Using authentic tasks

A lot has been said about using authentic texts in the classroom to teach reading and listening.  This makes a bridge between the classroom and the real world.  It is often said to grade the task not the text, so that (within reason) you can use the same text for different levels.  Something else to consider, however, is the authenticity of the TASK set.  The classroom is not the real world and we have our students for a short amount of time, so it is essential that we use this time to maximum effect.  Keeping this in mind, it can be argued that pedagogically prepared texts can often help make reading and listening more accessible for the students and maximize their learning. 

My point is that it is important to make a connection between the text used and the ways in which we naturally read that text and the types of information that we naturally read for.  There is little point in having students search for random facts in a text if this is not something that they would naturally do with this text.  For example, if you are reading a travel brochure, you would naturally scan for details such as the price, the location, accommodations details etc.  So it is unnatural to set scanning questions that focus on other details in the brochure.  The more authentic the tasks that we set our students, so that the task and the text are matched together, then the more helpful the lesson will be for the students.

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