Topic 23A – The development of curriculum materials for English class. Criteria for the selection and use of textbooks. Authentic and adapted documents: limitations of use. The collaboration of students in the design of materials.

Topic 23A – The development of curriculum materials for English class. Criteria for the selection and use of textbooks. Authentic and adapted documents: limitations of use. The collaboration of students in the design of materials.

1.1 Choosing a course book.
2.2. Using a course book.
There is an abundance of English language teaching materials on the market. At various times of our professional life we will be involved in the selection of materials for our pupils, and, if we do not find any materials which response to our pupils’ needs we will have to design them.
Before attempting to evaluate published materials or to design our own, we must come to some conclusions about our pupils and what their needs are.
The followingprofile of pupils needs has been taken from “Harmer” and has three major components:
– description of pupils
– description of pupils’ needs
– conclusions
2. Number of boys and girls:
3. Familiar background:
4. Parents’ occupation:
5. Motivation/Attitude:
6. Knowledge of the world:
7. Knowledge of English:
8. Interests:
9. Pupils with special needs:
10. Pupils with discipline problems:
11. Based on the above, what conclusions can we draw about the kind of materials that would be suitable for our pupils?
Once we have an idea of our pupils’ personal characteristics we must come to some kind of conclusion about what their needs are. Most of them are legally marked (general objectives, assessment criteria.)
1 .To reach communicative competence we need to study the four skills:
– Reading
– Listening
– Writing
– Speaking
2.Is there any pupil with special needs?What shall we do about them?
Now we have a clearer idea bout our pupils and their needs. It is time to move to some conclusions about the type of materials we want to select and design. We will now study the selection and production of materials separately.

Producing our own materials is a time-consuming process, so it is not very often that teachers decide to produce all the materials they need for a whole cycle. Most teachers, however, produce supplementary materials which are finely tuned to their pupils’ needs.
(Brewster gives some reasons for producing our own supplementary materials, even if we have a course book:

1 – We may feel that our course book does not provide enough practice on a problematic point for our pupils and we must prepare some extra activities.
2 -Some of the materials in our course book are not appropriate for our class, either because their lack of interest or because they do not answer our pupils’ needs.
3 -We want to foster a different methodology which is not the one used by the course book authors, eg. We want to provide our pupils with a selection of different activities so that they can choose and work more autonomously.
4 -If the course book uses the same approach one and again we may want to add some activities for the sake of variety. In any of these cases we can see we are dealing with the production of materials such as
Worksheets,flashcards Worksheets can be exercises which are drawn, written or sheet of paper then photocopied so that each pupil in the class could have one.They are clear; simple and attractive with the instructions in very simple English or in Spanish especially with our youngest pupils). The activities we normally use last a few minutes and practise one articular language point involving our pupils in different skills.
We can use worksheets to organize both oral and written work, individually or in pairs or groups. If we want to use them more than once it is a good idea to cover them in plastic. If we do not, our pupils can personalize the worksheets with labels, colours and so on.
When designing worksheets, we must think about how our pupils will use them. It is important to know whether they will need written instructions, either in simple English or in Spanish, or only oral ones. It is always a good idea to try the worksheet ourselves to see if there is really enough room to write our pupils’ names and the responses demanded in the activities.
Worksheets can be used with information gap activities. For example we can tell our pupils they are going to work in pairs. We give them a worksheet and tell them they cannot show each other their worksheet. They have to share the information in order to complete the worksheet.
We can also make a picture dictation where our pupils will give us a non-verbal response. The worksheet consists of a simple drawing of a naked, bald boy. We dictate his description and our pupils must add the new elements to the drawing.
Other activities will include Time dictation, where our pupils as us the time and draw it on the clockfaces drawn in the worksheet or True or False where our pupils must compare the information they have in the worksheet with the information we give them orally.
Flashcards for young learners are often made using pictures and some words. The pictures must be clearly recognisable and the letters, large, clear and black. Flashcards must be large enough for the whole class to see: they must convey the meaning clearly, especially when they refer to actions our pupils must follow.
Flashcards must be used to introduce and practise vocabulary related to our pupils’ fields of interest. For example:What’s this?It’s a monkey
To introduce and practise “yes/no questions”or “wh-questions”.
For example:Do you like (Showing marmalade flashcard)?Yes, I do/ No, I don’t
To introduce and practise talking about possessions, about uses of modal verbs,There is/there are.
Both flashcards and worksheets can be made by ourselves or by our pupils, as we will see inthe last section.
In the introduction we studied our pupils and their needs. Now that we know them we can start to evaluate materials, above all our course book.
2.1Choosing a course book.
Choosing a course book is extremely difficult. In some case, we cannot get a good picture of the suitability of a book till we have been working through it for some time.However, we can prepare a course book evaluation form which is based on “Harmer”. According to him, any course book evaluation form should be based on the following criteria.

1 – The course book makes clear the link between the classroom and the wider word.
2 – The course book fosters independent learning.
3 -The course book focuses our pupils on their learning process.
4 -The course book is readily available.
5 -The course book accords with our pupils’ needs.
6 -The course book can be used at more than one level of difficulty(heterogeneity)
7 -The pedagogical objectives of the materials are clear.
Harmer’s material evaluation form has seven parts.Each part is considered through a set of questions which may be answered”yes/no with an additional comment.The seven parts are:
– practical considerations
– layout and design
– activities
– skills
– language type
– subject and content
– guidance
To these we must add the final conclusions.
Under practical considerations we must decide if the price of the materials is suitable for our pupils. We must also be sure about the availability of the different parts of the course such as tapes, workbooks.
We must also judge whether the course book layout and design is attractive for our pupils.
We must also studyour selected course books to see that there is a balance of activities.In particular, there should be a substantial amount of aural language input and a wide variety of communicative activities.The presentation of new language should take place in realistic contexts.
In the skills part we must see whether the course book balance of skills is appropriate for Primary Education.We must see that the aural component is more important than the written one, and that receptive skills are more important than the productive nes.
In language type, we must consider whether the language is realistic:
– simulated authentic
We must also consider whether it is of the right type (relevant to our pupils’ needs); andfinally, if the progression is adequate for the cognitive stage of development of our pupils.
In subject and content we analyze what topics are included in the course book and whether they match up to our pupils’ personalities, backgrounds and needs. Subject and content should be relevant, realistic, interesting and varied.
We must also consider if there is sufficient guidance, not only for us, but for our pupils. As far as we are concerned, we need to have clear explanations of how the material should be used to take the maximum advantage out of it.As far as our pupils are oncerned, we have to consider whether the materials are clear, easy to follow and have well-defined objectives that the whole class can understand.
Finally, we must come to conclusions about the adoption of the proposed course book once the form has finally been completed.
The whole Course Book evaluation form will take the following form:
1 .Name of the course book under consideration:
2 .Author or authors:
3 .Publisher:
4 .Level:
5 .Price:
1 .Practical considerations.
1.1. Is the price of the materials appropriate for our pupils? YES/NO
1.2. Are the integral parts of the course available now (course books, tapes, teacher’s books, tapes.) ?YES/NO
2. Layout and design.
2.1 Is the layout and design of the materials appropriate for our pupils?YES / NO
3.1.Do the materials provide a balance of activities that is appropriate for your pupils? YES /NO
3.2.Is there a sufficient amount of communication output in the course book under consideration?YES/NO
3.3. Do the course bookprovide enough roughly-tuned input for our pupils? YES / NO
3.4. Is new language introduced in motivating and realistic contexts?YES / NO
4. A source of practical teaching ideas.
5. Work that our pupils can do on their own so that we do not need to be centre stage all the time.
6. A basis for homework if that is required.
7. A basis for discussion and comparison with other colleagues.
It also helps our pupils because it offers them:
1 .A sense of purpose, progression and progress.
2 .A sense of security
3 .Scope for independent and autonomous learning
4 .A reference for checking and revising.
However, we also find some things that we can do better, such as: participating in oral interactions, adjusting level and quantity of work to our pupils’ needs;and encourage our pupils when they are not motivated.
As we can see it is equally wrong not to deviate from the course book at all as deviating for the sake ofdeviating.If we have chosen the book properly, it is usually a good idea to use the book very much as the author suggests for the first time, as a great deal of thought has gone into its writing. This way we can see really see its advantages and drawbacks and act accordingly. Any chosen text must be adapted to the particular requirements of the class and it is not very professionalto adopt for our cycles the aims and objectives of the course book, unless they are reasonably complementary.
However, whether we adapt the course book or we teach it straight from beginning to end, we must decide on our pace of progress.This is very important in Primary education where we have 170 teaching hours every year.This is plenty of time really (roughly an hour a day) and so we must be able to produce plenty of additional and varied practice of the same topic. To do this we can use authentic, simulated authentic, or artificial materials.

The main aim of all our teaching is to enable our pupils to reach communicative competence.As the focus will be on assisting our pupils to do in class what they will need to do outside, the materials we use should reflect the world outside.In other words they hould have a degree of authenticity.This authenticity should relate to the text sources as well as to the pupils’ activities and tasks.
3.1 – Authenticity.(Nunan)
Authenticity material are usually defined as those which have been produced for other purposes than to teach language.They can be got from many different sources:video clips, recordings of authentic interactions, extracts from television, radio and chedules.
Despite the difficulties associated with the use of authentic aterials, they are easily justified on the grounds that specially scripted texts are artificial.
Cardlin and Edelhoff suggestthat there are at least four types of authenticity which are important in our classrooms:
– authenticity of goal
– authenticity of environment
– authenticity of text
– authenticity of task
Nunan thinks that the most important type of authenticity is what he called”learner authenticity”.By this he means”the realisation and acceptance by the learner of the authenticity of a given text, task, set of materials or learning activity”.If we want our pupils to think that the materials we use are authentic they must fulfil two conditions:
1 .They must be recognised by learners as having a legitimate place in the language classroom.
2 .They must engage the interests of our pupils by relating to their interests, background knowledge and experience, and through these, stimulate genuine communication.
It is important to make our pupils realise that they are learning something. This is especially easy with traditional activities, such as drills or translations, but new, communicative activities may seem to them a waste of time.In some activities we can have, as Gavin Bolton said of drama a unique pedagogic situation, where a teacher sees himself as teaching but our pupils do not see themselves as learning.
The second condition is easily fulfilled if we take into account our pupils characteristics and needs.
3. 2 .Simulated authentic and artificial.
A non-authentic text, in language teaching terms,” is one that has been designed especially for language learners”.(Harmer).
We can make a distinction here, however, between texts which have been made to illustrate particular language points for presentation (artificial) and those which appear to be authentic(simulated authentic).  The justification for simulated authentic texts is clear in the case of our pupils.Beginner pupils are able to handle genuinely authentic texts, but they need to have practice in texts that look authentic, even if they have been edited, and so there is a certain degree of language control.
Manipulating and comprehending these texts will help our pupils to acquire the necessary skills they will need when they come to handle authentic material.
Our curriculum clearly advocates a communicative approach to language teaching.This approach makes use of tasks that will be linked in principle ways to the real-tasks our pupils are required to engage in outside the classroom.The Communicative approach to language teaching also suggests that classroom-based acquisition is fostered by psycholinguistically – motivated learning tasks.
However, our curriculum also establishes a learner-centred approach and one of the best ways to take account of our pupils needs and characteristics is by making them participating of the material design process.
Brewster, J., Ellis, G. and Girard, D.The Primary English Teacher’s GuidePenguin. London 1992.
Brumfit, C.J., and Johnson K.(eds)The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, CUP Cambridge
Harmer, J. The Practice of English Language Teaching,Longman, London, 1983
Halliwell, S.Teaching English in the Primary Classroom,Longman, London, 1992. (There exists Spanish translation: La Enseñanza del Inglés en Educación Primaria.Longman, London, 1993.)
Littlewood, W. Communicative Language Teaching.CUP. Cambridge, 1988.
Nunan, D.The Learner- Centred Curriculum.CUP,Cambridge, 1988.
Richards, J.C.and Rodgers, T.S. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching,CUP. Cambridge,1986.
Platt, J., and Platt, H.Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics,Longman, London, 1992
Savignon, S. Communicative Competence:Teory and Classroom Practice, Addison-Wesley. Reading, Mass., 1983
Widowson, H.G. Teaching Language as Communication.OUP.Oxford, 1978.