Having moved from a position a year or so ago where I was more open to course books, I’ve come to be quite strongly opposed to most of them these days. The reason for this is not that I think they necessarily reflect ineffective teaching, but that overall course books have a very negative impact on the field of ELT itself.
Actually, course books are simply a result of previous ideas and assumptions about learning. They are no more than a product of what I would consider to be unfavorable beliefs about teaching. However, they now perpetuate those beliefs and, in my opinion, often represent an obstacle to change. As many course book advocates point out, they are simply a reality in most classrooms. Well, therein lies the problem if you ask me.
So, without further ado, here are some more reasons course books have a negative impact on ELT overall:
- Promote a linear view of language learning
- Promote an over-reliance on grammar
- Force teachers to teach material without learner or teacher input
- Reduces need for critical analysis of material and reflection
- Restriction on flexibility and creativity as schools often want teachers to stick to the book
- Books can come to be relied on too much and become a crutch rather than an aid
- The teacher is forced to artificially manufacture interest rather than have it arise out of the students
- Students assume completing pages = learning
- Creates an obsession with grammar
- Their needs, desires, and interests fall by the wayside because the book drives the course
- Over-reliance on bite-sized communication, listening, reading, etc.
- Besides finishing the last page, there is little sense of accomplishment or anything concrete to take home (as would be the case with project-based learning)
- Loss of autonomy or having input into their own learning
- Lack of engagement or interest in the material
- Course books are for teaching, not learning. Very little can actually be learned from a course book on its own.
- The godawful assumption that the course book teaches the course not a teacher. So many schools assume they can simply throw a teacher into a class, hand them a book, and say go regardless of the teacher’s ability and experience
- Far too many schools adopt a course book as a rigid curriculum
- Local culture is lost in the one-size-fits-all nature of course books
- Progress becomes about number of pages done, not what was learned
- Schools don’t offer development as following the book is thought to be enough
Any more you can think of?