Reasons I don't like most textbooks (7)

They're not about the learners.

So, why exactly are 2 billion people learning English?


To make their lives "better."

And er, what exactly must they do if they are to successfully achieve this goal?

They must learn how to talk in English.

  • their lives.
  • their jobs.
  • their deals.
  • their responsibilities.
  • their interests.
  • their hobbies.
  • their families.
  • their needs.
  • their desires.
  • their passions.
  • their concerns.
  • their ideas.
  • their musings.
  • their boundaries.

Anything else served up, which has an objective providing less than this, is less than enough.

Put the student in the book to get him out of the book.

Useful links related to this posting:
Reasons I don't like most textbooks, series 1-6
The dogma of dogme
F is for Fluency (Scott Thornbury)


6 Responses to “Reasons I don't like most textbooks (7)”

  • Unknown says:
    December 22, 2009

    I couldn't agree more Karenne.

    The situation here in Spain is absolutely dire. Kids spend years studying English and can barely conduct the simplest of conversations at the end of it all.

    My impression is that they are constantly, repeatedly and alienatingly dragged through grammar-driven textbooks and that English means little more to most of them than getting (or most of the time actually not getting) the verb tense right in the gap which inevitably has to be filled.

    I don't want to suggest that moving away from textbooks to students is easy for teachers. Many find the idea inconceivable and increasingly prescriptive syllabuses don't help. But the situation here is crying our for change and engaging students has to be at the heart of it.

  • Vicki Hollett says:
    December 29, 2009

    I think you are tapping into some very fundamental issues here and I want to read and learn more. Please keep coming back to this and thank you,

  • Unknown says:
    December 29, 2009

    Further to this, I'd like to briefly mention the consequences of not attending to students in English classes, of simply imposing on them whatever happens to be on the next page of the book whether they have any interest or not in what is there.
    It is this:
    I have created a space for dialogue on Wallwisher, I have sent students emails with music recommendations, I have posted pictures on a site where students can commment on their content, I have created a Wiki where the class can go to keep a record of what has been done in class.
    And what response do I usually get from 18 year-old students who have spent the last ten years as passive recipients of whatever is on the next page? Soul-destroying passivity is what I get. 'Is it obligatory?' is what I'm asked.

    Over the years I have seen thousands of students with an in-grained inability to see the learning of English as a process in which their initiative, participation and endeavour will make THE difference; thousands of students condemned never to learn English.

    So when unit 3 requires me to teach them the 2nd conditional again, it sticks in my throat just a little.

    January 01, 2010

    Ta, Vicki - the use of the 'self' and/or the ego (not ego in a bad way) in the learning of languages is something that really fascinates me... will keep harping on :-) thanks for your interest!

    January 01, 2010

    Glennie... I think what you're doing is simply marvelous - I've been trying to work out a response to the soul-destroying passivity (I think we can all relate, unfortunately) and the unit 3 here comes the conditionals yet again dilemma -

    Keep doing what you're doing, keep having the faith in encouraging them to take control over their learning *perhaps do more of them finding the music themselves and tell them ya, it's obligatory and smile... and remember that what you see on their faces is not always what's going on in their heads...

    I was just chatting to my little brother (he's 20) about his favourite teacher in high school - a man who stretched his students way beyond the call of duty -

    Marty told me they all hated him in the first semester of the last year of school: he wanted so much "out" of them, for them to do the work themselves - even extra classes on Saturdays (with the beach parties calling) and well, what happened was that his whole class, 100% passed and left absolutely loving math...

    So head down, keep pushing autonomy if that makes any sense at all!

    :-) Happy new year!

  • Unknown says:
    January 01, 2010

    Same to you!
    And thanks for the encouraging words!


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