Evaluating your textbook Dayna House, Senior English Language Fellow 2012
Selection of Course books• Choosing a course book can be extremely difficult. We cannot get a good picture of the suitability of a book until we have been working through it for some time.• The teacher’s responsibility involves not only student assessment, but also the evaluation of the teaching and learning process itself. This means that the materials must be evaluated as well.
The course book should help teachers by providing:a. A clear program which is appropriately sequencedand structured to include revision.b. A wider range of material than we can collectindividually.c. Economy of preparation time.d. A source of practical teaching ideas.e. Work that our pupils can do on their own.f. A basis for homework.g. A basis for discussion and comparable with otherschools.
The course book also helps our pupils because it offers them:a. A sense of purpose, progression and progress.b. A sense of security.c. Independent and autonomous learning.d. A reference for checking and revising.
The Perfect BookWe are not looking for the “Perfect” textbookwhich meets all our requirements. But rather the best possible fit for what the teachers and the students need.It is important that the aims of the teachingprogram determine the materials to be usedand not the contrary.
TextbooksAny chosen text must be adapted to theparticular requirements of the class. And thereare always some things that TEACHES can dobetter, such as:1. Participating in oral interactions2. Adjusting level and quantity of work to our pupils’ needs and3. Encourage our pupils when they are not motivated.
I. SPECIFIC APPROACHES TO GENERATING MOTIVATION A. Reevaluate Your Program & Suggest Change.A dynamic program is one that: 1. Reflects positive values 2. Motivativates learning through stimulating content and achievable goals 7
A Dynamic Program3. Has a blend of features that appeal to today’s students. a. Interesting & Compelling topics b. Active student-led tasks c. Assist language production with strong and have focused language presentations d. Personalize learning with interesting and com- municative speaking activities e. should provide abundant practice, supplementary and review activities. f. Has careful incorporation of different media resources with flexibility of instructional options and Clarity of tasks g. has tests that allows students to be confident, creative, and learn more effectively.
4. Textbooks• Textbooks should be appropriate to the teaching environment (in an English speaking country or in a non-English speaking environment)• Choosing a text that is NOT appropriate to the teaching environment is a recipe for failure for both the Teacher and Students.
A. EFL vs. ESL• ESL means “English as a second language”. People usually use the word ESL to talk about teaching English to people who do not speak English. ESL teaching happens in an English-speaking country. Often, ESL students are people who came to live in an English-speaking country, and do not speak English very well.Definition: A traditional term for the use or study of the English language by non-native speakers in an English-speaking environment. That environment may be acountry in which English is the mother tongue (e.g., Australia, the U.S.) or one inwhich English has an established role (e.g., India, Nigeria).• EFL means teaching or learning English in a country where English is not spoken, this is the correct term and approach
5. Textbook / Workbook Focus Should be…..Grammar focus – Sequenced exercises thatallow the student to focus on the newgrammar point and solidify their learningVocabulary Focus – Thematic vocabularyreflected in the chapterListening Focus –Functional conversationsthat introduce the target grammarSpeaking Focus – Interactive speaking taskfocused on the student’s production of targetvocabulary, grammar and functional language. 11
Pronunciation Focus – Stress rhythm, andintonation practice based on the targetvocabulary and grammarReading & writing Focus – Thematicpassages that incorporate personalizedwriting activity that stimulates studentproduction of target vocabulary andgrammarCultural Focus – Topics that introduce thedifferent ways different cultures act in givensituations that reflect the principles ofpositive multiculturalism.Media Programs - A springboard for studentinvolvement and interaction.
Activity #1 -SPECIFIC APPROACHES FOR EVALUATING YOUR TEXTBOOK A. Evaluate Your Program And Suggest Change. What kind of Grammar Focus does you textbook have? __________________________________________________________ What kind of Vocabulary Focus does you textbook have? __________________________________________________________ What kind of Listening Focus does you textbook have? __________________________________________________________ What kind of Speaking Focus does you textbook have? __________________________________________________________ What kind of Pronunciation Focus does you textbook have? __________________________________________________________ What kind of Reading & Writing Focus does you textbook have? ________________________________________________________________ What kind of Cultural Focus does you textbook have? ________________________________________________________________ B. Does your text have an Audio Program? What kind? ________________________________________________________________ C. Does your text have a Video Program? What kind? ________________________________________________________________
II. Criteria for Selection and Use of Course books• The teacher’s responsibility involves not only student assessment, but also the evaluation of the teaching and learning process itself. This means that the materials must be evaluated as well.• The teacher’s responsibility involves the evaluation of the teaching and learning process itself. This means that the materials must be evaluated as well.
Criteria Therefore, teachers should prepare acourse book evaluation form, which can be used to analyze their course book or text. There are several different criteria toconsider when evaluating new textbooksfor possible adoption in your institution. Here are some to consider:
Criteriaa. The text makes clear the links between theclassroom and the wider world.b. The text fosters independent learning.c. The text focuses our pupils on their learning process.d. The text is easily available.e. The text meets our pupils’ needs.f. The text can be used at more than one level ofdifficulty (heterogeneity).g. The pedagogical objectives of the materials are clear.h. The text is more attractive in appearance for thestudents than the teacher produced materials.
TextbooksAny chosen text must be adapted to theparticular requirements of the class. And thereare always some things that we can do better,such as:1. Participating in oral interactions2. Adjusting level and quantity of work to our pupils’ needs and3. Encourage our pupils when they are not motivated.
Points & Aspects to consider When Selecting a Course Book1. Layout and design: we must judge whetherthe course book layout and design areappropriate and attractive for our pupils.- How appealing is the material?- Will it hold student’s interest and satisfy them?- Is it relevant, transferable, task oriented formaximum student involvement?
2. Activities: Is there a balance of activities.• There should be a substantial amount of aural language input and a wide variety of communicative activities.Ask these Questions:- Does the course book provide enough recycling of input for ourpupils?-What kind of practice activities is there?-Is there an appropriate balance between controlled and freerpractice?-Are they motivating and meaningful?-How much variety of activities is there?-Didactic Units should follow the same steps: introduction(presentation), controlled activities (practice) and free or lesscontrolled activities (production).
3. Language content: analyze of texts, exercises, activities and tasks inthe text and ask yourself, “Are the activities sequenced logically, fromsimple to difficult, from mechanical to meaningful, from passive toproductive and from accuracy to fluency”.4. Skills: Is there a balance of appropriate integrated skills for the level.-For lower level and Elementary Education the aural component is moreimportant than the written one, and the receptive skills are moreimportant than the productive ones.-Can text used at more than one level of difficulty (heterogeneity-thosestudents that come the class with Less or More knowledge).-Are the pedagogical objectives of the materials are clear.5. Language type: Evaluate the realistic nature--authentic, well-simulated, and contrived--of materials and activities.- Authentic or simulated authentic-Is the language is realistic and the right type?-relevant to our pupils’ needs?-Vocabulary should be relevant to our pupils’ interests, close to theirworld and presented in a meaningful context. -Is the progressionadequate for the cognitive stage of development of our pupils.
6. Subject and content: Subject and content should berelevant, realistic at least some of the time, interesting andvaried.-What topics are included and do they match up to ourpupils’ personalities, backgrounds and needs.7. Guidance: Is there enough guidance not only for theteacher, but also for our pupils. We need to have clearexplanations of how the material should be used to take themaximum advantage out of it. The materials should be clear,easy to follow and have well-defined objectives that thewhole class can understand.-The text fosters independent learning.-The text meets our pupils’ needs.-What will be the learner’s role--how will they manipulate thematerials, complete tasks or exercises.-How will the activities advance the learner’s communicativecompetences?
8. Practical considerations:-Is the price of the materials suitable for our pupils?-Are all the components of the course (tapes, worksheets, etc.)readily available?-Audience for whom the text appears to be intended (age oflearners, level of proficiency, purpose for studying English)9. Authors beliefs about theory and practice in language learningand teaching10. What is the teachers role--what does the teacher have to doin order to facilitate learning?-Also describe the teacher’s role in terms of controller, meager,participant, and observer.11. TESTS - Describe how the text assesses the learners learningor attaining the goals set forth.12. General strengths and weaknesses of the text.
13. Does this text fit with your Institutional goals?- length of the semester/course,- Number of class hours- what the curriculum says needs to be covered?14. Helps Teachers:-A wider range of material than we can collect individually.-Work that our pupils can do on their own.-A basis for homework.-A source of practical teaching ideas and Economy ofpreparation time.15. Helps the Pupils - because it offers them-A sense of purpose, progression and progress.-A sense of security.-Independent and autonomous learning.-A reference for checking and revising.
Look at the Checklist belowEvery Institution should create an evaluation tool that can be usedwhen considering a new textbook.
CHECKLIST FOR EVALUATION OF TEXTSName of YES NO Not applicableText______________________________Author______________________________Student Group Designed for___________________________1. Authors include a. Experts in Second Language Research? b. Classroom Teachers? c. Writers for Children? Adults?2. Philosophy a. Agrees to "no one best way" in teaching b. Believes in one specific methodology c. Believes in an eclectic approach d. Promotes positive attitudes3. Appropriate for Audience: text appears to be intended for a. Age of learners ______ b. level of proficiency ________________ c. Purpose for studying English
YES NO Not applicable3. Physical Aspects a. Books and Materials of appropriate size b. Clear Type/Illustrations c. Stimulates Discussion4. Literary Quality a. Style of writing is appropriate for student group b. Quality of writing is native-like c. Variety, humor, adventure, action5. Text Program a. Sequential development of materials b. Adequate explanations: directions easy to understand c. Variety of activities d. Provides for a range of English proficiency e. Enrichment activities to provide practice for each skill introduced f. Planned introductions of new words and concepts g. Adequate repetition of new words h. Analytical comprehension of reading material i. Presentation of Alphabet and sounds j. Systematic teaching of pronunciation and intonation k. Sequential development of oral language l. Oral language production m. Encourages free oral expression n. Exercises draw on students own experiences o. Help w/ locating skills--reading(skimming, scanning, using titles, etc...) p. Help with charts, maps, graphs, etc...? q. Sentence formation r. Sentence combining s. Paragraph development t. Review of previously acquired skill. u. Follow-up activities correlate to original presentation v. Provides regular assessments activities w. Provides informal tests, checklists, vocabulary lists
YES NO Not applicable6. Teacher´s Manual a. Range and variety of suggestions for lesson plan b. Suggested activities to introduce new words and concepts c. Review of previously acquired skill. d. Synopses of student text for teacher convenience? e. Suggestions for student activities at different levels of proficiency f. Index of skills g. Suggestions for extra enrichment activities h. Sequential development of materials i. Provides regular assessments activities or tools j. Suggests a daily lesson plan7. Does this text fit with your Institutional goals: a. length of the semester/course, b. number of class hours c. Covers what the curriculum says needs to be covered.8. Comments on General strengths and weaknesses of the text.
Finally• No course book will be totally suited to a particular teaching situation.• The teacher has to find his/her own way of using it and adapting it if needed.A. The materials for a specific lesson will fall into twocategories:1. Those associate with the textbooks2. Authentic materials that the teacher incorporates into classroom activities.Authentic materials are usually defined as those which have beenproduced for purposes other than to teach language.
Best Possible Fit Means• So we should not be looking for the “Perfect” textbook which meets all our requirements. But rather the best possible fit for what the teachers and the students need.a. The choice of the text and materials must beadapted to the Students’ needs. It is important that the aims of the teaching program determine the materials to be used and not the contrary.
Activity #1• Look at your textbook and in pairs or groups evaluate your textbook according to the above checklist.• With your colleagues, Create your own checklist.