I’m sorry to insist on this! But is coursebooking or not coursebooking really the question that Geoff is asking? Or is/was he actually talking about “LEARNING” and “EMPOWERMENT”.
Anthony Schimdt who is one of my favorite teachers out there writes another amazing post. And it would have been even more amazing if he had written an analysis of the type of the CB which Geoff and my last post talk about: Structural syllabus or at least close to it. I work with EGP, and none of the coursebooks I use are pure grammar-based. It’s fair to say that nowadays grammar-based CBs come in all packages in order to be marketed. The’ve received a new layout to incorporate the communicative era and have been revamped from time to time.
Has anyone seen structural syllabus mixed with communicative activities, or disguised as Communicative? I’m sure you all have.
But instead of discussing this, we are discussing something else which is also valid but adds very little to the original discussion which is why grammar-based syllabus still dominating when research (and we from experience know that as well) has shown that it does not match its purpose? And let’s be clear that a shift in paradigm changes also assessment as we know today. SLA might not have all the answers, but have already showed that such focus is a waste of learners time. Have those arguing against Geoff’s argument that teachers should ban coursebooks and come up with their own material actually tried to do things in the other way around for a good while to see the benefits of it and how quick teens and adults improve their English? After all the best examples of language learners are those who immersed in order to understand the language and really put their attention in order to use it well.
Am I against coursebooks? NO. I’m against the grammar-based ones.
Despite Brazil being a big market for teaching material, it hasn’t been very successful and please do not patronize teachers in the process of explaining why that has been so. Odd , but not a bit surprising. Politicians and Corporations are indeed in debt with education. A country that mostly approach language teaching using the traditional grammar paradigm where practicing rules makes one use language accurately shows that in practice this is a fallacy. A fallacy that continues to be perpetuated because we avoid looking at our classes critically.
Now, taking the books Anthony writes about in his post and the fact that they do not fall into the obvious category Geoff’s presentation talks about. I’d like to see him analysing, in the same way, a grammar-based book that he is either working on or have worked with, and then discuss the outcomes he observed through the eyes of learners and learners’ progress for the sake of the discussion. Otherwise, we will continue to go in circles here. By having material writters defending their position (which is not Anthony’s case) and teachers who find PPP a useful teaching model going around denying the obvious implications of such syllabus.
And although I’m taking Anthony’s concern as begin simply that the discussions might be trashing coursebooks all together, I hoped that my previous post focused on the principles that underlies coursebooks/textbooks in language courses and regular schools which is common practice in Brazil, and I suspect that is true for most places in the world. Let’s make clear that ESP/ EAP and skill based CBs do not fall into this category. As such, they do not really contribute to the discussion.
That said, any visit to publishers catalogue will show us the variety of CBs and that a great number of them fall into English for General Purpose. The ones in Anthony’s post ARE NOT the common CB for general purpose. But it is a great post nonetheless and as I’m interested in ESP and EAP right now, quite helpful. Perhaps the discussions we are having would be much more fruitful if we focus on talking about the same thing.
Second point from Geoff’s presentation (and no so much in my previous post) is that teachers must have the right to become critical of what they are doing. There is so much talk about TD, PD and autonomy, creativity, reflective practice and so on, but very little room for any of this to become real. One thing is to talk about education and another thing is to talk about the business of language teaching. In my blog, I discuss education and how as a teacher I want to serve my students better. After all, I didn’t invest so much on my PD to simply learn how to adapt coursebooks. And in my country there are tens of thousands of teachers who are great language learners themselves and smart students who are able to take learning in their own hands. I support that.
ps. *sorry for my lack of creativity in choosing a title. AT this point, I think I can’t really care to make this post “nice”. It’s easy to give things a nice package, but it doesn’t mean the product is really good. If you want to be a teacher that makes the difference, stop thinking of teaching and start from learning.
ps** This was originally a comment in Anthony’s post. I decided though that it would be a good follow up of my previous post and then I can link Anthony’s post to my blog.