / watching audio or video material).

Thus, considering the listed functions of authentic audio and video materials, it can be argued that their use contributes to:

1) creation of an oral-speech pattern and demonstration of the conditions of natural communication;

2) development and improvement of communicative competence skills, namely the skills of monologic utterance in the conditions of professionally-oriented communication;

  1. increasing the capacity and improving the strength of memorizing the learning material by learners;
  2. providing a «presence effect»;
  3. maintaining the motivation for learning a foreign language;
  4. developing a sense of respect for the culture of the country of the language studied;
  5. accumulation of some experience of communication with representatives of foreign culture;
  6. activation of logical memory and thinking, development of the imagination due to the emotionality of their perception.

Criteria for choosing authentic materials appear to be relevance to the syllabus, correspondence with the learners' age, correspondence with the learners' language level, topic interest [24].

As to the admissibility of methodical adaptation of an authentic material for the educational purposes, it can be concluded that it is possible, and in some cases even desirable, if it does not violate its authenticity. In our case, this adaptation consists in shortening the duration of presenting the authentic audio / video recording, which in no way affects the vocabulary used in it, phraseology, grammar, text connectivity, naturalness of the situation, etc. In training conditions to save the material authentic, it is not necessary to view all authentic audio or video from beginning to the end. In teaching purposes it is methodologically more justified to demonstrate only the main semantic point, the essence of the problem, to which the radio / television program is devoted. In the case of a news block, usually a report devoted to a particular topic or issue, revealing it completely, lasts no more than 2-3 minutes. Such a length of presentation of video material in the training conditions is fully justified, and the TV report taken separately from the news bulletin, where it is usually not thematically connected, does not cease to be an authentic video document. «Students of all levels can benefit from the use of video, since there are always easier video sequences, spoken at a slower rate, that can match lower level students' needs. Besides, authentic video has an obvious advantage over conventional audio tapes (that are typically very demanding and may damage the students' confidence): the visual dimension that makes understanding easier through gestures and context» [25, 452].


The points of view examined above suggest that there is no global, generalized definition of authenticity. It is a combination of a number of conditions, different types of authenticity, and the degree of availability of a particular type may vary depending on the situation.

Each of the constituent elements of the lesson - authentic material, teaching assignments, the situation at the lesson, the learning interaction - has its own criteria to distinguish between authentic and non-authentic. The teacher's task in this regard is to achieve a harmonious combination of all the parameters of authenticity. Authentic audio and video materials appear to be a significant and irreplaceable source for teaching a foreign language, the main reason for this is that authenticity is seen as a characteristic of the natural language environment.

Using authentic video materials in the educational process, in addition to a number of advantages has its own peculiarities. This applies both to the way of introducing audios and videos at the lesson and ways of presenting included authentic materials (radio / TV programs, news, feature films, documentaries, to film the scenes, commercials) with the purpose of teaching a foreign language, analysis of methodological requirements for its adaptation and realization, learning conditions, techniques for its methodical working out. The solution of this issue lies, in our opinion, in the appropriate level of professional and methodical training of future foreign languages teachers.



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Year: 2018
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy