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Evaluating

textbooks and
materials
By
Porntip Bodeepongse

Role and purpose of


a course book in the
past
As

the curriculum instead of a


reference
As an end product, not a starting
point
**It should be a route map for a
course.

Cunning worth (1995:7)


states the roles of course books in ELT as:
a resource for presentation material
a source of activities for learner practice
and communicative interaction
a reference source
a syllabus
a resource for self-access work
a support for less experienced teachers

3 options for teachers


( Ansary&Babari , 2002)

Teachers need and use textbooks.


Teachers do not need and use textbooks.
They produce their own materials.
Teachers select a textbook and
supplement some other materials to
perfect it.

Why teachers use


textbooks:

Extremely difficult to develop materials


Time-consuming and demanding process to
develop new materials
Teachers have limited time.
Textbooks lessen preparation time,
provide ready-made activities and provide
concrete samples of classroom progress
through which external stakeholders can
be satisfied.

Arguments for using


textbooks

Framework that regulates and times the


program
For Ss, no textbook = no purpose and learning is
not taken seriously
A textbook can serve as a syllabus.
Provides ready-made teaching texts and learning
tasks
Without a book= out of focus & Ts-dependent
Security, guidance and support

Problems
Teachers are not properly trained on how to
choose, adapt, evaluate and use their course
books.
Curricula has not met with the practical
needs in the classroom.
Students have little or no role or
involvement in book selection process.

Cunning worth (1984:6)


No course book will totally be suited to a
particular teaching situation. The teacher
will have to find his own way of using it and
adapting it if necessary. So we should not be
looking for the perfect course book which
meets all our requirements, but rather for
the best possible fit what the book offers
and what we as teachers and students
need.

Things to take into


consideration:
objectives,

goals, methods and


approaches of the language program
teachers background
teaching styles
students needs
students learning preferences/ styles

Method of evaluation

Hartley (1994:163) addresses 3 content


areas to be checked:
Does the book meet the teaching
objectives?
Is there sufficient depth and breadth
of material?
Will it need to be supplemented?

Using a checklist
Factors to be considered:

( Garinger, 2001.Textbook Evaluation. TEFL Web


Journal.)

1.

Practical considerations

Availability and value


Layout/ physical characteristics
Cultural component

Using a checklist (cont.)


2.

Language related considerations


Skills
Language
Exercises
User definition

Sheldons criteria
Rationale
Availability
User definition
Layout/ graphic
Accessibility
Linkage
Selection/grading
Physical characteristics

Sheldons criteria (1988)


appropriacy
Authenticity
Sufficiency
Cultural bias
Educational validity
Stimulus/ practice/ revision
Flexibility
Guidance
Overall value for money

PART 2

Penny Ur
Importance
Very important

Fairly important

Not sure

Criterion

Not important

Totally
unimportant

XX

Objectives explicitly laid out in an


introduction, and implemented in
the material.

se in Language Teaching. Cambridge. Cambridge Universit

Jeremy
Harmer
Area

Harmer, J. (1998). How to teach English. Essex, Addison Wesley Longman. Pages 1187
119

Questions to consider

1 price

How expensive is the textbook? Can the students afford it? Will they have to buy an
accompanying workbook? Can they afford both? What about the teacher; can he or she pay
for the teacher's book and tapes?

2 availability

Is the course available? Are all its components (students' book, teacher's book, workbook
etc.) in the shops now? What about the next level (for the next term/semester)? Has it been
published? Is it available? What about tapes, videos etc.?

3 layout and
design

Is the book attractive? Does the teacher feel comfortable with it?
Do the students like it? How user-friendly is the design? Does it get in the way of
what the book is trying to do or does it enhance it?

4 methodology

What kind of teaching and learning does the book promote? Can teachers and students build
appropriate ESA sequences from it? Is there a good balance between Study and Activation?

5 skills

Does the book cover the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) adequately? Is
there a decent balance between the skills? Are there opportunities for both Study and
Activation in the skills work? Is the language of the reading and listening texts appropriate?
Are the speaking and writing tasks likely to Engage the students' interest?

6 syllabus

Is the syllabus of the book appropriate for your students? Does it cover the language points
you would expect? Are they in the right order? Do the reading and listening texts increase in
difficulty as the book progresses?

7 topic

Does the book contain a variety of topics? Are they likely to engage the students' interest?
Does the teacher respond to them well? Are they culturally appropriate for the students? Are
they too adult or too childish?

8 stereotyping

Does the book represent people and situations in a fair and equal way? Are various
categories of people treated equally? Is there stereotyping of certain nationalities? Does the
book display conscious or unconscious racism or sexism?

9 teacher's
guide

Is there a good teacher's guide? Is it easy to use? Does it have all the answers the teacher
might need? Does it offer alternatives to lesson procedures? Does it contain a statement of
intention which the teacher and students feel happy with?

Jeremy
Harmer
Area
1 price
2 availability

1. Analysis

3 layout and
design

2. Piloting

4 methodology

3. Consultation

5 skills

4. Gathering opinions

6 syllabus
7 topic
8 stereotyping
9 teacher's
guide

Harmer, J. (1998). How to teach English. Essex, Addison Wesley Longman.

Douglas H. BrownBrown, Douglas H. (2001) Teaching by Principles. New York. Addison Wesley Longman. Page 142
Table 9.2. Textbook evaluation criteria (adapted from Robinett 1978: 249-51)

1. Goals of the course (Will this textbook help to accomplish your course goals?)
2. Background of the students (Does the book fit the students' background?)
a. age

c. educational background

b. native language and culture


d. motivation or purpose for learning English
3. Approach (Does the theoretical approach reflected in the book reflect a philosophy that you
and your institution and your students can easily identify with?)
a. theory of learning
b. theory of language
4. Language skills (Does the book intgrate the "four skills"? Is there a balanced approach toward
the skills? Does the textbook emphasize skills which the curriculum also emphasizes?)
a. listening

c. reading

b. speaking
d. writing
5. General content (Does the book reflect what is now known about language and language learning?)
a. validitydoes the textbook accomplish what it purports to?
b. authenticity of language
c. appropriateness and currency of topics, situations, and contexts
d. proficiency levelis it pitched for the right level?
6. Quality of practice material
a. exercisesis there a variety from controlled to free?
b. clarity of directionsare they clear to both students and teacher?

Table 9.2. Textbook evaluation criteria (adapted from


Robinett
1978:
249-51)
2.
Background
the students
b.
native
language
accomplish your of
course
goals?) (Does the book fit
theand
students'
culturebackground?)
d. motivation or purpose for
age
educational
background
3. a.
Approach
(Does thec.
theoretical
approach
learning
English can easily
and your institution and
your students
reflected
in theskills
book (Does
reflect the
a philosophy
that you
4.
Language
book integrate
the
identify with?)
a. theory
"four
skills"?ofIslearning
there a balanced approach toward the
b. theory of language
skills? Does the textbook emphasize skills which the
curriculum
also emphasizes?)
b. speaking
a. listening
c. reading
d. writing
5. General content (Does the book reflect what is
a. known
validitydoes
the textbook
accomplish
what it
now
about language
and language
learning?)
purports
to?
c. appropriateness
and currency of topics,
b. authenticity of language
situations, and contexts
d.
levelis
pitchedfrom
for the
right level?
a. proficiency
exercisesis
there aitvariety
controlled
to
6. b.
Quality
material
clarity of
of practice
directionsare
they clear to both
free?
c.
active participation of studentsis this
students
and teacher?
d.
grammatical
and other linguistic explanation
encouraged
effectively?there sufficient spiraling
e. review materialare
inductive or deductive?
and review exercises?

H. (2001) Teaching by Principles. New York. Addison Wesley Longman. Page 142
Douglas
H. Brown
1. Goals
of Brown,
theDouglas
course
(Will this textbook help to

Table 9.2. Textbook evaluation criteria (adapted from


Robinett
249-51)
a. by 1978:
grammatical
7. Sequencing (How is the
book
sequenced?)
d. by
some
combination of
structures (Does thec.book
by situations
8. Vocabulary
pay sufficient
b. by skills
thestrategies
above for word
c.
attention to words and word study?)
a. relevance
analysis
b.
a. frequency
variety of EnglishAmerican, British, dialects,
9. General sociolinguistic factors
international
10. or
Format
(Is the varieties
book attractive, usable, and
b. clarity
culturalofcontentis there a cultural bias?
a.
durable?)
b. use of special notation (phonetic symbols,
typesetting
stress/intonation
marking,
etc.)
d.
general layoutis
it comfortable
and not too
c. quality
clarity of illustrations
e.
size of and
the book
"busy"?
and binding
f.Accompanying
quality of editing
11. b.
materials (Are there useful
tapesaudio
g. Index, table of contents, chapter headings
supplementary
and/or videomaterials?)
a.
c. posters, flash cards, etc.
b. workbook
alternative and
d. suitability
a set of tests
a. methodological c.
for nonnative
12. supplementary
Teacher's guide (Is it useful?)
guidance
speaking teacher
d. answer keys
exercises

Douglas H. BrownBrown, Douglas H. (2001) Teaching by Principles. New York. Addison Wesley Longman. Page 142

Alan
Cunningsworth

Cunningsworth, A. (1995) Choosing your coursebook. Oxford. Heinemann.

1.- Approaches to evaluation


Impressionistic overview v/s In - depth evaluation

Selecting coursebooks involves matching the material against the context


in which it is going to be used
2.- Deciding on a checklist

Aims and approaches


Alan
Cunningsworth, A. (1995) Choosing your coursebook. Oxford. Heinemann.
- Do the aims of the coursebook correspond closely with the aims of the teaching
Cunningsworth

programme and with the needs of the learners?


- Is the coursebook suited to the learning/teaching situation?
- How comprehensive is the coursebook? Does it cover most or all of what is needed? Is it
a good resource for students and teachers?
- Is the coursebook flexible? Does it allow different teaching and learning styles?nization
- What components make up the total course package (eg students' books, teachers'
books, workbooks, cassettes, etc)?
- How is the content organized (eg according to structures, functions, topics, skills, etc)? Is
the organization right for learners and teachers?
- How is the content sequenced (eg on the basis of complexity, 'learnability', usefulness,
etc)?
- Is the grading and progression suitable for the learners? Does it allow them to complete
the work needed to meet any external syllabus requirements?
- Is there adequate recycling and revision?
- Are there reference sections for grammar, etc? Is some of the material suitable for
individual study?
- Is it easy to find your way around the coursebook? Is the layout clear?ntent
- Does the coursebook cover the main grammar items appropriate to each level, taking
learners' needs into account?
- Is material for vocabulary teaching adequate in terms of quantity and range of vocabulary,
emphasis placed on vocabulary development, strategies for individual learning?
- Does the coursebook include material for pronunciation work? If so what is covered:
individual sounds, word stress, sentence stress, intonation?
- Does the coursebook deal with the structuring and conventions of language use above
sentence level, eg how to take part in conversations, how to structure a piece of extended
writing, how to identify the main points in a reading passage? (More relevant at intermediate

- Alan
Are all four skills adequately covered, bearing in mind your course aims and syllabus
Cunningsworth, A. (1995) Choosing your coursebook. Oxford. Heinemann.
requirements?
Cunningsworth
- Is there material for integrated skills work?
-Are reading passages and associated activities suitable for your students' levels, interests, etc?
Is there sufficient reading material?
- Is listening material well recorded, as authentic as possible, accompanied by background
information, questions and activities which help comprehension?
- Is material for spoken English (dialogues, roleplays, etc) well designed to equip learners for reallife interactions?
- Are writing activities suitable in terms of amount of guidance/control, degree of accuracy,
organization of longer pieces of writing (eg paragraphing) and use of appropriate styles?
- Is there sufficient material of genuine interest to learners?
- Is there enough variety and range of topic?
- Will the topics help expand students' awareness and enrich their experience?
- Are the topics sophisticated enough in content, yet within the learners' language level?
- Will your students be able to relate to the social and cultural contexts presented in the
coursebook?
- Are women portrayed and represented equally with men?
- Are other groups represented, with reference to ethnic origin, occupation, disability, etc?
- What approach/approaches to language learning are taken by the coursebook? Is this
appropriate to the learning/teaching situation?
- What level of active learner involvement can be expected? Does this match your students'
learning styles and expectations?
- What techniques are used for presenting/practising new language items? Are they suitable for
your learners?
- How are the different skills taught?
- How are communicative abilities developed?
- Does the material include any advice/help to students on study skills and learning strategies?

Alan
Cunningsworth

Cunningsworth, A. (1995) Choosing your coursebook. Oxford. Heinemann.

Teachers' books
- Is there adequate guidance for the teachers who will be using the coursebook and its
supporting materials?
- Are the teachers' books comprehensive and supportive?
- Do they adequately cover teaching techniques, language items such as grammar
rules and culture-specific information?
- Do the writers set out and justify the basic premises and principles underlying the
material?
- Are keys to exercises given?
Practical Considerations
- What does the whole package cost? Does this represent good value for money?
- Are the books strong and long-lasting? Are they attractive in appearance?
- Are they easy to obtain? Can further supplies be obtained at short notice?
- Do any parts of the package require particular equipment, such as a language
laboratory, listening centre or video player? If so, do you have the equipment available
for use and is it reliable?

Harmer
1. Price
2. Availability
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

Layout and design


Methodology
Skills
Syllabus
Topic
Stereotyping
Teachers guide

Brown
1. Goals
2. Background of the
students
3. Approach
4. Language skills
5. General content
6. Quality of practice
material
7. Sequencing
8. Vocabulary
9. General sociolinguistic
factors
10. Format
11. Accompanying
material
12. Teachers guide

Cunningsworth
1. Aims and approaches
2. Design and
organization
3. Language content
4. Skills
5. Topic
6. Methodology
7. Teachers book
8. Practical
considerations

Penny Ur
Criterion

Importance

Objectives explicitly laid out in an introduction, and implemented in the


material.
Approach educationally and socially acceptable to target community
Clear attractive layout; print easy to read.
Appropriate visual materials available
Interesting topics and tasks.
Varied topics and tasks, so as to provide for different learner levels, learning
styles, interests, etc.
Clear instructions

Systematic coverage of syllabus

Content clearly organized and graded (sequenced by difficulty).

Periodic review and test sections


Plenty of authentic language
Good pronunciation explanation and practice
Good vocabulary explanation and practice
Good grammar presentation and practice
Fluency practice in all four skills.
Encourages learners to develop own learning strategies and to become
independent in their learning
Adequate guidance for the teacher; not too heavy preparation load.

Textbook choice: criteria


Intrinsic
factors

Status

Performance
Description

Continuity

Length
Progression
Transition

Articulatio
n Achievement

Appropriateness
Coherence

Textbook choice: criteria


Intrinsic
factors

Status

Performance
Description

IV
III
II
I
8
7
6
5
4
3
2

Textbook choice: criteria


Intrinsic
factors

Status

Performance
Description

Continuity

Length
Progression
Transition

IV
III
II
I
8
7
6
5
4
3
2

Textbook choice: criteria


Intrinsic
factors

Status

Performance
Description

Continuity

Length
Progression
Transition

Articulatio
n Achievement

Appropriateness

Coherence

2013
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
I
II

2014

20135

2016

2017

2018

Intrinsic
factors

Status
Performance
Description

Continuity

Length
Progression
Transition

IV

III

II

2013
6

Articulatio
n Achievement

Appropriateness

Coherence

5
1

4
2

3
3

2
4

1
5

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018