Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 8 : 6 June 2008
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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What is Necessary in Pre-planned Materials?

Mar Gutiérrez-Colon, Ph.D.


The following paper analyzes the role of pre-planned materials in foreign language classes. It starts presenting different views on how class materials should be analyzed. The paper continues showing a specific criteria (Ur's criteria) for analyzing course materials. This criteria will then be re-evaluated by a group of students of the course English Teaching Methodology at the University Rovira i Virgili (Spain). Finally, the results and conclusion will be presented.


As an English Language teacher at an English Department in a Spanish University, I am faced with the same dilemma every year: should I choose a course book for my students, should I use materials from various books, or should I create my own materials? After ten years teaching English at various levels and in different situations, I have responded to this dilemma in a variety of ways:

  1. I have adapted the grammar units from different books to my students needs, and then I have created my own exercises based on the theoretical approach used in class.
  2. I have also chosen these exercises from different books and authors, and even adapted some of them in accordance with my students' needs.
  3. Finally, I have sometimes chosen a class book and used it throughout the course, supplementing it with extra information only when I thought my students needed it.

Question after Question

You may think that after so many years of experience, I know exactly what to do every June when I have to submit the English language programme. But every year, when I am told that I am to teach the English Language course, I begin to have many doubts: What are the students going to be like this year? Will they have the same English language level as last year's? Shall I tell them to read the grammar parts and do the activities at home, so I can spend the class on speaking and reading? Should I prepare a combination of activities that cover all four skills? And what about a book? But will they find the topics appealing? If I create my own activities, I can choose the topics that I think they will like the most. But that's a lot of work, and I am no expert in material creation.

Never a Right Solution?

So, there never seems to be a right solution. If I finally decide to use a course book, then I have to decide which one will best suit my students' needs (and mine!). Now I have to start checking all the books that have been published recently to see which one seems best for my course. And at this point, the question is, how can I evaluate a course book? What features are most important?

Relevance of Both Commercial and Teacher-Produced Materials

For Nunan, both commercial and teacher-produced materials are very important because while the syllabus "defines the goals and objectives, the linguistic and experimental content" (1991: 208) materials are the real representations of these specifications. Nunan also cites Richards and Rodgers who suggest that "instructional materials can provide detailed specifications of content, even in the absence of a syllabus" (1991: ibid).

Analysis of Course Materials

The following section presents different views on how class materials should be analyzed. This essay presents specific criteria for analyzing course materials. Finally the students of English Teaching Methodology (a subject on the English Language and Literature degree) at the Rovira i Virgili University (Tarragona, Spain), many of whom will become English language teachers, evaluate this taxonomy and the results and conclusion are presented.

This is only the beginning part of the paper. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Status Marking in Tamil - A Ph.D. Dissertation | Normative & Clinical Data on the Kannada Version of Western Aphasia Battery (WAB-K) | Concerns of Faith - Inclusive Language: Will It Solve the Problems? | What is Necessary in Pre-planned Materials? | A Research Report on Engineering Students' Performance in English Language Speaking Test | Action Research: Innovations beyond Imposition in Foreign/Second Language Teaching | Names - Legal and Illegal: From Cadbury's to Rationing of Personal Names | HOME PAGE of June 2008 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Mar Gutiérrez-Colon, Ph.D.
Department of English and German Studies
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Plaça Imperial Tarraco
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