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Selecting materials and designing activities In relation to EFL courses, there are several proposals intended to orientate teachers in terms of the criteria for selecting materials and designing activities. Examples of these attempts are those of Bell (1981), Nunan (1991; 1999), Nuttall (1982), and Omaggio (1986), among other authors. It is possible to summarize the most relevant criteria as following:
1. It is important to get to know the students and their needs. English language learners’ abilities, experiences, and expectations can affect learning. Get to know their backgrounds and goals as well as proficiency levels and skill needs.
2. It is necessary to use visuals to support instruction. English language learners need context in their learning process. Using gestures, expressions, pictures, and realia makes words and concepts concrete and connections more obvious and memorable.
3. It is relevant to think about a course that fosters a safe classroom environment. Many English language learners have had negative educational experiences. Hence, including time for activities that allows learners to get to know each other is of paramount importance.
4. It is undoubtedly necessary to be consistent in relation to philosophy of learning-teaching, techniques and activities throughout the course. Courses with no consistency tend to be disorganized and confusing for students. Improvisation is not a choice.
5. It is essential to use authentic (2) materials in the classroom. Using materials like newspapers, signs, sale flyers, telephone books, and brochures in the classroom exposes the learner to the reality of the language. However, it is advised to use materials manageable for the learners.
6. It is determinant for the course’ success, not to overload learners with information. Establishing a balance in each activity between elements that are familiar and mastered and those that are new will create confidence in the students, and, at the same time, will promote a more easy-going classroom.
7. It is necessary to integrate the four language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Integrating the four language skills encourage students to improve in EFL integrally.
8. It is important to consider the students’ cognitive learning strategies. Not everyone learns the same way. Some learners are more visual, others are better listeners and some are more kinetic. Developing different activities that encourages all cognitive learning strategies will create a more efficient learning atmosphere.
9. It is relevant to rely on activities that promote problem-solving and reflection. Promoting activities that enable students to think critically enables active participation and a reliable atmosphere for constructing meaning.
10. It is essential to promote understanding of cultural and social differences. Since language learning involves more than the learning of structures, understanding the target language culture and society is of paramount importance.
When developing materials to use in class the following principles should be considered:
Children learn by doing.
Children learn better in a positive classroom atmosphere.
Variety is motivating.
Different children learn in different ways.
English can be used to explore broader themes, such as cross-cultural issues, tolerance, social behaviour.
It is important for all activities to be relevant to the target age group, both in terms of interest levels and linguistic content, but activities can be adapted to suit the needs of different pupils, also of mixed – level classes.
The activities should be easy to set up and carry out; moreover the activities should not require expensive or complicated resources.
Teachers are having to meet the needs of current reforms and developments in education and therefore often need to adapt materials to their own classroom circumstances.
There are various ways to get information about textbooks and other teaching materials. Many materials are published by publishers and developed and distributed by commercial companies. In addition to publishers, there are many possible sources of materials. There is a lot of material available on the Internet. You can search for materials when you have free time, and store them for your future classes.