Creating Your Own TESOL Material: Strategy, Form, and Function

Authentic material in TESOLThere 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.

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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.

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Replacing the Textbook in TESOL: Stimulate Student Interaction!

Stimulate student interaction in TESOLIn 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.

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Replacing the Textbook: Context is King in TESOL

Replace textbook 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.

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Using Authentic Material in TESOL: Task-Based Lesson Using Video

Task-Based TESOL with authentic materialWhy replace the textbook with authentic material? Authentic material is the most interesting kind of material for English language learners since it shows how the language is used in everyday interactions. Nowadays, most ESL students have already come into contact with some kind of authentic material either through music, the Internet, television, movies and other media, so to be able to understand the language used in day to day media is usually one of their goals. Using challenging authentic material in the ESL class will motivate students to continue in their learning process and help to liven up your class.

In this article, I am going to show you a sample plan based on a short clip of an episode of Friends. The episode is number 6 from season 5, and the clip can be found online on YouTube or it can be purchased as well.

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Creating Handouts for the ESL Class

creating ESL handoutsEven though there is plenty of material available for ESL teachers, it seems that handouts never fit your classroom 100%. You often find yourself making changes, asking students to complete only one part of a handout and wishing someone would write a book tailored to your class’ needs.

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Using Comic Strips to Teach English

Taech English with comicsTeach English with comic strips! ESL teachers can find comics on newspapers and online. This is a simple and very interesting authentic material that many ESL teachers often overlook. Comics can be exploited in similar ways to regular text and they have the added element of fun and humour to attract the students’ attention. Different comics can be used for the following activities:

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7 Activities for Teaching English with Movies, TV Shows, and Online Videos

Teaching English with movies Teach English with video! Use video to teach any topic to students of all ages. Videos are one of the richest authentic materials because of the context, visuals, sounds, and variety of themes they provide. This free article will look at seven ESL activities and tasks that students can complete before, during, and after watching a video.

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Authentic Materials in Beginner Classrooms

Authentic material for ESL BeginnersBringing authentic materials into Beginner classrooms is important because this provides exposure to real-world language use.  However, Beginner students can become quickly frustrated with these materials if they find the associated activities too difficult.  When using authentic reading and listening material, consider the following strategies to help Beginner learners grapple with the difficulty of the language.

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Authentic Material: Home-Made or Off-the-Shelf?

In Theory/In Practice

Authentic material TESOL teacherThis Authentic Material Teaching Tips article focuses on the question of how deeply “authentic” teachers need to be in order to meet students’ needs.

Most ESL/EFL classes rely on textbooks to guide the curriculum and to provide the bulk of the material used in the classroom. Good textbooks make teachers’ jobs much easier. But, even the best textbooks are unable to anticipate and address the needs of every class. So – with or without a textbook – teachers often need to provide supplementary material. The choice then becomes one of creating original material or sourcing “pre-packaged” exercises from elsewhere.

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Developing Handouts

By Margaret Hurley

handouts authentic material TESOL Authentic material is often inspiring, rich and topical. It can be a significant motivator for students and it can go a long way toward keeping teachers interested, too. So, why isn’t it used even more often? The short answer is: it’s a lot of work for the teacher.

The major disadvantage of authentic material is that it doesn’t come with ready-made tasks. Turning the material into a lesson is entirely up to the teacher. And when a busy teacher is using “fresh” material (current news, for example), the supporting tasks may be developed in a rush.

There’s nothing wrong with doing things quickly – but time pressure can tempt the best of us to get a bit sloppy. Herewith, then, is a set of tips for avoiding bad habits when developing handouts to accompany the authentic material.

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