One of the worst things about professionally published language teaching materials is that they often tend to focus on one particular skill in a fairly unnatural way. Indeed, a lot of language courses even go as far as focusing solely on productive skills. In such courses, reading and listening become secondary skills (while other courses do the exact opposite, of course). Authentic materials, in the other hand, allow teachers to plan for integrated skills lessons.
By Margaret Hurley. Co-writer You Can Teach Grammar
The benefits of using authentic material in the TESOL classroom are many. They generate interest, they are certainly more varied in range than the material embedded in textbooks, they can be extremely practical, they can be fun and they can be very current. Especially for teachers who are not in an English-speaking country, authentic material are an excellent way to bring the English-speaking world into the classroom. In this series, different specific ways of using authentic materials will be covered. This inaugural issue covers some tips for using (non-musical) radio or podcasts in the classroom.
There are many things to consider when making our own materials for TESOL classes. The physical appearance of our material is important, as are our instructions. What’s more, we should also think about the importance of context, as well as incorporating learner training into our worksheets. Nevertheless, we can often boil the process of making a great worksheet down to the following two-stage process. Using these guiding questions, you will be able to create a worksheet that does more than simply fill time in class or merely consolidate whatever language point you’ve covered.
When we develop supplementary TESOL material, our intentions are that it will work well and be appreciated by those who use it, namely teachers and learners. However, if we want to avoid unnecessary complications further down the line, it’s critical that we consider our rationale for designing the materials we want to create from the very outset. One simple but effective way is to reflect on the three ‘Cs’: concepts, contents and customers. In other words:
- What is the main objective that we want to achieve (the concept)?
- What kind of activities will help us achieve this objective (the content)?
- Who are our learners and what will please them (the customers)?
The three Cs are a good starting framework for all materials production. There are however, other considerations for those of us who are looking to develop TESOL resources of a truly high quality, such as the roles of context, authenticity and physical appearance. This post highlights two of these factors, namely the importance of giving clear instructions and incorporating flexibility into your materials design.
One of the most important decisions we face in our TESL careers is whether or not to supplement our courses with self-made TESL materials. The notable advantages, like being able to tailor our resource to specific contexts, don’t negate challenges, such as the need to organize and store your new materials carefully. At the end of the day, it’s up to us weigh up the benefits and costs of designing teaching materials and make their own decision as to whether it is worth our time and effort. In this article, I will how you how to make your material durable and reproducible.
-Online TESL Courses Equivalent to CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL-
For those of us who decide to take the plunge and develop our own TESOL worksheets, there are numerous factors to take into consideration. In addition to issues such as authenticity and the importance of contextualization, one factor that we must never forget is the physical appearance of our material. Given that the criteria for evaluating course books frequently include reference to the ‘look’ and the ‘feel’ of the resource, it seems that such criteria that are also pertinent to materials that we design ourselves. This post examines the most important factors in producing an appealing piece of work that your learners will love.
At some point in our TEFL careers, we all take the plunge and decide it’s time to make our own worksheet or supplementary activity. However, creating our own TEFL material isn’t as plain sailing as it might at first seem. There are several issues that may actually prove to be quite disadvantageous when compared to using professionally published resources. In this blog, I will look at the challenges of using your own TEFL material and I will provide you with free resources to help you improve your TEFL methods!
There are many benefits to making your own TESOL materials. Firstly, commercially-produced materials tend to be generic and not aimed at any specific group of learners or any particular cultural or educational context. Such issues are easily overcome when we develop our own resources. Another advantage is that we can address individual needs. This is important, as we see great diversity in English language classrooms, both in terms of where they are located and in terms of the individual learners within the teaching context. What’s more, teacher-made materials enable us to choose texts and activities at the right level for our learners. With that in mind, personalization is another benefit of teacher-designed materials, as they add a personal touch to teaching that learners really appreciate. Considering the interests the learning styles of our students is likely to increase their motivation and level of engagement. A final benefit of developing our own materials is timeliness. What we mean here is that a teacher’s own material can act as a response to contemporary local and/or international events with up-to-date, relevant and high interest topics and tasks.
Despite these many advantages, it’s still important that we don’t take it for granted that our self-made materials will be great successes in our classes; we need to focus on all the things we need to keep in mind when developing our own materials. This post looks at two of these factors; we begin with the importance of strategy training, then move on to the need to accommodate both form and function.
In an ideal world, TESOL teaching materials should create situations where learners need to interact with each other in ways similar to those in which they will engage outside of the classroom. Why is this so? Basically, the majority of learners who are able to communicate fluently in a second language do so by being in situations where they have to use the language for some real communicative purpose. The activities in the textbook are often inadequate, so this article will explain how to stimulate student interaction with authentic material.
Teacher-made TESOL materials form an important part of most English language courses. Despite the rich array of commercially available materials, many teachers continue to produce their own materials for classroom use. Indeed, most of us spend a substantial amount of time looking for, choosing, evaluating, adapting or making our own materials to use in our classrooms.
With all this work going into preparing supplementary materials, it’s important for us to think about how to make things work as effectively as possible. Over the course of several posts, we’ll look at all the factors you need to keep in mind when preparing worksheets and handouts. In this post, we’ll start off by examining the importance of contextualizing your materials, and then move on to making sure that our materials generate interaction and promote the use of new language.