SOAS University of London

Authentic Material

Contact: Dr Christine Hoffmann
Department:
UCL Language Centre
Languages: Arabic, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Swedish

Overview

The project enabled the production of a generic, integrated material bank of Language Centre-produced authentic texts as well as recordings for intermediate language learners in nine languages (Arabic, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian and Swedish).

Details

The project is delivered through the existing MALTED software (Multimedia Authoring for Language Tutors and Educational Development) and presented as a multimedia programme.

A structured set of exercises guides the learner in how to approach authentic material from a range of sources, graded from simple to more complex. Reading, listening and writing skills are developed and brought to a more sophisticated level. The language materials are from a range of subject areas but concentrate on country-specific cultural themes.

The project aims to offer independent/autonomous learning that can be combined with classroom teaching – this can be monitored through the newly added MALTED feature, the Learner Activity Monitoring System, which allows a teacher to see how long learners spent on an exercise, look at completed exercises and listen to recordings, etc.

Aims and Objectives

  • To guide learners - who normally are only used to dealing with adapted text and listening material form textbooks - through authentic materials with guided on-line language support (including complex help/information files such as electronic dictionaries, linguistic explanations and exercises, links to relevant webpages and feedback)
  • To offer an insight into the ‘real’ language by means of a wide variety of contexts, both contemporary and historical
  • To offer independent/autonomous learning that can be combined with classroom teaching

Rationale

There is an evident need for all language learners (undergraduate or postgraduate students as well as professional people) to have an early exposure to authentic language materials that reflect current changes in society and language. However, there is little available in self-access centres or resource rooms, especially for the languages of the wider world, that allow learners to work with authentic reading and listening material. Learners also need to have access to a range of language material in different fields (e.g. history of art, languages for business, medical or legal purposes etc.).

Teacher-led language classes normally offer a balance of all four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) – reading and listening should and can also be practised outside the classroom but need to be accompanied by pedagogically and methodologically structured set of exercises to guide learners through the different stages of comprehension, consolidation and usage. This guided independent learning requires detailed and constructive feedback as well access to related resources (other webpages, online dictionaries).

Products, Outputs & Outcomes

The project produced ten hours of learning material in the areas mentioned above, for intermediate Arabic, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian and Swedish.