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.