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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.

Introduction In this project, the EFL course book Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2 is being evaluated which is used by EFL graduate students at Eastern Mediterranean University. Course books play a crucial role in teaching and learning process. They are regarded as main components in most teaching programs. They serve as resources of language input the learners practice in the classroom. Due to the status of English as an international language and advancements in technology in recent years, 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). EAP is needed not only for educational studies in countries where English is the mother tongue, but also in other countries where English is the medium of instruction in higher education studies. 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, vocabulary use and words pronunciation. 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.

Dudley Evans and St. John (1998, 170 171) suggest that for teachers of ESP courses, textbooks are regarded as sources of language input that support learning process. In addition, they motivate learners to learn and produce better.

Review of Literature: Textbook Evaluation Littlejohn (1998, cited in Tomlinson, 2003: 17) suggests steps for evaluation process; analyzing the target situation, analyzing materials, matching and evaluating materials, and then to act accordingly. 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,Brown (1997), Cunningsworth (1984), Donovan (1998), and Ellis (1995, 1998) (all cited in Tomlinson, 2003)displayed a considerable amount of published models of checklists and lists of criteria for materials development and evaluation. Nevertheless, 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, related to learners needs (Hutchinson and Ocean 1987: 97). Low (1987: 21) informs us that teachers

usually need to display materials in order to estimate their relevance for particular classes. 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. Cunningsworth (1995: 7-15), points out that course books should match to learners needs, help to provide students to use language successfully for their own requirements, have an obvious part in mediating the focus on language and the student. Ur (1996) provides a recommendation consisted of 19 steps in evaluating a course book in common. Cunningsworth (1995: 1) distinguishes two techniques between impressionistic and in-depth evaluations. He recommended that an in-depth evaluation is required. So depending on the above meaning, the existing research is a type of post-use or indicative evaluation with more focus on language studying and teaching. 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.

Methodology Method This research was designed by using quantitative dimensions of data collection which was collected through close-ended questions (Student Textbook Evaluation Form). 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. Participants The participants of this study were fourteen M.A. students (8 males, 6 females) from different cultures whose ages varied from 22 to 32. They were required to take that English language course before they start their M.A. courses the following semester. Instruments The data collection instruments consisted of three parts. Part one was students background information form including their age, gender, cultural background,

academic educational level, proficiency level in English, attitudes toward English, motivation and their preferred learning style. The second part of the form was the analysis of students needs in terms of their preferred dialect of English, the four language skills (reading, listening, writing, speaking), language system (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation), mechanisms (handwriting, spelling, punctuation) and their expectations of the textbook. The last part consisted of a three-points scale questionnaire labeled as: Disagree (1), Neutral (2), and Agree (1). The questions had seven main categories, each with a number of items. The categories are: a. Practical Considerations b. Layout and Design c. Activities d. Skills e. Language Type f. Subject and Content g. Overall Consensus

Results Totally, there are twenty-five questions divided into seven categories. For each question, there are three possible choices for students to check to express their opinions: Disagree, Neutral, and Agree. 1. 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. 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 textbooks price is reasonable, 29% of them were neutral about it and14% disagreed about the price of book. 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. No student disagrees about this statement.

2. 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 books design and the effectiveness of its organization on the students. Table 2. 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 books design, 43% of them found the design is clear and appropriate, but 7% disagreed about this statement. As for the organization of the textbook; 86% of the students found it well and effectively organized, and 14% of them were neutral or we may say not sure about it. 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, which may have affected their reflections about its design and organization.

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3. Students views on the activities practiced in the textbook Questions 5 to 9 (5 questions in total) Table 3. Students' views on the activities practiced in the textbook # Statement % 5 The textbook provides a balance of activities (e.g. There is an even distribution of free vs. controlled 7 exercises and tasks that focus on both fluent and accurate production. 6 The activities encourage sufficient communicative 0 and meaningful practice. 7 The activities incorporate individual, pair and group 7 work. 8 The grammar points and vocabulary items are 0 introduced in motivating and realistic contexts. 9 The activities promote creative, original and 0 independent responses. 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 ) , table 3 shows that 71% of the students agreed about the distribution of the tasks and

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exercises, 22% were neutral in their comments, and 7% disagreed about the distribution of the tasks and the focus on fluent and accurate production. In statement 6 (sufficient communication and meaningful practice gained through the activities), the table shows that 43% agreed about this statement, 57% were neutral about it, and no student disagreed. As for statement 7 (activities incorporate individual, pair and group work), the table shows that 50% of the students agreed about this statement, 43% were neutral about it, and 7% showed their disagreement. In statement 8 (The grammar points and vocabulary items are introduced in motivating and realistic contexts), 57% of the students agreed about it, 43% of them were neutral in their comments. No disagreement was found in this regard. As for the ninth statement (The activities promote creative, original and independent responses), 71% of the students agreed about this statement, 29% were not sure or neutral in their comments. No disagreements were found about this statement.

4. 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.

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Table 4. 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. The materials provide an appropriate balance of the 11 four language skills. The textbook pays attention to sub-skills - i.e. 12 listening for gist, note-taking, skimming for 7 information, etc. 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, the table shows that 50% of the students agreed on this statement, 29% were neutral in their responses, and 21 disagreed about it. As for statement 11 that refer to the appropriate balance of the four skills, 43% of the students disagreed about this statement, 36% were neutral about it, and only 21% showed their agreements. The table shows that 43% of the students agreed about textbook paying attention to the sub-skills, 50% were neutral and only 7% showed their disagreements.

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5. 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.e. 13 like real-life English. The language used is at the right level for my 14 current English ability. The progression of grammar points and vocabulary 15 items is appropriate. The grammar points were presented with brief and 16 easy examples and explanations. The language functions exemplify English that I 17 will be likely to use in the future. The language represents a diverse range of 18 registers and accents. 7 14 79 14 29 57 35.5 29 35.5 0 29 71 0 21 79 21 36 43 % % % Agree

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Table 5 shows that 43% of the students agreed that the language used is authentic, 36% were neutral about it, and 21% didnt find authenticity in the language used. In regards to item 14 which relates to the language suitability to the levels of the students, 79% of the students found it suitable for their levels. 21% were neutral about it and no one shows disagreement. In statement 15, 71% of the students shows their agreement about the appropriateness of grammatical points, 29% of them shows their neutral responses and no student disagreed about this point. Statement 16 relates to the exercises practiced within the grammatical points. Equal portions (35.5%) of agreement and disagreement were found among the students in this regard, and 29% of the students were neutral about it. Statement17 (The language functions exemplify English that I will be likely to use in the future). 57% of the students indicates that the language taught will be applicable to their use in the future, while 29% were not sure about it, and 14% disagreed about this point. Statement 18 relates to the registers and accents represented in the language. The table shows that 79% of the students agreed to this point, 14% were neutral in their responses, and 7% disagreed about it.

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6. 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. The subject and content of the textbook is 20 generally realistic. The subject and content of the materials is 21 interesting, challenging and motivating. 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. 0 29 71 0 14 86 0 29 71 0 43 57 22 14 64 % % Agree

In regard to item 19, table 6 shows that 64% of the students agreed that the content of the book is relevant to their learning needs, while 22% didnt find relevant to their needs and 14 were neutral in their responses to this statement.

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As for item 20, the table shows that 57% of the students found the content realistic, while 43% were neutral about it. No disagreement was found in this regard. In the statement 21(The subject and content of the materials is interesting, challenging and motivating), 71% of the students found it interesting, challenging and motivating, while 29% were neutral about it. No disagreement was found. Item 22 (There is sufficient variety in the subject and content of the textbook). The table shows that 86% of the students found sufficient variety in the subjects and the content, while 14% were neutral about it. No disagreement was found. The item 23 (The materials are not culturally biased and they do not portray any negative stereotypes). The table shows that 71% of the students didnt find any cultural bias and negative stereotypes, while 29% of them were neutral, and no one disagreed about it. 7. Students' general views on the textbook Questions 24 to 25 (2 questions in total) relates to students general views on the textbook

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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. 21% of them were neutral about it. No disagreement was found in this regard. Table 7. Students' general views on the textbook Disagree # Statement % The textbook raises my interest in 1 further English language study. I would choose to study this textbook 2 again. 0 29 71 0 29 71 % % Neutral Agree

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Conclusion Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2 has some notable and some negative characteristics. However, in a short paper like this, 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. As for notable characteristics, 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, other students responded favorably. The original copies of the textbook have a very clear and appropriate layout and design and are organized effectively. Besides, the textbook contains both free and controlled activities which incorporated individual, pair and group work. 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. More importantly, the textbook has a variety of interesting and motivating subject and content which are suitable to the needs and interests of the learners. Despite the positive points, it has a few negative characteristics. 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. There are more reading and writing skills activities compared to

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practices of the speaking and listening skills. In the needs analysis, it was seen that most of the students need more exposure to speaking activities to improve their ability to speak. 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. The results of the research demonstrated that the positive characteristics of the textbook Headway: Academic Skills-Level 2 outweigh the negative attributes. Since one textbook cannot meet all the needs of the students, it is fair to say that this textbook can be effective in the hands of a good teacher. The students found that the textbook actually raised their interest in further language study and they would choose to use the textbook again. At the same time, 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-, whilst, and post-use activities.

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References Evans, D., &Jo., Maggie. St. John, (1998). Developments in English for Specific Purposes (p.170-171/301). ISBN: o-521-59329-8. Cambridge University Press. Nemati , A., (2009). Evaluation of an ESL English Course Book: A Step towards Systematic Vocabulary Evaluation. Journal of Social Sciences. 20(2): 9199 (2009). Retrieved from www.krepublisher.com Tagne, G., S., (2011) Evaluating English for Academic Purposes in some Cameroonian Universities. Journal of Education and Practice. ISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online). Vol 2, No 7, 2011. (p.1/12). Retrieved from:www.iiste.org Tomlinson, B., (2003). Developing Materials for Language Teaching. P.23/534). ISBN: 9780826459176. Continuum. Crown Press. UK. Zohreh R. Eslami, (2010). Teachers Voice vs. Students Voice: A Needs

Analysis Approach to English for Acadmic Purposes (EAP) in Iran. English Language Teaching. Vol.3., No.1, 2010, retrieved from; http://www.ccsenet.org/elt. Litz, D. (2005). Textbook Evaluation and ELT Management: A South Korean Case Study. Asian EFL Journal, Retrieved on March, 10, 2009 from http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/Litz_thesis.pdf

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Appendices Appendix I PART 1: Background Information on the Students 1. Age: ________ 2. Gender: Male Female Other(please specify):________

3. Occupation: Student

4. First Language: ______________ 5. Cultural Background: Turkish Iranian Azerbaijani Cypriot Arab Kurd

Other (please specify):______

6. Academic Educational Level: Undergraduate Graduate Postgraduate Intermediate

7. Proficiency Level in English: Beginner Advanced

8. Reasons for Studying English: Required Optional 9. Attitude toward Engilsh: Positive Neutral 10. Preferred Learning Styles: Individually In Pairs In Groups Whole Class Negative

11. Motivation: Academic Economic Communicative Prestige

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12. 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. Preferred Dialect: British American Other(please specify):____

2. Order the Following Language Skills From 1 (Most Important) to 4 (Least Important): Reading:____ Listening:____ Writing:____ Speaking:____

3. Where do you expect to use english in the future? University Community Work 4. 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. What do you expect to learn from this class?

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Appendix III STUDENT TEXTBOOK EVALUATION FORM

INSTRUCTIONS To respond to the statements, please choose the appropriate choice as follows: 1 = DISAGREE 2= NEUTRAL 3 = AGREE

A/ Practical Considerations: 1. The price of the textbook is reasonable. 1 2 3

2. The textbook is easily accessible. 1 2 3

B/ Layout and Design: 3. The layout and design is appropriate and clear. 1 2 3

4. The textbook is organised effectively. 1 2 3

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C/ Activities: 5. The textbook provides a balance of activities (Ex. There is an even distribution of free vs. controlled exercises and tasks that focus on both fluent and accurate production). 1 2 3

6. The activities encourage sufficient communicative and meaningful practice. 1 2 3

7. The activities incorporate individual, pair and group work. 1 2 3

8. The grammar points and vocabulary items are introduced in motivating and realistic contexts. 1 2 3

9. The activities promote creative, original and independent responses. 1 2 3

D/ Skills: 10. The materials include and focus on the skills that I need to practice. 1 2 3

11. The materials provide an appropriate balance of the four language skills.

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12. The textbook pays attention to sub-skills - i.e. listening for gist, note-taking, skimming for information, etc. 1 2 3

E/ Language Type: 13. The language used in the textbook is authentic - i.e. like real-life English. 1 2 3

14. The language used is at the right level for my current English ability. 1 2 3

15. The progression of grammar points and vocabulary items is appropriate. 1 2 3

16. The grammar points were presented with brief and easy examples and explanations. 1 2 3

17. The language functions exemplify English that I will be likely to use in the future. 1 2 3

18. The language represents a diverse range of registers and accents. 1 2 3

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F/ Subject and Content: 19. The subject and content of the textbook is relevant to my needs as an English language learner. 1 2 3

20. The subject and content of the textbook is generally realistic. 1 2 3

21. The subject and content of the materials is interesting, challenging and motivating. 1 2 3

22. There is sufficient variety in the subject and content of the textbook. 1 2 3

23. The materials are not culturally biased and they do not portray any negative stereotypes. 1 2 3

G/ Overall Consensus: 24. The textbook raises my interest in further English language study. 1 2 3

25. I would choose to study this textbook again. 1 2 3