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December 18, 2006

Teacher Development- Choosing a Coursebook

Hello Readers,

Having the freedom to choose your own coursebook for class can be a blessing... but it doesn't come without its fair share of problems. With so many coursebooks on the market, how do you know which one to choose?

In Alan Cunningsworth's book, "Choosing Your Coursebook" (Macmillan Publishers, 1995)...

... he lists four main guidelines to help you evaluate your coursebooks.

They are as follows:

1. Coursebooks should correspond to the learners' needs. They should match the aims and objectives of the language-learning program.

* Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Cunningsworth suggests that the goals of the course should be laid out first and that a coursebook which matches the goals of your course should come second.
* Another important point is that you should look to see if the content matches the students' needs as well. There's no use in teaching a group of young children from China a book that's meant for adults in Europe, for example.

2. Coursebooks should reflect the uses (present or future) which learners will make of the language. Select coursebooks which will help to equip students to use language effectively for their own purposes.

* Will the book you choose motivate your students? Will it encourage your students to become autonomous learners- to learn English in their own time?
* Things to look for here include authentic materials, realistic situations, and activities that will help develop communicative skills and strategies.

3. Coursebooks should take account of students' needs as learners and should facilitate their learning processes, without dogmatically imposing a rigid 'method'.

* Cunningsworth believes that students can benefit from being allowed to use their own style to learn. For example, some students are visual learners, while others are aural learners.
* Students also need to be challenged- as it will help to motivate the students.
* Things to look for in the book include: quizzes, variety of topic and activity, lively and interesting presentation of the book, and self-check lists.

4. Coursebooks should have a clear role as a support for learning. Like teachers, they mediate between the target language and the learner.
* The activities should promote fluency and accuracy at a level that is appropriate for your learners.
* The coursebook should also support the teachers by providing a teaching methodology or an approach to learning, as well as suggestions on how to use the material.

Hopefully these guidelines will help you in choosing new coursebooks for your students. Do you have any further suggestions or recommendations? If you have a coursebook that you think matches your students' needs well, feel free to share the coursebook with us.

For more information about Alan Cunningsworth book, "Choosing Your Coursebook", go to:

Good luck!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*Looking for more articles that spotlight Teacher Development in the ESL industry? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, and lived and worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked with students that range in age from three to more than sixty years old. She worked in universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, as well as private tutoring. Besides teaching, she also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she currently writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing. Carol is also currently working on her MA in TESOL at the Oxford Brookes University in England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at December 18, 2006 06:23 AM

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