Authentic Materials: List it!

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November 19, 2013 by k. liz

Oh, hello there! You’re reading my blog right now, meaning you’re on the internet, meaning you are in the best place for curating authentic materials to use in your ESL/EFL lessons!!

I have been trying recently to get my head back in the game of teaching as I explained in this last post. Not only that, but my only teaching opportunity at the moment is a bit of a stretch for me. I’m teaching one-on-one to an adult man who is also a friend who has few common interests with me. Let’s face it, adult students still intimidate me! One-on-one’s have always been the most difficult lessons for me to plan, because they are very unpredictable, and: awkward moment = awkward moment, there’s no scapegoat or escape route in a one-on-one!! Short answers kill activities. There’s no jumping to the next student to try and extend the conversation. Dissimilar interests, well, doesn’t that just always make connections a little more difficult? Plus we’re friends, which makes it much harder for me to command authority.

In other words: this is a really good opportunity for me! It’s stretching and teaching me new tactics and how to push through and teach regardless of my own emotions and feelings. So, here’s what I’m learning today:


My thought for today: use authentic materials broken down into parts or lists.

If you’ve explored the internet much recently, you’ll notice that the list posts are unbelievably popular. Now, I’m not necessarily promoting all gazillion list posts that are out there, because let’s face it – our world wants silver bullet remedies for real life problems. {I’m borrowing the analogy here from Pastor Matt Chandler at the Village Church.} I don’t believe that the whole “10 Things to Make you a Better Mom” is necessarily healthy if you are truly trying to learn ways to be a better Mom. But, that is beside the point: I do believe that the list posts are brilliant for second language learners. Why? Let me give you a list: 🙂

  1. Scanning: Lists make it really easy to practice this super important skill in language learning. I love bold headings and the fact that five minutes can give me the gist of a 2 page article.
  2. Simple -> Difficult: Generally, the headings or bullet points are fairly straightforward and easy to understand. Giving students a grip to hold onto in the heading, and then guiding them to make guesses on more challenging vocabulary in the explanation empowers students.
  3. Information Load: When you stop and think about it, lists really provide a wealth of information, but it is totally up to you to decide how deep to take that information. You could spend an hour on a 10-item list, or you could breeze through it in 10 minutes, just making generalizations.
  4. Activities galore: How many activities can we create from lists?! Ordering: if they are chronological. Making predictions: give your students the headings and have them write a description/explanation or guess what vocabulary words they are going to find. Response: have students write a response as to what is missing or superfluous in the list, or whether or not they agree/disagree. Follow-up: Let students design their own list, or create a lecture on how to present these steps/items to an audience. Really, the list goes on and on . . . and on . . .
  5. Authentic: Teachers are always looking for these authentic materials. These list posts are ones that native English speakers are interested in and are actually reading. This encourages the learner as they realize that they are actually participating in the target language in the target culture in the way that natives do.

I’m sure my list is NOT extensive, but it’s a start! Leave your own ideas or activities in the comments section and let me know how you have used or hope to use lists in your own classroom.

And, because what would the point be if I didn’t send you on your way, one great place (of many) to look for these lists is Here are a couple that I thought looked really interesting:

Have a great day! I’d love to hear any other creative ideas for incorporating lists into your lessons!!


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