Saturday, February 11, 2012

Is your textbook becoming your curriculum?

A lot of times courses tend to have a textbook at the centre of the curriculum.  As Auerbach (1995) so eloquently puts it "the goal becomes to cover the material rather than to uncover what is important to students".
There are several disadvantages to having the course revolve around a textbook.

  1. The textbook is probably produced and distributed to ESL learners around the world and therefore cannot attempt to identify the common errors and weaknesses of the particular group that you are teaching.
  2. A text book is teacher-driven not student-driven.  This means that the teacher is reinforced as the dominant entity in the classroom.
  3. The incentive for publishers is to then create the most comprehensive texts possible rather than to focus on delivery of what the particular students require.  The more comprehensive the text, the less opportunity for students to interject their own experiences.
  4. Selecting a text without input from students sends the message that they are not part of this process. 
  5. Text exercises often focus on rehearsing the correct forms rather than generating new meanings, sharing the information in a way that personalizes the language to that particular student.  It is teaching as apposed to managing the acquisition of language. 
Auerbach, E.R. (1995).  The politics of the ESL classroom: Issues of power in pedagogical choices.  Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.