This blog is part of an assessed portfolio for the module on materials design. With this blog, I tried to share my reflections and insights about materials used in English Language Teaching (ELT) and some aspects of their development and evaluation. I wrote my opinions about ELT materials, their design and evaluation process commenting on the class discussions, academic readings, webinars and talks I attended.
In the first few weeks, I wasn’t quite sure of the language and didn’t know how to write my posts in a formal or informal way and reference things. I think having written my third post, I found my own voice. My posts were tentative at first but then I realized that the more I wrote, the more my voice developed and the more confident I became.
This module helped me gain a different perspective on materials used in ELT. Before taking the module, I always thought coursebooks were the primary source of teaching. Class discussions and readings I did made me aware of the importance of teacher-produced materials. When I start teaching again, the first thing that I will probably consider is my learners’s needs. After analyzing them, I will decide whether to use a coursebook or my own materials if I have a choice. Sometimes not using a coursebook cannot be an option to standardize the education in the institution. However, I am much more confident now and I can create my own materials or make some adaptations where necessary.
Thanks to fruitful discussions we had in the classroom, I now have an idea how to select,evaluate materials and which steps to follow while creating our own materials. Considering the Jolly and Bolitho’s materials writing framework, my friend and I created our worksheet. As I mentioned in my earlier post, this framework incorporates five stages. We first identified Turkish students’ needs and then explored them and decided to focus on grammar. Third, as we know the context well, we prepared the exercises considering their level. Exercises in our worksheet may seem easy for pre-intermediate learners but they aren’t actually (pedagogical realization). Finally, we took the last step – physical production- into consideration and added some cartoons, boxes and designed our layout. When I looked back and considered the worksheets I had prepared and compared them with our worksheet , I could see that there is a huge difference. Jason Renshaw’s videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pd4TUrcc2y4) helped us a lot to design our worksheet. I learnt the importance of headers and footers, colours and visuals to make the materials we created more appealing and look professional.
With this module, I have explored the importance of media, functionality and technology choice when selecting and evaluating materials. In my post ‘Graphic Novels’, I have suggested various activities with different tools as graphic novels can incorporate technology via online comic builders, webquests, and digital comics. Besides, I have looked at other tools like Bookr to improve the worksheet I created by adding visuals (http://www.pimpampum.net/bookr/). I have also shot four videos and considered how they could be used as an ELT material. I will probably use them as ‘warmers’ or ‘coolers’ when I start teaching again. With this experience, I realized how simple shooting a video and uploading it to YouTube are (http://www.youtube.com/). Having looked at the media and different tools, I could say that they are visually appealing but most importantly, they have important affective features that will increase the learners’ engagement in the language learning experience.
What this blog has done most of all is served to remind me the importance of teacher-produced materials, media and other tools that can be used in the classroom and how important affective factors are. As a result of taking this module, I become more confident and I now have an idea how to select and evaluate materials.