I have attended Theresa Clementson’ s materials session and I would like to share some notes which I found useful and interesting. She is a lecturer at Brighton University and has been teaching more than 20 years. She is also a materials writer and one of the authors of the coursebook “English Unlimited” published by Cambridge University Press. Although she is a coursebook writer, her talk was about teachers creating their own materials not producing or designing coursebooks. She has encouraged teachers to design their own materials by talking about the early stages of her career. She started designing her own materials before a long time ago where there wasn’t a coursebook at the school she taught. She taught by using set of good materials that played a crucial role on producing her own materials. According to her, materials are lessons that implies they don’t have to be a coursebook, they could be anything that can go well in the classroom. If a piece of material works , it is a good lesson for her.
Her session was like a seminar discussion with few activities and talking about our own materials. She has started her session by addressing two questions:
- How often do you produce your own worksheets for a class? ( She has explained that worksheets could be anything, they could be a text taken from a magazine or newspaper or they could be listening where you want to use authentic material).
- Why do you produce your own materials or why don’t you? ( One of the reasons of producing own materials could be for example, when teachers want to teach Present Perfect and they don’t like the way it is done in their coursebooks).
Having discussed these questions with our groups, we have all agreed that we don’t produce our own materials much as they take too much time. One of the teachers in my group says that she doesn’t produce her own worksheets as it requires a great deal of effort, she would rather produce questions for discussion. However, we are all aware of the fact that we need to produce our own materials to offer students more up-to-date data and reinforce their learning.
There are also other reasons emerged from a class discussion. Teachers should produce their own materials because they are:
- culturally appropriate
- easier for students to use teacher-produced materials ( teachers can grade the questions and make them more simple).
- flexible in lots of ways
In the session, teachers agree that they should create their own materials when they think a language point or skill cannot be achieved through a coursebook. Another reason of creating their own material is resulted from bland topics coursebooks have. They believe that there are topics that coursebooks do not touch because of their being global. The last reason of producing their own materials is that coursebooks are sometimes stretching learners which means they could be too easy or difficult for learners. On the other hand, they also underline the importance of published materials because they save a massive amount of time , offer a syllabus and tend to recycle important points.
After discussing teacher-generated and published materials, she has talked about implementation of materials – lesson plan – and emphasized some points whilst preparing a lesson plan which are listed below.
- its aims
- class profile
- learner outcome ( what will learners be able to do at the end of the lesson?).
- syllabus fit and lesson fit
She then asked us to create two templates for worksheets which we have produced for a language point and skills lesson. The worksheet I have prepared with my friend focuses on a language point whereas my partner’s worksheet is based on a developing a listening skill. Therefore, we could have analyzed two templates. While creating our templates, we have considered some teaching points like questions about specific info, language forms and use, guessing meaning from context, a gist task, speaking practice, a discussion task, visuals etc.
Worksheet – Yuksel & Sag – This is the worksheet I have produced with my friend which aims to teach non-gradable adjectives-.
Our template for this worksheet is:
- guessing meaning from context
- prediction of target vocabulary
- discussion with their partners
- matching exercise to reinforce the vocabulary
- gap-filling exercise (more challenging than the matching exercise)
- end-up activity (writing)
You can find our ideal templates for a language point and skills lesson below. (Activities can vary depending on learners’ needs).
At the end of the session, some questions were posed to her. I found one of them really interesting that was “what is the future of materials?” and wanted to learn her opinions as a professional materials writer. What will be the students’ reactions to coursebooks in 2025? Will it be like in the picture below?
Her feelings about this issue is that there will always be a place something in our hands. It may be less but coursebooks won’t die. According to her, the market place will probably change. Global coursebooks will have smaller market than locally produced materials in the future. There will be a lot more culturally appropriate materials. For example, a coursebook called Total English Fame is being designed for Chinese learners which will exactly look like a global coursebook but cater to the needs of Chinese context.