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Choosing Authentic Materials at Level Posted by on Apr 21, 2021 in For Instructors, Lesson Authoring Tips

As a language instructor, you likely know why you should use authentic materials, but might not know where or how to find materials at the right proficiency level.

We consider three major questions when choosing an authentic resource:

  • What is the purpose of the text/audio?
  • What features of the ILR level are present?
  • What mode is the information presented in?

What is the purpose of the text/audio?

One huge clue as to the level is the purpose of the source:

  • Inform: At lower levels (up to ILR 2 or 2+), the goal is typically to inform the audience: a news report on a natural disaster, a short biography, summary of past events, etc.
  • Persuade: At higher levels (ILR 3 and above), authentic sources are typically persuading the audience: editorials, political speeches or debates, movie reviews, etc.

What features of the ILR level are present?

Each level is typically distinguishable based on a series of major features:

  • Vocabulary: Lower-level sources use high frequency vocabulary in its primary meaning, but as they increase in level sources often use topic-specific vocabulary and secondary or abstract meanings.
  • Rhetorical devices: Lower-level sources are straightforward, whereas higher-level sources more often make use of rhetorical devices like hyperbole, irony, rhetorical questions, etc.
  • Structure: Lower-level sources typically have more simple, linear discourse and sentence structure, while higher-level sources use more complex sentence structure and abstract discourse structure, with more unpredictable or complex turns of thought.

In which mode is the information presented?

Authentic sources are by native speakers for native speakers, so you also want to consider how information is presented, such as:

  • Register: Is it formal or colloquial?
  • Regional influence: Is there an accent or dialect?

Want to explore these questions in more detail? Watch a replay of our webinar on this topic, led by the CL-150 Cohorts team lead.

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