Jump forward 30 years and the notion of authenticity needs to come under scrutiny again. For two reasons:
- how we deal with/expose learners to "authentic" language use on social media
- how we devise activities for learning and assessment for learners use of language
Here's an example of the first:
J'ai ça dans le manuel, mais mes trucs font 2 broches et là ils en indiquent qu'une :o pic.twitter.com/X2Pc81Zyha
— Monsieur Le Prof (@MsieurLeProf) May 15, 2014
A French teacher uses twitter for advice. He demonstrates in a very real, conversational way (unknown to him) how useful the French word "truc" (thingy) can be whilst using some fairly complex constructions (en, ne..que). This is the kind of authentic language use that my students can learn from, alongside a discussion about register (appropriate language in different situations). Yet students are rarely using twitter to see how the language they are learning is used by native speakers. If they were they would see that, just like in English, it is full of typos too!
On the second point, authenticity (by which I mean real world) in language teaching offers an opportunity to engage learners in real experiences. Far more real thanks to new technologies than I could manage in the 80's. We use shopping websites to compare and choose provisions for a picnic, the ANPE site to find out about skills necessary for jobs in France, connect directly with French students to find out more about their hobbies and interests. (We could connect with those even further afield without difficulty too). So this tweet jumped out at me:
Embed authentic digital experiences into curricula and in assessment and feedback activities #digitalstudent
— sarahknight (@sarahknight) June 10, 2014
Given just how much more authentic - lifelike - we can be in 2014, why are our tasks and our assessments still paper based versions of those we used in the 1980's? The current generation of young people have found us out, they want real world skills and preparation for a future we don't even understand. I feel an authenticity crisis is at large, we are rapidly becoming irrelevant. Language study becoming the preserve of a small elite who wish to work amongst the privileged few.
Here is my last hope.