Understanding classroom input: Insights from the field of second language acquisition

Monika Akiert

The quality of classroom input in language learning has been a topic of abiding interest among scholars and practitioners alike, and central to such interest is the question: “How does classroom input promote or inhibit learning opportunities?” Robust target language exposure promises to be the great equalizer in cases where teaching contexts and learning styles and abilities vary. This presentation will address the use of authentic materials in the language learning classroom from both a theoretical and an applied perspective.

First, the expanding context of authenticity will be explored by considering both text and task authenticity. Controlling for both text and task authenticity we can potentially increase learner success, motivation, and acquisition. A brief summary of research that analyzes how authenticity is represented in course texts will follow. This analysis will offer insights into the nature and quality of pedagogical input in foreign language classrooms, focusing in particular on how the use of authentic materials facilitates second language acquisition. The final segment will provide practical advice for participants on how best to incorporate authentic materials in their own classrooms. Potential drawbacks to incorporating authentic materials and how these can be avoided will also be discussed.