The words I put in the title of this post belong to my PhD supervisor Dr Malcolm N. MacDonald. He used these very words to inform me about a new book on authenticity (van Compernolle & McGregor), to appreciate my PhD research and, I guess, to motivate me to finish the long-awaited article drafts from my doctoral thesis (Külekçi, 2015).
Apparently, ‘authenticity’ will stay as a popular concept in foreign/second language education and the good thing is that there are some nice attempts that go beyond the simple sloganization of this term in the field (speaking of sloganization, Gnutzmann’s abstract (2014) questions whether ‘authenticity’ is ‘a well thought-out concept’ or it is ‘just a slogan’ in foreign language teaching addresses some interesting points). Two books, for instance, have been published by Multilingual Matters this year and this post aims to introduce them very (very) briefly.
Authenticity, Language and Interaction in Second Language Contexts
This book, edited by van Compernolle and McGregor, discusses ‘authenticity’ through empirical studies conducted in a variety of second language contexts. There are 11 chapters including the introduction and the conclusion, and the chapters address issues such as agency, identity, culture, interaction, competence and (meta)pragmatics in relation of ‘authenticity’ as it is challenged and/or achieved in learning and daily language use. Three principal themes that are common across all of the chapters are listed as (1) What is authentic language?, (2) who is an authentic language speaker? and (3) how is authenticity achieved? As it is written in its description, the chapters indeed ‘serve as an opening to an extended conversation about the nature of authenticity and its development in L2 contexts’. You can find more details about this book here.
Reconceptualising Authenticity for English as a Global Language
Pinner’s book, also published by Multilingual Matters, revisits ‘authenticity’ for English as a global language in today’s world. In the book, he presents his ‘authenticity continuum’ in detail (also see here) and emphasises the dynamic nature of authenticity though social, individual and contextual dimensions of the concept in English language education. Doing this and providing some practical examples, he also invites us to challenge the ‘classic’ definition of authenticity as well as the native-speaker norms and models floating around this concept. There are 8 chapters including the introduction and the conclusion, and the chapters deal with the concept of authenticity in depth in terms of it existential underpinnings, the issue of ownership particularly in the context of using/learning English as a global language and in terms of possible influences of new media and communication technologies. In a rather ‘authentic’ manner, the book aims to establish conceptual links between autonomy, agency, motivation and authenticity more explicitly in English language teaching/learning. You can find more details about this book here.
And, just a little note – while van Compernolle and McGregor’s book has my PhD supervisor’s blurb on its back, Pinner’s book has my second supervisor’s review on it. Even this itself is a good reason to have both of the books in my library.