The concept of authenticity in testing and assessment has been defined in numerous ways. A frequently mentioned definition is the one by Wiggins (1993) who describes authentic tasks as “Engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively. The tasks are either replicas of or analogous to the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field” (p. 229). In language testing and assessment many experts believe that authenticity should be characterized by specific characteristics: practicability, reliability, validity, authenticity, and washback (Brown, 2004). Furthermore, language assessment needs to “measure language learners’ ability to apply what they have learned from class to real world situations” (Wang, 2008).
Generally, the use of authentic materials in the language classroom is a great asset for learners and educators. Authentic materials are items which are created with a real-life goal, generally for native speakers, and not for language learning purposes (Polio, 2014). Polio describes various activities that can be performed in the language classroom with the use of authentic materials. Language features, such as vocabulary and grammar, can be simply taught at any level with the use of newspapers, the Internet, and television shows in the target language. The implementation of these materials allows language learners to experience how language is used in real life, as well as practice situations that resemble everyday life. On the other hand, teachers can create meaningful lessons, draw students’ attention to language items in context, and prepare students for authentic world commu...
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... it mainly concerns the implementation of materials in intermediate to advanced courses, and not at a beginner level. Authentic materials are favorable to learning real-world language and are usually perceived positively by students. For this reason, it is essential to use those materials in beginning classes, in order to give to students access to authentic language and facilitate the understanding of how language is really used.
In this paper, I will argue that authentic reading materials can be used in beginning classes in a reading comprehension assessment. The research questions that will drive this study are: 1) Do beginner students perform better in a reading comprehension task made of authentic materials, compare to the use of artificial materials? What is the attitude of Italian learners towards the implementation of authentic materials in language testing?
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