coursebooks

The benefits of using an ELT coursebook

Late last year I read the Jordan and Gray/Hughes exchange on ELT coursebooks, which appeared in ELT Journal. It’s an interesting discussion if you haven’t read it yet. I generally agreed more with Hughes, but that’s to be expected; I write coursebook materials for publishers, I use coursebooks and generally value them as a classroom resource. I also tend to find more radical stances against coursebooks polarising and distant from classroom practice. A bit repetitive too. I’d like to see more research into learner perceptions of coursebooks, and direct engagement with publishers to explore the theoretical and pedagogical underpinning of these resources in more detail.

Anyhow, the exchange prompted me to consider my views on the use of coursebooks, I’m keen to write a few of these down so I can see how they evolve over time. There have been a few posts I’ve revisited on this blog that I felt were a good snapshot of my thinking at one moment in my career – thoughts that have since changed, developed, etc. There is only one post I’ve come to completely refute over time, my views on multiple intelligences. So much so that I deleted it! Nooooo! Never do that, it misses the point of a learning journey!

So, some of my current (10/01/2020) views on coursebooks. (more…)

Research in brief: reading disruption of a textbook

The research

Winter, C. (2018). Disrupting colonial discourses in the geography curriculum during the introduction of British Values policy in schools. Journal of Curriculum Studies50(4), 456-475.

Open access, click here.

Summary

The aim of the study was ‘to expose and disrupt discourses dominating global development in an English school geography textbook chapter.’ (2018:456)

Winter analyzed one chapter of an English Curriculum Geography textbook using a disruptive approach, a technique proposed by Jacques Derrida.   (more…)

ELT materials writing – my year in review

It’s been quite a good year on the writing front. Balancing writing with full-time teaching is tough, but the rewards are great! It’s only three weeks until our xmas holidays so I’m calling this the end of my writing year. Here were my highs and lows.

My stats…

Contracts offered to me this year: 17

Contracts offered directly through LinkedIn: 6

Total contracts taken: 8 (more…)

More on developing meaning-building skills in reading

This post follows on from Rachael Roberts’ great article on developing meaning-building skills in reading. 

As Rachael says, comprehension questions have their place but they also have their limitations. Tasks that develop meaning-building skills, which you could use alongside/instead of comprehension questions, encourage learners to engage with a text in a deeper and more personalized way. They also give teachers a better insight into how their learners process information in a text. This can highlight learner strengths or areas for development, hence inform practice.

Part of my remit as the co-author of Startup Level 8 (Pearson) was to create the reading skills lessons for each unit. The publisher had prioritized these meaning-building tasks at higher levels (this was C1+). They still wanted comprehension questions, but meaning-building tasks were the main focus.

(more…)

Materials writing news and views, August 2019

It’s been a whole month since I’ve punned in a published resource! Crazy.

New releases

Tyson Seburn has a put together a sample unit of an ELT LGBTQIA2 inclusive coursebook unit, based on a normalisation approach. He’s done a great job of producing his own materials – as well as the inclusive approach to content, the overall design and flow of the resource is nice too. This is well worth reading about and hopefully will gain more recognition from publishers. See here for more details.

Express Publishing have released an interesting (?) new title – Brain Friendly Grammar. It’s written by Rachel Paling, a proponent of ‘Neurolanguage Coaching’. I initially thought this approach related to NLP but I’ve been informed otherwise. Anyway, this is a supplementary resource for grammar coaching, to be used alongside traditional grammar books. You can find out more about the book here, although there are no samples provided ☹

Update: I’ve been offered the chance to review this book so watch this space…

(more…)

Materials writing news and views, April 2019

April update has got a bit long, sorry. It’s mainly because of IATEFL and ELTONS.

 IATEFL talks

There were some interesting talks related to materials writing. Equality, diversity and inclusion was certainly a theme.

Two interesting points from John Gray’s talk, Gender and sexuality in ELT

  • Gray notes from his analysis of 10 top-selling ELT textbooks that there was ‘a blanket avoidance of any LGBT representation’
  • He promotes ‘… a collective effort on behalf of teachers, teacher trainers, materials writers, textbook reviewers, etc to come together to create learning environments that address gender and sexual diversity.’

View the talk here. (more…)

Webinar notes: What about principles for materials development? (Brian Tomlinson)

Here is Brian Tomlinson’s recent webinar in written form: ‘What about principles for materials development?’ The session was delivered as part of the MaWSIG ‘What about…? Webinar series. It was full of take home points so this post is pretty long! (more…)

I clearly love coursebooks

I always feel embarrassed when I speak up for coursebooks. I think I’m supposed to hate them. Everybody else seems to, so I guess that’s the right thing to do. According to Steve Brown’s latest post (well worth a read), even coursebook writers themselves are getting bold enough to criticise the practices of big publishers. Steve reckons that, in the grand scheme of things, such criticism is pointless. I say that the writers should keep doing it. The more they bite the hand that feeds, the more likely that publishers get annoyed and look for writers elsewhere. I’d love to get a message in my LinkedIn mailbox one day that reads: (more…)

How I plan with coursebooks

Coursebooks. Arrgh.

I write and read so many rants about them. Global coursebooks are too ‘catch-all’, they’re not aligned with what we know about second language acquisition, they’re a straightjacket, the images promote certain ideals, the content is too diluted, etc.

Like them or not, many teachers are bound to using a coursebook. Maybe a syllabus is coursebook-driven, the school demand it, the expectation from parents is that they’ve shelled out for the book so it must be completed cover-to-cover. Whatever. It happens. I can rant about it on my blog until the cows come home, but at the end of the day I’ve got to find a way to use it.

My school mostly use their own in-house materials, but we have a coursebook-driven syllabus for the teens (well, until next year). Here’s an example of some of the steps I go through when planning from the book. These are meant for less-experienced teachers. They are representative of my classroom practice but I can’t guarantee they’ll be effective (!). Every class is different.

Here we go. I have a copy of Beyond A2+ (Macmillan). I’m opening it at random… and we got…

Ew…

For my teens? COME ON! Can I start again? No? Right. Ok… (more…)