How to Choose Lesson Materials for Cross-Classroom TEFL Teaching
Different classes have different requirements for appropriate teaching materials. These requirements are influenced by several factors, such as the class's skill level, age, ability, a native language they speak, and the unique problems native speakers of that language have when learning English. Cultural factors also need to be taken into account. Course material could become problematic in a classroom if they deal with family relationships or gender so that a country's particular culture or the students may find it inappropriate.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Danila E. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Students' Level and Ability
Ability is an obvious factor in course material selection. A coursebook should be selected that is appropriate to the ability level of the class. Too difficult, and the class will become confused and lose motivation; too far below their level and a class is likely to become bored, and their learning will be hindered. Course material should be selected that is close to the class's skill level but still introduces new concepts that are challenging to them and expand their knowledge. The role of a good teacher is to find a balance appropriate to their class. This can be made easier by keeping notes of lessons learned and any difficulties the class had to aid in searching for this balance.
Coursebook material alone won't always have activities suitable for a particular class's abilities. This material can be created or synthesized from other sources into lessons. The coursebook should, therefore, only act as a guideline for the syllabus. The teacher can write the material to tailor to the specific needs of a class. For example, suppose a class completes a coursebook exercise on irregular verbs but struggles to remember them or mixes them up. In that case, the teacher can create flashcard games or gap-fill exercises to supplement the coursebook material with more practice until they have a sound understanding.
Age is another variable that should be taken into account. While some games are suitable for all ages, an older class would likely benefit very little from crosswords that provide little entertainment or educational value. Similarly, a younger class should not be given reading exercises that contain material inappropriate for their age. Different ages are engaged in different exercises and activities, and the teacher should strive to cater to their class demographic. A teacher could either ensure the activities are appropriate to all age groups or separate them into a mixed-age class and give different activities to different ages. However, this may be a cumbersome solution as it would make supervision and student-to-student talk time more difficult or impossible to organize depending on the size of the classroom and amount of students. These factors should also always be taken into account when selecting course material to use.
Students' Mother Tongue
As mentioned earlier, students of different native languages have different obstacles in learning English. This should be a major factor in selecting appropriate course material. As many course books are structured without considering specific languages and their differences to English, the teacher should select units and exercises that focus on the common weaknesses learners of that language have, and consider omitting or truncating units that pose a little challenge due to similarities with their native language. For example, many Asian languages have comparatively simple tense structures, so extra attention should be paid to this aspect of grammar when selecting or creating course materials.
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In conclusion, the teacher should be aware of the demographic of their class, the structure of their classroom, and their students' specific abilities when deciding upon appropriate course material to use.
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