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April 30, 2007

Workplace Issues- Sticking to the Book?

Hello Readers,

For some of you, your classes will be based on a certain textbook which you are expected to go through with the students from cover to cover; for others, your class will be based around a topic, a level, or a skill for which you are expected to find suitable materials. For those of you who have a course-book class, do you ever use...

... your own materials to supplement the book? If not, I encourage you to try.

Why should you put in some extra time in finding other sources or even creating your own for the classroom? I dare say that by finding something that you specifically want to teach, it will not only make teaching more interesting for you, but it will also make the class more interesting for the students. Think back to being a student- when a teacher asked you to put away your books to do something else, didn't it change the mood of the classroom?

So how can you do this? Well, when you are planning your lessons, you might find a text in the textbook that is outdated or uninteresting from your perspective. In this case, you can look for a similar text (or write your own) using similar vocabulary or grammar points so that you're simply imitating what's already been done... but making it better, of course. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to adapt the textbook.

Another simple way to add your own materials into class is by looking for ways to extend activities. Perhaps you have an activity that works well, but just isn't long enough. In many course-books, there are short exercises at the end of sections that simply say, "Discuss the topic of money with a partner" or something equally mundane. Think about how you can turn this discussion into a fun activity. For instance, you might ask the students to draw a grid on a blank piece of paper, to write three questions about money on the left side, and then to interview as many different students in the classroom as they can, writing their name on the vertical axis and answers in the correct position. You can even turn that into a competition by making the student who interviewed the most students the winner.

What are some other ways you can incorporate your own materials into the classroom? What are the pros and cons of using your own materials? Do students expect you to only work with the textbook that they've bought for the class? Add your comments below!

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

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 focus on workplace issues specific to ESL? 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 April 30, 2007 03:08 AM

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