Advantages and disadvantages of authentic materials in the CALL


Magdalena Derwojedowa and Magdalena Zawis³awska (Warsaw)


We intend to discuss advantages and disadvantages of authentic materials in the CALL as well as using interactive CD’s both in the classroom and as self-study. As an example we take interactive multimedia 3-level LinC/Loki —Integration through language and culture,a CALL programme that is a result of research within EC Socrates Action Lingua D. It was developed for 13 languages.

We are going to examine how, when and for what purposes authentic materials and interactive CD’s are best suited, why using them can be sometimes difficult (both pedagogically and technically) and how to use them in the most efficient way. We also present difficulties we encountered when we prepared these materials.


Each level of LOKI consist of 10 topics. The core of the topic is a video extract from TV-news. Comprehension exercises, vocabulary and grammar are developed on the basis of the structures present in this extract. For each topic there are also additional reading material and web-links. Some exercises are designed to be sent by an e-mail to a teacher. Dictionary for all vocabulary and compendium of Polish grammar are another components of each CD.


Authentic video materials give a chance to work with variety of voices, accents and intonations (and with different background noise), show language use in different situations and styles: spontaneous speech of the interviewed and almost-written high-level language of the announcers. Contrary to audio CD’s, visual context of a video extract is stimulating learner’s hearing and his eyesight. Unrestricted use of grammatical and lexical potential activates understanding based on a context and any perceptible information. The TV news are also a very good starting point for a discussion.


Nethertheless video authentic materials have also some disadvantages:

- it is very difficult to find a material for the beginners: too many mistakes in spontanuous speech and too difficult syntax and rare or obsolete vocabulary in any style.

- a number of the examples of a certain grammatical features is rather small, so it is very difficult to compose sufficient number of grammatical exercises based only on the extract.

- the unrestricted use of lexical and grammatical potential makes gradation of grammatical difficulties almost impossible.

- it is difficult to find a video fragment which at the same time presents information important for the specific culture and is not too hermetic for foreigners.

- a student and/or a teacher must be computer-literate, but still the program should be easy-to-run.

- a classroom must be properly — and expensively— equipped.


We thing that both new technology and authenticity of used materials are valuable as additional language teaching and learning resource. It is especially useful for higher levels of study, when competence of a learner is higher and the need for the real-life language grows. Yet for beginners it should be used with a great care and for those who are not familiar enough with a computer this may not work at all.