ELT 33 ELT Textbooks and Materials Problems in Evaluation

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Milestones in ELT, The British Council was established in 1934 and one of our main aims. has always been to promote a wider knowledge of the English language. Over the years we have issued many important publications that have. set the agenda for ELT professionals often in partnership with other. organisations and institutions, As part of our 75th anniversary celebrations we re launched a selection. of these publications online and more have now been added in connection. with our 80th anniversary Many of the messages and ideas are just as. relevant today as they were when first published We believe they are. also useful historical sources through which colleagues can see how. our profession has developed over the years, ELT Textbooks and Materials Problems in Evaluation. and Development, This frequently cited 1987 publication focuses on textbooks designed. for use by English language learners and dictionaries A range of. authors explore different theoretical and applied aspects of textbook. production and evaluation They discuss teaching materials from various. perspectives including those of learners teachers course designers. editors reviewers and teacher trainers The 11 short chapters cover. topics such as designing English as a foreign language coursebooks. testing and criteria for selecting the most suitable materials for. particular learners Practical guidelines for the evaluation of purpose. content and design of textbooks are included in the final two sections. along with thoughts on the constraints faced by publishers and those. wishing to adapt materials,ELT Documents 126,ELT Textbooks and.
Materials Problems in,Evaluation and,Development,MODERN ENGLISH PUBLICATIONS. in association with The British Council,ELT Textbooks and Materials. Problems in Evaluation and,Development,ELT Document 126. Editor LESLIE E SHELDON, Modern English Publications in association with The British Council. Acknowledgements, I would like to thank Oxford University Press for permission to reprint.
the extract on page 39 from English in Mechanical Engineering W R. Chambers for the excerpts on page 56 from Chambers Twentieth. Century Dictionary and Chambers Universal Learner s Dictionary and. Cambridge University Press for permission to quote on page 52 an. exercise from Functions of English,Modern English Publications 1987. All Rights Reserved No part of this publication may be. reproduced stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form. or by any means electronic electrostatic magnetic tape. mechanical photocopying recording or otherwise without. permission in writing from the copyright holders, Typesetting and makeup by Quadra Associates Ltd Oxford. Printed in Great Britain by The Eastern Press Ltd London and Reading. ISBN 0 906149 96 7,I Introduction 1,LESLIE E SHELDON. II Evaluating Materials, Which Materials A Consumer s and Designer s Guide 13. MICHAEL P BREEN CHRISTOPHER N CANDLIN,Not So Obvious 29.
JOHN DOUGILL,What s Underneath An Interactive View of. Materials Evaluation 37,TOM HUTCHINSON,Coursebooks and Conversational Skills 45. ALAN CUNNINGSWORTH,A Consumer s Guide to ELT Dictionaries 55. RICHARD WEST,The Pragmatic Purchaser 76,MIKE KITTO. III Producing Materials,Publishers and the Art of the Possible 85.
PETER ZOMBORY MOLDOVAN,Learning by Design Some Design Criteria for. EFL Coursebooks 90,MARK PRINTHA ELLIS,The Evaluation of an ESP Textbook 99. A DUDLEY EVANS MARTIN BATES,IV ADAPTING MATERIALS, Curriculum Cobbling or How Companies Can Take Over. and Effectively Use Commercial Materials 109,JON LECKEY. Can Published Materials Be Widely Used for ESP Courses 119. ADRIAN PILBEAM,Notes on Contributors 125, Early in my teaching career in Africa I managed to persuade a.
number of publishers to give us a set of new textbooks on the condition. that we piloted them through a whole school term or year and sent out. detailed reports together with copies of the books to as many schools as. possible This remains one of the activities with which I am proud to. have been associated Since then I have constantly been surprised by. the profession s failure to provide adequate public feedback on teaching. materials My first unsuccessful attempt at innovation when I moved to. the London Institute of Education in 1974 was a proposal for a textbook. evaluation and monitoring scheme, Consequently I am delighted that ELT Documents is publishing a. collection of papers on materials development evaluation and adapta. tion The kind of information provided on dictionaries in West s paper. follows the successful format of journals and magazines like Modern. English Teacher and English Language Teaching Journal and could. be a basis for a genuine consumers guide to major textbooks if only the. teaching profession and an enlightened publisher could co operate. Perhaps teachers associations like IATEFL and TESOL could set up. something more consistent than the present random activity. Meanwhile we owe Leslie Sheldon a debt for collecting papers on all. the major issues in materials development Written materials are. central to almost all language teaching yet they are discussed all too. rarely This collection full of useful practical advice as it is is intended. to fill that gap,C J BRUMFIT,Introduction,LESLIE E SHELDON. Pitman Education and Training Ltd, For the purposes of this volume a textbook may be loosely defined as a. published book most often produced for commercial gain whose. explicit aim is to assist foreign learners of English in improving their. linguistic knowledge and or communicative ability Within this defini. tion are a variety of diverse examples ranging from books aimed at. general English contexts to those centring upon any one of a number of. specialist applications Some try to develop global ability across a wide. front while others focus more narrowly on specific skills Some are. intended for use as central coursebooks over extended periods of time. some for short intensive revision courses and still others for reference. resource purposes Most evince an eclectic pedagogical stance fusing. grammatical situational topic and functional components in various. ways Many have peripheral supporting material such as cassettes. video packages workbooks teacher s books and on rare occasions. CALL programs this collection of essays perceives the textbook to be. very much the centre of the published materials orbit Methodological. teacher education or Applied Linguistics textbooks are not discussed. It needs to be said at the outset that the relationship between ELT. textbooks and their users is a rather fraught one Mariani 1980 goes. so far as to call it a love hate affair which is nothing less in real terms. than a sort of compromise through which a temporary armistice has. been reached Basically as Swales observes 1980 the textbook is a. problem evincing a complex of difficulties in its creation distribution. exploitation and ultimately evaluation Given the fact that textbooks. often claim too much for themselves for example by purporting to be. suitable for all students at all levels the dashing of expectations at the. chalkface is inevitable The result has been a coursebook credibility. gap Greenall 1984 of long standing in which the textbook becomes. something to be endured rather than enjoyed or used effectively Of. course as Allwright observes 1981 The whole business of the. management of language learning is far too complex to be satisfactorily. catered for by a pre packaged set of decisions embodied in teaching. materials Quite simply even with the best intentions no single. textbook can possibly work in all situations As teachers know well. published materials must be used with caution and must frequently be. Leslie E Skeleton, supplemented by homegrown work produced in reaction to the per. ceived deficiencies of the commerical product, Though it is nevertheless true for the most part that Books are good.
value for money O Neill 1982 especially when compared with the. sheer labour intensiveness and expense of teacher produced materials. this value is still not being maximized for many teachers throughout. the world Most do not practise their craft in affluent unconstrained. environments and the need for non indulgent pertinent EFL text. books that are easily adaptable remains very acute. There is for whatever reason a lack of communication between the. parties involved in the textbook question Authors publishers educa. tional administrators and teachers are often ignorant of one another s. true priorities and constraints It is one of the purposes of this volume to. generate and focus discussion on such matters I see this volume of. essays as attempting to collect between single covers for the first time. a range of diverse lively perspectives on both the extent of the current. textbook materials problem and on possible evaluative solutions which. could be of direct benefit to the classroom teacher Indeed the criterion. of practicality must perforce be one of the central yardsticks by which. ELT Textbooks and Materials Problems in Evaluation and Develop. ment is judged, The eleven articles by applied linguists educational purchasers. authors editors reviewers course designers teachers and teacher. trainers do not offer total comprehensiveness or prescription but they. do explore many theoretical and applied aspects of textbook production. and assessment which have not been previously considered In their. turn these articles should at least provide a cue for further discussion. of this neglected and thorny issue, In the main the contributors focus upon the three critical areas of. Evaluation Production and Adaptation Both published and unpub. lished materials are considered as there is obviously a vital feedback. relationship between them teacher produced materials often provide. the seedbed for the next generation of textbooks The typical work. sheets cassettes self access and grammar units which are intended to. supplement or even replace textbooks are clearly related to them. Similar evaluative criteria may be adduced for both types of materials. or to put it another way the same kinds of questions can be asked. There would seem to be little profit in Swales call 1980 for a. fundamental division between published and unpublished materials. and a consequent separation of assessment standards. Before considering the specifics of this collection it is as well to. explore the problematic aspects of the textbook a little further It would. seem that the difficulties one would expect are compounded by a. multitude of recurring and probably avoidable design flaws which. hamper the realization of a viable chalkface compromise just as surely. as does the absence of a sustained coherent professional dialogue on. matters of evaluation,Introduction, To name but a few of these difficulties most textbooks are. tantalizingly vague about target learners especially in regard to the. definition of entry and exit language levels One textbook unhelpfully. describes its putative audience as having a high school level of. English other books merely use the bald terms intermediate. advanced etc Since the Council of Europe scales and the ELTS band. descriptors are readily available and well known such continuing. imprecision makes teacher selection of appropriate textbooks needless. ly difficult, Grammatical explanations in some ELT textbooks as opposed to. reference grammars often take too much terminological and linguistic. knowledge for granted Some ancillary workbooks force students to. adopt microscopic handwriting and are not meant to be worked in at. all Many books have a density of text or diagram which is disconcert. ing to the hapless learner trying to find his her way round Very few. books provide linked achievement or progress tests leaving this vital. task for the already hard pressed teacher Some Teacher s Books are. no more than student editions with an inserted answer key. Perhaps more importantly course rationales for instance in regard. to the introduction and recycling of new lexis or the grading and. selection of reading passages are rarely explained for the teacher s. benefit In many cases such omissions lead one to suspect that there is. no real system at all and that the textbook reflects its classroom. origins by seeming to be a cobbled collection of disjunct one offs There. is almost never any indication of the needs analyses on which a. particular textbook was based nor of the pre or post publication trials. undertaken, The list could go on and one need only read ELT reviews to discover.
more Whatever one s reservations about the academic rigour displayed. in assessments published in the ELT press they frequently represent a. deeply felt grassroots complaint about the published materials status. quo From an academic viewpoint as well the textbook is often. perceived to be a flawed creation textbook production particularly in. ESP seeming to take place without sufficient regard for the findings of. linguistics research Ewer Boys 1981 too often published materials. simply fail to rest upon sound theoretical bases, It is fairly clear then that textbooks and their ancillary aids are seen. by most consumers as commercial ephemera which are often aggres.

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