Teaching EFL Beyond The Textbook
By Carmen Hurtado
The need to learn English nowadays
The ability to communicate in English has become necessary nowadays for two main reasons: first, the compelling interaction among people in their different ethos/cultures; and second, the impact of IT and global communications. This has steered students’ attitude towards the completion of a better communicative competence in EFL after graduate school. Consequently, our educational system which strives for a better approach to nurture EFL-school students as well as the teachers who undertake a role as facilitators seems to still require techniques to make students performance in class effective, in order to help them reach this competence. Thus, teaching and transferring EFL beyond textbooks constitutes one of the main abilities to be developed in the educational field and teachers should go for it.
More than learning a system of signs
It is common knowledge that learning a language is not only acquiring a system of signs, but that it also includes a cultural meaning; in other words, a system of interpreting reality. This prompts teachers to be creative and competent in class. Planning is very important in order to attain our goals. No matter the approach or institutional policy normally applied at school from an educational point of view, the curriculum or program could be attuned –should it become necessary.
As a measure of teacher’s creativity, we grasp several and assorted tools (i.e.: textbooks, graded readers, on-line resources, you name it!) to support students tackling of learning in a more stress-free atmosphere, thus feeling driven towards acquiring the language in genuine contexts where motivation is a key factor in the learning process. What's more, instructors support learners broadening their minds to a foreign culture naturally and effortlessly.
Using the book creatively -- one of the premier teaching skills.
Alternatively, one of the foremost things that teachers consider among their teaching resources is the textbook ‘to be used in classes’. Spending hours and striving for ‘the best’ in fact challenges the main duties of the teacher –as the facilitator of the language- the one that should provide learners the right strategies and techniques to be the genuine performers of their acquisition.
Additionally, it is known that in methodology, we study about the best use of the textbook in class; but once in the field, we are tempted to follow not only the book content and sequence, but also the instructions as they are presented in the texts. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten also how important it is to plan ahead and take many aspects into consideration, such as the student’s background and their real interest in learning EFL. At that point it will be the teacher’s methodology that will determine the impact of acceptance among students in getting into the learning environment the teacher creates by being as much ingenious as possible to come up with different activities to engage students into the class.
Impartially, we can say that pupils learn more when they have their say and do: using visuals, timelines, and graphics; read effectively but critically. Our job as teachers is to bring the English textbook to the world of our students. Use the textbook like a ‘magic box’ for games, stories and activities.
Remember, there is no regulation or requisite that establishes you must carry out all your English language teaching from a textbook starting on page one and continuing pay by page until the end. When you adapt and modify textbook activities, stories or exercises to your own classroom, you encourage students to boost the use of English for several different purposes.
Assuring readiness for the next level
So let’s think of what it is like going beyond the textbook and not doing it word by word. Let’s discover how to choose the best pieces and use them creatively to make learning more attractive for our learners. However beware, there’s something important to be careful about: do not forget the textbook lesson completely. That is, we may get so excited about technology and the great amount of good quality materials at our disposal, which we may find and use in class, that we forget leading topics. The appropriate development of the course structure as well as the right adaptation of the free material we may get from the web and other sources should guarantee the success of students to be ready for the next level.
So, what’s your opinion? Do you think teachers at school are aware of this? How far have we gone over the years in trying to overcome the temptation of just going to the classroom and start our lesson by saying: ‘Open your books to page…?’
Leave us your comments and let us know you your opinion.
How to teach English by Jeremy Harmer. - 2007
The practice of english Language Teaching. Jeremy Harmer - 2011.
A Course in Language Teaching by Penny Ur - 2011
Carmen Hurtado, graduated in the educational field; she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Science, and has the title of Licenciada en Educación by Universidad Nacional de Educación. She has also finished her master’s studies in Teaching English as a Foreign Language at Universidad de Piura, and taken some specializations in the EFL and Spanish fields. She has taught English and Spanish for over 20 years. She currently works teaching fully online courses. A lecturer in the late Annual Congresses at CIDUP, she works as a Pedagogical Specialist, Teacher Trainer and is a member of the Research Area at Universidad del Pacifico Language Center.