Terry Sutcliffe

Why use materials?
· As a source of language
· For support in learning
· As a stimulus for student production
· As a record of learning

Why do we use materials other than a coursebook?
· There may be no coursebook for a class - through choice or circumstance
· For a negotiated syllabus - or just S preference for a different topic
· Mixed level groups may need different materials
· To add variety
· To clarify areas not presented well in the coursebook.
· To counteract an imbalance in the coursebook (in skills, insufficient practice activities, to vary learner roles and interaction patterns)
· To provide language specified by an institution's syllabus but not supplied by the coursebook
· To add pronunciation etc specific to a linguistic group
· To avoid taboo subjects
· To meet Ss' expectations - more tests/more long readings etc
· To provide new materials/approaches when recycling

When do we evaluate materials?
· When building up a materials bank/planning a lesson - predictive evaluation
· After using - retrospective evaluation
(Terms taken from Ellis, R ELTJ 51/1)

It is almost impossible to come up with comprehensive criteria that can be applied to all forms of materials - but some of these may be useful:

Predictive evaluation
· What does the aim of the material appear to be?
· Does it do what it says it is going to do?

Do the exercise/task etc yourself and work out:
a. What is the natural language outcome? Is it the one claimed?
b. What enablement language is needed to start/manage/complete the activity?
c. Do Ss have enough language/knowledge/training to do it?
d. What interaction does it encourage?
e. How generative is it?
f. Is it accurate - in terms of information, grammar analysis, spelling etc
g. How efficient is it in terms of time spent for language used/gained

· Consider what you need to do to make it work in terms of:
a. Instructions - alter/ignore/add
b. time
c. extra stages
d. preparation time
e. enablement language

· Should it be done with book open or closed?
· Does it fit in with Ss' needs/culture/interests/expectations?
· How engaging, useful and challenging is it?
· Is it meaningful - or doesn't that matter?
· Authenticity issues……
· What roles is the teacher/are the students required to take on?
· Does it fit your teaching style - X2 & J - ?
· Does it lend itself to differentiation?
· How will you check it/get or give feedback on it?
· Does it break copyright?
· Does it need piloting/trialling?

· How did the Ss react? (either as you observed or in evaluation)
· Did you need to make any extra language available?
· Did anything unexpected happen?
· Did it take longer or shorter than predicted? Why?
· Was there a missing stage in either instructions or preparation?
· How would you modify it?
· Is it worth filing and using again?
· Is it worth giving to colleagues?

Teacher-produced materials


· You know your context
· You can bring in immediately relevant stuff - either topical or based on what you've noticed as a gap in student knowledge in recent lessons.
· You can target learning styles
· It gives lessons a personal touch
· Students may appreciate it
· You might get good at it & be able to make some money out of it...


· Usually little time to trial - so you get different language uses etc
· Extremely time-consuming
· You are usually reinventing the wheel
· Might be pandering to your own interests/teaching & learning style.
· You may be basing things on idiolect or your own beliefs about language
· Who owns it?
· Ss may expect something more official.
· They can look unprofessional.

What about Dogme?

Learner-generated materials?

And online materials?

Reading List
Cunningsworth, A Choosing your Coursebook Macmillan 1995/8
Read this to see his thoughts on adaptation of coursebooks as well as materials.

Block, D Some thoughts on DIY materials design ELTJ 45/3
Clarke, D, F Materials Adaptation: why leave it all to the teacher? ELTJ 43/2
Cunningsworth, A Evaluating & Selecting EFL Teaching Materials Heinemann 1984
Dubin and Olshtain Course Design (C7-9) CUP 1986
Ellis, R The Empirical Evaluation of Language Teaching Materials ELTJ 51/1
Hutchinson & Walters English for Specific Purposes (C9,10) CUP 1987
McDonough and Shaw Materials and Methods in ELT OUP 1993
Nunan, D The Learner-centred Curriculum CUP 1988
Rea-Dickins and Germain Evaluation OUP 1992
Richards, J, C Curriculum Development in Lang Teaching (C8) CUP 2001
Sheldon, L.E Evaluating ELT textbooks & Materials ELTJ 42/4
Sheldon, L.E (Ed) ELT Textbooks and Materials MEP 1987

Eric Digest Finding & Evaluating Adult ESL Resources on the WWW
Gabrielatos, C The Coursebook as Flexible Tool
Kitao, K Selecting & Developing Teaching/Learning Materials
Sean, M Materials Assignment
A system for the Evaluation of ESL Websites