What Course Materials Are Appropriate for Various Types of Groups?
Different classes have different requirements for appropriate teaching materials. These requirements are influenced by several factors, such as the skill level of the class, their age, ability, their 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 in a way that particular culture of a country or the students may find inappropriate.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Joshua W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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, therefore, be selected that is close to the class skill level, but still introduces new concepts that are challenging to them and expands 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 the search for this balance.
Types of Materials
Coursebook material alone won’t always have activities suitable for particular classes' abilities, thus material can be created or synthesized from other sources into lessons. The coursebook should therefore only act as a guideline for the syllabus. The material can be written by the teacher to tailor to the specific needs of a class. For example, if a class completes a coursebook exercise on irregular verbs but struggles to remember them, or mixes them up, flashcard games or gap-fill exercises can be created by the teacher to supplement the coursebook material, providing them 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 to them. Similarly, a younger class should not be given reading exercises that contain material inappropriate for their age. Different ages are engaged by different exercises and activities, and the teacher should strive to cater to their class demographic. In a mixed-age class, a teacher could either ensure the activities are appropriate to all age groups or separate the 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 student. These factors should also always be taken into account when selecting course material to use.
As mentioned earlier, students of different native languages have different obstacles to 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 the specific abilities of their students when deciding upon appropriate course material to use.
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