#ELTCHAT summary March 13th 2013 : How to make the most of a coursebook you don’t like (but HAVE to use)

It feels so good to not only going back on participating but also writing a summary for #ELTChat. And this week we had Marisa Constatinides (@Marisa_C) and Shaun Wilden (@Shaunwilden) as our moderator.

Course book is something that we have to deal everyday in our teaching life. Most, if not all, of those classrooms use a standard textbook series. The reasons for this are many; in Indonesia most English courses franchised based so you have to use the ones suggested by your headquarters, also the mandates of the administration, and/or the level of expertise on the part of classroom teachers. For Beginner teachers using a ready and designed course book may help but at the same time can be misleading too. Many #ELTChat participants believe that most of times, trying to use it because It takes more time to adapt it when the book is bad. More work has to be done ( @ bealer81) . And it gives you the feeling that we might as well write own book the amount of effort it takes sometimes  (@Marisa_C). Especially when the tests have to be based around the Course Book that students have paid a lot of money to buy. But then again there is no Curse Book that can fits the needs of every class. At some points, a part of some parts of it can be used in our class.

So, how do we cope with them? What to do when you don’t feel like the  Course Book that you use couldn’t help you in achieving the goals for your class?

A lot of #ELTChatters come out with great suggestion for it:

  • Teachers can use the textbook as a resource, but not the only resource. Find other books that support the material even better. More work? Yes, but it is worth it .
  • Use a textbook as a curriculum guide rather than materials source.(@teflgeek)
  • Find the focus in the Course book and cover the syllabus  our way; modify, change, eliminate, or even add or  ROSA :Reorder, Omit, Supplement, Add (@teflgeek) (@BrunoELT) (@Marisa_C)
  • Fight back! Supplement the textbook with lots of outside readings, supplementary materials, activities. Give students a chance to do more than just the activities on the Course Book make the exercise more based on their world + incorporate relevant vocab/grammar  which will be tested. (@cherrymp), (@Acquk), (@louisealix68), (@jo_cummins)
  • Teachers should be equipped with skills to make a lesson plan, don’t just come to the class relying on Course Book. (@ljp2010).
  • Get the Students to change exercises in some way – personalize them or make them completely silly, write their own questions for a text. Use technology to mash up texts for guesswork – e,g, word clouds (@Marisa_C)

Anyway, should the #ELTChatters are given chances to determine Course Book that would get their vote, most will choose those with

  • appealing content
  • clear language focus,
  • challenging activities .
  • plenty of opportunities to use the new language in relevant and relatively natural ways
  • lexis and listening should be integral

Memorable tweets:

@Acquk                                 A good course book is a springboard to learning and engagement. Therefore it must be adaptable #eltchat

@teflgeek                             It’s the one-size-fits-all dilemma again – how do you tailor the product? #eltchat

@louisealix68                       I think main problem is in the testing – if tests are built around books, then have to teach to the test  #eltchat

@cherrymp                          fight back – come up with supplementary materials, activities etc #eltchat

@teflgeek                             but can use the books as curriculum guide rather than materials source #eltchat

@LTLLblog                            I’ve found some teachers complain about the coursebook because they take a lesson by lesson approach. #eltchat

@Acquk                                 to reduce Lexis-heavy input, I have learners find a few new and important words from a text They can then build sentences etc #eltchat

@teflerinha                          #eltchat Personally, unless really dire, I’d rather have something as a basis to start from at least than have nothing.

@louisealix68                       I try to make my ex more based on their world + incorporate relevant vocab/gram which will be tested.time-consuming  #eltchat

@ManosSY                            #ELTchat ROSA is a good approach as @Marisa_C often says 🙂 ; Reorder Omit Supplement Add (Combine too is OK)

@bealer81                            My gripe with coursebooks is the way they are set out. Not user friendly or photocopy friendly. Maybe publishers should consult Teachers #eltchat

@teflgeek                             I sometimes set homework tasks from the bits of the book I don’t want to use in class. #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           Adapt or Modify activities to show paying Students/parents that you ARE using Course Book also a good idea #ELTchat

@Acquk                                 I always try to use the images in course books! They can generate so much creative output #eltchat

@jo_cummins                      You can often use the reading texts, listenings, topics, pics and create own exercises so Sts think they are using the book #eltchat

@kevchanwow                     What about having our students adapt the materials? Often do something like this with very basic texts and lower level learners. #ELTchat

@Acquk                                 My biggest problem with poor coursebooks: not enough review and reinforcement of vocab! You see a word and never meet it again. #eltchat

@AlexandraKouk                 #eltchat get students to research unit topic online and then compare notes and Course Book materials to what they’ve found.

@LTLLblog                            And of course, the winner in worst coursebooks are those that try to be ‘cool’ for the teens…cringetastic #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           My recipe for fixing poor coursebook pages – Mystery, Guesswork, Curiosity, Desire to communicate, Games playing, Imagination #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           Get your students to evaluate the Course book you are using – if they like it try harder – if they don’t, perhaps tell the school! #Eltchat

@yitzha_sarwono                Learn the content to see if you can make an easier version to use it in class; simpler extra exercise or activities #eltchat

Useful links from the chat :

It’s a great chat indeed. As always I like to end it with Quote of the Chat. This time came from Kevin Stein (@Kevchanwow)

“But what I could teach was how to study, how to learn, how to make connections. These don’t change depending on the coursebook”


See you guys in another #eltchat! Aza aza Community!


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