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An Evaluation of ‘Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2 From Learners’ Perspectives Content Item ………………….…………………………………..………. pages 1 2 3 4 5 Abstract ………………………………….……………….. 2 Introduction ………………………………………………. 3 Review of Literature ……………………………………… 4 The aims of the Study …………………………………….. 5 Methodology …………………………………………….... 6 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 6. 7. Method ……………………………………………. 6 The Textbook …………………………………...… 6 Participants ……………………………………….. 6 Instruments ……………………………………….. 6
Results ……………………………………………………. 8 Conclusion ………………………………………………... 18 References ………………………………………………… 20 Appendices ……………………………………………….. 21 Appendix I ………………………………………... 21 Appendix II ……………………………………….. 22 Appendix III ………………………………………. 23
Abstract This paper is an attempt to evaluate the English Textbook Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2 which is taught at Eastern Mediterranean University for M.A. students to fulfill their graduate requirements before they start their academic studies. The purpose of this research project is to determine the suitability of the textbook in terms of students’ needs and wants. For this purpose, the data were obtained from 14 students through a questionnaire consisting of 25 items examining seven categories; practical consideration, layout and design, activities, skills, language type, subject and content and overall consensus. The results revealed that the textbook, despite having many positive characteristics, cannot meet all the needs and wants of the students and more speaking and listening activities need to be employed and the students need to be given more exposure to grammar explanations and examples.
vocabulary use and words pronunciation. but also in other countries where English is the medium of instruction in higher education studies. . EAP is needed not only for educational studies in countries where English is the mother tongue. Course books will determine learning objectives and aid the less experienced teachers in their first years of teaching and guide them to adapt appropriate techniques in their instructions. the EFL course book ‘Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2’ is being evaluated which is used by EFL graduate students at Eastern Mediterranean University. there has been a worldwide increase in demand for English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses varying in length and the mode of instruction (Jordan. 1997).3 Introduction In this project. Due to the status of English as an international language and advancements in technology in recent years. They serve as resources of language input the learners practice in the classroom. Course books play a crucial role in teaching and learning process. They are regarded as main components in most teaching programs. Cunningsworth (1995. 7) states some roles of texts as sources providing spoken and written elements and activities that the student practice in their interaction. Using textbooks. students will be able to compose their sentences exposed to grammatical points.
Donovan (1998). they motivate learners to learn and produce better. 2003)displayed a considerable amount of published models of checklists and lists of criteria for materials development and evaluation. related to learners’ needs (Hutchinson and Ocean 1987: 97). 2003: 17) suggests steps for evaluation process. 1998) (all cited in Tomlinson. analyzing the target situation. In addition. Review of Literature: Textbook Evaluation Littlejohn (1998.4 Dudley Evans and St. Hartley (1994:163) addresses three content areas to be checked: Does the book meet the teaching objectives? Is there sufficient depth and breadth of material? Will it need to be supplemented? In the literature. Nevertheless. analyzing materials. matching and evaluating materials. 170 – 171) suggest that for teachers of ESP courses. Cunningsworth (1984). and Ellis (1995. John (1998. and then to act accordingly.Brown (1997). textbooks are regarded as sources of language input that support learning process. these checklists and criteria can be biased and subjective and might not fit the contextual factors of a particular evaluation. Evaluation is usually a matching procedure. Low (1987: 21) informs us that “teachers . cited in Tomlinson.
Cunningsworth (1995: 7-15). He recommended that an in-depth evaluation is required. points out that course books should match to learners’ needs. So depending on the above meaning. Ur (1996) provides a recommendation consisted of 19 steps in evaluating a course book in common. The Aim of the Study The aim of the study is to investigate the opinions of the students about the textbook and to find out to what extent it is effective according to their needs and goals.5 usually need to display materials in order to estimate their relevance for particular classes. . have an obvious part in mediating the focus on language and the student. the existing research is a type of post-use or indicative evaluation with more focus on language studying and teaching. Cunningsworth (1995: 1) distinguishes two techniques between impressionistic and in-depth evaluations. help to provide students to use language successfully for their own requirements.” It is important to consider the requirements of textbook evaluation. Various authors recommended some requirements more or less containing identical requirements that can be used by instructors and even students for the best possible use of the current materials.
gender.A.6 Methodology Method This research was designed by using quantitative dimensions of data collection which was collected through close-ended questions (Student Textbook Evaluation Form). Part one was students’ background information form including their age. Instruments The data collection instruments consisted of three parts. students (8 males. They were required to take that English language course before they start their M. cultural background. 6 females) from different cultures whose ages varied from 22 to 32.A. courses the following semester. Participants The participants of this study were fourteen M. The Textbook The textbook to be evaluated was Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2 which is used at EMU for EFL graduate students. . The textbook was taught 20 hours a week and was considered to meet the needs of the students at this level of education.
Layout and Design c. Skills e. The categories are: a. “Neutral (2)”. The questions had seven main categories. Overall Consensus . proficiency level in English. Subject and Content g. Language Type f. mechanisms (handwriting. pronunciation). and “Agree (1)”. vocabulary. attitudes toward English. the four language skills (reading.7 academic educational level. Activities d. The last part consisted of a three-points scale questionnaire labeled as: “Disagree (1)”. listening. punctuation) and their expectations of the textbook. spelling. language system (grammar. each with a number of items. Practical Considerations b. motivation and their preferred learning style. writing. speaking). The second part of the form was the analysis of students’ needs in terms of their preferred dialect of English.
1. 29% of them were neutral about it and14% disagreed about the price of book. Neutral. there are twenty-five questions divided into seven categories. No student disagrees about this statement. there are three possible choices for students to check to express their opinions: Disagree. Table 1: Students’ Views on the Practical Consideration of the Textbook Disagree # Statement % 1 2 The price of the textbook is reasonable The Textbook is easily accessible 14 0 % 29 7 % 57 93 Neutral Agree Table one shows that 57% of the students find the textbook’s price is reasonable. The table also shows that the book was easy to access to 93% of the students and 7% of the students were neutral about the statement of the accessibility of the book. . For each question. and Agree.8 Results Totally. Students’ views on the practical consideration of the textbook: Questions 1 to 2 (2 questions in total) to find out whether the textbook is within the reach of the students’ economic ability and could be accessed easily.
. As for the organization of the textbook. 43% of them found the design is clear and appropriate. which may have affected their reflections about its design and organization. Students’ views on the layout and design of the textbook Question 3 to 4 (2 questions in total) to find out the appropriateness of the book’s design and the effectiveness of its organization on the students. 86% of the students found it well and effectively organized. and 14% of them were neutral or we may say not sure about it. Students' views on the layout and design of the textbook # Statement % 3 4 The layout and design is appropriate and clear The textbook is organized effectively 7 0 % 50 14 % 43 86 Disagree Neutral Agree Table 2 shows that 50% of the students were neutral about the statement of the book’s design. but 7% disagreed about this statement.9 2. No student disagreed about it organization. It is worth to mention that most of the students accessed copies of the textbook not the original one and the copies are in black and white. Table 2.
10 3. table 3 shows that 71% of the students agreed about the distribution of the tasks and . 9 The activities promote creative. 8 The grammar points and vocabulary items are 0 introduced in motivating and realistic contexts. There is an even distribution of free vs. 29 71 43 57 43 50 57 43 22 71 % % Disagree Neutral Agree In regard to statement 5 (The textbook provides a balance of activities ) . controlled 7 exercises and tasks that focus on both fluent and accurate production. 7 The activities incorporate individual. original and 0 independent responses.g. 6 The activities encourage sufficient communicative 0 and meaningful practice. pair and group 7 work. Students' views on the activities practiced in the textbook # Statement % 5 The textbook provides a balance of activities (e. Students’ views on the activities practiced in the textbook Questions 5 to 9 (5 questions in total) Table 3.
4. 43% were neutral about it. 57% were neutral about it. In statement 8 (The grammar points and vocabulary items are introduced in motivating and realistic contexts). the table shows that 50% of the students agreed about this statement. 57% of the students agreed about it. pair and group work). 22% were neutral in their comments. In statement 6 (sufficient communication and meaningful practice gained through the activities). the table shows that 43% agreed about this statement. 71% of the students agreed about this statement. and 7% showed their disagreement. and no student disagreed. As for statement 7 (activities incorporate individual. 29% were not sure or neutral in their comments. 43% of them were neutral in their comments. No disagreement was found in this regard. and 7% disagreed about the distribution of the tasks and the focus on fluent and accurate production. As for the ninth statement (The activities promote creative.11 exercises. original and independent responses). No disagreements were found about this statement. Students’ views on the skills incorporated in the textbook Questions 10 to 12 (3 questions in total) focus on the four skills and subskills and their distribution effectiveness on the students’ needs. .
12 listening for gist. 29% were neutral in their responses. The textbook pays attention to sub-skills .e. and 21 disagreed about it. 50 43 43 36 21 21 29 50 % % Agree In regard to statement 10 which refers to the skills practiced and need by the students.i. 43% of the students disagreed about this statement. The table shows that 43% of the students agreed about textbook paying attention to the sub-skills. Students' views on the skills incorporated in the textbook Disagree Neutral # Statement % The materials include and focus on the skills that I 10 need to practice. and only 21% showed their agreements. As for statement 11 that refer to the appropriate balance of the four skills. 50% were neutral and only 7% showed their disagreements. skimming for 7 information. 36% were neutral about it. etc.12 Table 4. the table shows that 50% of the students agreed on this statement. note-taking. . The materials provide an appropriate balance of the 11 four language skills.
The grammar points were presented with brief and 16 easy examples and explanations.5 0 29 71 0 21 79 21 36 43 % % % Agree .5 29 35. The language represents a diverse range of 18 registers and accents. The progression of grammar points and vocabulary 15 items is appropriate.e. The language functions exemplify English that I 17 will be likely to use in the future. The language used is at the right level for my 14 current English ability. Students views on the language type of the textbook Questions 13 to 18 (6 questions in total) relate to the students’ reflections on the language type used in the context. Table 5: Students' views on the language type of the textbook Disagree Neutral Statement # The language used in the textbook is authentic .i.13 5. 13 like real-life English. 7 14 79 14 29 57 35.
In statement 15. Statement17 (The language functions exemplify English that I will be likely to use in the future). and 14% disagreed about this point. and 7% disagreed about it.5%) of agreement and disagreement were found among the students in this regard. 36% were neutral about it. The table shows that 79% of the students agreed to this point. and 21% didn’t find authenticity in the language used. In regards to item 14 which relates to the language suitability to the levels of the students. while 29% were not sure about it. . 79% of the students found it suitable for their levels. Statement 18 relates to the registers and accents represented in the language. and 29% of the students were neutral about it.14 Table 5 shows that 43% of the students agreed that the language used is authentic. 14% were neutral in their responses. 71% of the students shows their agreement about the appropriateness of grammatical points. 57% of the students indicates that the language taught will be applicable to their use in the future. Statement 16 relates to the exercises practiced within the grammatical points. 29% of them shows their neutral responses and no student disagreed about this point. 21% were neutral about it and no one shows disagreement. Equal portions (35.
. Students' views on the subject and content of the textbook Questions 19 to 23 ( 5 questions in total) and relates to the content of the textbook Table 6 students’ views on the subject and content of the textbook Disagree Neutral # Statement % The subject and content of the textbook is relevant 19 to my needs as an English language learner. challenging and motivating. The subject and content of the materials is 21 interesting.15 6. 0 29 71 0 14 86 0 29 71 0 43 57 22 14 64 % % Agree In regard to item 19. There is sufficient variety in the subject and 22 content of the textbook. The materials are not culturally biased and they do 23 not portray any negative stereotypes. table 6 shows that 64% of the students agreed that the content of the book is relevant to their learning needs. while 22% didn’t find relevant to their needs and 14 were neutral in their responses to this statement. The subject and content of the textbook is 20 generally realistic.
while 14% were neutral about it. The table shows that 86% of the students found sufficient variety in the subjects and the content. 7. 71% of the students found it interesting. while 43% were neutral about it. Students' general views on the textbook Questions 24 to 25 (2 questions in total) relates to students general views on the textbook . challenging and motivating. while 29% were neutral about it. the table shows that 57% of the students found the content realistic. challenging and motivating). In the statement 21(The subject and content of the materials is interesting. The table shows that 71% of the students didn’t find any cultural bias and negative stereotypes. Item 22 (There is sufficient variety in the subject and content of the textbook). The item 23 (The materials are not culturally biased and they do not portray any negative stereotypes). and no one disagreed about it. while 29% of them were neutral.16 As for item 20. No disagreement was found. No disagreement was found. No disagreement was found in this regard.
0 29 71 0 29 71 % % Neutral Agree . 21% of them were neutral about it. Table 7. Students' general views on the textbook Disagree # Statement % The textbook raises my interest in 1 further English language study.17 Table 7 shows that 71% of the students found that the textbooks raises their interest in further language study and would prefer to study textbook again. I would choose to study this textbook 2 again. No disagreement was found in this regard.
it has a few negative characteristics. other students responded favorably. it is not possible to investigate all the potential criteria by which a textbook could be analyzed but this study is an attempt to answer the questions related to the students’ opinions about the components of the book and to what extent it fits into the needs of the students. Besides. As for notable characteristics. However. the textbook has a variety of interesting and motivating subject and content which are suitable to the needs and interests of the learners. There are more reading and writing skills activities compared to . The original copies of the textbook have a very clear and appropriate layout and design and are organized effectively. More importantly. pair and group work. The responses of the students to the questionnaire indicated that there is not an appropriate balance of the four skills and they responded unfavorably regarding the skills they need to practice.18 Conclusion ‘Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2’ has some notable and some negative characteristics. in a short paper like this. Despite the positive points. although some students responded unfavorably to the clarity and appropriateness of the layout and design of the textbook due to using low quality of black and white photocopies of it. the textbook contains both free and controlled activities which incorporated individual. Another strength of the textbook is that it has a variety of authentic language types which are appropriate to the level of the students’ English ability.
it was seen that most of the students need more exposure to speaking activities to improve their ability to speak. . The students found that the textbook actually raised their interest in further language study and they would choose to use the textbook again. The results of the research demonstrated that the positive characteristics of the textbook ‘Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2’ outweigh the negative attributes. and post-use activities. it is fair to say that this textbook can be effective in the hands of a good teacher.19 practices of the speaking and listening skills. the teacher would need to do some adaptations in terms of giving more examples and explanations to grammar points and employing more speaking and listening activities and extending the existing listening and speaking activities by adding pre-. One more point is that the grammar points are presented with a very few amount of examples and explanations while students feel that they are in need of more exposure to grammar points presented with examples and explanations. In the needs analysis. At the same time. Since one textbook cannot meet all the needs of the students. whilst.
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Occupation: □ Student 4. Reasons for Studying English: □ Required □ Optional 9. Motivation: □ Academic □ Economic □ Communicative □ Prestige .21 Appendices Appendix I PART 1: Background Information on the Students 1. Gender: □ Male □ Female □ Other(please specify):________ 3. Proficiency Level in English: □ Beginner Advanced 8. Attitude toward Engilsh: □ Positive□ Neutral 10. Cultural Background: □ Turkish □ Iranian □ Azerbaijani □ Cypriot □ Arab □ Kurd □ Other (please specify):______ 6. First Language: ______________ 5. Preferred Learning Styles: □ Individually □ In Pairs □ In Groups □ Whole Class □ Negative 11. Age: ________ 2. Academic Educational Level: □ Undergraduate □ Graduate □ Postgraduate □ Intermediate □ 7.
Where do you expect to use english in the future? □ University □ Community □ Work 4.22 12. Preferred Dialect: □ British □ American □ Other(please specify):____ 2. What do you expect to learn from this class? . Choose the One(s) That You Need: □ Grammar □ Vocabulary □ Pronunciation □ Other(please specify):________ 5. What of the following mechanics do you pay attention to? □ Handwriting □Spelling □ Punctuation 6. Order the Following Language Skills From 1 (Most Important) to 4 (Least Important): Reading:____ Listening:____ Writing:____ Speaking:____ 3. Language Setting: □ ESL(English as a Second Language) □ EFL (English as a Foreign Language) □ ESP (English for Specific Purposes) Interests: _________________________________________________________ Appendix II PART 2: Students’ Needs 1.
please choose the appropriate choice as follows: 1 = DISAGREE 2= NEUTRAL 3 = AGREE A/ Practical Considerations: 1. 1 2 3 B/ Layout and Design: 3. 1 2 3 . 1 2 3 2. The textbook is organised effectively. 1 2 3 4. The layout and design is appropriate and clear. The textbook is easily accessible. The price of the textbook is reasonable.23 Appendix III STUDENT TEXTBOOK EVALUATION FORM INSTRUCTIONS To respond to the statements.
1 2 3 11. The grammar points and vocabulary items are introduced in motivating and realistic contexts. 1 2 3 8. The textbook provides a balance of activities (Ex. pair and group work. The activities incorporate individual. The materials include and focus on the skills that I need to practice. 1 2 3 6. original and independent responses. The materials provide an appropriate balance of the four language skills. 1 2 3 7. 1 2 3 9.24 C/ Activities: 5. . 1 2 3 D/ Skills: 10. The activities promote creative. There is an even distribution of free vs. The activities encourage sufficient communicative and meaningful practice. controlled exercises and tasks that focus on both fluent and accurate production).
1 2 3 18.i. skimming for information. 1 2 3 15. like real-life English. listening for gist. The language represents a diverse range of registers and accents. etc. 1 2 3 .25 1 2 3 12.e. The language used in the textbook is authentic . The language used is at the right level for my current English ability. 1 2 3 17. The language functions exemplify English that I will be likely to use in the future. The progression of grammar points and vocabulary items is appropriate.e. 1 2 3 14.i. 1 2 3 E/ Language Type: 13. The grammar points were presented with brief and easy examples and explanations. 1 2 3 16. The textbook pays attention to sub-skills . note-taking.
26 F/ Subject and Content: 19. The subject and content of the textbook is relevant to my needs as an English language learner. The materials are not culturally biased and they do not portray any negative stereotypes. 1 2 3 25. 1 2 3 22. 1 2 3 . 1 2 3 21. challenging and motivating. The subject and content of the textbook is generally realistic. The subject and content of the materials is interesting. There is sufficient variety in the subject and content of the textbook. The textbook raises my interest in further English language study. 1 2 3 23. I would choose to study this textbook again. 1 2 3 20. 1 2 3 G/ Overall Consensus: 24.