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Are “authentic” materials better than materials designed for English learners?

April 25, 2018 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Are “authentic” materials better than materials designed for English learners?

Well… yes and no.

This video explains everything:

First, realise that when designed properly materials ARE authentic English. That is, good materials are just as authentic as any other sample of English you might find — the only difference is that it has been designed for learning. Authentic texts and audio are great for learning vocabulary about very specific topics (type 2 language — see Master English FAST for details). And it’s certainly better than badly designed learning materials. Bad design and inauthentic data (i.e. the sample of language you put in your head) can damage your ability to recognise and use natural language in the long-term — I’ve done research that proves this.

I tested Japanese university students on chunks and found they were confused by what they’d learned in their middle-school textbooks… not good.

Simply put, learning the wrong thing can mess up your English.

So yes, in that sense…

Authentic materials are much better.

But… there is a big downside.

Learning everyday conversation—whether for day to day life, for business or whatever—from things like YouTube videos, podcasts and films is always going be extremely slow because they’re not optimised for language learning. Meaning you have to study and learn A LOT to get few phrases and expressions that you need.

There used to be a great series of TV adverts for ‘Fairy Washing-up Liquid’.

Their whole USP (unique selling proposition) was that you only needed a tiny bit of liquid… just a little goes a long, long way. They’d show someone using normal liquid and squeezing out half a bottle and not getting many bubbles Then they’d compare that with Fairy — just a couple of tiny drops would produce a mountain of bubbles and get all the dishes clean.

Perhaps they still have these adverts?

I don’t know.

But those bubbles are your English. And good learning materials are like Fairy Washing-up Liquid. Because they’re optimised, you can learn a LOT from just a tiny bit… whereas real language is like the standard liquid.

It’s not that it doesn’t work… it does. It will clean your dishes. But you need loads of the bloody stuff to get the job done well.

In conclusion, then, authentic materials are good. Especially for learning very topic specific stuff. But if you’re trying to improve your every day English conversation skills?

You’re much better off with materials designed to give you what you need in a condensed, optimised format.

Which is exactly what Extraordinary English Speakers is all about.

You get a new lesson to study every week… each one based on a read, but “optimised” story-based conversation. Meaning that in just one short story you can learn a whole ton of super-useful phrases, expressions and chunks of language — and because I analyse, dissect and explain the usage to you in minute detail you know EXACTLY how to use them yourself, in your own conversations.

Ultimately the choice is up to you, but if you want to master the fine art of English conversation quickly and effectively with no hassle or headaches, you’d do well to join us.


P.S. For more information on what an Extraordinary English Speakers Membership includes, Click Here.

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