There An authentic reading experience can be

There are two categories
of reading materials: Authentic text and simplified text. Authentic texts are
not written specifically for language learners but are for proficient language
users (Harmer 2007). Authentic texts contain unaltered vocabulary and
structure; they show language as it is typically used in the target language
society (Daskalos and Ling, 2006). Berardo (2006) states that there are many
sources of authentic English material, but perhaps one of the most useful is
the Internet. The Internet can provide teachers and students with increased
access to materials, like newspapers, magazines, and literature (Berardo,
2006). He stresses authentic material use for reading, as it exposes learners
to language as it is actually used outside of instruction (Berardo, 2006). Despite
an abundance of authentic sources, many texts can contain a large amount of new
language and pose difficulty for beginners (Harmer 2007). If the text is too
advanced for students’ ability, it can hinder comprehension and authentic
reading experiences. An authentic reading experience can be identified by, for
example, internal dialogues, creation of opinions, or even emotional reactions
in response to the text (Nation and Bonesteel, 2018). The essential idea of
authentic reading is that meaning comes from the dialogue between the reader
and the text not from the written language. (Karmsch 1993 cited Daskalos and Ling 2006). The
language learner would have to process and react to the L2 text in the same way
as an L1 text. However, in an instructed setting, students often read with the
support of a teacher, making high-level material more manageable. When students
are asked to read without the assistance of a teacher, they may be encouraged
to use simplified reading texts. Simplified texts use language specifically
written or adapted for each level of proficiency (Harmer 2007). Giving a
simplified text is a way to ensure that the material is level appropriate and
increases the likelihood of authentic reading. Simplified texts also employ a
range of resources, like grammar textbooks, bilingual dictionaries, and
translated text (Grabe, 2010).  These
tools are designed to meet learner needs and aid in reading comprehension. It
is due to these reasons that Harmer supports using both authentic and
simplified texts; learners are exposed to real language and their abilities are
considered (Harmer 2007). Simplified materials are useful because they focus on
teaching language, but they create false image of language by repeating
structures, always displaying perfect sentences, and containing unnatural text
flow (Berardo, 2006). The language used can feel forced, irrelevant, and
lacking in cultural elements of the target language (Daskalos and Ling, 2006). In
other words, simplified text does not always present language in the manner it
is used in the world outside of the classroom and can seem uninteresting to
learners.

 

There is much debate
in the field of EFL reading instruction regarding the value of simplified and
authentic text and their ability to facilitate language learning. In addition
to learning, student motivation and interest should also be taken into
consideration when selecting text (Daskalos and Ling, 2006). Some theorists and
researchers, like Harmer, call for a balance of both materials. Others, like
Berardo, encourage using authentic materials in the classroom. Even though
simplified material is designed for language instruction, authentic reading
material use is seen as beneficial in many areas of classroom language instruction.
The next section of this paper will evaluate authentic text studies and
findings to determine which aspects EFL instruction benefit from the use of
authentic reading materials.

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