You are on page 1of 6


The need of textbook evaluation

Textbook are part and parcel of curriculum implementation process. In fact,
textual material plays vital role in achieving the objectives of the curriculum. In good
curriculum, components of learning materials, including textbook, are considered
important. Effective learning occurs only when there is combination of good teachers,
motivated students and appropriate, well-graded and well-selected materials including
instruction television, radio, correspondence lesson, programmed texts and students
textbooks. Although these materials function in different ways, their basic aim is effective
instruction. Textbook evaluation provides the opportunity for the teachers, supervisors,
administrators, and materials developers to make judgment about the textbooks and how
to choose them for the learners. According to Sheldon (1988), we need to evaluate
textbooks for two reasons. First. The evaluation will help the teacher or program
developer in making decisions on selecting the appropriate textbook. Furthermore,
evaluation of the merits and demerits of a textbook will familiarize the teacher with its
content and consequently assist educators in identifying the particular strengths and
weaknesses in textbooks already use. The evaluation of current materials, therefore,
deserves serious consideration since an inappropriate choice may waste funds and time
and has a demotivating effect on students and possibly teachers. Another reason for
textbook evaluation is the fact that it can be very useful in teacher development and
professional growth. Cunningsworth (1995) and Ellis (1997) believe that textbook
evaluation helps teachers move beyond impressionistic assessments and it helps them to
acquire useful, accurate, systematic, and contextual insights into the overall nature of
textbook material. Textbook evaluation, therefore, can potentially be a particularly
worthwhile means of conducting action research as well as a form of professional
empowerment and improvement. Similarly, textbook evaluation can also be a valuable
component of teacher training programs for it serves the dual purpose of making student
teachers aware of important features to look for in textbooks while familiarizing them
with a wide range of published language materials.
McDonough and Shaw (2003) have listed four reasons that highlight the
importance of evaluation of textbooks. The first reason shows the importance of
evaluation for teachers. They believe that writing their own materials can be very timeconsuming and not cost-effective for the teachers. Therefore, evaluating the existing

textbooks and adopting the most suitable one for the particular context can be an
appropriate course of action for these teachers. The second reason stated by McDonough
and Shaw (2003) to evaluate the textbooks is the fact that an inappropriate choice may
waste time and funds and this may have a demotivating effect on both students and other
teachers who will have to use the textbooks for many years. The third reason is the
difficulty of the organizing authentic and stimulating materials. They emphasize the value
of good textbook especially in situations where compiling an authentic and motivating
textbook in an organized manner is a difficult job to handle. The fourth reason relates to
the teachers whose course materials are supplied by the ministry of education or another
authority. They have maintained that even those teachers might find evaluation a useful
process which gives them insight into the organizational principles of the materials and
helps them to keep up with the developments in the field. Moreover, as O'Neill (1982)
introduces four reasons for the use of course books. Firstly, course book materials are
useful for students' needs. Secondly, the students can have a program for their future
learning and a review of previous course books. Thirdly, students can acquire valuable
and reasonable materials. Finally, the teachers can have opportunities to adjust and
modify the course books according to students' needs. Alternatively, the content of any
English language textbooks influences the teacher how to teach and the learner how to
learn. Through the evaluation of a textbooks, teachers know the content of the book, its
strength and weakness which will facilitate them to adapt it to suit the course aims,
learners need and teachers beliefs.

B. Criteria textbook
The choice of language teaching materials can determine the quality of learningteaching procedure. As a part of the materials used in the language classroom, the
textbook can often play a crucial role in students success or failure. An evaluation
checklist is an instrument that provides the evaluator with a list of features of successful
learning teaching materials. An evaluation checklist can help ensure that we examine
textbooks from several angles. Since a textbook often provides a framework or serves as
a syllabus for a course, it is imperative that the content match underlying approach and
needs of the program in which it will be used. In a language class, linguistic content may
come to mind first, but today, cultural and real world content are often equally important.
Good textbook must be providing support for teachers and clear guidance for students.
Finally, there are practical concern that play a role in textbook evaluation and selection.
Miekley (2005) provided a Textbook Evaluation Checklist that could be used to evaluate
students' book and teachers' book. For the students' book he suggested four categories;
content, vocabulary and grammar, exercises and activities, and attractiveness of the text
and physical make-up. On the other hand, he suggested four categories to be included in
the process of evaluation of the teachers' book. They were general features, background
information, methodological guidance, and supplementary exercises and materials. While
this checklist is effective, additional questions should be added. For example, vocabulary
may be a more important criterion to be included. While according to Dougill, (1987:29)
the criteria he suggests is grouped under the headings, namely, framework the units,
subject-matter, form and course components. The framework focuses on the syllabus-how
comprehensive the type of syllabus is and how relevant it is to the stated aims-,
progression of the course revision and recycling, treatment of skills and cohesion. The
section on units includes items such as the length of the unit, presentation, practice,
variety and regularity, and clarity of purpose. Another part of the checklist is concerned
with the subject matter which focuses on the interest level of students and cultural
considerations. The next part of the checklist is related to form which assess the
effectiveness of materials in terms of visual appeal, motivating effect, illustrations and
other features such as, list or explanations and tables. The final part focuses on the course
components that include questions about the cassettes, teachers book, tests, laboratory

drills and workbooks. This checklist helps the evaluator consider the important factors in
evaluating the effectiveness of a textbook.
Preeminent theorists in the field of ELT textbook design and analysis such as
Williams (1983), Sheldon (1988), Brown (1995), Cunningsworth (1995), Harmer (1996)
and all agree, for instance, that evaluation checklists should have some criteria pertaining
to the physical characteristics of textbooks such as layout, organizational, and logistical
characteristics. Other important criteria that should be incorporated are those that assess a
textbook's methodology, aims, and approaches and the degree to which a set of materials
is not only teachable, but also fits the needs of the individual teacher's approach as well
as the organization's overall curriculum. Whats more, criteria should investigate the
specific language, functions, grammar, and skills content that are covered by a particular
textbook as well as the relevance of linguistic items to the prevailing socio-cultural
environment. Finally, textbook evaluations should include criteria that pertain to
representation of cultural and gender components in addition to the extent to which the
linguistic items, subjects, content, and topics match up to students' personalities,
backgrounds, needs, and interests as well as those of the teacher and/or institution.
Evaluation criteria suggested by Cunningsworth (1995) which were considered one of the
most important works in EFL/ESL textbook evaluation. He proposed general criteria for
textbook evaluation, which included 45 criteria in 8 categories: aims and approaches,
design /organization, language content, study skills, topic, methodology, teacher's book,
and practical considerations.
A review of the ELT material evaluation checklists reveals that they all have a
global set of features. For instance, Skiersos (1991) checklist considers the
characteristics related to bibliographical data, aims and goals, subject matter,
vocabulary and structures, exercises and activities, and layout and physical makeup.
These domains are mostly in line with those in Cunningsworths (1995) checklist which
include aims and approaches, design and organization, language content, skills,
topic, methodology, and practical considerations. Although the headings of the
sections in the two checklists appear to be different, an examination of the items will
show that they are more or less the same. Similarly, Daoud and Celce-Murcia (1979)

offer an evaluation checklist which is widely referred to for textbook evaluation and
consists of five major sections including: (a) subject matter, (b) vocabulary and
structures, (c) exercises, (d) illustrations, and finally (e) physical make-up. Each section
is composed of several detailed strategies which can be utilized in evaluating and
analyzing every textbook. Daoud and Celce-Murcia (1979) offer an evaluation checklist
which is widely referred to for textbook evaluation and consists of five major sections
including: (a) subject matter, (b) vocabulary and structures, (c) exercises, (d) illustrations,
and finally (e) physical make-up. Each section is composed of several detailed strategies
which can be utilized in evaluating and analyzing every textbook.
Evaluating and selecting textbooks for students need certain skills based on certain
criteria of good textbooks. Power (2003) suggests thirty criteria for evaluating ELT
1. Learners' needs
2. Ordering and pacing of syllabus
3. Maintenance of interest-suitable (perhaps for captive learners)
4. Type of course, exam based, intensive, vacation-fixed period or continuous intake
5. Age group-suitable for maturity-level and motivation of learners
6. Time scale-variety and quantity of material-suitable for length of course
7. Cultural orientation
8. Suitable for the class-size
9. Role of teachers and learners appropriate to preferred teaching and learning styles
10. Mono or multilingual
11. Narrative or topic based
12. Assumption of learner knowledge
13. Mixture of syllabus; structural; national functional; task based
14. Right measure of authenticity i.e. suitable adapted for level
15. Appropriateness of lexis, structure for learner's level
16. Right selection of vocabulary and syntax for learners' refection and complexity
17. Range and Appropriateness of texts
18. Range and weight of skills
19. Revision technique: cyclical or linear
20. Suitability for self-access
21. Do learners' exercise, activities and task work?
22. Ease of use for teacher
23. Ease of use for students
24. Summary of items for reference
25. Visual impact
26. Accompanying aids: charts, cassettes, etc.
27. Dated or modern language
28. Metalanguage
29. Teacher's' Book

30. Course or part course book