Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

On the Use of Authentic Materials in a Legal English Class

Vaiva Eimulienė, University of Vilnius (Lithuania)

Aušra Janulienė, University of Vilnius (Lithuania)

Olga Medvedeva, University of Vilnius (Lithuania)


The use of textbooks and / or authentic materials in an ESP class has been debated over decades [1],[2],[3]. In the context of learning languages at the tertiary level, the use of authentic materials related to students’ disciplinary areas does not need any justification, the benefits of their use, in terms of professional development and motivation, are recognised by both theoreticians and practitioners [4],[5],[6]. In the digitalized global world, the overwhelming amount, availability and accessibility of authentic materials (e-files, audio and visual sources, etc.) and students’ overall exposure to the information sources in English, which dominates in most areas of academic studies [7], highlight the necessity to raise the effectiveness of authentic materials in language acquisition progress in general, as well as what regards specific learning environments (classroom, blended, self-studies). The present paper has been triggered by the results of the on-line questionnaire offered to the teachers of languages for specific purposes who teach at several universities of Lithuania. The research incorporates the analysis of the collected “field data” (63 respondents) regarding LSP teachers’ attitudes and preferences in terms of textbooks and other teaching aids, including authentic materials, the most common practices in using authentic materials, their advantages and drawbacks, as well as the authors’ conclusions on the effective ways of the use of authentic materials in a legal English class, specifically while applying the task-based approach to language teaching. Although the presented courses and activities are mostly based on the authentic materials from the legal area of knowledge (laws and legal acts, lawyers’ and judges’ opinions, academic articles on legal research etc.), the recommendations on the use of authentic materials in LSP classes and other learning environments at universities go beyond studying law and law-related disciplines; they will be of use to teachers of languages for other professional areas, course developers and material designers.

Keywords: Authentic materials, languages for specific purposes, effectiveness, learning environment, course development, material design.

[1] Morrow, K. (1977). Authentic texts and ESP. In Holden, S. (ed.). English for specific purposes. Modern English Publications.
[2] Tom Hutchinson, Eunice Torres, The textbook as agent of change, ELT Journal, Volume 48, Issue 4, October 1994, Pages 315–328
[3] Spelleri, M.,2002 March/April 2002 issue of ESL Magazine
[4] Daly, P. 2002. “Methodology for Using Case Studies”, in The Business English Language Classroom, Internet TESL Journal, http://iteslj. org/Techniques/Daly-CaseStudies/.
[5] Tarnopolsky, O. (2013). Content-based instruction, CLIL, and immersion in teaching ESP at tertiary schools in non-English-speaking countries. Journal of ELT and Applied Linguistics (JELTAL), 1(1):1-11
[6] Christopher Williams, 2014. The future of ESP studies: building on success, exploring new paths, avoiding pitfalls », ASp [Online], 66 | 2014, URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/asp.4616
[7] Coleman J., English-medium teaching in European higher education, Language Teaching 39, 2006, 1–14.

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