Course books are usually regarded as the heart of an EFL course (Sheldon 1988:237). However, we are aware that teaching material can contribute but is limited in determining learning goals, content and management of language learning. Textbooks survive because they are a convenient way of providing the structure that the teaching-learning needs. Thus, this situation impliesthat teachers must evaluate, select and adapt these materials to meet our students’ needs and maximize the learning potential.
As stated by Hutchinson:”… materials evaluation …enables teachers not just to select a textbook, but to develop their awareness of their own teaching and learning” (Hutchinson, 1987:37-38). Materials evaluation helps us make decisions in selecting textbooks, formprofessional judgments, raise awareness and brings self reflection on our teaching.
The objective of this document is to evaluate the usefulness of “You” course book: the curriculum, syllabus, and lessons presented in Unit 10 while analyzing how the course could be adapted to fit my current teaching context.
2. Report on You! Coursebook.
2.1 Background on the Teaching Context
The context in whichI am currently working is a bilingual elementary school named Instituto Dante Alighieri located in Guadalajara, Mexico and I teach two second grade groups with thirty eight students each. Second grade population is composed of mid-class children between 7-8 years old, most of their parents know very basic English, if any. Their contact with the language is limited to classroom time.
Childrenhave been introduced to the English language beginning Kinder 3 and with more emphasis in 1st grade where their core text was a communicative task-based course. Weekly English schedule is of 15 hours class time where Science is also taught in English as content syllabus.
In Mexico there has been a national curriculum policy based on a traditional knowledge-centered schooling system for basicsubjects such as: Spanish, Math, Science, Geography, Civics, and History. English has not yet been included within the elementary syllabus. Just this year the Ministry of Education has begun to change 1st and 6th grades to work on a learner-centered type of program, therefore children enjoy communicative task-based projects since they are considered fun, goal oriented and new to them. English istaught only in private schools.
For many teachers it is still a challenge to change our traditional knowledge-centered way of teaching considering that we were taught under such system ourselves. Then teachers are sometimes still working with an eclectic methodology where task-based learning is challenging but fruitful and sometimes we decide to go back to a grammatical syllabus for testingsake. It is then understandable that at this point many Mexican English teachers are struggling against their own old ways of learning and their awareness of a necessary change.
2.2 Book Evaluation
I will begin by giving a general scope of what I have been able to perceive per the textbook’s introduction as it is my understanding that we need to know what options and contexts are open to thewriter when designing his syllabus to have a better comprehension of the objectives behind the coursebook.
This is a type B syllabus which is experiential focusing more on process than product.
It is person-centred, functional/notional syllabus which is organized around a set of tasks.
The original target audience is focused on mid-class or upper-class teens in a Spaniard context where theyhave no immediate need for communicating in the language and few opportunities to use it.
Difficulty of the tasks is set for teenagers in a beginning class, the reading mentions “it is assumed that students will have a certain familiarity with English through their primary education”. (Funiber p. 115) I was intrigued as to what was the mandatory English syllabus for primary schools in Spain to...