Authentic Materials

Shane Training Centre

Authentic Materials

Using Authentic Materials


Authentic material is any material in English that was not created for use in the English language classroom. It includes not just newspaper or magazine articles but also songs, TV shows, movies, podcasts, leaflets, menus etc. The wonderful thing about using authentic materials is that it is everywhere, which makes it easy to find and simple for learners to use on their own, encouraging autonomy and accountability.


Using authentic materials can be very engaging, imaginative and motivating for learners they should reflect a situation learners may face themselves in an English-speaking environment. This helps them transition into a world where English is the norm. They are exposed to real English, allowing them to see they can perform tasks with real materials. It also generates genuine responses from learners and encourage learner talk time. 


Examples of authentic materials include: maps and brochures of an area; menus; leaflets (delivery pizza, take away menus, etc.); newspaper inserts; instore adverts; yellow pages and phone directories; flyers; tickets; bus and train maps and timetables; hotel registration forms; any application forms (e.g. ask at a local shop); post office information; museum information; local television and radio listings; tourist information; radio station; recipe pages etc.


Authentic materials are easily obtained, portable and useful. The best thing though is authentic materials are (generally) free! Learners are very motivated and interested in finding out about overseas countries so any authentic materials are bound to create a stir. They also provide a good resource for practicing language occurring in the classroom text. Be on the lookout as well for resources your younger learners would like too or things you can use to stimulate a young learner class.


How do I use authentic materials?

Authentic materials can be used to stimulate discussion, role-plays and activities about culture in the lesson. Primarily they can be used to practice all four skills in the classroom. A good tip is to laminate materials you may want to use more than once as these suffer from lesson wear and tear. Also choose materials that are colourful and attractive as well as having clearly laid out information. A dull and confusing leaflet is not going to be as stimulating for your class. Ensure learners have enough information to use the materials effectively.



Recipes are a great stimulus for discussing food and culture as well as being a good resource for information sharing and giving instructions.


Use the materials to encourage role-plays or discussion in the classroom. An authentic menu or listings page can be used to stimulate a role-play that involves decision-making, stating preferences and other language functions.


Timetables can be used for stating obligation (I have to get the 10.30 train) and the present simple (The Brighton train leaves at...) Even using a page of services from the local yellow pages can launch a role-play involving a telephone conversation.


For example: Restaurant menus:

Menus can introduce learners to some of the common dishes in English-speaking countries so they will be able to order with confidence. Many restaurants have online menus.


Menus can be used to…

Go through the menu and have learners guess what the meals are, or what they would order. You could use different menus for each course. Learners could use the menu in a role-play, one is the server and one is the customer. Learners use the menu to calculate the cost of orders and how the bill would be split between consumers. They could be asked to work out tips, to mirror being in a real restaurant. 


These activities focus on different skills and so can be sued in a variety of ways to develop/practice different skills/language points. 



Set comprehension tasks; have learners compare information and choose the best/worse…; learners decide where they will go; what they will do on a day out; choose best trips for different people; compare information with their country; continue the story; what happened before or after; alternative endings.


For example: Information Gaps

Make 2 copies of the text and remove different information from each one. Learners in pairs ask questions to complete the relevant information. This can also be done as a listening activity. It can even be extended into pronunciation practice/focus. 



Radio programmes are a wonderful source of natural English as well as providing interest in the authenticity of materials however native English speakers do speak very fast and can often confuse learners. News items or weather reports can be used to good effect. 


Radio adverts can be a great source of authentic English as well as being very entertaining. They are usually easy to understand because the key message is often very clear. The activities mentioned above in “Reading” can also be used here, also learners can be asked to predict what the advert is for; best/worst etc and be extended by having them write their own adverts.


For example: Songs

Listening to English songs is a very enjoyable way to boost listening, pronunciation skills as well as confidence. Have learners discuss their favourite/least favourite artists/music; leaners predict how the song starts and then listen (or watch) and see if they are right; or give them some lyrics with some mistakes and they listen and correct; listen to the song for phrases, vocabulary and expressions that would be useful. Some songs tell a story, some convey strong emotions and these can be used to help learners establish a connection with the language. A quiz could be created 



Leaflets can be used as stimulus for learners (in pairs/groups)to write their own about the local area or even produce a brochure on a local attraction or even a shared hobby.


Application forms are very useful for any learners who may be going abroad at any point and may actually be faced with a form in English to complete. 


Job advertisements or items for sale in local newspapers would involve both reading and writing. For example: take a few local ads and cut them up, learners engage in jigsaw reading and then write a response to one of the adverts. Recipes can similarly provide a clear model of organizing a text as well as providing lots of incidental language for quantities, measurements and verbs (stir, whisk etc.)


How do you use authentic materials in your classes? What are the best materials? 


Sophia McMillan Nov 2019


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Shane Training Centre


Shane Training Centre has been providing English language teaching and training for almost 40 years. Shane Training Centre is the only Trinity accredited training centre in Japan and is dedicated to promoting and fostering teacher training and development.


Our goal is to provide focused training to ensure teachers are the best they can be and for continued professional development. 


More confident teachers lead to more teacher satisfaction, thus giving the best learning experience to the learners. 


What can we offer?

We offer the Trinity Cert TESOL course as a 6 month part-time or 4 week full-time course and the TCL Diploma TESOL as a blended learning course. 


Both are internationally recognised EFL teaching qualifications and fully moderated by Trinity College London ( and open doors to careers, promotions and greater job satisfaction.


1. The Trinity Cert TESOL (level 5 on the UK National Qualification Framework) is an initial teacher training qualification, perfect for teachers with limited formal training and/or those looking to develop and refine their skills. 

For full details please see the Trinity College website.


2. The Trinity Diploma TESOL (Level 7 on the UK National Qualification Framework) is a post graduate designed for experienced teachers looking to improve and develop their skills and understanding of English language teaching and learning. It is very useful for career development. 

For full details please see the Trinity College website.


We also offer bespoke training courses specifically designed for specific teachers, institutions and learners.


We are currently recruiting for our 2020 courses and still have some places available both on the CertTESOL and Diploma Courses starting in January. 


If you are would like more details, an application pack, or a chance to meet and discuss the courses and your options etcplease feel free to contact me at any time.


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The Anti-Cheating Machine

A mini-project for high school level and up.  I will actually do this with university students.

I heard about this mini-project from another teacher at one of the universities in Japan that I teach at.


Design an anti-test cheating Machine


Group work:

  • In your group, design a machine that will stop students from cheating on tests. Your machine can be serious, funny, scientific or whatever.

*But it must be able to stop students from cheating on a test.


  • Draw a picture of the machine on A4 paper.


  • Give a Presentation to our class about your Anti-Test Cheating Machine     Today!



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New Textbook of Sentence Patterns and Expressions

みなさま,友人のMichael McDowellと執筆した新刊が9月(刊行予定日は9月12日)に刊行されます.基本的な文構造を使って英語で発信できることを目的としたワークブック形式の書籍です.





I am writing to inform you of the book I coauthored with Michael McDowell that is scheduled to be out in September ( The workbook intended to help basic-level learners practice sentence patterns and expressions so that they can use them for production.

It would be great if you have a look and consider the possibility of using it as either a self-study textbook that supplement your lessons or a textbook. Requesting this book at the library where you work or/and one close to your place would be wonderful as well. Just pass this information on to other people who may be interested also helps.

If you are interested, please contact Mr. Shimizu:

( to request for an inspection copy.

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On being an ALT in Japan

Riding the ALT Rollercoaster

“I saw a documentary on NHK recently and it said that if the foreign teacher is allowed to teach and the Japanese teacher assists, then the class will go well. But if the Japanese teacher insists on teaching in a Japanese way and wants to control the class, the students don`t learn as much and the class doesn`t go as well. The foreign teacher and the Japanese teacher need to form a team, and that means allowing the foreign teacher to teach in the way she or he knows best.” –a Fuji Film Executive

“The teachers don`t like you because you speak English better than they do, you don`t know grammar like they do, they think you are just another guy from down the block. You aren`t part of their teacher`s union, and you look different,so you are fair game. You scare them. You have the power to embarrass them in front of their students. There isn`t much Japanese hate more than embarrassment.” –A JET Official

Mr. Kawaguchi calls me on the phone, “Walkersan, can you please teach at two local elementary schools? We need a good, native English teacher like yourself.”

Walker hesitates, he has never enjoyed teaching children, though has done it for many years. Does he want to do it yet again?

“No sorry, thank you for asking, but I am really just too busy right now.”

A few days pass then Mr. Kawaguchi calls again. “Walkersan, I have reduced the hours and you can teach any way you want. You don`t even have to discipline the students, the Japanese teachers will do that.”

Walker starts thinking about it again. What he hates most is having to discipline as well as teach. He would rather just teach, so this is a little tempting now. He could use the money, he has a mortgage to pay off, a family, it might not be so bad. “No sorry, I really can`t do it.”

A few days later….”Walkersan, I have reduced the hours even more. It is just at two schools and the classes are small at one. Can I talk with your wife and explain more to her?”

Mr. Kawaguchi uses all the weapons in his arsenal to charm Walker`s wife and convince Walker that this is one of the greatest jobs of all time. He does a Nixon with the truth. He tells Walker that the previous teacher quit. She wanted more money. (In fact the previous teacher still wanted the job.) It is very flexible, Walker can teach however he sees fit.

On a bright morning in April, Walker goes to one of the two elementary schools he will teach at. There has been no meeting with the teachers he will work with, there have been no introductions with the teachers he will “team teach” with. There has been no instruction about how to teach. Walker is not worried about that though, he was told he could teach any way he liked, and he would not have to discipline the students. He looks forward to weaving his TEFL magic with Japanese teachers waiting in the wings to discipline any trouble makers. Sounds like TEFL heaven.

Walker elects to teach in a huge room as he feels the children will be able to move around more, and he likes active, fun classes. The grade ones come in and they look so cute and tiny all 43 of them. Little brown eyes staring up at the visage of this foreign giant. The two Japanese teachers do not introduce themselves to Walker, they seem to want to stay as far away from him as possible, while still appearing to be “helping” with the class. Their help is in the form of standing motionless, and silent. While one occasionally, scolds a few of the more rambunctious boys in a husky army sergeant voice. At the end of class one of the teachers leaves and doesn`t look Walker in the eye. In 8 months she never will.

The children are great! Walker loves the kids. The kids love the classes. They light him up and they are so alive and open to anything. They really are great. Some of the teachers though look like someone told them they have one hour to live and will die painfully. It is amazing to see the teachers then realize that they must have been just like these children, only twenty years ago. What the f–k happened? Then period one is over.

The next class shuffles in. Another teacher who looks like Dr. Death has paid her a visit shuffles into the classroom with her grade two`s. Then a second teacher appears. She is so different from the other three teachers, Walker has to take a second to take it in.

She has energy, yet appears to be much older than the other teachers. She seems to love what she does, and she has command of the class. She turns out to be a joy to teach with. Walker puts his finger on it. She is still child-like herself, yet can lead the class. The other teachers seem dead inside. There inner child is buried. This happy teacher allows Walker to do what he does best—teach English. She doesn`t interfere, far from it. She works with him. She follows his lead and goes with the flow. She never second guesses him in front of the students as some of the teachers will. She works as a teammate. Walker comes to look forward to teaching with her. If only all the teachers were like her……………..

The kids are great. They always will be. Ironicly, this huge man who loves children, but hates teaching them, loves teaching the children at the elementary schools. The kids are great! Walker can`t believe it! Walker realizes in these eight months that he doesn`t hate teaching children. Ironicly he hates teaching children in his own English schools, where many of the children are forced to study by their parents.

This is probably the greatest experience Walker will take with him from being an ALT. The kids are great! They are just a joy! Their eyes gleam with light and potential. They smile. They laugh. They grab Walker`s long legs and hang on, they give him impromptu tours of the school. They give him high fives. They show him the English on their shirts. They show unconditional love of life and everything. They write him letters to say goodbye. They bring tears to his eyes when he finally realizes it is time to move on. Walker is greeted by the children as a kind of celebrity a or pop star and that never changes. Walker has a fan club of over 300!

All 41 of the grade threes enter the classroom. . Teaching such huge classes will be a big challenge for Walker, who asks his wife to help with the classes, as about half of the Japanese teachers are not of much help. They will do all the discipline? Yah right! I can teach any way I want? Yah, hand me another plate of bullshit. More pepper please.

A meeting with the staff department chiefs doesn`t change much of anything. Though polite platitudes are expressed about the English lessons, Walker comes to feel he is not heard, nor are his opinions valued, as the problems he has mentioned are not fixed in any noticeable way. While his lessons are complimented, almost in the same breath he is politely criticized. So the impact of the compliments are quickly nullified and Walker comes to feel that he is not appreciated much by the staff. Perhaps this is not so. In retrospect, probably he was appreciated. But in the moment, it doesn`t seem so.

The grade threes enter. The children as always are a joy and one of the teachers is fine, but another teacher is a pain. Her game is to tell Walker at least once per class that the activity he is about to do, just won`t work. “The kids can`t do this.” “Let`s just try it.” “This is too difficult.” “Let`s try it.” “Shouldn`t we write all of this down on the board for them.” (Fuck…g shut up!) “Let`s just try it.” ” I really think this is too hard.” “It`s okay, it`s okay,” (Ya c–t!) Trying to stifle a maniacal urge to strangle the 25 year old woman.

His wife urges him to ignore the interference. Walker can`t. He has been doing this for 17 years and finds it really grating that a 25 year old is telling him how to teach, as well as what will work and won`t work in his class. Walker can`t imagine ever being rude enough to stop a Japanese teacher while she is teaching a kanji class, saying “this is too difficult.” This woman is making the class harder to teach. Yet her job is supposed to be as a team member and help him teach the class. She seems to regard Walker as her rival. She seems to see him as some interloper teaching her students. He sees her as some kind of saboteur.

In Japan, you are often not supposed to talk about problems. Simply bringing them up is something that shouldn`t be done. “Walker stops the 25 year old on the stairs, resists the crocodile urge to push her down them, and says “Please stop giving me advice during my classes. I am busy enough. Tell me after the class, plus I have done all the preparation, it is too late to change things right before an activity.” She looks stunned.

Walker decides that is not enough. Acting like the Westerner he is, he goes to the boss and let`s it fly. Though he has mentioned this problem before Walker never named her, Now he does: The grade three teacher is driving me crazy. He tells him the whole story. The boss agrees it is really rude. The next week, she is on her best behavior.

The grade six class is taught by a woman in her fifties. She turns out to be nice enough, but in the beginning she is cold. After the first or second lesson, she tells Walker the class was too difficult. Walker thinks, that Japanese really don`t know how to welcome the new guy. Why not give him a chance? This was the lesson felt to be so difficult:

“Hello, my name is __________________. What`s your name?” “My name is______________.” “Nice to meet you.” “Nice to meet you too.” Yep, rocket science ladies and gentleman. Learning English is rocket science.

The new guy is expected to pay his or her dues and the dues seem to need paying a lot longer than in the West. He sees that at the tennis club, at parties and in the English class, where classmates don`t even know the other students` names. A Westerner in Japan, if lucky won`t be the new guy forever at his work place and the clubs he joins, but he will be the new guy a lot longer than any Japanese would. The society is certainly not geared towards welcoming people from other ethnic backgrounds, and that applies to any situation where you are expected to work together as well.

“Japanese people love foreign ideas and things. They don`t really want foreigners around to instigate them though.” -L.B, a company executive in Japan

It is a shame as the children really are great. Walker enjoys seeing their beaming faces. Even the junior high wannabes are not so bad. The teachers of the elementary schools are a real hit and miss proposition though, and Walker must work with them every class.

The range in the teachers seems to be from fantasicly energetic and simply great teachers, to people who look like they are really not enjoying themselves on planet Earth, and want you to be aware of it. “I`m having my period today and I want to eat you alive!” I hate my life, I hate my job and foreigners scare me. You might embarrass me in front of all the kids.

“Okay let`s do the hokey pokey…” The grade four teacher informs him that he can`t dance, he must discipline those boys over there. Okay, Walker has learned to roll with things more. “Five little monkeys dancing on the bed….one fell off and he was dead.” (like some of the zombies I work with).

While reading the brown cow book, no one can hear him as the three boys in the front are being so loud. Not having to do any discipline Walker waits for the Japanese teachers to react. No one does. “I can`t read this book with them talking, can you help me please!?” The statues move, and take care of the culprits, then return to their pedestal.

One day a fax arrives at the Walker household: “Walkersan, sorry if you made your lesson plan already, but this is how I want you to teach.” Walker you will remember was told he could teach any way he wanted. Now he was being told to follow Suzukisan`s plan. In the preceding weeks, though he was praised a lot, Walker was criticized in a polite way almost weekly by the Japanese staff. “Can you please hold the cards this way most honorable Walkersan?” “We have these cards and these books for you Walkersan.” “Your books are too small Walkersan.” “Your cards are too small Walkersan. Please use ours.” “Please do the same songs that Noda sensei is doing.” Noda sensei was a volunteer teacher. “Please watch our grade three teachers teach the class.” Walker did, found it boring and very Japanese, rote-memory, repeat after me, teacher centred, 1950`s style crap. “Please watch honorable Noda sensei teach.” Walker did, grumbling about being asked to watch the volunteer. More 1950s style bullshit. Repeat after me, sing the same weather song countless times; bore the students into stupor.

Walker decides after 8 months that he will quit. He talks about being lied to about the job. The job he agreed to was not the job he recieved. He outlined all of the gripes above. He asks, “If you want me to teach like a Japanese, why not hire a Japanese teacher? Am I just here for pronunciation practice?” An embarrassed silence ensues. Walker will never hear an answer to that question from any of the elementary school department heads he asks.

“One Japanese teacher always tries to sabotage my classes.” –an ALT in Japan

“The JETs say the same thing, that the schools of Japan are very unfriendly places to work.” –An official in the JET program who wishes anonymity

“The teachers in Japan are over-worked, under-paid, and are in an industry with declining numbers. They are stressed, under too much pressure, working too many hours, and not enjoying their jobs these days.” –An official in the JET program

About the Author

Kevin Burns owns Kevin’s English Schools and two lovely guest houses in the Hakone area.

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How to be a better teacher

Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself.

Practice Mindfulness:

Our minds are made to think many thoughts. To go from one thought to another.

Mindful awareness or Mindfulness is about just watching yourself and the world around you without judging anything as good or bad. Just watch it and yourself like a movie.

You can practice a mindful meditation by just becoming aware of your breathing (your breath). Close your eyes and experience your breathing.

-This lowers stress.

Be Kind to Yourself

You are allowed to make mistakes. You don’t have to be perfect. Give yourself permission to suck!

Being hard on yourself makes changing yourself difficult. When you think negative thoughts about yourself, try to argue against them like a good politician or lawyer.

Or simply ignore these negative thoughts, like they are a barking dog.

-not important. Annoying, but not important.

-just go on with your day, ignoring these thoughts.

-And celebrate your successes more!

Do Self Observation and Evaluation

-Know your weaknesses and think about how to improve them.

-be honest about your strengths and weaknesses

-but be kind and gentle about them, because sometimes you will make mistakes. Or fail.

For example, you might ask yourself, 

“What made it harder this time for me to skip the drink, or use a gentler tone with my partner, or exercise when I felt panic coming on?” he says. “There’s always an answer — and finding it often leads to tremendous growth.”

–Dr. Craig Malkin

Take Care of your Health

sleep well!

exercise improves mood. Go for a run, play tennis, shoot around a basketball hoop, swim or lift weights-all will reduce stress.

anxiety and depression has been shown to be reduced by exercise.

keep a food diary. Food affects mood very much. What are you eating?

Keep your Friendships & the relationships with Relatives healthy

-but end unhealthy relationships

-do fun things with your family and friends sometimes. Take a break from work or study.


How long have you been learning English?

Analysing Language

ETJ Book Service

I am Hakone

Kevin’s English Schools

Culture in the Language Classroom

I Made 877,000 Yen in April

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Saitama University Job Openings


The Center for English Education and Development at Saitama University is looking for a university instructor to teach the following classes for the Fall 2019 fall semester.



1. Period 1 9 AM to 10:30 AM-GES1
a. 1st-year general English course focusing on TOEIC and basic communication skills
2. Period 2 10:40 AM to 12:10 PMAES2
a. 2nd-year academic English class focusing on academic topics
3. Period 3 1 PM to 2:30 PM-Period 2AES2-
a. 2nd-year academic English class focusing on academic topics


Required Qualifications:

1. Applicants should have an MA. Preference will be given to applicants with degrees in TESOL, English Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, or a related field.
2. Applicants should be native English speakers.
3. A minimum of 2 years EFL teaching experience in higher education is preferred.
4. At least 1 publication in ESL, EFL, Education, Literature, English Linguistics, Applied Linguistics or related field.



Pay is based on the number of classes taught. Each class is 9,400 yen. However, depending on years of experience and university rank, this amount could be increased.


APPLICATION MATERIALS-Deadline: Thursday, January 31, 2019

One MS Word file should contain:

1. a cover letter on the first page
a. your contact information, age and date of birth
b. your introduction and the position you are seeking
c. your complete availability
d. overall statement of your experience as a teacher of English
2. resume in English starting on the 2nd page
a. list of degrees earned
b. a timeline of your education starting with high school

ex: 1996/05 High School Name, Graduated

c. a timeline of your work experience starting with the earliest employer
d. a more detailed work experience of your specific duties
e. list of published academic essays in APA format
f. list of academic presentations
g. names, affiliations and contact information of three referees




Send application materials by email to Mr. Forrest Nelson: In the subject heading, please type “Application” followed by the applicant’s name.

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How long have you been learning English! (Japanese)

How long have you been learning English?




Read More

I am Hakone

You Can Learn English

Analysing Language

Feeling Bloated Teacher?

Burnt Out?

Study English for Free!

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ETJ Kanagawa – Workshop

ETJ – Kanagawa

Sunday July 21: Marco Brazil Workshop

2:30 – 4:30



Kanagawa Prefecture Residents’ Activity Support Center

(near the west exit of Yokohama station)




Please register at:



Title: Active Not Passive, Memorable not Memorized

Abstract: We all use different techniques throughout our day to remember information and ideas. The techniques we use form a vital part of our learning experience. They help us organize information into patterns, and brains tend to remember information that forms a memorable pattern. This workshop will demonstrate and introduce useful techniques in enhancing memory and give participants hands-on activities they can activate in a variety of classroom situation.

Presenter’s Profile: Marco Brazil, is a well experienced teacher for children and teacher trainer who has been writing, presenting, and developing teaching materials for over 20 years. He has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Development Communication (DevCom). He is also a regular and popular teaching workshop presenter of OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS. Marco runs his own school — SMARTKIDS CIRCLE. He is the director and founder of MABUHAY CLASSROOM and (IETC) INSTITUTE OF ENGLISH TEACHING TO CHILDREN. This course reflects his own 18-years experiences in teaching English to children here in Japan. Marco is a course associate of (iTDi) INTERNATIONAL TEACHER DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE. 

He has written and published two storybooks; The Monkey And The Turtle and The Rabbit And The Turtle, and The Hardworking Ant. In Japan, Marco is fondly called — the King Of Games.


To unsubscribe from all Language Teaching Professionals / ETJ

newsletters, reply to this email with ‘unsubscribe’ as the subject

Sent to:

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How long have you been learning English?

How long have you been learning English? How have you learned it?

Can you speak well?

Did your teachers have you read and write with few chances to speak?

If you cannot speak well, maybe it is time for a new approach?

Sometimes a new way of learning can help you to improve dramatically.

Kevin Burns

Posted in Teaching, Universities | 1 Comment