Sunday 15 January 2012

Hot Topic: No Textbooks

There seems to be a move away from textbooks and it's not just limited to the EFL or ESL field.  I taught at an international school in 2008 and they shunned textbooks like the plague. Teachers were expected to come up with their own material based on their students' needs.

It's a good idea in theory. Though in practice doesn't work. We were told that we were expected to create a curriculum for the entire first semestre for EFL, Maths, and Science. In three days and without meeting the students or seeing any previous work they had done.

It was an impossible task. Even if we knew the students, how could we know what they had learnt the previous years?

The school had some books in the basement, but weren't labeled or organised by year. So I found some books that I thought were appropriate for extensive reading, starting thinking about projects, quizzes, and exams and brought them to my class. Only to be told that they had read the book the previous year.

I feel that while it's great for schools to push teachers to be creative and make material that's suited for their students' needs, it really help to have a book to base everything off. That's not to say that you have to follow the book word for word, but having that book can be your guide and can also help the teacher who teaches your students next. Standardisation is also becoming an issue and it's hard to do if there are no textbooks and no records of what has previously been taught.

What do you think?
Are textbooks evil?  Do you follow a textbook at your school?

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Email me with your hot topic, name, and website (if you have one) and I'll post it ASAP.



  1. The school I'm at now follows a strict book and syllabus policy, and I quite like it. It gives me something to work on and I think the students actually like finishing a book each year. When I worked in Australia for a South Korean director I had to prepare everything from scratch. It used to take me about 3 hours to plan a 3 hours class, absolute nightmare. I prefer following text books, but also add a lot of my own ideas; youtube videos, debates, projects, and role plays. Thanks for the post.

  2. I know what you mean. Right now I have a book to follow and general guidelines and we write our own syllabus. However, when I had nothing, I hated it. It was a nightmare.


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