Useful Ways to Structure Your ESL Course Materials
Generally speaking, course materials contain course books/textbooks and other auxiliary materials. The course materials used in different countries vary enormously. Likewise, even in a country, course materials are also used quite differently in a variety of schools. Let’s take China as an example.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Fucui Y. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Teaching Experience in China
I’ve worked as an English Teacher for middle school in China for nearly six years. In China, there are all kinds of institutions such as public schools, private schools, international schools, as well as various training organizations. Normally in public schools, from elementary school to high schools, teachers use standard compulsory education course books which are called PEP English published by People’s Education Press. Whilst international schools always use their coursebook introduces from English-speaking countries.
Classic Course Books
There’re some classic course books such as “Pearson English”,” Phonics”, “Side-by-Side English”, etc. The coursebook is the main part of the course materials. In unit 9 of ITTT courses, there’s an overall description of course books. They usually consist of students’ books, teachers’ books, audios or cassettes or videos, and other published materials such as vocabulary flashcards and workbooks for practice. The coursebook has many advantages which are already mentioned in unit 9.
First of all, it provides syllabus graded to a level suitable for students. Secondly, it provides a balanced mix of vocabulary, grammar and skill works. Thirdly, it offers continuity and progression. Last but not least, it offers many good ideas for inexperienced teachers. On the other hand, it also has its disadvantages. From my point of view, the worst drawback is that most coursebooks are outdated and unattractive to students. As I know, the teacher uses the course books in which most content was used ten years ago in China.
Disadvantages of School Program
Nowadays, as the development of social globalization and the explosion of information, more and more Chinese students go abroad for advanced study. The limited coursebook learned from school is far from enough to meet the language need. Therefore, teachers must analyze the coursebook when they start giving lessons. To use the coursebook effectively, some factors are needed to bear in mind. For example, consider if the book is attractive or user-friendly to students, if it’s readily allowed for ESA style lesson, or if it needs supplementary materials or replacing some sections with more suitable materials to motivate students’ interest. After taking these factors into account, teachers can plan more effective lessons by using various course materials in a targeted way. They can design their class elaborately just based on the dialogues, vocabularies, and grammars of course books, devise activities that allow students to expand their oral proficiency in the language in a fun and interesting way. Or they can use auxiliary materials to supplement the course books.
As I know, many teachers in public schools use a set of “New Concept English” for extensive language study, which are classic textbooks published by L.G.Alexander. I also learned this set of textbooks during my school-days. Besides, teachers can also use authentic materials or created materials to supplement or replace some sections of course books to motivate students’ interest.
The authentic materials typically include magazines, newspapers, brochures, menus, etc. They’re real, practical and interesting which are more attractive for students. There’re more and more authentic materials appeared in the reading sections of testing. As for the created materials, they usually include crosswords, word search puzzles, gap-fill activities, etc. Teachers can incorporate these created materials to the study stage for vocabulary or grammar in an ESA style lesson.
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In summary, when planning a lesson and using the course materials effectively, teachers should think about how to design their lesson, ask themselves which part needed to replace or supplement, try out new ideas, use more appropriate materials and devise various activities to motivate students for better progression and extensive studying.
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