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Why Course Materials are Important

Why Course Materials are Important | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Most if not all courses make use of materials, regardless of the topic being taught. In ESL courses materials are crucial to the learning processes from the beginning to the end of a student’s education in English. Whether the materials used are authentic, non-authentic, realia, or media, they aid the students by testing, reinforcing, and improving the learner’s knowledge. Course materials also provide learners with a reference other than the instructor in the case of dictionaries and other reference materials.

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

What are course materials?

The term “course materials” refers to anything used to aid the instructor in teaching their course. Some items may be physical objects referred to as realia, while others may be types of media like video clips or music. Other items include activity sheets and worksheets. The importance of course materials can be seen in the wide use of certain types. Crossword puzzles are popular throughout most levels of ESL education. Flashcards are also updated for use throughout many levels of education, from using pictures to elicit a word to using definitions instead.

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Authentic and non-authentic materials

The two basic types of course materials are authentic and non-authentic, both have their uses. Authentic materials are materials that were not specifically made for teaching English and could include magazines, clips from television programs, or recordings of songs. Authentic materials are useful for showing the students a real example of how English is used in a country where it is the native language. This type of material is also important to the learning process because it can pique the learners’ interest in the subject by making them curious about the material itself and the messages that it conveys. The fact that the material is from a foreign country also helps the learning process by holding the learners’ attention through their curiosity. Authentic materials should be closely scrutinized by the instructor to ensure that there are no potentially offensive elements.

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Non-authentic materials include anything made with the express purpose of teaching English. The materials can be created by a manufacturer or by the instructor. By creating the materials, instructors are forced to be more intimately aware of the structure of their course. The instructor needs to know exactly what language is being tested, what the use of the materials will be, and how the teacher will use the materials (as described in Unit 4 page 3). Non-authentic materials can also be formed for specific purposes if they are created by the instructor themselves. However, many ESL books are written with Western culture in mind and individuals speaking Western European languages as the target students. This can cause difficulties for students with cultural backgrounds that have different social norms than Western cultures. To avoid these potential problems, instructors are forced to omit, replace, supplement, or adapt some of the information in the course books.

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In summary, course materials are of great importance. If used correctly, they can aid in the presentation, application, and testing of the language being taught. If used incorrectly, the instructor may offend, confuse, or distract the students preventing them from learning the target language.

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