Video

For this session, we all created our own videos and considered ways in which they can be used as an ELT material. I think videos are an effective way to capture students’ attention. Based on my experiences, students are much more interested in videos than any other teaching material. As it is discussed in McGrath’s book, walking into the class and saying: ‘Good morning. Open your books at page 37’ is not the best way to capture the attention of a group of learners, and many experienced teachers use ‘ warm-up’ activities for this reason. Videos can be used as ‘warmers’ to capture the interests of students. Moreover, learning can be more fun through videos and they can also provide light relief when learners are tired (the ‘wet Friday afternoon effect’).

I shot four videos in Turkey. Prior to shooting them, I planned them and decided what to shoot, when to shoot (forecast the weather) and how to use it as an ELT material. I recorded each video with a hand-held camera and I didn’t use a tripod. After watching the videos, I realized that If I had used the tripod, they would have been more high in quality as I could have reduced the camera shake. I used stable shots and avoided zooms not to distract learners or people watching the video.  Finally, I edited the videos in Windows Movie Maker , added some music to make them more effective and uploaded them to YouTube.

Video 1

As I said in my previous posts, language learning materials could be anything. They could be coursebooks, newspapers, food packages and a YouTube video as well. The thing that needs to be considered is the goal of the material. With this video, I aim to teach   imperatives. As a warmer, I will ask students to watch the video which shows the steps of making a traditional Turkish food called ‘gozleme’. Then, I will explain its recipe and try to focus students on the imperative form of the verbs. Finally, I will ask students to write about their traditional or favourite food. At this production stage, student will not only learn about imperatives but also practice discourse markers like firstly,secondly,finally etc.

Video 2

I aim to use my second video in a skills lesson (speaking and writing).  As a pre-watching activity, I will show the painting below that is highly related to the video and ask the students to discuss what they see in the painting and address them questions like ‘what can be around?’ ,’what do people do around the clock tower?’ etc. With this pre-watching activity, they will probably be more interested in the video while watching as they may want to check their guesses whether they are correct or not.

IMG_0011

Here is the video I recorded in Izmir, the 3rd biggest city in Turkey,.

I will  use this video as a warmer  for the more extended activities like speaking or writing.After watching the video, I will ask the students to talk about it with their partners and then tell their hometown to each other. I may also use it in a writing class where I can ask students to write their hometown or the city they want to live in.

videos 3 & 4

 

In almost every coursebook, there is a unit aiming to teach hobbies and some collocations like play + sports or musical instrument. After watching, I will ask students to talk about their hobbies and address questions like ‘Do they play any musical instrument?’ If yes, which one? or ‘which musical instrument do they like listening to most and why?’. Apart from hobbies, I may also use these videos while talking about feelings, especially the second one because it is more focused. I will ask questions like ‘How do they feel while  listening  to it’, ‘When do they listen to music? (happy,sad etc.)’.

As videos are meta-materials, ’empty’ pedagogical procedures, the teacher decides on the nature of the input and applies procedure to it (Tomlinson 2011:385). This can also be seen in the examples above. The teacher may use one video in a speaking class and  the same video in a writing class, as well. The important thing is setting the objective of a lesson and apply appropriate activities to it.

References

McGrath, I . (2002) Materials Evaluation and Design for Language Teaching. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

 Tomlinson, B.  (ed). (2011)  Materials Development in Language Teaching. (2nd ed) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Designing for Print

It is important for teachers to be able to create their own materials because  teachers know their own students and will be able to ‘tune’ the material to suit their level, their aptitude, their interests, their needs, and personalize it so that it seems even more meaningful (p.84).  Moreover, teachers should  know how to design teaching materials to make the material they created more appealing and motivate students both affectively and cognitively.

For this session, my friend and I  designed a worksheet for pre-intermediate Turkish learners. Before designing it, we watched Jason Renshaw’s video in which we explored some interesting approaches to materials design. In his video, he demonstrates how to build professional teaching materials using Microsoft Word and create a foundation through headers and footers. We first changed the layout from portrait to landscape. However, the feedback we got in the class discussion was not to switch to landscape mode because learners may have difficulty in reading  the material and it may cause eyestrain and be distracting. Then, we added a header in which we created our template and inserted a square in the header space. We wrote the subject of the worksheet ‘Non-gradable adjectives’ into this square. Thus, students can file  and easily find it when they want to revise for it. We also put a blank space at the bottom , so students can write their names on it that personalizes the worksheet. To make it visually appealing, we chose vivid colours -red and orange-. We put some cartoons (spiders) and boxes to attract the learners, as well. Finally, we added a footer and wrote our names to claim the ownership of the material. If you want to learn more about designing worksheets  in Microsoft Word, watch the video below and  other related 11 videos of Jason Renshaw.

My friend and I are familiar with the Turkish context as both of us taught at a Turkish state university. While designing the worksheet, we took their level, needs and interests into consideration. As said earlier, we aim to teach pre-intermediate level. Although they are pre-intermediate students, they are not actually. For this reason, some exercises can be found below level but they are not in Turkish context. The English proficiency level in Turkey is considerably low when it is compared to with other countries. According to EF EPI 2011, Turkey shows very low proficiency in English and was ranked as 43rd in the index where 44 countries were represented. You can find more detailed information about Turkish state universities in our presentation below.

 Turkish context

 Here is the worksheet in which we created everything ourselves

page 1

We first aim to present the non-gradable  adjectives in  the text and ask them to guess from the context. Rather than explaining the adjectives explicitly, we adopted an inductive approach which may be time-consuming but more efficient as students learn the new vocabulary by discovering on their own.  The last line of the text is missing to attract learner’s attention  and make them involve in the lesson by discussing with their partners.

page 2

 In order to check whether their guesses are correct or not, they can do the matching exercise on the second page. Exercises are graded from easy to more difficult to motivate the weaker learners. If these students answer the questions correctly, they may feel a sense of achievment, thereby gain confidence.

page 3

On the last page, there is a gap-filling exercise which is more challenging than the matching one. Thus, proficient learners may also feel a sense of achievement. The end-up activity is writing in which they will write their own story using the adjectives they have learnt.

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)

Although it is time-consuming and demanding, teachers should create their own materials when published materials do not cater for the needs of their learners.

References

 McGrath, I . (2002) Materials Evaluation and Design for Language Teaching. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

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Principles and Frameworks for Materials Design

It is really surprising that most materials writers describe the process of developing materials as ‘ad hoc’ and ‘spontaneous’. That is to say, they rely on their intuition based on their experiences and choose materials that are likely to work. Like tacit knowledge, they cannot explain how they develop materials. Prowse (1998) reports what ELT  materials writers think about developing materials.

Most of the writers agree that:

  • Writing is fun because it’s creative.
  • They rely heavily on their intuition.
  • They view textbook writing in the same way as writing fiction (focus on creative process of writing).
  • They emphasize the constraints of the syllabus.

However;  materials writers need to have some principles of learning and teaching which can guide their writing  and adopt a framework  in order to facilitate coherence and consistency.

This session was so helpful to understand the principles and frameworks for developing materials because we were mostly active in the classroom. We first tried to understand the principles set by Tomlinson who is the founder and president of the Materials Development Association (MATSDA). We talked about these principles with our partners and then there was a class discussion in which we explained them to each other.

These principles are:

  • A prerequisite for language acquisition is that the learners are exposed to a rich, meaningful and comprehensible input of language in use.
  • In order for the learners to maximise their exposure to language in use, they need to be engaged both affectively and cognitively in the language experience.
  • Language learners who achieve positive affect are much more likely to achieve communicative competence than those who do not.
  • L2 language learners can benefit from using those mental resources which they typically utilise when acquiring and using their L1.
  • Language learners can benefit from noticing salient features of the input and from discovering how they are used.
  • Learners need opportunities to use language to try to achieve communicative purposes (2011:7).

Considering the  principles above, I think one of the most important ones is engaging learners both affectively  and cognitively. It  is important because there can  be dull texts in which teachers make so much effort to motivate learners and  engage them affectively. If a student finds a text boring, s/he  won’t be interested in. Therefore, material writers should provide choices of different texts, activities and variety. At this point, I disagree with one of my classmates in the session.  She thinks that if it is a business course, teachers should only use texts relating to business and they can motivate students by using different activities like role-play, group-work, discussion etc . On the contrary, I believe that even the course is designed for English for Specific purposes (ESP) or English for Academic Purposes (EAP), there should be a wide range of texts and learners should be exposed to variety of genres.  Tomlinson noticed the danger of tedium and shared his experiences about this issue . One of the examples he gave is that a group of Saudi Arabian pilots complained that they were bored with reading about aircraft and airports and, almost simultaneously, a group of Iraqi diplomats complained that they were fed up with reading about politics and diplomacy. He also realized that when different texts like poetry were given to these students, they responded very enthusiastically  (2003:112).

As a second activity, we discussed Materials Design Principles – Materials should/shouldn’t…  We wrote our opinions about  ELT materials on strips of paper and grouped them into top, middle and bottom sets. Our views on the key principles that should underline ELT materials are as follows:

1 top

MIDDLE

BOTTOM

After this fruitful discussion, we have talked about the steps in materials design and looked at Jolly and Bolitho’s materials writing framework incorporating five stages.

1) IDENTIFICATION by teacher or learner(s) of a need to fulfill or a problem to solve by the creation of materials

2) EXPLORATION of the area of need/problem in terms of what language, what meanings, what functions, what skills, etc.

3) CONTEXTUAL REALISATION of materials by the finding of appropriate exercises and activities AND the writing of appropriate instructions for use

4) PEDAGOGICAL REALISATION of materials by the finding of appropriate exercises and activities AND the writing of appropriate instructions for use

5) PHYSICAL PRODUCTION of materials, involving consideration of layout, type size, visuals, reproduction, tape length, etc.

(2011:112)

These stages are dynamic, so  materials writers do not need to follow the steps in exactly this order and go through all of these steps. However, they should keep these steps in mind in order to produce appropriate materials for the target learners. The first step, identification of need, is a vital part of materials preparation. Materials writers should be aware of the learners’ needs to satisfy them. They could conduct a needs analysis to identify the needs and objectives for the materials they plan to produce. Next, needs should be analyzed by using appropriate resources like existing materials or different media. By doing so, teachers could decide whether to focus on grammar, knowledge or skill in the classroom.  If the teacher recognizes these needs in step 1, s/he can skip step 2 as the framework is dynamic. Third, contextual realisation is important to identify an appropriate context in which to present and practice the language because if the material is inappropriate, learners will probably gain the culture but they won’t practice it. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, it is difficult to teach “speed-dating” in Turkish context as it is outside the cultural experience of Turkish learners. The fourth stage is pedagogical realisation where materials writers  must focus on the need and design activities that are clear and appropriate. The last one , physical production,  is  also important to attract and motivate  the learners.

I think this framework is very useful for materials writers and teachers as it shows “A teacher’s path through the production of new or adapted materials” (2011:113).

References

Tomlinson, B. (ed)(2011) Materials Development in Language Teaching. (2nd ed). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tomlinson, B. (ed)(2003) Developing Materials for Language Teaching. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

 

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Materials Evaluation

In our second session, we discussed materials evaluation that  refers to attempts to measure the value of materials. My friend and I tried to evaluate  chapter 7  from  the coursebook called ‘English Unlimited’ and  predict whether it will work or not in EFL context. Whilst analyzing the chapter, we have considered the checklist that Ansary and Babaii set as a result of scrutinizing 10 EFL/ESL textbook-evaluation checklists and 10 EFL/ESL textbook reviews. Their evaluation checklist is as follows:

Content Presentation

  • Stating purpose(s) and objective(s)
    • For the total course
    • For individual units
  • Selection and its rationale
    • Coverage
    • Grading
    • Organization
    • Sequencing
  • Satisfaction of the syllabus
    • To the teacher
      • Providing a guide book
      • Giving advice on the methodology
        • Giving theoretical orientations
        • Key to the exercises
      • Supplementary materials
    • To the student
      • Piecemeal, unit-by-unit instruction
      • Graphics (relevant, free from unnecessary details, colorful, etc.)
      • Periodic revisions
      • Workbook
      • Exercise and activities
        • In the classroom
        • Homework
        • Sample exercises with clear instructions
        • Varied and copious
      • Periodic test sections
      • Accompanying audio-visual aids

Physical Make-up

  • Appropriate Size & weight
  • Attractive layout
  • Durability
  • High quality of editing and publishing
  • Appropriate title

Administrative Concerns

  • Macro-state policies
  • Appropriate for local situation
    • Culture
    • Religion
    • Gender
  • Appropriate Price

We could say that the book meets most of the criteria listed above but we  cannot assume whether it will work well or not with regard to specific learners by only looking at a chapter of the book or we cannot say  it is a good or rubbish coursebook since “coursebook evaluation is fundamentally a subjective and rule of-thumb activity and that no formula, grid or system will ever provide a definite yardstick”  (Leslie Sheldon, 1988:245). However; in the process of evaluating a teaching material, checklists should be taken into account as they  could give teachers and materials evaluators some ideas and make it easier for them to distinguish between what is likely be more or less suitable in relation to suitability for the age group,  level, cultural appropriateness, skills, teacher’s book etc.  I won’t mention everything but I want to point out two things that I found useful and interesting in this coursebook. The first one is teacher’s book which may help and give practical ideas to both novice and veteran teachers. It not only guides teachers but also offers alternative ways for teaching. There are also variety of actitivities for weak and strong students and extra activities such as printable worksheets with activity instructions and answer keys on the Teacher’s DVD-ROM that can alleviate teacher’s heavy workload. The second one is that the book isn’t culturally-biased. I think the writers take  EFL learners  into account while designing the coursebook. You can find reading texts and activities regarding different countries like Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Argentina, Turkey etc.  Although I taught for four years, this is the first time I’ve seen examples from Turkey in a coursebook which really interests me and my Turkish students will probably engage in these activities more as they know the context.  For example, in the exercise part of unit 7, there is a sentence comparing two famous singers in Turkey  and as a discussion activity teachers can ask the students whether they agree or not. There will probably be a good class discussion as students know about the topic. Based on my experiences, most Turkish students don’t know the famous singers,actors, or films in the world and it is sometimes really challenging to make them participate in the lesson.  In unit 9, there is also a listening activity regarding Turkish context which made me surprised. Therefore, students are not only exposed to British or American accent, they can listen to people from a wide range of places and different accents will familiarise them with the hearing both native and non-native speakers which they need in the real world. Finally, an English coursebook published by a renowned publishing company, more than an activity regarding Turkish context is unbelievable! I think this indicates there will be  more localized and culturally appropriate teaching materials in the future.

If you want to learn more about what some writers think while designing this coursebook, listen to their ideas behind the course.

References

Ansari and Babaii’s article can be accessed at: http://iteslj.org/Articles/Ansary-Textbooks/

Sheldon, L . E. (1988) Evaluating ELT textbooks and materials. ELT Journal 42 (4) : pp.237 -246

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Theresa Clementon’s materials session

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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
  • personalized
  • authentic
  • localized

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
  • interaction
  • timing

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).

Templates for a language point and skill worksheet

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?

student reactions to books in 2025

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.

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Graphic Novels

002The first British Council Turkey Story  Sharing Web Conference was held on 9th and 10th February, 2013. From this webinar, I would like to share some notes from Samantha Lewis’s plenary “Using Graphic novels and Comics with Teens”. She divides her talk into three parts: What are graphic novels?, Why should we use them and How can we use them?

She first explains the difference between graphic novels and comics. Graphic novels tend to be stand alone stories and could be serious in tone, as well. On the other hand, comics could be daily or weekly installments often with the same characters. They are both being used in the UK and USA and they are becoming more prominent in ELT.

There are many reasons of using graphic novels in the classroom. First, they are fun both for students and teachers. Students enjoy the colours and pictures which get their attention. Teachers also enjoy these activities since they are creative and provide fun contexts to work. Moreover,  graphic novels are visual. The visuals aid comprehension and image rich texts help students remember the story which might build their memory skills. They can also provide extra support for lower level students and can be exploited through a wide range of  classroom activities. Third,  they are flexible in many ways. Teachers don’t have to use the whole story when they use graphic novels. They could use  short extracts from a film or TV series. If students are interested, they can take the whole story away. They are also flexible as they can be exploited through individual or group work. In terms of the methodology, they are flexible, too. They can be used with different ways of learning (e.g task-based learning, webquests or more traditional models). Besides, they are available in a variety of genres, from superhero comics to classic texts like Shakespeare, Charles Dickens etc., so they can appeal to many students. They can develop creativity and imagination. For example, teachers can ask students to end stories or write them from a different point of view. Finally, they can incorporate technology via online comic builders, webquests and digital comics. Students can build their own comics and read digital comics online.

Samantha Lewis offered a range of fun and practical activities before, while and after reading the story. Before reading the story, teachers can give a few  key words which might help students predict the characters, topic of the story and content. Here is an example prediction task of Spooky Skaters- The Grafitti Ghost which can be accessed at: http://maryglasgowplus.com/teacher_resources/47077

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Students can also make predictions by looking at the first panel of the story or pictures and teachers can ask them to  describe the characters. Teachers can also give all the panels without the text and students can predict what will happen in each of them. As most  ELT versions of graphic novels have audio files, teachers could play the audio before reading the text  and students can try to  jot down as much as they can. This activity will probably develop their skills, language and pronunciation.

While reading the story, they can confirm their predictions.Teachers can  give texts and visuals separate and ask students to match them and they can also  get students draw or mime them which students may find enjoyable. They can also ask students to put the events in the story into correct order. Turkish students will probably like this activity because putting the events into correct order is a common exam question. Because most Turkish students are exam-oriented, they can engage in this activity more than the others. With the help of this activity, students can learn to find clues while ordering a text. For example, clues are illustrated with  a star shape in the text below.

024

After reading the story, students can act out the whole story and they can also carry out a roleplay based on the story.  Students can be asked to retell the story from a blank version in their own words. They can create or write an alternative ending, as well. Teachers can create various activities by using graphic novels with regard to their learners’ needs. For example, if learners have difficulties in using the past and past continuous tense, teachers can ask them to write the narrative version of the story.

Teachers can also focus on specific language areas, such as features of spoken language, discourse markers, description of characters or settings, narrative tenses and reported speech by using graphic novels. For example, they can get their students to write direct or indirect speech of comics or ask them to describe the characters to reinforce present simple and continuous. The example below shows how teachers can do reported speech activities by using graphic novels in the classroom.

031

030

Overall, I found Samantha Lewis’s plenary very useful as she offered a wide range of practical activities that might help learners develop both their creativity and language work while having fun.

Webinar recording can be accessed at:  https://britishcouncil.adobeconnect.com/_a917587435/p3d9oy1s4we?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

Here are some online resources and comic builders

www.makebeliefscomix.com

http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/comic/

http://interactive.cambridge.org/index.php/students/comic-builder

http://www.teachingcomics.org/

www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/genre/com/Graphic-Novels

http://www.scholastic.com/graphix/

www.toondoo.com

www.interactive.cambridge.org

http://www.classicalcomics.com/previews

http://maryglasgowplus.com/teacher_resources/28425

www.grammarmancomic.com

www.franklinwatts.co.uk

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Language Learning Materials

Adsız

Most teachers and learners use various kinds of materials to facilitate the learning of a language. According to Tomlinson (2011), language learning materials could be anything that is “deliberately used to increase the learners’ knowledge and/or experience of the language” . That is to say; they can be coursebooks, workbooks photocopiable materials, online sources, CD-Roms, DVDs, readers, YouTube. They can also be photographs, live talks by invited native speakers, food packages and newspapers. Materials play a crucial role in language learning. Richards (2001) notes that “much of the language teaching that occurs throughout the world today could not take place without the extensive use of commercial materials”. He also explains a wide range of materials for language teaching and categorized them into three groups which are:

(a) printed materials such as books, workbooks, worksheets, or readers;
(b) nonprint materials such as cassette or audio materials, videos, or computer-based materials;
(c) materials that comprise both print and nonprint sources such as self-access materials and materials on the internet. Richards also underlines the importance of materials that are not designed for instructional use such as magazines,newspapers and TV.

It is probably commercial textbooks and their supplementary materials such as workbooks,CDs and teachers’ guides commonly used by teachers and learners to facilitate the language learning process. However, it should be kept in mind that using a textbook in the language classroom has both advantages and disadvantages. Both teachers and learners can benefit from textbooks as they provide structure and a syllabus for a program, a variety of learning resources that can help learners to reinforce their learning and save teachers’ time. On the other hand, textbooks can be disadvantageous depending on the contexts, what they include and how they are used. For instance, they might not meet the needs of learners who are taught English as a foreign language (EFL) because most textbooks are designed for global market. Therefore, Learners in EFL contexts do not only struggle with learning English but they may also need to put in more effort to adapt the target culture. I believe that learning a foreign language requires learning its culture but some texts and activities in textbooks can be culturally biased and do not match with some contexts. For example; in the coursebook I taught in Turkey, there was a unit about ‘speed-dating’ which I found it really difficult to explain and make some students engage in the lesson.  They are gaining the culture but not practising it. Thus, the activities in a coursebook should match with learner needs and wants and material developers should take the target context  into account whilst developing coursebooks. Moreover, coursebooks may have a negative impact on teachers as they can deskill teachers.  As Richards explains; if teachers use textbooks as the primary source of their teaching, their role can become reduced to that of a technician whose primary function is to present materials prepared by others. Therefore, it is very important for teachers to be able to create their own materials. Taking disadvantages of coursebooks into account, teachers should not rely heavily on them. However; in some contexts like Turkey, this might not be easy because of the institutional factors and compulsory language education with coursebooks but teachers can still use their own materials where necessary and give students extra activities with regard to their needs to reinforce their learning.

Having discussed language learning materials, their roles and the importance of teachers’ being able to create their own materials in our first session, my friend and I made a presentation. It was a summary of  “Materials for General English” by  Hitomi Masuhara and Brian Tomlinson . In our presentation I found it really surprising that major coursebooks seem to target two different kinds of teaching contexts. The first one is ‘General English’  in English-speaking countries such as the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and the second one is EFL context. Although these  two contexts are not similar, most coursebooks try to cater for both contexts. Meeting the needs of them seems unrealistic as they have salient differences.  Thus, making their own materials for teachers is crucial because they are aware of their learners’ needs and learning context. They can analyze these needs and create appropriate resources for their context.

If you want to learn more about materials for General English, why don’t you look at our presentation below.

Materials for General English

References

Richards , J .C. (2001) Curriculum Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tomlinson, B. & Masuhara, H. (2008) Materials for General English. In: Tomlinson, B. (ed). English Language Learning Materials: A Critical Review. London: Continuum.

Tomlinson, B.  (ed). (2011)  Materials Development in Language Teaching. (2nd ed) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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