Vialleton, Elodie and Lewis, Tim
Reconsidering authenticity: using spontaneous speech to develop listening skills in adult beginner distance learners of French.
In: Annual Conference of the Association for French Language Studies, 8-10 September 2011, Nancy, France.
This paper reports on work in progress. The work in question is a study in the use of naturallyoccurring
listening materials with adult beginner distance learners of French, conducted as part of research undertaken to obtain the award of a Doctorate in Education.
The paper begins by re-examining notions of authenticity, as applied to (oral) texts, context, task and purpose, in relation to the development of the skill of listening. The topic is particularly appropriate for an AFLS meeting taking place in Nancy, given the contributions to the ongoing debate around the topic by researchers associated with the CRAPEL, over the past 40 years. Though authenticity itself is a concept, rather than a theory or methodology, it is based on (often unspoken) theoretical assumptions about what are appropriate ways of learning languages. And it has significant methodological implications.
The notion of authenticity is then confronted to the types of oral texts found in a number of beginner’s French methods and textbooks currently in use in France and in the UK.
Then the paper presents preliminary results obtained from an experimental pilot-study which aimed (a) to examine the feasibility of teaching the suprasegmental features of spontaneous speech to adult beginner learners of French and (b) to test whether the claim that authentic materials can be used with beginner learners “provided they are given the right kind of preparation” (Little & Singleton, cited by Duda & Tyne, 2010) extends to listening, as well as reading materials. A further aim is to explore by qualitative means what learners believe would constitute appropriate preparation for using such materials.
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