What course books should I use to teach English?
So. Many. Coursebooks.
There are a huge range of different coursebooks available to you as an English teacher, and sometimes it can be very difficult to choose the right book for your class. Here are a few things to consider.
1. What is their level?
It might sound like a starter question, but be sure about their level before choosing a book. It can always be tempting to go with a ‘harder’ book so that you can say you’re challenging them, and harder or higher level books also may seem more interesting to the teacher. Keep in mind your students, not your own interests, and try and look at it through their eyes. It’s always a good rule of thumb to go a little under their level, and then find more challenging activities later if needed, instead of going too difficult and causing the learners anxiety. Placement tests are always a must, and you should try to ensure all your students are around the same level.
2. What is their goal?
Sometimes you might have students who have a specific goal in mind, e.g. taking the IELTS exam, taking the TOEIC exam, or studying business, aviation, or financial English (ESP). Make sure that you don’t however skip the basics and opt for a course book that has an exciting title but offers information that isn’t practical to the students. You should take a thorough review of the activities and tasks – for example, you might have business students who want to learn business English, but if a course book is skewed towards writing and they want to focus more on speaking, then it’s probably not the best idea, and can leave you stuck when it’s class time. You can also consider combining two books: one general English course book, and one ESP or special purposes course book.
3. Does the book have resources?
You’ll want to make sure that you choose a book which has a lot of additional resources, something like a workbook, teachers’ book, and students’ book really makes life easier. Additional media like a CD Rom, downloadable online content, audio files and video files are all included in many high-end coursebooks now to provide an immersive learning experience and give you lots to work with in the classroom. If you can, opt for one of these.
4. Does the book have other titles?
Unfortunately, some course books don’t exist as part of a full series, but are standalone. This can be great sometimes if you’re teaching a one-off course. But if you’re teaching a course that begins at elementary and will continue indefinitely, then you’ll want to make sure it’s part of a larger teaching series which has a variety o levels. This ensures consistency and that you are familiar with the structure, methodology, and process through which language is taught. It will stop you and your students having to get to grips with a new book each time you start a new course.
5. Does the book gel with your teaching philosophy?
You will know best how you teach English And how you give a good experience for your learners. That’s why you need to make sure that the course book speaks to you and melds well with your teaching principles and philosophy. Take the time to really delve into a course book and see if you think the principles behind the material, the organisation, and the logic in structure and delivery works for the course you’re delivering, and whether it meets the learning objectives effectively.
6. Don’t be scared to add to the course book
In many cases, learners will require a break from the course book at some point. Ensure that the topics, if the book is arranged around topics, have room for expansion and can easily be adapted with extra activities. Think about whether the book can be supplemented with additional authentic or non-authentic texts to provide variety for the learner.