They provide structure and direction to a course
Help standardize instruction and quality across courses
More and more are based on authentic and learner corpora
Provide learners with a tangible display of progress
Provide guidance for inexperienced teachers
They are a great time saving tool
Source: Cambridge ELT Interview with Jack
They inadvertently impose rigid methodologies
Leave little room for creativity
Stifle opportunities for conversation and open discussion
Transfer control of classroom time from the students to the
Thornbury & Meddings, 2009
Put forward a specific version of truth, beliefs and morality which
do not correspond to the reality of every student.
It‟s often not even up to us to choose
Have you exhausted the materials?
Extra activities in the back of the coursebook.
Photocopiables in Teacher‟s Book
Games/Suggestions “hidden” in the TB Instructions
Teacher‟s Resource Disk
Materials Available on Publisher‟s Website
Flashcard/Story Card Sets
Ok, fine, the materials are lacking.
So what now?
be ok, but need just
need a little tweaking
to work with your
students and make
it relevant to their
material may be
good in itself but
need some follow up
to address other
just doesn‟t fit your
class‟ needs. That‟s
fine. Skip it.
What must we ask ourselves before
“Demand High Asks:
Are our learners capable of more, much more?
Have the tasks and techniques we use in class become rituals
and ends in themselves?
How can we stop „covering material‟ and focus on the potential
for deep learning?
What small tweaks and adjustments can we make to shift the
whole focus of our teaching towards getting that engine of
(Scrivner & Underhill, 2012)
Writing, Organization and PeerFeedback
A class of 14 adult Czechnative English teachers
Advanced (C1) CAE Prep
In a part-time Bachelor‟s
degree program in TEFL at
Struggle with written
Exhausted (intensive weekend
p. 30 of Advanced Expert CAE
After activities focusing on
outline writing for a Review
Task 1 – Discuss various methods of
outlining a writing task
Task 2 – Plan and write a film review
Task 3 – Compare with classmates
One Solution (Discussion)
Various strategies for text
organization are pinned up
around the room
Students walk around in
pairs/threes and discuss the
pros of each
They are asked to agree on
the best two
It‟s treated as a sort of museum
visit with music playing in the
One Solution (Planning & PeerEditing)
Students write a
plan/sketch/outline/draft for their
Each review plan gets a large postit placed next to it
Students all move one chair over
clockwise and have one minute to
read/skim their neighbor‟s plan and
write a short comment on the post
A bell rings and they move over
another chair and have another
Repeat until all have been read by
all, then discuss comments.
Story Reading with a Grammar
A class of 8 young learners (912 y/o)
In an extra-curricular English
class at IH Prague
A bit shy
Struggle with spelling
p. 35 of Messages 2
At the end of a unit focusing on
interesting trips and the past
Task 1 (Pre-reading): Look at the
pictures and put them in the correct
Task 2 (Language Focus): Find 21
different verbs in the past simple.
Make a list.
Task 3 (Feedback): Retell the story
using the verbs.
One Solution (Pre-Reading)
Students are given one enlarged
and cut-out picture from the story.
They work in small groups to
discuss what is happening in their
picture, and to color it in.
The pictures are presented and
pinned up on the board.
Students work as a class to put
the pictures in the order which
makes the most sense.
Students read the story to
One Solution (Language Focus)
To focus on the verbs. Students
are given a “Double Puzzle” of
the target verbs
They work in pairs to race each
other to discover the hidden
The first team gets a prize
(stickers work well, candy
works amazingly well)
One Solution (Personalization)
As a final task, students are
asked to write a story about
They can use the verbs from
their Double Puzzle to guide
To fit the theme of the book,
mine wrote about their summer
At the end each can give a
quick presentation of their story.
A group of 12 teenagers (1318 y/o)
In an extra-curricular English
course at IH Prague
The Activity (1)
pp. 26 of Face2Face Advanced
Activity focused on introducing
some character adjectives.
Students are asked to “Tick the
words they know” and refer to the
glossary for the others.
Words: Courageous, Determined,
Meticulous, Generous, Trusting,
Thrifty, Confident, Spontaneous, &
The Activity (2)
p. 124 of Face2Face Advanced
Follow up activity to character
Students are asked to look at
the negative equivalents of the
positive adjectives from before.
Words: Arrogant, Reckless,
Obstinate, Impetuous, Timid.
One Solution (Part 1)
Students are given a post-it
with one of the character words
written on it.
The post-it goes on their
forehead (or back) without them
Students mill around the
classroom and elicit the
mystery words from each other.
One Solution (Part 2)
Once all the words have been
elicited, the corresponding
negative equivalents are posted
at various points around the
Students start in the middle and
race to find their equivalent
negative word and stand by it.
Points are awarded to first few
to find it.
Students then read out both
adjectives to the class and
explain the difference.
A group of 10 adults
Intensive 20 hours/week course
at a New York City Language
pp. 92-93 of American English
Unit focusing on creativity
Reading and Listening on
creativity and innovation.
Four-question quiz to
determine if you are creative or
Innovative Team Game
After the book‟s material
introducing innovation and the
short quiz, students get into
Each group draws three
random cards from this set of
They are given time to come up
with a new product using all
three objects and produce a TV
commercial for it
A group of 5 insurance
In-company class in a
Tired (end of the day)
p. 44 of Face2Face UpperIntermediate
Unit focusing on expressing
Look at adjectives for expressing
Read a short article about ecological
Discuss the validity of this idea.
Branch off into discussion of other
One Solution (Part One)
Students are each given a pile
of cut up scrap paper.
(Good use of that stack
sitting in your office)
They watch a video clip and are
asked to write down
contradictory phrases. One per
piece of paper.
After each view, the slips are
compared and re-written so that
each small group has one
One Solution (Part Three)
p. 94 of Pronunciation Games
Using their collected phrases,
students play this quick card
They read their statement and
their team members compete to
be the first to correct it.
Extra Challenge: They draw
their phrase cards randomly to
avoid repetitive language.
But none of this works for me!
How could we adapt material for these contexts?
Large class sizes
Very young learners
Students with mobility
Students unaccustomed to
a classroom environment
Think about your class‟ needs
Think about your lesson aims
When life gives you lemons…
Cunningsworth, A. (1995). Choosing your Coursebook. Oxford: Macmillan Heinemann ELT.
Ilieva, R. (2000). Exploring Culture in Texts Designed for Use in Adult ESL Classrooms.
TESL Canada Journal , 17 (2), 50-63.
Littlejohn, A. (1998). The Analysis of Langauge Teaching Materials: Inside the Trojan
Horse. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Materials Development in Language Teaching (pp. 190-216).
Camridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nunan, D. (1988). The Learner-Centered Curriculum. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Richards, J. C. (2000, 3 14). The role of textbooks in a language program. Retrieved 11 10,
2013, from Cambridge ELT Online - Brazil: http://www.cambridge.org.br/authorsarticles/articles?the-role-of-textbooks-in-a-language-program&id=337
Thornbury, S., & Meddings, L. (2009). Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in ELT Teaching.
Surrey: DELTA Publishing.
Underhill, A., & Scrivner, J. (2012, March). Demand High ELT. Retrieved November 10,
2013, from http://demandhighelt.wordpress.com/
Advanced Expert CAE by Jan Bell, Roger Gower and Drew Hyde (Pearson Longman,
American English File 4 by Clive Oxenden and Christina Latham-Koenig (Oxford University
Face2Face Advanced by Gillie Cunningham, Jan Bell & Chris Redston (Cambridge
University Press, 2009)
Face2Face Upper-Intetmediate by Chris Redston and Gillie Cunningham (Cambridge
University Press, 2007)
Messages 2 by Diana and Noel Goodey (Cambridge University Press, 2005)
Pronunciation Games Photocopiables by Mark Hancock (Cambridge University Press,
Monty Python Skit on YouTube: “Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl – Argument
PuzzleMaker Site: http://www.puzzlemaker.com
Disabled Access Friendly Campaign Site: http://www.disabled-accessfriendly.com/
Thank You !
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