Authentic vs Educational

We feel proud at EnglishCentral as being leaders in promoting both “Immersive Language Learning” and also “Authenticity” through our video content. Learners bloom and grow through lots of input that is non-scripted.

There are some major reasons for using authentic materials with your students. See a full discussion of them, in the presentation below. However, it might be instructive to look at a specific example and note that while authentic is great, there is a place for scripted or educationally designed materials. [Scott Thornbury on his blog, has come down hard on “scripted materials” – well worth a read]

Compare these two EnglishCentral videos.


Fed Ex: Going Golfing Structuring A Call

EnglishCentral does have a lot of educational videos – videos specifically designed for language learners. These examples come from our Telephone topic category. Most there are scripted dialogues to get students familiar with language forms and structure.

Which example would you use in class?

Obviously, the question is silly. It depends on so much. And that’s just the point I do want to raise. There is a time and place, dependent on student needs, when you should use either. And it isn’t as easy as suggesting that beginners need more educational materials and advanced learners more authentic materials. I think all levels of learners need exposure to both. Authentic videos provide learners with practice at dealing with the ambiguous and unpredictable nature of language. Practice at the real face and rhythm of language. Educational videos give students practice at learning the forms and structures of English and build their confidence. It’s all about “form” or “meaning” (as per Van Patten’s “Input Processing Hypothesis” (2002). When learning a language, a learner can’t attend to both very well. So you have to use authentic or educational materials when focusing on one aspect.

We look forward at EnglishCentral, providing both students and teachers alike, with both options: Authentic and Educational. They are both very necessary learning aids.

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