Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Adapting Materials For A Specific Context Education Essay
Adapting Materials For A Specific Context Education EssayAlthough most people associate spoken language- skill corporals with go withstands, in fact temporals encompass a much wider scope. A very general definition would be that materials be anything that instructors and he arrs use to facilitate instruction of a language. As well as black market obliges this could encompass cassettes, videos, dictionaries, grammar books, newspapers, photographs, and much more (Tomlinson 1998). Added to this is the realisation that materials be non simply the mundane apparatus of the language teacher, they are a personification of the aims, values and methods of the crabbed training or learning slip (Hutchinson 1987). Therefore the selection of materials is probably the single most important decision that the language teacher has to make (Hutchinson 1987).With much(prenominal)(prenominal) a broad definition teacher produced materials provide obviously play a role. nevertheless at that place are very few teachers who do not use published row materials at some stage in their career and the use of published materials is now more pervasive than ever forrader with the hunt down book being at the centre (Littlejohn 1998, McDonough Shaw 2003). Although it is convenient to lump both teacher produced materials and commerci entirelyy sponsored published course materials together there are in fact noteworthy differences pertaining to the circumstances under which they come to be written, produced and distri simplyed. Customarily teacher produced materials are aimed at a more specified topical anesthetic anaesthetic audience, and commercially sponsored materials are for as wide an audience as possible (Dubin Olshtain 1986).Often the sheer time consuming feat of writing your have materials conjugate with the reality that many teachers overhear little or no control over what course book and main materials will be selected leads to most teachers having to stre tch forth with published materials selected by others (McDonough Shaw 2003). It is rare to find a perfect fit amongst learner reads and course requirements on the one hand and what the course book involves on the other. Every learning and teaching situation is unique and inimitable (Cunningsworth 1995). For this reason the option open to the teacher is to adapt and develop the materials. stock-still before we can adapt and develop the materials we have to be able to evaluate the materials. Before we can change something we have to be clear nigh what we are changing (McDonough Shaw 2003).Teachers military ratings of course books and materials usually involves making general impressionistic judgements on materials based upon common assumptions and expectations. Some very common expectations of materials now are that they should achieve continue and have a noticeable effect on learners, help learners feel at ease, help develop learners confidence, and should be perceived by lea rners as being pertinent and useful. It has become common for materials to be expected to necessitate learners to make discoveries for themselves, expose learners to language in au consequentlytic use, entice caution to linguistic features of the in do, recycle instruction, and present frequent and abundant exposure to the instructed language features in communicative use (Tomlinson 1998). It is in like manner now highly desired that materials offer in mind that learners differ in learning styles and that learners inclination for a particular learning style is variable dep ceaseing on what is being learned, where, with who, and for what. It is also hoped materials prefer into account that learners differ in affective and emotional attitudes (Tomlinson 1998). barely a lot of these expectations are things that can mean different things for different groups of learners and teachers. For good example achieving impact is variable in different places. What achieves impact in Brazil might not achieve impact in Germany, and what achieves impact in a secluded language school in Brazil might not achieve impact in a Brazilian high school. Often these expectations and assumptions ab reveal what is desirable, and others, such as up to date methodology, being foolproof, and containing realistic language, are all debateable. Is up to date a desirable characteristic in itself (Littlejohn 1998, Tomlinson 1998)?Teachers are also likely to focus less on the programme as a whole in their rating and more on whether specific activities and techniques appear to attain in the mount of a particular lesson (Ellis 1998). This combination of relying on general impressionistic judgements and concern with specific activities and techniques creates a type of micro military rank that leads to a very discriminating type of adaption. Rather to ensure a good match between what the course book includes and the requirements of the learning and teaching situation, and to avoid an ecle ctic approach to evaluation and adaptation teachers need to develop more methodical and potentially informative approaches creating a more in-depth evaluation of materials. (Cunningsworth 1995, Ellis 1998, Littlejohn 1998, Tomlinson 1998,).How do teachers begin a more in depth evaluation of teaching materials? Firstly by understanding that materials are indeed an embodiment of the aims, values and methods of the particular teaching and learning environment teachers can reflect over and analyse their knowledge, understanding and experience of how languages are learnt and should be taught. They can relate this to how near a match there is with the aims and values of the materials. This will lead teachers to be able to clearly state what they actually expect from their materials rather than regurgitating the latest buzzwords in the teaching industry. Teachers are then able to proceed from here and have a basis to analyse what materials contain and aspire to achieve, what materials make learners do while they are learning, how materials assume or even demand the teacher to teach learners in the schoolroom, and the appropriateness of the materials to the learners needs and interests (Breen Candlin 1987). This will enable us to build our evaluation of materials, and subsequently our adaptation, on the principles built upon our knowledge, understanding and experience of learning and teaching language. This evaluation helps cultivate insights into various views of language and learning and should be done against an environment of knowledge of our learners demands and the potential of the teaching situation (McDonough Shaw 2003).The subsequent stage is collect as much information as feasible about the spirit and make-up of a course book (Hutchinson 1987). The information gathering of materials begins with what the materials say about themselves by probing the organization of the materials as stated explicitly by the author and publisher on the cover, and in the in troduction and studys. Then what is actually presented inside the materials needs a thorough evaluation, and oft the contents can be used as a conduit between the external claims and the reality inside (McDonough Shaw 2003). However as well as the sizeableness of information gathering and analysis of the materials, the same is needed of the teaching and learning situation that the materials are required for. This is vital as materials evaluation is essentially a matching answer in which the needs and assumptions of particular teaching-learning contexts are matched to for sale solutions (Hutchinson 1987).The teaching-learning situation and the schoolroom have a socialisation of their own. Culture is most comm moreover used in a very broad way to outline national culture, and there is often a prevailing heathenish stimulus that may well be attributable to the wider society, governing for example, the rhythm and movement of classroom groups, and gender segregation. However th ere are also influences from institutional or professional-academic cultures, which dominate aspects of classroom cultures such as protocols and the formality of authorized classroom events which indeed mean we need to be far more precise when we are talking about classroom culture (Holliday 1994).Classes will not have steadfast membership, groups meet to carry out restricted and limited activities, the length of history is relatively short, and the culture only exists when the class is in session. Expectations are brought to the class that are built on other, previous classroom experiences (Holliday 1994). This in conferition to different personalities and ethics that evolve in different classroom groups makes each classroom contain a unique culture. Cultures of individual classrooms are diffused to new members enabling both teachers and students to be equipped with inferred understandings about what sort of behaviour is acceptable, which they must learn and impart if they are to be fully received into the group. They assert a social force that prevents teachers from replicating their lesson agendas with different classroom groups. These understandings in turn are strengthen by common acceptance by peers (Holliday 1994)Habitually in the field of English language teaching there is frequent discord between the accomplished and established interaction of the classroom and the innovation created by new language (Holliday 1994). Many teachers try to stimulate appropriate English teaching with students who are irrelevant to them, and try to understand their attitudes and ways of doing things, which to the outsider are obscure and unclear. Conversely teachers who are native to countries they work in, and of the same nationality as students they teach are repeatedly endeavouring to decipher methodologies cultivated and developed in the west for ideal teaching-learning situations. Ideal meaning different from the methodologies in their countries and particular teaching-learning situations (Holliday 1994).In some countries and contexts astronomical classes are not unavoidably indicative of scarce resources. Large classes might be tolerable where prevailing educational ideologies do not see the role of the teacher as a monitor and overseer of learning, but as a fount and spring of knowledge, which is delivered without any dispensation to students, and which students must exert great effort to attain. This leads to kindle observations in countries where this type of mentality holds sway such as Hollidays (1994) observation in Egypt of a newly graduated junior local referee. The local lecturer had undergone numerous hours of training in communicative English language teaching methodology from expatriate personnel and was supposed to be using a course book whose objectives were communicative teaching of pronunciation. The local lecturer was playing what she perceived to be the lecturer role very well. This was built on the basis of the loc al lecturers conviction that their responsibility stretched to the extent of presenting the subject matter to their students, not as far as overseeing and administrating learning. Szulc-kurpaska (1992 as cited in Holliday1994) reports an interesting case in Poland of how discontentment on the part of students arose pertaining to the degree of informality practised by expatriate lecturers both in and out of the classroom. Students became perplexed and apprehensive over hazy definitions of teacher and student (Holliday 1994). Here we must realise the importance of understanding each unique classroom culture and not trying to enforce an ideal teaching-learning situation in different contexts. What is important is that learning takes place.Unfortunately even taking into consideration that all learners, all teachers and all teaching situations are different, published materials have to treat them as if they were the same, commonly for commercial reasons (Maley 1998). Whether we like it or not any course book will directly or indirectly fall out collections of social and cultural morals and standards that are intrinsic in their make-up. This may be referred to as the hidden curriculum that will bring up issues of sexism, pagan origin, occupation, age, social class, and disability (Cunningsworth 1995). Whether this is intended or not, it is a reality. Therefore the need to ensure a course book situates its material in the social and cultural contexts that are comprehensible, monumental, appropriate and decipherable to learners, in terms of location, social mores and traditions, personal interests of learners, and age group is highly important (Breen Candlin 1987, Cunningsworth 1995). Often this can only be done by evaluation leading to adaptation.Lack of matching the teaching-learning situation to the materials leads to teachers returning from training programmes incapable of instigating what they have learnt, because it does not correspond to the conditions, ne eds and philosophies of their classrooms, institutions, and communities (Holliday 1994). In fact the materials become a constraint upon teachers sense of what may be appropriate at a given pedagogical moment, and on the autonomy and freedom of teachers actions. The reality in the classroom is a trade off between materials, teachers, and learners (Maley 1998). If learners are to judge materials as legitimately offering them the prospect to develop their language knowledge and capabilities, the materials must take account of what learners perceive their needs to be, no matter how various and slow these perceptions may be (Breen Candlin 1987).Therefore information gathering and analysis of materials and the teaching-learning situation although without doubt can be driven by the teacher must include the input and feedback of learners. Especially in situations where the classroom culture is totally alien to the teacher they must be careful not to trample over the already set protocols and behaviours. Although classroom culture is open to large degrees of change, especially in the case of English language education which has supplied an abundance of new methodologies, it is largely conservative. When there is a lack of knowledge of the particular classroom culture, often on the part of the teacher, and a lack of input from the students, change can come that is too abrasive and disturbing. This develops into a crisis that leads to the closing of ranks within the classroom culture (Holliday 1994). Both the information gathering and analysis of the materials and the teaching-learning situation must be based on knowledge, feedback, experience, and negotiated learning objectives. This will enable the reduction of raddled time and effort and result in clear pin contingenting of the steps which compel attention in the continuous process of evaluation (Bolitho Jolly 1998).The evaluation process is never static, when materials are considered suitable for a particular c ourse after a preliminary evaluation, their ultimate success or failure may only be ascertained after a certain amount of classroom use (McDonough Shaw 2003). Therefore materials whether they are for publication or a teachers next lesson need to be persistently and incessantly evaluated and revised. Ideally materials need to be monitored by authors, other experts not involved in the writing team, and by representative users of the material such as teachers and learners (Tomlinson 1998). A pooled evaluation effort such as this can develop awareness in a number of ways. It obliges teachers to analyse their own presuppositions as to the nature of language and learning. With the almost certain reality that there will be a variance between the various materials that are operable for evaluation it forces teachers to establish their priorities, and helps teachers to see materials as an integral part of the whole teaching and learning situation (Hutchinson 1987).It must be stated that eva luation takes on a wider and more extensive role than merely evaluating to be able to adapt and develop materials by teachers. There is an increased concern for management large evaluation of programmes and projects, carried out for accountability and developmental purposes and rationales by accumulating information relating to various administrative and curricular aspects and features of the programme. Educational decision makers formulate policy and work out strategies for budgeting and purchasing and therefore teachers do not always have direct involvement. At best they may be invited to make suggestions and comments (Ellis 1998, McDonough Shaw 2003). Such an approach to evaluation is not in concurrence with the perspective that many teachers have about what evaluation involves (Ellis 1998).There is a strong relationship and connection between evaluation and adaptation. Adaptation is a process subsequent to, and dependent on evaluation (McDonough Shaw 2003). Moving from the ev aluation of materials and the teaching-learning situation in to the practical aspect of actually adapting the materials teachers will need to consider both external and internal factors. External factors are dynamics such as the characteristics of particular teaching situations, and content, organization, and consistency of the materials being an example of internal factors. To adapt materials is to endeavour to bring together these elements. Just as materials evaluation is a matching process so too is adaptation of materials. A good teacher is persistently striving for congruence and correspondence among materials, methodology, students, and course objectives. The teacher must satisfy the demands of the textbook but in ways that will be satisfying to those who learn from it by matching. Therefore maximising the appropriateness of the teaching materials in the particular teaching-learning context at hand (McDonough Shaw 2003).With evaluation of materials often constructed and foste red upon very impressionistic general judgements, teachers first steps in materials adaptation will also frequently be based on very vague motives and rationales leading to haphazard eclectic adaptation. Teachers will sometimes give the textbook a rest. The songs and games on a wet Friday afternoon are familiar to all teachers. However these dont have to remain part of a chaotic adaptation method. Rather they can be built into teaching in a high-principled way (Maley 1998). This means returning to our understanding of the underlying principles that evaluation of materials is based upon and subsequently looking at what adapting of materials actually involves. What must be noted is that this doesnt automatically mean adaptation has to continually be a rather formal process, although it often is. Rather, it can also be transitory. A teacher instantly rephrases a textbook elucidation of a language feature and so adapts. A good teacher is constantly adapting whether formally or informa lly (McDonough Shaw 2003).Therefore adaptation can be quantitative, by altering the amount, or qualitative by altering the methodological nature. This can be done using an assortment of techniques or a single technique applied to different content sections such as leaving out, adding, replacing, and changing. Materials may require adapting because they are not ideal in areas such as methods, language content, subject matter, balance of skills, progression and grading, cultural content, or image (Cunningsworth 1995). All of this must be done within a framework of gauging what materials contain against the requirements of a particular teaching environment and being sensitive to students interests, learning styles and motivation (Cunningsworth 1995, McDonough Shaw 2003).We can add to materials by supplementing them. More is put into them by extending or expanding. Materials are extended when we add more of the same, such as further grammar exercises if the grammar point being studied is difficult. By expanding we actually add to the methodology by moving outside it and developing it in novel directions. Also additions can be made before a language point appears in the framework of the book (McDonough Shaw 2003). Leaving out material is the other side of the same coin from addition. Generally subtracting does not have a significant impact on the overall methodology (McDonough Shaw 2003).Often using other published general course books or our own material for supplementary options is unsuitable. However there are numerous books that focus on skills. These afford a simple option to find exercises at a lower or high level than the regular course book being used. For example, some general courses do not cover pronunciation as comprehensively or consistently as is necessary. Supplementary pronunciation books can fill in the gap. Usually vocabulary is covered more fully in modern books however there is still scope for supplementary vocabulary learning materials. Mo st books cover grammar meticulously, but there are still occasions when additional grammar work is needed, or an alternative approach (Cunningsworth 1995). Often the reasons why more pronunciation, vocabulary, or grammar is needed are the particular culture of that institution, managerial influences and teacher perceptions as well as the perceived needs of the students. The teacher has to take consideration of all of these to be successful.In my particular experience of teaching in Saudi Arabia the perceived importance and need for exhaustive grammar teaching, that was an influence of the culture of the institute, students, and the wider academic culture in Saudi Arabia, led me to adapt my teaching materials by supplementing the regular course book with grammar exercises from a well known grammar book (See Appendix 1, 2, 3). As a new teacher presented with the challenge of supplementing just because grammar was needed without any questioning I adapted in an extremely eclectic style without any worthwhile evaluation. A return to teaching will provide me with the opportunity to base my evaluation and adaptation on my understandings of teaching and learning and very importantly the context of the teaching-learning situation.Where we can usually make a noteworthy impression on the materials is by changing or modifying. Teachers can effect internal change in the style or focus of an exercise or other piece of material by rewriting when some of the linguistic content needs amendment. A prime example would be relating activities directly to learners backgrounds and interests (McDonough Shaw 2003). We could take a clearly mechanical, pre-communicative application such as a drill and utilize the idea behind it by making the interaction more genuine and communicative by personalizing the content whilst keeping focus on structure and using authentic content. The important thing is to learn what students are interested in and build on that, video display that the Engl ish lesson is not just about English, but is about all aspects of life (Cunningsworth 1995). Restructuring involves classroom management, as in the case of when materials contain role-play for groups of a certain size and the class is too big. We can use simplification by rephrasing instructions, explanation, or even the visual layout. Obviously there are repercussions and implications for simplification, such as the possibility that any linguistic change will have corresponding stylistic effects and therefore change the meaning or objective of the original text (McDonough Shaw 2003). As well as adapting by adding, taking away, or modifying we can transform the way the content of the materials is presented. Teachers can reorder by putting parts of a course book in a different order. For example we can adjust the sequence of presentation within a unit, or put units in a different sequence. We may do this in circumstances where the teaching programme is too short to work systematic ally through the book (McDonough Shaw 2003).Obviously there are patent areas of overlap among the various techniques that can be employed in adaptation. At one end adaptation is a practical activity carried out mainly by teachers to make their work more relevant to learners, however it is directly and indirectly associate to a wider array of professional concerns such as administration and management of education. Adapting is one consequence of setting of objectives in a particular educational context and can only be executed effectively if it develops from understanding of possible design features of syllabuses and materials (McDonough Shaw 2003).We must be circumspect of becoming enslaved to course books. Rather course books are best seen as a resource in realizing aims and objectives that have already been fixed in terms of learner needs. They should not determine objectives themselves or become the aims. The concern must be with teaching language and not the textbook. The cou rse book should be at the service of teachers and learners and not their master (Cunningsworth 1995). However we must strike a balance and not fall into dismissing all course books of being devoid of any value. The need to adapt does not necessarily entail that a course book is defective (Tomlinson 1998). We have to realise the entire arena of evaluation and adaptation is about matching between materials and the teaching-learning situation, basing this on our understanding and knowledge of teaching, learning and the context. Therefore the possible and inevitable areas of mismatch often can be dealt with by adaptation rather than abandoning the materials available (Tomlinson 1998). appendix 1Taken from Headway, a typical EFL course book. The presentation of the grammar point here is not considered in depth enough and so the need to supplement. accompaniment 2Taken from English Grammar In Use, a popular grammar skills book. Present the same grammar point to students as we studied in c ourse book but with some more detail.APPENDIX 3Taken from English Grammar In Use. Present these additional exercises to the students usually by writing questions on the board. The students copy questions and neck with answers.