Apr 3

Adapting Your Coursebook

Classroom materials
Ideas for adapting your coursebook
Most English teachers rely to some extent on a coursebook, but how closely do you follow it? Emma Heyderman recently put up a Linked in post about this (you can find the link below) and it generated loads of good ideas - here are some of them.
Adapting the coursebook - Video transcript

Most English teachers rely to some extent on a coursebook, but how closely do you follow it? Emma Heyderman recently put up a LinkedIn post about this (you can find the link here) and it generated loads of good ideas, so if you’re interested to know what they are, keep watching.

I’m Jo Gakonga, and if this is the first time we’re meeting, I’m a teacher educator, a CELTA trainer and assessor, I’ve got a PhD in Applied Linguistics and I run a website with useful material for English language teachers at ELT-Training.com. If you like this, don’t forget to like and subscribe- I make a new video every week.

Emma Heyderman is a coursebook writer herself, so she knows a thing or two about them, and in her post, she asked this question:

"We're expected to follow a coursebook quite closely. Do you have any advice or recommendations for further reading on how to adapt it?"

and followed it up with these four pieces of advice. Which of them do you follow?

  • Think about the outcome for the lesson (or series of lessons) before you open the book. What is it you'd like the learners to be able to do even better?
  • Look at the coursebook page and decide which of the activities will help your learners achieve the outcome. It may be just a case of tweaking things, for example, turning a grammar exercise into a speaking exercise.
  • Consider what other material you may need to find to 'fill any gaps'.
  • Don't forget to look at the teachers book - there may be some good advice there on how to introduce the material, alternative approaches or even extra activities.

I think all of these are really useful- especially the idea of a starting point being what you want to teach them, rather than what the coursebook includes.

As well as Emma’s initial thoughts, though, she invited comments from others and there are some great ideas here, too…

Harry Waters kicked off and he reiterated how useful a good teacher's book can be – he said- we often spend hours trying to think of ways to jazz up our lessons only to realise someone else has already been paid to do it for us.

Gillian Flaherty came in early on, too and noted that "Finding interesting and creative ways to introduce themes/vocab/structures etc can make a huge difference. To me, starting a lesson directly from the coursebook can be a challenging way to engage learners".

I think this is an important reminder. A lesson that begins with Turn to page 28 won’t usually inspire much enthusiasm in my experience.

Hall Houston pointed out some helpful resources: a book by Mario Rinvolucri called Humanising Your Coursebook and the free book from the BC called Creativity in the English Language Classroom.

A few people mentioned making the coursebook more relevant to the learners- always a good idea, of course. Clare Hayward suggests using the coursebook as a springboard and then personalising it and Emma added that you could reverse that by starting with something personally relevant before even opening the coursebook. Which do you usually do?

As an extension to this, Ana Clara Castilho Ramos mentioned bringing in more local issues to international coursebooks to make sure they’re relevant to your learners.

Want more? Erin O’Byrne threw in that the transcripts in the back of the book can be used in a variety of ways (I think she's right, too- note to self- must make a video about that sometime) and Jenny Galligan says to make sure you ask your colleagues who’ve been teaching that book for a while- always a good resource.

Finally- and this has got to be a good one- Mohamed E got this one in…

"A coursebook is not a holy book".

Wise words to finish with, I think!

Wow- that’s quite a lot -and there were other things in the thread, too that I didn’t have time to mention, so do go and have a look at the original post.

I wonder how many of these things you already do? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you next time.

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