MATERIALS FORGENERAL ENGLISHHitomi Masuhara and Brian Tomlinson
Coursebooks often come with; Additional Materials;• A Student Book • Cassette Tapes• A Teacher‟s Book • CD Rom Tests• A Workbook • Extra Resources • Photocopiable Materials • Videos • Web Resources • Mini-dictionaries • Mini-reference Books • Extensive Reader Booklets
Major global coursebooks seem to be mainlytargeting two different kinds of teachingcontexts: „General English‟ (GE) in English-speaking countries and „English as a ForeignLanguage‟ (EFL) in non-speaking countries.
Main needs of GE learners;• To improve the four language skills, especially speaking and listening to everyday English. These learners are well aware that English is widely used as a lingua franca or as an international language.• Another major reason for enrolling in GE courses is an instrumental motivation in that being fluent in English will give them better job prospects in the near future.
Are the GE/EFL coursebooks meetingthe users’ needs and wants? According to survey; GE and EFL contexts do share some similarities in that:• Teachers have tended to be native speakers from English-speaking countries.• Teaching has mainly taken place in language schools, colleges and universities in which courses focus on developing the four language skills for communication.
Coursebooks give ideas for experienced teachers toplan their lessons and scripts for teachers who arenew or lack confidence in using English inclassrooms. They also provide a focus for theirteaching.Students appreciate the variety of activities and thecolorful appearance of coursebooks. Students, bothin GE and EFL contexts said that they can physicallysee what they have done in classes.
Some differences between GE and EFLcontexts;• In GE, students are physically in the English- speaking environment. The learners face immediate needs for everyday communication to cope with life outside the classrooms.• The length of GE courses tends to be short. (e.g. two-four weeks)• The number in a class is on the small side and classes tend to consist of multi-cultural learners with different previous training experiences.
• EFL learners, on the other hand, do not have immediate everyday communication needs outside the classroom.• The length of the course tends to be at the level of term, semester or academic year an the class is more likely to consist of a homogenous mono- lingual/mono-cultural group.• EFL learners often face examinations.
Similarities and differences of GE and EFL Contexts GENERAL ENGLISH ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGETEACHERS •Often white native •The same as GE speakers •allows more variationTEACHING VENUE •Language schools, FE, • The same as GE HE •Some private sector schoolsCONTENT •Four skills •The same as GE •Language teachingNEEDS AND WANTS •English for everday •English for no interaction immediate and specific •English for jobs purposes •Langugae •Vague wish for improvement(especially acguiring a lingua franca vocab and grammer)
GENERAL ENGLISH ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGECLASS SIZE •Small classes (about 10- •Large classes (about 15- 15) 100)ENVIRONMENT •English speaking •Surrounded by localOUTSIDE CLASSROOM vernaculars •Level and amount of English input outside classroom variesURGENCY •Immediate needs for •No immediate everyday communication communicative needs outside classroomLENGTH OF COURSE •Generally short (2-4 •Term (e.g. 10 weeks), weeks) semester (e.g. 14 weeks), academic year (35 weeks)EXAM PRESSURE •Not imminent •Exams expected at the end
In the survey, GE students; (119 responses in all) • Seem to indicate that the would appreciate materials which help them to manage everyday interactions in the specific English-speaking environment that they are in. • Commented that they would like what they do in the classroom to have more connection with what happens to them outside the classroom.
In the survey, GE teachers (60 responses in all) supportedthat the major problems with GE materials are that: • There are too many dry and dull texts • Many of the texts are not authentic or real • Texts and activities are not preparing students for real life situations • Texts and activities do not engage the interest of foreign students • Texts and activities seem to be culturally biased towards white middle-class British. • Grammar exercises are often not related to texts • There are so many activities to get through • Formats are repetitive
EFL learners and teachers, on theother hand;• Seem to find texts which focus on everyday interaction in the UK or USA to be interesting but not relevant enough.• Commented that they would like to see more topics related to their lives.• Also pointed out that they would appreciate coursebooks catering for different learning styles and offering more flexibility for them, so they can be „owners of learning, not slaves of textbooks.‟
As Tomlinson (2006) points out, every part involvedin materials production and consumption shouldtake their share of responsibility. Learning would befar more effective if: curriculum developers and materials writers started to cater more to divergent needs and wants, if teachers more readily and confidently adapted materials for their specific learners and if learners are encouraged and helped to make more decisions for themselves. (Tomlinson 2006: 1)
An Evaluation of Sample of ELTmaterials used in UKMaterial 1 (Beginner) = Crace, A. & Quintana, J (2006), Reach Book 1. Oxford University Press.Material 2 (Elementary) = Le Maisure, S. & Lewis, C. (2002), Language to Go (Elementary). Longman Pearson EducationalMaterial 3 (Low Intermediate) = McCarthy, M., McCarten, J. & Sandiford, H. (2006), Touchstone Book 3. Cambridge University PressMaterial 4 (Intermediate) = Harmer, J. (2004), Just Right. Marshall CavendishMaterial 5 (Upper Intermediate) = Kay, S., Hird, J. & Maggs, P. (2006), Move MacmillanMaterial 6 (Upper Intermediate) = Harris, M. Mower, D. & Sikoryska, A. (2006), New Opportunities. Pearson LongmanMaterial 7 (Advanced) = Pulverness, A. (2011), Changing Skies. Swan.
MATERIALS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTS-CRITERIA1 To what extent 4 3 8 8 7 8 8 Very little exposure in the lower levels. Effortsdo the materials made to replicate authentic features of spokenprovide exposure discourse at varying level. A variety of genresto English in covered Materials 4,6,7 offer comparativelyauthentic use? longer texts but still less than a page. Material 6 offers extensive reading in Literature Spot section at the end. Material 7 declares „adaptation‟ of authentic texts.MATERIALS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTS-CRITERIA2 To what extent 5 4 7 7 7 8 8 All the materials try to includeis the exposure personalization to a certain degree. Material 5to English in use features a lot of universal topics in alikely to be personalized manner. Material 6 stimulatesmeaningful to personal starts to units and often leads ontothe target activities with real life outcome (e.g. Mod, 4,learners? 16, 3 Writing a film review) Material 7 deals with European issues meaningful to the target learners.
MATERAIALS- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTSCRITERIA3 To what 5 5 7 8 7 8 8 Varied genre and contemporary texts inextent are the most of the materials. Possibly biasedtexts likely to towards Western media? Materials 3 andinterest the 7 clearly specify their target learners andlearners? teaching contexts. Do teenagers really welcome the kinds of stereotypical “Teenage topics” in Material 1?MATERAIALS- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTSCRITERIA4 To what 4 3 6 7 7 7 8 With the exception of Material 7 theextent are the books of follow a PPP (Presentation,activities likely Practice and Production) approach andto provide their main intention seems to be to teachachievable language items and features explicitly.challenges to Stock examination type exercises (e.g.the learners? True/false, multiple choice) feature strongly and they sometimes seem to spoil the potential of engaging texts, as in Material 6 (p.40, pp. 132-3)
METERIALS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTS- CTITERIA5 To what 4 4 7 6 7 7 8 Attractive visuals, selection of engaging topics,extent are the texts and involving activities contribute toactivities likely affective engagement in all the materials. Pity that language questions, comprehension checksto provide and exercise interfere in most cases (e.g.achievable Material 5, Unit 4, „Lead in‟, Reading andchallenges to Vocab 1,3 ,4 and 5 take away the engagement).the learners? Material 7 takes a consistent text-based cognitive approach. How do the learners with other learning preferences feel?METERIALS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTS- CTITERIA6 To what 4 5 7 7 7 8 9 All the materials seem to involve discussions atextent are the one point, e.g. Material 2 „L38 Big Issues‟ ,activities likely Material 4 „Unit 4 Debate, role play‟. Materials 6 and 7 iclude provocative topics and „think‟to engage the questions. Tips from a language corpus intarget leraners Material 3 may be welcomed by those who arecognitively? interested.
MATERAIALS- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTSCRITERIA7 To what extent 4 5 7 7 7 9 7 Materials 1-4 seem to be basically based on thedo the activities PPP approach. Material 3 has some discoveryprovide activities (e.g. Finding and thinking about „usedopportunities for to‟ and „would‟ on p. 36). Material 4 uses textslearners to make to find examples of lexical chunks and thendiscoveries about encourages making use of a Mini Referencehow English is Book: a good recycling idea. Material 5 hasused? useful language awareness activities but their focus is on form and not on use.MATERAIALS- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTSCRITERIA8 To what extent 4 6 7 7 7 8 8 Discussions, debate, personalized speaking anddo the activities writing activities in all the materials. Material 5provide has some varied and useful activities foropportunities for production (e.g. Unit 4 „Writing a letter ofmeaningful use of complaint‟, Module 2 Extra practice). MaterialsEnglish. 6 and 7 designed to ensure real-life outcomes as a result of speaking/writing.
MATERAIALS- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTSCRITERIA9 To what extent 4 4 6 6 6 7 7 At lower levels, the only feedback seemsdo the materials to be answer keys or teachers‟ feedback.provide Some interesting writing like writingopportunities for gripes and blog page in Material 3 whichthe learners to uses pair work for comparison but doesgain feedback on not go any further. In Material 4,the effectiveness prediction, comparision with examplesof their use of (e.g. listening17U4) could provide variedEnglish? feedback. In Material 6 and 7 activities are sequenced so learners receive feedback in various forms.MATERAIALS- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTSCRITERIA10 To what 5 6 7 7 7 8 7 All the materials seem to try to vary theirextent are the format to a certain degree. Materials 4,5,6materials likely and 7 are mainly based on interestingto sustain texts which are exploited in differentpositive impact. kinds of activities.
MATERAIALS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTS- CRITERIA11 To what extent 3 3 6 6 6 7 7 It is not evident that any of the sampledo the materials materials try to make use of the English-help the learners to speaking environment outside themake use of the classroom though text assume the outsideEnglish-speakingenvironment world. Material 3 uses the Internet andoutside the talks about American usage of languageclassroom? but all the activities seem to be for classroom sessions.MATERAIALS- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTSCRITERIA12 To what extent 3 5 6 6 6 7 7 None of the materials appear to makedo the materails explicit connections to how the classroomhelp the learners to learning can be applied outside theoperate effectively classroom. In materail , not so muchin the English-speaking consideration seems to be given toenvironment appropriacy or effectiveness of languageoutside the use. Material 6 tries to prepare learnersclassroom? for real life interaction.
MATERAIALS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTS- CRITERIA13 To what 3 5 5 5 6 8 7 Some of the characters are from different culturesextent do the and in some units there are photos and features onmaterials treat different countries in all the materials. These non- native faces and places, however, are oftenEnglish as an associated with tourists attractions. Material 6 has ainternational section on English as an International Language,language? showing how English has spread around the world and considers positive and negative implications. Material 7 often deals with European issues using English as a lingua franca.MATERAIALS- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 COMMENTSCRITERIA14 To what extent 3 6 6 6 6 9 9 Five out of seven sample materials deal withdo the materials culture in some ways. Some explore more deeplyprovide implicit subcultures. „Culture Corner‟ in materialopportunities for 6 is useful. Would have been interesting ifcultural awareness? material 3 showed some interesting language use for culturally tricky situations such as requests and refusal.Total (out of 100) 37 44 65 62 64 76 74
Material 1 (Beginner) = Crace, A. & Quintana, J(2006), Reach Book 1. Oxford University Press.• Has an interesting storyline and the dialogues try to stimulate authentic features.• Includes topics such as fashion, celebrity and parents but seems to have a British and North American focus with limited coverage of the other parts of the world.
Material 2 (Elementary) = Le Maisure, S. & Lewis, C.(2002), Language to Go (Elementary). Longman PearsonEducational• Short and snappy units with wide coverage of contemporary topics with attractive photos.• Most of the exercises are very easy but attempts are made to personalize them.• Many mechanical gap-filling and grammar exercises which are unlikely to engage the learners.
Material 3 (Low Intermediate) = McCarthy, M., McCarten,J. & Sandiford, H. (2006), Touchstone Book 3. CambridgeUniversity Press• Contemporary and varied texts (e.g. Email, internet, blog, magazine) in the North American context.• Some interesting real life production activities like writing gripes, blog page, plus personalised discussion topics.• Discussion questions are interesting but reporting the result of discussions to the class may not be the real life outcome.• Lots of gap-filling and conventional exercises which are unlikely to engage the learners.
Material 4 (Intermediate) = Harmer, J. (2004),Just Right. Marshall Cavendish• Long, varied and engaging texts. The texts are possibly more suited for Western intellectual adults though.• Quite a lot of activities which are real-life like and personalised.• Language awareness activities seem to be often at a rather superficial level.
Material 5 (Upper Intermediate) = Kay, S., Hird, J. &Maggs, P. (2006), Move Macmillan• Lots of universally engaging human stories and personalized activities. Good to see the sources printed next to texts.• There are many useful language awareness activities which get the learners to discover things about language use for themselves. Even so most of the activities focus only on form.• For an Upper Intermediate Level book the texts seem surprisingly short and simple.
Material 6 (Upper Intermediate) = Harris, M. Mower, D. & Sikoryska, A.(2006), New Opportunities. Pearson Longman• The writers seem to be well aware of the recommendatitions and theorists and have applied principles of language awareness and English as an international language to their development of materials.• Lots of long, contemporary and engaging texts with an authentic feel.• Personalised start of units, followed by activities that lead to real life outcomes.• An interesting and useful Culture Corner and useful inclussion of historical issues.
Material 7 (Advanced) = Pulverness, A. (2011),Changing Skies. Swan.• Also demonstrates knowledge, awareness and experience of relevant theories and practice.• Well-selected realistic texts for the specific target learners.• Deals with serious issues and is designed to make learners thinks and feel.• Activities are carefully and skillfully sequenced to facilitate language acquisiton and educational development, often using peers in giving feedback and providing opportunities for communication using English as a lingua franca.• All the units, however, seem to favour cognitive, analytical and through readers.
Hitomi Masuhara’s suggestions forImprovements• Introduce interesting people and their views and opinions from different ethnic groups.• Offer opportunities for language/cultural/critical awareness that helps learners to reflect on their own use of language as well as others.• Explore different varieties of language• Offer opportunities to consider effective ways of communication with people with various backrounds and sense of values.
Hitomi Masuhara’s suggestions forImprovements• Help teachers and learners to realize that they are no neutral, correct and perfect language users.• Are produced after intelligent and critical appreciation of theories of language learning and teaching.• Provide ready resources varied and affectively engaging.• Offer creative ways of satisfying the cognitive level of young/adult learners with limited language ability.
Brian Tomlinson’s suggestions forimprovements• Not only focus on helping learners to become accurate and fluent but also help them to become appropriate and effective communicators.• Provide ways of helping the teacher to give outcome related feedback and helping learners to gain information on the effectiveness of their task performance.• Provide more opportunities for extensive reading, listening and viewing.
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