So, you want to put your creative talents to good use by designing excellent and engaging materials for your English lessons but you don’t know how to get started. Look no further! Rachael Roberts, in less than an hour, gives you the material design recipe you’ve been looking for!
Video 1 - More than just a worksheet
- Download a print version of this training session.
- Handout from the seminar.
- ELT teacher to writer website.
- elteachertrainer blog by John Hughes, with tips for writing your own materials.
- ELT-resourceful website by Rachael Roberts.
- MaWSIG special interest group for IATEFL
Session summary and objectives
Who is this seminar for?
- Novice teachers who are looking for recommendations around materials choice for lesson planning.
- Experienced teachers who are looking for guidelines on materials writing or course design.
- Teacher trainers who focus on materials production.
Rachael Roberts is an ESOL teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer now based in the UK.
In your opinion, what are the main characteristics of really effective classroom materials?
Task 1 Materials evaluation
- Is the topic interesting to your students?
- Is the topic suitable for your context?
- Will it stimulate conversation in class, and after class?
- Will the students be able to bring their personal experience and background knowledge to the topic?
- What is the main language focus within the unit?
- Is the language presented in an effective way?
- Is the new target language suitable for the level of the students? Is there any language recycled from previous units in the book?
- Are there different activity types, which allow for a change in pace and different interaction patterns?
- Will students have ample opportunity to practise the new language through the tasks?
- If desirable, is there a good balance of activities across the skills – reading, listening, writing and speaking?
Task 2 – creating your own material
- Topic - is it intrinsically interesting and relevant to the students?
- Language - what target language can you extract and focus on with the students contained in the text?
- Task design - think of at least three varied tasks that you can do with the text. Consider different interaction patterns between students and teacher for each task. Order the tasks in terms of difficulty, from controlled to freer practice.
- Ask the students for their feedback on each aspect of the lesson – i.e. interest in topic, language input, and task design.
- If possible, share your lesson with another teacher so they can try it out in class as well. Afterwards, ask them for feedback on how the lesson went, and adjust your lesson plan if necessary for the next time you will use it.
When designing or evaluating classroom materials:
- Check for lesson flow. See that there is a clear path through the lesson and natural progression.
- Check for relevance and interest – it can be an old familiar topic (e.g. food), but it needs to have a fresh and stimulating angle to it that students will relate to.
- Check that the linguistic demands are pitched to the right level for your students.
- Check that the learners have sufficient background and cultural knowledge to engage cognitively with the topic.
- Check for task variety and pace, ensuring sufficient individual and collaborative activity during the lesson.
Join the discussion!
- Rachael Roberts refers to the term PARSNIPS in her talk, explaining that authors writing for large publishing companies are warned to avoid the subjects of politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics, isms (e.g. sexism, racism), and pork. But often these are, by their very nature, the subjects that students are most interested in talking about. In your experience, which topics really ignite the interest and motivation of the learners you teach?