This was the title of a recent webinar hosted by Oxford University Press and presented by Robin Walker. What follows is a summary of what he had to say.
What makes a good coursebook?
According to Tomlinson and Masuhara in an article published in the ELT Journal (67/2), a good coursebook must:
- engage the learner effectively
- engage learners cognitively
- help learners to make discoveries about how English is typically used
- help learners to use English after the course has finished
- help learners to use English as a lingua franca
- Input texts (reading and listening)
- Grammar syllabus
- Language as communication
Informative - a good coursebook tells you things that you don't know. You are improving your general knowledge as well as learning English.
Engaging - good coursebooks have texts which are relevant to students. Students are therefore engaged and want to listen and read. Engagement should be way beyond a linguistic level. Students must participate in the text and discuss the issues raised as they would do in their mother tongue. Texts need to stimulate our students.
Authentically sourced - texts should be adapted from newspapers, magazines, etc. Totally authentic texts, with no editing whatsoever, are often impenetrable for learners, so adapted texts are a perfect compromise. They make the text accessible and introduce the quality learning we're looking for.
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- Input texts - informative, engaging and authentically sourced.
- Grammar - flexible, pedagogical, meaningful.
- Pronunciation - integrated, thorough, varied, mobile.
- Communication - personal, possible, purposeful.