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Choosing a main course book - general constraints

[A] Profile of the learner(s)

[B] Needs of the learner / group / level; Fluency or Accuracy?

[C] Motivation - Method; interests; Cultural; Age Group?

[D] Time & Place - 2 weeks or 1 academic year? L1 or L2 environment?

[E] Other external constraints - public perception; examination syllabus.


Criteria for evaluating the main course book and other ELT resources

The order of importance will vary according to learning / teaching / institutional context, time-scale and nature of goals:

  1. Learners' needs
  2. Ordering and pacing of syllabus
  3. Maintenance of interest - suitable (perhaps for captive learners)
  4. Type of course: exam based, intensive, vacation - fixed period or continuous intake
  5. Age group - suitable for maturity-level and motivation of learners
  6. Time scale - variety & quantity of material - suitable for length of course
  7. Cultural orientation
  8. Suitable for class-size
  9. Role of teacher(s) and learner(s) appropriate to preferred teaching & learning styles
  10. Mono or Multilingual
  11. Narrative or Topic based
  12. Assumption of learner knowledge
  13. Mix of syllabus: structural; notional / functional; task-based (communicative)
  14. Right measure of authenticity i.e. suitably adapted for level
  15. Appropriacy of lexis, structure for learners' level
  16. Right selection of vocabulary and syntax for learners re function & complexity
  17. Range and appropriacy of texts
  18. Range & weighting of skills
  19. Revision technique: cyclical or linear
  20. Suitability for self-access
  21. Do learners' exercises, activities and tasks work?
  22. Ease of use for teacher
  23. Ease of use for learners
  24. Summary of items for reference
  25. Visual impact
  26. Accompanying aids: charts, cassettes, videos, CD-rom
  27. Dated or modern language
  28. Metalanguage
  29. Teacher book
  30. Course or part course book

But the real evaluation is made when it is used in the classroom.


Bibliography

Materials Development in Language Teaching by Brian Tomlinson - (Cambridge Language Teaching Library 1998)

Choosing Your Coursebook by Alan Cunningsworth - (Macmillan ELT 1995)


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