Reasons I don't like most textbooks (3)

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ELT Publishers
  • Whenever I go to a conference book stand or book fair I'm not looking for the almost exact replica of the book I want to replace. I am looking for something better.
  • It is not possible to recreate Headway. It is not possible to sell as many copies as the Soars did in their heyday.
  • There is no such thing as brand loyalty when it comes to textbooks. Most TEFL teachers have no idea who publishes what or by whom they're written and we don't care.
  • Originality goes a really long way. Like all the way to over here.

Useful links related to this posting:
Reasons I don't like most textbooks 1
Reasons I don't like most textbooks 2


NOTE: Due to the fact that I have linked Clandfield's latest book. I would like to state for public record that not only do I not work for Macmillan, nor have I ever, my relationship to Clandfield is: he observed me teaching once, took my four page feedback on his Straightforward book with good humour and I've attended one of his workshops.

4 Responses to “Reasons I don't like most textbooks (3)”

  • Unknown says:
    October 13, 2009

    Here we both can completely agree on textbooks! And not just because you are linking to my site or my upcoming book.
    I think you're right about brand loyalty and textbooks, and about Headway, and about replicas. About it all!
    Thanks though for the link and mention. And I confirm that Karenne does not work for Macmillan or for/with me on that particular project.

  • David V. says:
    October 14, 2009

    Publishers: stop plastering 'mapped to the CEFRL' all over the front and back covers, it isn't doing you any good and it is really starting to upset me, especially when your book appears to be in no way mapped to the CEFRL.

  • Jeremy Day says:
    October 14, 2009

    Isn't there an important difference between mainstream course books and more progressive/innovative ones on the fringe?
    Publishers will continue to bring out mainstream courses as long as huge numbers of teachers and students still want to buy them. It's like complaining that all radio-friendly pop music sounds the same - of course it does, but that's what most people like, and it enables the music industry to experiment with more innovative stuff for the real music lovers. The world of ELT publishing is the same, in many ways.
    There always has been plenty of innovation in ELT publishing, but, by definition almost, it's tended to be less visible than the mainstream stuff. Of course there should be much more innovation (which is why I applaud Lindsay for taking risks, thinking outside the you-know-what and persuading his publisher to be a bit brave).
    But if you want to blame someone for the boringness of many course books, blame all the customers who like things the way they are and who don't rush out and buy innovative books in the same numbers as they buy mainstream books.
    By the way, I'm still teaching from Headway Pre-Int, one of the first books I ever used as a teacher. I didn't choose it, but I can't complain - it does the job).

    PS Thanks, Karenne, for clarifying that you don't work for MacMillan. I notice, however, you've been silent on the allegations on the TEFLtastic blog that you actually own MacMillan ...

  • Rory says:
    October 21, 2009

    I think that there is a lot to learn from coursebooks. You take the best things out of them and leave the rest out. The thing to make clear to students at the beginning is that they don't need to do every single activity, and that you are going to suppliment, and rearrange things to suit their individual needs. The coursebook provides a lot of security for beginner teachers, who are not ready for Dogme. When I did my CELTA, I remember that we often treated coursebooks as a resource for ideas, and not a a fixed entity to be slavishly followed.


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