1. PRODUCING ENGLISH LESSON CURRICULAR MATERIALS
There is an abundance of English language materials on the market. Producing our own material is a time-consuming process, so although teachers do not very often decide to produce all materials, they produce supplementary activities to the course-book.
Once we know our pupils’ characteristics and needs, we can deal with a production of material as worksheets, flash-cards, etc., in order to include some variety, more practice and focus on an interesting item that there is not in the course-book.
Both, flash-cards or worksheets, can be elaborated by our own pupils.
2. CRITERIA FOR THE SELECTION AND USE OF COURSE-BOOK
Choosing a course-book can be difficult. We must consider:
· Contents: if selected language is based on the objectives
· Sequence: if contents are gradually presented in a cyclic way, previous language and a little more. Activities for all the learning moments (presentation, practice and production). If progression is adequate to the cognitive stage of children.
· Skills: if it works the four skills
· Activities: if language is realistic, the topics are relevant to pupils, if there are communicative activities.
· Design: if they are attractive for pupils and have visual backups for most presentations of new language. Instructions must be clear.
· Practical considerations: if price is suitable for children. If there is availability of other materials: tapes, work-books, videos, graded readings, teacher-book, activities for evaluation, …)
The course-book help teacher by providing an appropriately sequenced and structured programme, a wide range of material, economy of preparation time, practical teaching ideas, security, a reference to checking and reviewing.
But teachers must adapt the course-books to their pupils’ needs.
3. AUTHENTIC, SIMULATED AND NON-AUTHENTIC MATERIALS.
Communicative competence is our main aim. To get it, children need materials which reflect the world outside.
Authentic materials are the ones produce for purposes other than to teach language: video-clips, TV programmes, radio and newspaper, signs, maps and charts, photographs and pictures, timetables, etc.
Authentic materials imply some difficulty but they prepare pupils to understand and manipulate language in real communicative situations. They get gradually used to the new element.
As beginners are not able to handle genuinely authentic texts, they need to have practice in simulated texts that look authentic, so there is a certain degree of language control. Manipulating these texts they will acquire the necessary skills they will need when they handle authentic material.
Simulated materials have been designed specially for language learners, but they are similar to real situations.
There is also artificial material, designed to illustrate particular language points in presentation stages.
Even if there is a certain language control, simulated authentic materials are useful to acquire linguistic skills in communicative situations.
4. INVOLVING PUPILS IN MATERIAL DESIGN
Communicative approach is a learner-centred approach. We should make them participants of the material design process.
Beginners can make their own flash-cards with cut-outs or drawing their own cards to play afterwards. It is dynamic, motivating and they have a responsibility in their own learning process.
Older pupils can also make materials that can be used with other pupils: puppets, video-recordings, brochures, surveys, …
They can do it as a project. Teachers offer a topic or they can choose one of their interest. They make groups, search relevant information, prepare the design, divide the tasks into the group members and produce the item. Then, they show it to the rest of the class and the work is evaluated by all of them.