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The Importance of Integrating Skills When Replacing the Textbook

Integrating Skills When Replacing the Textbook

One of the worst things about professionally published language teaching materials is that they often tend to focus on one particular skill in a fairly unnatural way.

Indeed, a lot of language courses even go as far as focusing solely on productive skills.

In such courses, reading and listening become secondary skills (while other courses do the exact opposite, of course). Authentic materials, on the other hand, allow teachers to plan for integrated skills lessons.

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Integrating Skills

Our self-made materials should provide learners with opportunities to integrate all the language skills in an authentic manner.

For instance, if you have learners listening to an argument, it might be natural for them to write a gossip email about it to a friend.

Key questions for your materials

  • Have you included tasks that transition from a reading/listening activity into a speaking/writing task?
  • Is there a natural basis for this post-receptive task production, i.e. is it something they might do in real life?

Read: Stimulate Student Interaction with Authentic Material

English Language Teaching Materials Should be Authentic

Perhaps the greatest ongoing debate in TESOL concerns the desirability of using authentic materials in our classrooms and, indeed, to define exactly what we mean by genuine versus simulated input.

The simplest way we can deal with this issue is to ask ourselves one simple question; ‘To what extent will our learners come into contact with authentic English resources in their daily lives?’

Read: Context is King in TESOL!

While this will vary according to your teaching context, it’s nonetheless very important for language learners to have regular exposure in the classroom to real, unscripted language.

Because texts in course books have been written specifically for the classroom and generally distort the language in some way, developing your own materials based on real-life documents represents your chance to address this issue.

Key questions for your materials

  • In what kinds of situations do my learners encounter authentic English in their daily lives?
  • How inauthentic does the coursebook input feel, and how are you going to overcome this?

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