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Neglecting textbooks

Neglecting textbooks

Teaching Sin #1

I have been fighting with this one for years. Most TEFL courses put utmost importance to their students’ ability to create their own materials for their teaching practice and base their whole lesson on self-made materials. I beg you, do not do it! For 95% of all language courses on Earth, you are able to use a textbook as a backbone of the course. Textbook gives students clear structure, sense of achievement and continuity and reference for problems they encounter while practicing the language. And any modern TEFL book has many supplements teachers can use to increase the efficiency, interactivity and fun factor of any lesson and support self-study - DVDs, CD-ROMS, e-learning, resource books, teachers' books, Business English files, tests, IWB software, iOS and Android apps, etc. So my advice to all TEFL teachers is to devote their energy to supplementing the book with personalized materials, adapting exercises and making the best use of all the supplements. Inventing a wheel is creative, but I think you achieve more when you take what has already been done and improve it and adapt it to your students' needs. I know I am against many teachers and against methodology of 90% of TEFL courses, but as an Academic Director I am the one dealing with the students' complaints and I know most of them could have been avoided if the teachers had used a textbook.

I am not saying you have to do each and every exercise, each and every unit. That would be super boring. Skip uninteresting parts, skip things your students do not need. Use a different exercise/text/explanation if you find out it is better than the one in the book. Supplement with authentic materials your students have to deal with in their job. But do use the textbook to keep the structure, the vocabulary recycling, the grammar explanations, appropriate tests, graded practice, etc. in one place. Students do not say that very often, but they wholeheartedly hate piles of worksheets and never go back to them for a reference because they are unable to find what they need in a short time.

And if you are able to create a bullet-proof semester/year course, sell it to an ELT publisher and get tons of money. Until you do so, use a book and use your time to improve and personalize it.

by Martin Hejhal, 13 August 2014


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