ADAPTING THE ENGLISH TEXTBOOK TO YOUR STUDENTS’ NEEDS. Dayna House, Senior English Language Fellow 2012 U.S. State Departmenthttp://argentina.usembassy.gov/english_teaching. html
The QuestionWhy should teachers reinventactivities when publishers havealready developed appropriateinstructional sequences, lessondesigns, and activities for eachsubject?
The Answers….1. Textbooks are designed so that the format of all lessons is the same. This uniformity makes textbooks easier to:a. Writeb. Teach frombut it can also lead to boredom as thesame sequence of activities is followedday after day.
2. The materials are designed to appeal to the same "generic" student interests. This means that the design of the textbook is "one size fits all.“a. Teachers know that a single set of materials cannot meet all the needs and interests of all their students.
Dont you be a stumbling block to your learners progressSO….Use the texts, but supplementand adapt them to the needs ofyour studentsThis builds Student’s confidencethat you are concerned about theirneeds and not just following aprogram.
Erroneous practicesHere are some common errors that can beeasily remedied.1. You Dont adapt materials to the learning style and characteristics of the students.2. You only Follow the course book.3. You Dont encourage and promote language practice outside the classroom.4. Ask for your students’ feedback to improve your teaching
Mechanical Language Texts andour own teaching practices canderail the students efforts andmotivation in language acquisitionAnalyze your own teachingpractices and make any neededadjustments to your teaching.
The learning style most reflected in the classroom is that of the teacher.But, It is important that concepts and material bepresented in ways most suitable for the learners. Jack C.Richards, author of the popular Interchange textbookseries said,"Student learning styles may be an important factor in the success of teaching and may not necessarily reflect those that teachers recommend."Why is this true? Because teachers use their ownpreferred learning style in the class room, not necessarilythose of the students.Analyze your student’s learning characteristics, then applythe results to your teaching.
2. A course book is not intended to be a "bible"Too often teachers follow it "religiously“ and do nothingelse, nor do they include outside materials in their teaching.1. Read the teachers notes at the beginning. You will readhow the course book is intended as a guide for teachingwith supplementary materials to be added toexpand, deepen or reinforce presented materials andthemes.2. Use the course book sequence as a guide and freelysupplement exercises and materials with your own creationsor at the very least with materials adapted from othersources.3. And again, plan your lessons and materials to meet the
Table of the Multiple Intelligences SynthesizedType Read “When Presenting Information” Preference Strength Ss. Learn Best By And Need When presenting the information1.Verbal/Linguistic Write Writing Reading Books - Present Content Verbally Read Memorizing Dates Thinking In Words Tapes - Ask Questions Aloud And Look For Ss. Feedback - Use Interviews Tell Stories Telling Stories Paper Diaries -Ask Ss. To Present Material Talk Writing Tools - Ask Ss. To Read Content & Prepare Presentations For Classmates Memorize Dialogue - Have Ss. Debate Over An Issue Work At Solving Puzzles Discussion Debated Stories, Etc..2. Logical/ Mathematical Question Work With Numbers Math Logic Working With Patterns & Relationships -Provide Brain Teasers Or Challenging Questions To Begin Lessons. Experiment Solve Problems Problem-Solving Reasoning Classifying Categorizing - Make Logical Connections Between The Subject Matter & Authentic Situations To Answer The Question Patterns Working With The Abstract "Why?" -Have Ss. Categorize Information In Logical Sequences For Organizing. Needs: Things To Think –Have Ss. Create Graphs Or Charts To Explain Written Info. –Have Ss. Participate In Web About & Explore-- Science Materials, Quests Associated With The Content Manipulative, Trips To The Planetarium & Science Museum.3. Visual/Spatial Draw Build Maps Legos Video -Use Visuals To Explain Content: Powerpoint Slides, Charts, Graphs, Cartoons, Videos, Overheads, Design Create Reading Charts Movies Slides -Have Students Work Individually Or In Groups To Create Visuals Pertaining To The Information Daydream Look At Pictures Drawing Mazes Art Imagination Games - Use Posters; Timelines; Models; Powerpoint Slides; Maps; Illustrations, Charts; Concept Mapping Puzzles Imagining Things Mazes Puzzles Visualization Illustrated Book Trips To Art Museums4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Move Around Touch And Talk Athletics Dancing Touching Moving -Use Props During Lecture - Provide Tangible Items Pertaining To Body Language Crafts Using Tools Knowledge Through Body Sensations Content For Ss. to Examine -Review Using Sports Related Acting Processing Examples (Throw A Ball To Someone To Answer A Question) - Needs: Role-Play Students Use Computers To Research Subject Matter. - Students Drama Things To Build Create Props Of Their Own Explaining Subject Matter (Shadow Boxes, Mobiles, Etc...) Movement Sports And - Students Create Review Games. Physical Games Tactile Experiences Hands-On Learning
3. It is essential for learners to receive additional practice and input.It is alarming number of schools and institutesdecreasing foreign language class contact hours perweek.-Many public or government-funded educationalcenters require as little as four hours or less a week.-Can a student really learn a language in only 45hours?-Now, add the fact that learners are using their firstlanguage most of the day of language learning and youhave a situation degraded to a nearly impossible state.
Discuss ideas to do this-Put this way, is it reasonable to expect mastery of anysort in a language after only six or seven days in aforeign country where that language is spoken?It is no wonder students cant hold even a basicconversation after studying English (or another foreignlanguage) under these conditions for two, three oreven more years. Encouragement and promotion of foreign language practice outsidethe class room is absolutely vital to the success of the learners.
4. Ask for your students’ feedback to improve your teachingFeedback from your students is very important toknow which activities they enjoyed the most at theend of the class, then adapt your lesson plansbased on their feedback.This can help you better understand the teachingmethods that are most effective for your students.Adapting your lessons to your students’ languagelevel and learning style is the best way to meettheir language need.
Dont you be a stumbling block to your learners progress.If you are guilty of any of theseerroneous practices in languageteaching, make any needed adjustmentsto your teaching practice ASAP.You may be amazed how your learnersgrow, improve and become motivatedto practice in the language classroom.
How to Adapt the Text1. Leave out a unit or unitsa. Leave out the first or second units of thebook when they already know the concepts(itis being recycled)b. Leave out a unit with a grammar point thatis introduced later on as there is a unit thatdoes contrasting of two tenses (e.g. PresentPerfect/ Simple Past)
2. Combine grammar points-If the students have done the Present Continuousand Past Continuous before in a previous year, inyour class, do all the Continuous tenses together.-Choose a few exercises from the differentchapters of the textbook and workbook toillustrate the similarities and differences betweenthose two tenses and the Future Continuous andPresent Perfect Continuous.-Then consider those units done. You can go backto other parts of the units later if needed toreinforce or assign it at homework
3. Leave out the same section each time.You might be surprised thatleaving out the same tasks atthe end of units or the TestYourself sections doesn’t takeanything away from thestudents learning.
4. Let the class chooseAllow students to express their ownopinion on what they do and don’t wantto learn.Let the class to look at the syllabus at thefront of the students’ book and decideTHEIR PRIORITIES AND what they arehappy to leave out.
For Classes that still expect the teacher to make all learning decisions:a. teachers can do a needs analysis and guidethe class to embrace different options. forexample:• “After identifying the grammar points you feel you already know, we can skim over the easier units and work on fluency. Then we can concentrate and try to push your level up with more the difficult grammar structures and idiomatic language”
5. Set textbook exercises for homework and eliminate the workbookIf the workbook has a key, set thetextbook exercise as obligatory andthe workbook as optional extras,perhaps telling students whichworkbook exercises would be mostuseful for them to work on theirown.
6. Turn the book activities into communication gamesAdapt textbook activities to engagestudents in group or pair work andcreate communicative games andactivitiesOnce youve decided how you want toactively engage your students(M.I.),make sure students understand theprocedures of the communicativeActivity you intend to use.
Discuss: Share ways you have turned you Bookgrammar exercise into a communicative activity.For Example:Turned readings into jigsaw readings by gettingstudents to read half of the text each andcompare their informationFind someone who activity.
7. Check answers to comprehension activities after the first student finishesTake a look at comprehension activities in thetextbooks and redesign them in light of the AMOUNTof the activity itself.Redesigning the activity in light of “AMOUNT" is aboutthe obligatory and optional tasks.Ss. can be asked to answer a certain number ofquestions.For example, low-performing ESL students can list fouranswers, while the stronger students can list morethan four answers.As long as all the students have answered at leastthree questions, before asking for the answer.
8. Decide which individual questions you will leave out• This is a variation of #7For example, “Do exercisethree, but don’t do questions 7and 8 because they are onlytrue for British English”.
9. When working on less challengingexercises, stop when they’ve got the hang of it• Work through exercises together and at some point say“Well, I think you’ve got the hang ofthat. Let’s move onto the nextexercise/ language point, which ismore challenging/ useful/ related tothe exam”
10. Stop the exercise and leave the rest for homeworkThis is a variation of #9 that can bemore suitable for students who don’teasily accept things being completelyleft out.Or those who are sensitive abouthow much money they paid for thebook.
11. Set different tasks for the slower studentsCater to the student’s level(blooms Taxonomy) ofdifficulty of the task.The teacher can adapt the task to suit all threelevels: lower, middle and stronger.This gives the student a choice of activities.You may have to adapt the language of the activityand the instructions of the activity itself to suit thelevel of the students linguistic ability.• For example, “Leave questions 3 and 6 until the end, and only do them if you have time”
12. Simplify the grammar points• You don’t have to give students every meaning/use for a grammar item.• You might want to leave out one of the meanings for example of the Present Perfect or one exception to almost always using a determiner in English.• If you do this, make sure that you can adapt or leave it out of later exercises so that these points don’t come up.
• This can also give you a justification for leaving out other exercises- “Exercise 4 is a bit different from thegrammar we have seen, so we won’tdo that one”
13. Decide what you can rush through and what students will need more time on.• decide and tell your students which parts you are going to rush or skim through because they are too easy, too similar to other things you have done before or will be done again later.• You can then tell them this will leave more time for the things that are worth spending time on.
14. Use the whole book, but in a different order• This means that you will cover all the most important points and that the students might never notice that you have missed anything.• Ways of making the logic of the process clear to students giving them a syllabus for the first few weeks showing them that you have an actual plan for how you are choosing what comes next.
• This works best with books that are meant to be modular rather than ones that build on the language and increase the difficulty of texts as the units go on.
ITSON textbook• Here is an example of a syllabus I had to reorder when I worked in Mexico at the Instituto Tecnologico de Sonora.• The textbook for English Course I & Course II were compilations of Level I,II,III of other published course books but were in random order.• Here is what I had to do.
Notice thatdescriptiveadjectives were onpg. 263-265. I hadSs. do theseactivities in week 1Infinitive verbswere onPg. 265 also so Ihad Ss.Do these activitiesweek 1
Plural nouns wereon pg.150 – 151 and I hadSs. doActivities week 3
Prepositions wereOn pg. 39 & 174and I had Ss. doactivities week 4
• It is up to the teacher to order the learning in a coherent way. If the text you are using doesn’t do this, it is then your job. Otherwise Students will just be confused.
Dont be a stumbling block to your learners progress.Poorly used Language texts and classroommethodology can easily derail the studentsefforts and motivation in language acquisitionand learning.Analyze your own teaching practices and makeany needed adjustments to your teaching.You will be surprised how your learners aremotivates and improve language skills likenever before.
Discuss• Share 3 things that you learned in today’s workshop with your neighbors
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