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November 14, 2006

Living on a Budget- Authentic Materials

Hello Readers,

I recently spent some time looking around a well-equipped resource room for teachers in a local ESL school here in Oxford. It came complete with shelves upon shelves of grammar reference books, teaching methodology books, textbooks categorized by level, tapes/CDs , library activities, movie activities, etc. I was amazed. While you most likely won't have enough cash to create such an extensive resource library for yourself, you can start collecting some...

... authentic materials that will cost you nothing.

What are authentic materials?

Authentic materials are materials that you can use in the classroom that have not been changed in any way for ESL students. A classic example would be a newspaper article that's written for a native-English-speaking audience. Bringing authentic materials into the classroom can be motivating for the students, as it adds a real-life element to the student's learning experience. Of course, you should always remember that you should judge the task, not the material... which means that , for example, instead of asking a beginner student to read a full-page article that's over their heads, ask them to read the headline and guess what the article will be about.

Though you could pay for a newspaper article, why not start collecting the free local paper or a listings magazine/newspaper for the city you live in? Besides newspapers, what else can you collect?

Here's a short list:

* magazines
* real estate brochures
* menus
* advertisements for events
* comic strips
* newspaper headlines
* pictures/captions
* housing contracts
* employment application forms
* bus schedule
* credit card application form
* list of current movies playing at the cinema
* TV schedule
* store advertisements
* catalogues
* course catalogues from schools

And the list goes on...

To save on photocopying, you can also try to pick up multiple copies of the same material so that each student or group of students can have their own to use in class. You can also ask your friends and family members to give you their old newspapers or magazines- or even their junk mail- before their chuck them in the bin.

As you collect materials, you might want to think of a way to file these. If you have time, you could even jot down a few ideas about how you might use the materials in class and file that list with your materials. It will save you time down the road when you're asked to fill in for another teacher or if you have to do a sample class for a job interview.

Good luck!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

Looking for MORE articles about living on a budget as an ESL teacher? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, and lived and worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked with students that range in age from three to more than sixty years old. She worked in universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, as well as private tutoring. Besides teaching, she also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she currently writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing. Carol is also currently working on her MA in TESOL at the Oxford Brookes University in England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at November 14, 2006 03:48 PM

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