Authentic Language and Authentic Conversational Texts


  • Lana Rings

    1. University of Texas at Arlington
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      Lana Rings (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is Assistant Professor of German and Coordinator of Basic German Language Instruction at the University of Texas at Arlington.


ABSTRACT  Although there is a trend to advocate the use of authentic texts in the foreign language classroom, a consensus regarding the criteria determining textual authenticity has not been reached. Instead, researchers often provide varying, sometimes conflicting definitions as to what comprise authentic materials.

This paper draws on research in discourse analysis in an attempt to determine text authenticity through text type authenticity and provide implications for classroom materials. A text may be considered a spoken or written verbal unit, and a text type may be described as a specific type of spoken or written unit. Thus, for example, the text type “textbook conversation,” written by textbook authors for the purpose of teaching specific structures, can probably not be defined as the text type “authentic conversation,” in which native speakers engage in speaking for purposes other than to teach their language. In addition a ranking of types of conversational texts, from most to least authentic, provides a scale by which to judge the value of materials used in the classroom.