On the role of authentic audio- and videomaterials in the formation of foreign language communicative competence

This article is devoted to the study of the use of authentic audio and video materials in learning process and the formation of foreign language communicative competence.. Teaching a natural, living language is possible if you use materials taken from the life of native speakers or compiled considering the characteristics of their culture and mentality, in accordance with accepted speech standards. The use of authentic educational materials promotes more effective teaching all types of speech activity, helps to simulate a complete immersion in the natural speech environment in foreign language classes. Authentic audio and video materials help to create an impression of the natural speech of the native speakers; they are quite demonstrative that makes them very effective in learning process. These types of educational materials help to increase interest in the subject and contribute to better motivation of students.


In the modern rapidly developing world, the need for expansion and qualitative changes in international relations is increasing, and there is a constant intercultural interaction, that is why it is necessary to pay special attention to the study of foreign languages. English language has long been a «lingua franca» in all spheres of citizen life: it is the language of the media sphere, as well as the language of education, research and intercultural communication.

Materials and methods

In Kazakhstan, as in the whole world, English is becoming increasingly popular, one of the languages of intercultural communication in the field of business communication. At the moment, knowledge of the English language in Kazakhstan is not only included in the list of compulsory educational conditions for study abroad, but it is also a determining element of the competitiveness of a young specialist in the labor market, both in the country and abroad. Knowledge of the English language, along with Kazakh and Russian languages, which according to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, respectively, have the status of state and official languages, has now become a task of national importance. Since recently, English has been designated as a condition for successful entry into the global economy and has been viewed as one of the main priorities of state policy. This is evidenced by the program documents developed in recent years (the State Program for the Functioning and Development of Languages for 2011–2020 and others), which deal with the need for universal solution of the problem of teaching English and other foreign languages as means of business international communication. Thus, in the annual Address to the people of Kazakhstan dated January 28, 2011, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, N.A. Nazarbayev, noted that «for a modern Kazakhstan citizen, the three language skills are a required condition for one's own well-being». In this regard, the task was set that by 2020 the proportion of the English-speaking population would be at least 20 % [1]. And in the speech of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the XIXth Session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (April 27, 2012), an emphasis is also placed on the further development of the triune languages as an important aspect of the country's economic and social modernization, the importance and role of English on the way of Kazakhstanis to the world of innovation, technologies and business [2].


Knowledge of a foreign language becomes a necessary quality for a highly qualified specialist, increases his competitiveness in the labor market. As Erdos Nurlanov correctly noted, «for many developed countries, English is the basis of multilingualism or polylingualism. It is estimated that the level of English proficiency in the EF EPI rating directly and positively affects such indicators as: GNI per capita, the share ofemployed youth, the index of ease of doing business and the index of human development. Japan and China, where according to the latest data, early learning of English is considered as a guarantee of successful development of the state» are not exceptions [3].

Therefore, the study of a foreign language is currently one of the priority areas of higher education. Teaching a foreign language should not consist only in teaching basic types of speech activity (writing, speaking, listening and reading), but also speech activity as a means of communication. Existing modern English teaching aids, with all their richness and diversity of linguistic and cultural material, do not create in students' minds a relatively holistic picture of the reality in which English or Americans live. Adapted materials and artificially modeled language situations can not fully prepare students for real conditions of communication. Only authentic material copes with this task, it helps students to plunge into the real world of a foreign language. Therefore, it seems expedient to introduce in training authentic materials from the country of the studied language.


The very word «authentic» is translated from English as «natural», the term is used to designate specific materials used in teaching a foreign language. H. Widdowson considers authenticity not as much as a property inherent in a speech product, but rather as a characteristic of the learning process. He differentiates the concepts of «genuineness» and «authenticity». All cases of language use for non-educational purposes are considered to be genuine. Authenticity is considered as a property of educational interaction. Therefore, it is not enough to bring into the class a foreign press clipping, it is necessary to make authentic the process of work on it.

By teaching students not to perceive work on a text as an exercise, but as an authentic, communicative activity, the teacher stimulates the natural interaction in the class. In other words, in terms of teaching methodology authenticity 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 educational process, during the interaction of students with the text, with the teacher and with each other. Thus, the traditional contrast between the language used in the lesson and the «real» language is removed. «Educational» does not necessarily mean «unauthentic»; it all depends on how the training material will be used.

The concept of «authentic materials» has recently appeared in the methods of teaching of a foreign language. The term «authentic materials» almost completely replaced the term «original materials» in modern domestic and foreign methods. There are a number of approaches to the interpretation of authenticity in the methods of teaching a foreign language, but the traditional interpretation is considered to be the following (Zhoglina, Scarcella, Nosonovich, etc.): authentic materials are materials that were created by native speakers and found their application in a teaching process focused on communicative approach to teaching a foreign language outside the native language environment [4; 237].

Traditionally, «authenticity» is understood as the quality of linguistic and speech material, which ensures the realization of speech communication in natural conditions of modern life. However, modern methods of teaching foreign languages allow the use of educational materials or texts specially created or treated by methodologists with a focus on language learners. According to the researcher J. Harmer, if it is possible to find authentic materials that the students could master, this would be useful, if this is not possible, then rather adapted materials than specially designed ones should be used.

In the domestic and foreign methods there is no single definition of authentic materials and their classification. In foreign studies on this problem, you can find the following terms for referring to materials of this kind:

  • – semi-authentic texts, i.e., based on original material, but lexically or syntactically adapted for training programs;
  • – partially-edited authentic texts (roughly-tuned authentic texts), in which the level of grammatical material slightly exceeds the level of students;
  • – texts that look authentic (authentic-looking texts);
  • – learner authentic texts [5].

The existence of the categories described above in foreign methodological practice proves that the authenticity of the material and its methodological treating are not mutually exclusive provided that the text retains the properties of the authentic material.

We use the classification developed by J.G. Gebhard. According to his classification, authentic materials are divided into 5 types:

  1. Authentic printed materials - programs, telephone directories, menus, books, comics, lyrics, newspaper articles, notes, brochures for tourists, checks, tickets, etc.
  2. Authentic audio materials - advertising and radio broadcasts, audiobooks, songs, etc.
  3. Authentic audiovisual materials - TV commercials, TV shows, clips, feature and documentary films, animated films, news programs, etc.
  4. Authentic visual materials - paintings, slides, stamps, illustrations, road signs, photographs, postcards, labels, etc.
  5. Realities (items) - coins / bills, masks, toys, etc. [5; 215].

Authentic materials used in the educational process realize the following important functions.

The information-educating function of authentic materials is expressed in the fact that they recreate the conditions of natural speech communication, transmit information about the country of the studied language, allowing to imagine the situation of communication more clearly.

Organizing-controlling or motivating function is manifested in the fact that authentic materials providing the «presence effect» or «complicity effect», stimulates speech activity.

Integrative function is expressed in the fact that authentic materials serve as a link between the parts of the lesson and contribute to the organization and systematization of training stages.

The illustrative and visual function is manifested in the fact that authentic materials are a synthesis of all kinds of visualization, serve as a means of distant immersion in the natural environment at all stages of training, thereby partially compensating its absence.

The developing function is expressed in the development of such qualities of personality as observation, imagination, attention, thinking, language memory, the development of skills in all forms of speech and creative activity.

The upbringing and heuristic function is realized in development of respect for the people and culture of the country of the studied language, understanding unknown and strange, motivating a comparison of the culture features of the country of the studied language and native culture.

Often the list of authentic materials includes disposable everyday materials — announcements, posters, theatrical and other programs, survey questionnaires, travel and entrance tickets, schemes, signs, labels, plans, menus and bills, maps, advertising brochures for tourism, recreation, shopping , hiring, etc. They can get to the teacher (unofficially — through some personal contacts with the native speaker, correspondence, or thanks to tourism). They are also authentic, and due to the available usability can be useful in creating the illusion of foreign habitat and language in the class. The specificity of these materials is that they show communication with «living» people, and real objects; they stimulate an almost genuine, natural communication: the trainees themselves experience these events, get used to certain roles, supposedly solve problems (choosing a training center and profession, shopping, choosing menus and excursions, filling out questionnaires, attending entertaining events, etc.), satisfy their cognitive interests.

At present, several approaches have been identified to determine the nature of authentic materials. Authentic materials are materials created by native speakers for native speakers for non-educational purposes. So K.S. Krichevskaya [6] refers genuine literary, folklore, graphic, musical works, objects of real reality, such as clothes, furniture, utensils and their illustrative images to authentic materials. She singles out the materials of everyday and household life into an independent group: of pragmatic materials (announcements, survey questionnaires, signboards, labels, menus and bills, maps, advertising brochures on tourism, recreation, goods, job opportunities, etc.) that thank to their availability and the household nature of the application seem to be significant enough to create the illusion of introduction to the habitat of the native speakers believes that their role is an order of magnitude higher than the authentic texts from a textbook, although they may be less in volume. The concept of «pragmatic materials» should also include audio and audio-visual materials, such as information radio and television programs, news bulletins, weather forecasts, information announcements on the radio at airports and railway stations. The use of such materials is extremely important to us, as they are a model of a modern foreign language and create the illusion of participation in the everyday life of the country of the studied language, which serves as an additional incentive for increasing the motivation of students.

Pragmatic materials can relate to various areas depending on their use:

  1. Educational and professional sphere of communication.
  2. Socio-cultural sphere of communication.
  3. Household sphere of communication.
  4. Trade and commercial sphere of communication.
  5. Family-household sphere of communication.
  6. Sports and recreation sphere of communication.

G.I. Voronina presented a somewhat different point of view on authentic materials [7], which defines authentic texts as texts borrowed from the communicative practice of native speakers. She identified two types of authentic texts represented by different genre forms: functional, performing instructive, explanatory, advertising function (signs, road signs, signboards, schemes, diagrams, drawings, theatrical programs, etc.), and informative, performing information function and containing constantly updating information (articles, interviews, opinion polls, readers' letters to printed publications, current sensational information, announcements, explanations to statistics, advertisements, comments, reportage, etc.)

Of all types of speech activity, the perception of a foreign speech by ear is one of the most important and at the same time the most difficult one. Traditionally, during the classes, students listen to adjusted audio tracks. They are presented in a well-structured sequence of information, at a certain reproduction speed, which is selected according to the abilities of the students, the level of their language proficiency and the recordings perform a fairly clear pronunciation. Although, as a rule, everything is done to make sound materials look natural, adding background noises and simulating fluent speech is unable to make students forget that they are dealing with an artificial product designed for their convenience. Moreover, one of the main goals of ordinary tracks for listening is a broad study of the use of exact grammar and vocabulary. Nevertheless, it is obvious that in real life experience pupils will meet another discourse - free speech and discreet discourse, which is immanent to native speakers and foreigners, whose speech is not so perfect and to some extent even violates the literary norm. Finally, after preparation, students successfully pass examinations of various kinds, but they may face significant difficulties in the situation of real communication.

Authentic materials can be the key to solving this problem. As an example of authentic audio materials, you can mention such content as radio podcasts, news programs, talk shows and commercials. According to Widdowson, the idea that the material should be simplified for better understanding over time has been replaced by the preferences of authentic material [8; 104]. Indeed, these materials and many others become not only lingual information, but also cultural information. Watching a video or listening to a radio podcast gives students the opportunity to get acquainted with manners, behavior, body language and conversational style, as close as possible to the language habitat.

It seems to us that the most effective way is the use of authentic audio material, together with visual visibility is in class. Observation of objects of everyday life, manners, gestures, emotions of people gives students the most complete picture of the situation and much more material than single audio.

In the development of tasks based on the use of audio and visual authentic material, we primarily pay attention to the criterion of functionality. Creating the illusion of a natural language environment, we aim to encourage students to use the language within this environment. It is practical application, simulation of the life situation that helps us to fully understand the lexical and culturological significance of the linguistic means available to them.

A standard set of tasks that help you to check the level of understanding of the material by students is quite large. It includes and filling in the gaps in phrases appearing in the audio material, answers to preprepared questions, re-arranging the correct sequence of information provided in the audio material and discussion on the topics covered in it. These tasks allow you to consolidate the vocabulary, grammar and phonetics of students, some features of culture, but they do not allow using the full functional potential of an authentic audio-visual source.

In order to start effectively developing the listening skills, it seems to us important to outline the following methodological guidelines:

  • – it is necessary to start developing the listening skills on the material of monological speech;
  • – the presented authentic texts for listening should be small, and their topics should reflect problems concerning the interests of students;
  • – as far as real tangible results are achieved in text listening, it is necessary to expand the vocabulary of students with the subsequent use of the acquired vocabulary in oral speech;
  • – to submit to the audience texts on general social problems and dialogues on colloquial and everyday topics, making sure that heard literary texts are easily and quickly understood by the students;
  • – when selecting text fragments for listening, one should be guided by the methodological principles of students' interest and motivation. The texts should be informative;
  • – language and speech models should be taught not by mechanical repetition and imitation, but by all means, in combination with language rules and in comparison with the native language;
  • – the methods of imitation and repetition should be combined with analytical explanation of the system of the studied language as a whole, and with the definition of the structure of a given language category in particular, since comprehension plays a decisive role [9; 212].

As it has been mentioned above, the key to successful mastering of the material is its clarity. That is why we need to mention the role of authentic video materials in teaching. The use of video support in class helps to improve the quality of knowledge, as it allows using the following types of communicative activity: listening, speaking, reading and writing (when doing exercises). The use of video is justified psychologically: it is through the organs of sight and hearing that a person receives the bulk of information about the world around him. In addition, the use of video in classes increases the motivation for learning and activity of trainees, creates certain conditions for independent work of students [10; 472].

Videofilms illustrate a wide range of communication situations, evoke a lively response and help to feel comfortable in case of real communication. The student intuitively assimilates the mechanisms, subtexts, hints, behavioral schemes – all that is sometimes not formulated on a conscious level even by the native speakers themselves [11; 15].

Videomaterials make for better assimilation of grammatical material and consolidation of theoretical and verbal knowledge. Not only specially recorded and created video materials, but also feature films, news programs and talk shows are used for educational purposes.

Dave Willis identifies the following positive characteristics of using video in the learning process:

1) the video provides the opportunity to use various modes of operation, for example, work with a freeze-frame, work with the video track (when the audio track is off), etc.;

2) video materials are easily used for different types of work: individual, pair, group, collective [12; 17].

Margaret Allan adds one more positive quality to the above: video equipment makes it possible to divide the whole movie into the required number of video fragments depending on the goals, individual needs and peculiarities of the trainees and then to work with each fragment separately [13; 286].


Thus, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of using authentic video materials in the process of teaching English. Authentic educational videos and audio materials provide wide opportunities for active work in the process of forming and improving speech skills and abilities of students and make the learning process of mastering a foreign language attractive for students at all stages of education. The use of audiovideo materials contributes to the creation of an atmosphere of joint cognitive activity; less active students are more willing to participate in the learning process [14; 155]. It can be concluded that the undoubted advantage of using authentic teaching materials in teaching English is not only more effective mastering of the linguistic and local knowledge, but also improvement of motivation of students, their interest in the subject.



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Year: 2018
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy