Why should I use Realia?
There are two key reasons for using real life materials:
1. They are often more interesting than material from text books and can be on subjects that will really engage the students.
2. Students will be expected to use real material when they leave your classes.
How can I decide if materials are appropriate?
1. Decide if the topic matter is appropriate for your students, if you are not sure you can ask them or find out what their interests are.
2. Look at how much new vocabulary and grammar structures are in the materials. If students are to cope with real material, they may have to learn to deal with topics with a lot of alien vocabulary.
Procedure for using Realia
1. Go through the text in the article. Highlight any words that the students are unlikely to know and are important to the understanding of it. (If it something you have electronically, you may want to simplify difficult vocabulary.)
2. Come up with concept checking questions for each of the new words or for lower levels you might want to use pictures to help.
3. Create a question designed to test the students' ability to skim/scan the article. I often try to test something 2/3 of the way down the article. If it is an opinion article, you might want to ask if the author is in favour or against. (In class give a tight time-limit for this to encourage faster reading)
4. Create 4-6 more questions to test the students' ability to read the article in-depth. Depending on the level you might want to make these questions in the order of text or out of order. Common questions include:
5. Try to then come up with one or two discussion questions so that students can react to the article and digest the new information or give an opinion on what they've read.
In many cases Realia can also be used to show grammar points, so be on the look out for good articles that give plenty of examples of particular areas of grammar. Its always more motivational to learn grammar that you know has a purpose.
At advanced level you can choose nearly anything, because they should have developed strategies to cope with unknown vocabulary.
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