This article will look at the range of materials that are useful and readily available for teaching the English Language to a group on non-native English speakers.
There are a whole host of materials available, however a teacher needs to be very careful in the choice of what and what not to use. It is extremely important that materials chosen are those which can capture the imagination of students and stimulate their interest. If the material is mundane and unexciting this will likely rub off on the students. Therefore, before a course starts, the teacher would be best advised to design a skeleton course which includes the topics and levels that he aims to cover, however, the detail of how this should be addressed should be left until he has met the students and determined what their interests are. Although these can clearly vary significantly depending on age, nationality and culture, he should be able to get a feel early on as to what will stimulate and raise interest.
To achieve this it is advisable to encourage some form of ice breaker at the start of the course to enable the students to get to know each other ? and for the teacher to meet the students ? in a less formal situation than the classroom. Additionally in the classroom it is always advisable for each student to do a short introduction detailing name, where they are from and hobbies. This can be difficult for some shy students, but the teacher should be on hand to assist. Both these can be considered course material as they are essential for developing understanding.
Once the above has been achieved, the full planning of lessons and the materials to be used can become much easier. The selected materials must be varied in content to cover as many common interests as possible. A wide range of materials should also be used. Course books are excellent as they are normally expected by students but can also provide a framework for the course for use by the teacher. However, to adhere to this in each and every lesson would be very uninteresting for the students. Therefore activities that inject a bit of fun into the lesson should be used; provided that the end aim is achieved. This can be in the form of games, watching of DVDs and videos and listening to dialogue on cassettes. A mix of both authentic and created materials should also be used. Authentic materials are particularly good for stimulating interest as they can be selected as dealing with real life situations.
The size of the group being taught and the eventual aim of the course can also influence the teacher on the selection of materials. If it is a small group who wish to learn English purely for going on holiday, then it is easier to narrow down material to situations such as the shop, the market or asking directions. If the students are all from a company and need particular emphasis on certain words or phrases, the teacher will require to do a bit more research to find the appropriate material. The internet is a great source for this type of work. There are many web sites that can provide this type of information. Newspapers and magazines are also good sources, but care has to be taken that the language used is at the correct level.
The range of course materials available to the teacher of English is endless. As has been explained above, the main aim of the teacher should be to choose materials that are set at the right level, appropriate to the course being taught, but above all must be of interest to the students. On top of all this it is important that the overall source of all this material, the teacher, is enthusiastic and respected by the students.
Material for this article has been taken from the ITTT On-Line TEFL Course notes, ITTT 000 ? 020 ? International TEFL Teacher Training, and from my own thoughts gathered during the duration of the course.
Author: Andrew West
Date of post: 2007-04-09