The Architecture of ELT Coursebooks
The Internal Organization of Coursebook Units
Keywords:ELT materials, coursebook evaluation, materials design process, formats of coursebook units, coursebook methodologies
This paper is an attempt to develop a design-oriented approach to ELT coursebook evaluation, with a particular focus on the internal organization of coursebook units at both intra-unit and inter-unit levels. We believe that looking at coursebooks from the position of the materials designer sheds some additional light on ELT coursebook evaluation. The design-oriented approach to ELT coursebook assessment proposed in the paper goes well beyond the immediate, and often superficial, ‘check-list’ methods commonly used to help teachers select coursebooks. In other words, the design-oriented approach to ELT coursebook assessment enables teachers an insight into ‘the architecture’ of textbooks. On this ‘journey to the centre of ELT textbooks’, we try to highlight how language teaching materials have been resolving the conundrum of the dynamic combination of the What (content), and the How (pedagogy/methodology).
In presenting a materials design process, we start off with the assumption that there has always been a broad basis of theoretical and pedagogical notions that can inform the content and organization of ELT coursebooks, and upon which coursebook writers can build when designing instructional materials. The article then discusses three stages of the design process, offering a more detailed analysis of the complex issue of unit structure at intra- and inter-unit levels. We explore different formats of unit structure, its components, ways of creating coherence throughout the unit, and its underlying methodology/pedagogy. The last point prompts the conclusion that today’s ELT materials are produced in response to a perceived market demand that is often at variance with the latest theoretical developments in ELT.
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