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The Importance and Application of Created Materials in ESL Teaching

The Importance and Application of Created Materials in ESL Teaching | ITTT | TEFL Blog

When teaching English as a second language, one can find a variety of pre-made resources. From tried-and-true textbooks to authentic sources, an instructor can find a readily available structure for most lessons. However, to fully cater to one's students and their specific needs, a teacher must creatively produce relevant supplemental materials.For instance, one may encounter a broad range of information covered within a textbook; whether it be vocabulary or grammar, most English books offer a generalized base for students. Sometimes the reader may have insufficient explanations on grammar practices, or perhaps the students request more relevant vocabulary to add depth to the lesson. The instructor should aspire to meet the students' needs and strengthen the course with supplemental materials. Suppose a class has a common native language. In that case, it might be practical to compare grammatical structure so that students can make associations between English and familiar concepts they regularly apply in their speech. For me, learning Spanish was made more accessible when my teacher created a chart explaining tenses and their English equivalent—not so that students could directly translate their thoughts, but so that we could authentically apply our typical way of speaking to a foreign language, which made the class more fluent and comfortable.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Emma P. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Pre-Made Materials

Though depending on the age and ability of the students, all created materials should broaden their understanding of the course content. First, the instructor should anticipate the deficiencies of pre-made materials; do the students need more opportunities to apply their skills or require more outright instruction? Written or visual materials can be made to expand upon essential topics. If the teacher finds a format that best corresponds with the student's needs, it would be wise to replicate that format for each lesson, ensuring the students continued understanding.

Created Materials vs. Course Books

Sometimes, the created material can push students farther than the textbook allows. For example, if a teacher desires to incorporate more auditory exercises, they might design their lesson-relevant recording for students to study. Suppose a teacher notes that the students have become too familiar with the textbook's listening section. In that case, they might pull colleagues to create a complex dialogue using unfamiliar voices or accents, thus challenging students inaccessible to them without teacher creativity.

Tool not a Magic Wand

Finally, created materials might not be immediately helpful to direct teaching of English, but instead can be continuously used as tools to boost student participation and learning. From class decorations to props for Activate-stage games, adding a physical dimension to each lesson might engage students (particularly younger ones) in ways that a textbook could not. If the students have a memorable experience and physically interact with the language, they might be more likely to remember the material. From word cut-outs for make-a-sentence games to props like fake menus or brochures for skits, a teacher should try to produce as many content-relevant materials and encourage students to mimic techniques for optimal language interaction.

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Created materials are personalized tools for a teacher's lesson. They should supplement and boost core content while effectively engaging with students at the language level. Created materials can add practice with tricky concepts or act as an in-between when core content is too tedious, but authentic material is too complex for application in class. A great teacher will be willing to create suitable material with the students' interests and skills in mind. One of my favorite aspects of teaching is engaging students with fun and educational activities that help them retain class content.

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