Cambridge Books Online

The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Edited by Ronald Carter, David Nunan

Book DOI:

Online ISBN: 9780511667206

Hardback ISBN: 9780521801270

Paperback ISBN: 9780521805162


Chapter 9 - Materials development pp. 66-71

Chapter DOI:

Cambridge University Press

O'Neil 1982. Richards and Rodgers 1986. evaluation and adaptation of language teaching materials.g. or they can be exploratory in that they seek discoveries about language use. they can be experiential in that they provide exposure to the language in use. Williams 1983. Allwright 1981.g. However. in which materials were usually introduced as examples of methods in action rather than as a means to explore the principles and procedures of their development. Kennedy 1983. when courses started to give more prominence to the study of materials development. Nunan 1988a. Hidalgo et al. Richards 1990). Books for teachers included examples of materials in each section or separately at the end of a book. Mariani 1983. 1995. 66 Downloaded from Cambridge Books Online by IP 190.010 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press.doi. Background HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT Studies of materials development are a recent phenomenon. it was not until the 1990s.1017/CBO9780511667206. http://dx. that books on the principles and procedures of materials development started to be published (e. They can be linguistic. Dubin and Olshtain 1986. As an undertaking it involves the production. 1989. by teachers for their own classrooms and by materials writers for sale or distribution. 2012 . Until recently materials development was treated as a sub-section of methodology.g. Sheldon 1987) and some articles drew attention to such aspects of materials development as evaluation and exploitation (e.66. but materials development was not their main concern. 'Materials' include anything which can be used to facilitate the learning of a auditory or kinesthetic. As a field it studies the principles and procedures of the design. usually with pertinent comments (e. and they can be presented in print. Candlin and Breen 1979. or on cassette.g. implementation and evaluation of language teaching materials. They can be instructional in that they inform learners about the language. A few books appeared in the 1980s dealing specifically with aspects of materials development (e. Tomlinson 1998c). CHAPTER 9 Materials development Brian Tomlinson Introduction Materials development is both a field of study and a practical undertaking. Sheldon 1988). Tomlinson 1998a). CD-ROM. DVD or the internet. McDonough and Shaw 1993.223 on Mon Oct 08 15:52:42 BST 2012. they can be elicitative in that they stimulate language use.g. Stevick 1986. through live performance or display. Ideally these two aspects of materials development are interactive in that the theoretical studies inform and are informed by the development and use of classroom materials (e. visual.14. Cunningsworth 1984.

14.g. Willis 1996) and some advocating experience plus language awareness activities (e. in the USA the Materials Writers Interest Section of TESOL publishes a Newsletter. in the UK. J. most coursebooks still follow an approach which adds communication activities to a base of form-focused instruction ( it cannot cater for the diverse needs of all its users. Ellis 1999). Opponents counter that a course- book is inevitably superficial and reductionist in its coverage of language points and in its provision of language experience. games. In some ways. Littlejohn 1992. in Japan the Materials Development Special Interest Group of JALT produced in 2000 a materials develop- ment edition of The Language Teacher.66. Materials development 67 An important factor in changing attitudes to materials development has been the realisation that an effective way of helping teachers to understand and apply theories of language learning - and to achieve personal and professional development . Maley et al. Should materials be learning or acquisition focused? Despite the theories of researchers such as Krashen (1982. Tomlinson 1994). however.doi.223 on Mon Oct 08 15:52:42 BST 2012. with some people advocating a strong focus on language experience through a task-based or text-based approach (e. the International Conference on Comparing and Evaluating Locally Produced Textbooks. which organises materials development conferences and workshops and publishes a journal called FOLIO. Hutchinson and Torres 1994).g. Klippel 1984). cohesion and progress. 1980. I founded in 1993 an association called MATSDA (Materials Development Association). The main exceptions are materials developed in the 1980s which aim at facilitating informal acquisition of communicative competence through communica- tion activities such as discussions. Sofia. and it helps teachers prepare and the learner revise. ISSUES IN MATERIALS DEVELOPMENT The many controversies in the field of materials development include the following questions: Do learners need a coursebook? Proponents of the coursebook argue that it is the most convenient form of presenting materials. 2012 . Frank et al. 1988) who advocate the implicit acquisition of language from comprehensible input. Also. this is a formalisation of the implicit understanding that a teacher should provide additional teaching materials over and above coursebook material. Downloaded from Cambridge Books Online by IP to provide monitored experience of the process of developing materials. Porter Ladousse 1983. which still focused on the explicit learning of discrete features of the language. These activities were popular but treated as supplementary materials in addition to coursebooks. O'Neil 1982. simulations and drama (e. it helps to achieve consistency and continuation. Another factor has been the appreciation that no coursebook can be ideal for any particular class and that. projects. 1982.1017/CBO9780511667206.010 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press. most language textbooks aim at explicit learning of language plus practice. therefore. and in Eastern Europe there are frequent materials development conferences (e. March 2000). an effective classroom teacher needs to be able to evaluate. it gives learners a sense of system. These realisations have led to an increase in in-service materials development courses for teachers in which the participants theorise their practice (Schon 1987) by being given concrete experience of developing materials as a basis for reflective observation and conceptualisation (Tomlinson and Masuhara 2000).g.g.g. 'Every teacher is a materials developer' (English Language Centre 1997). and it removes initiative and power from teachers (see Allwright 1981. The debate about the relative merits of conscious learning and subconscious acquisition continues (R. http://dx. For example. It has also led on postgraduate courses to the use of such experiential approaches and to an increase in materials development research. it imposes uniformity of syllabus and approach. Maley and Moulding 1981. adapt and produce materials so as to ensure a match between the learners and the materials they use.

for example. Kuo 1993. See also Widdowson (2000). harmonious.g.66. 2012 . history and pork (e. whereas authentic texts (i. Ellis (1999: 68) argues for '"enriched input" which provides learners with input which has been flooded with exemplars of the target structure in the context of meaning focused activities'. necessarily involves methodological contrivance which isolates features from their natural surroundings'. Heinemann International Guide for Writers 1991). Little et al.e. Should texts be contrived or authentic? Materials aiming at explicit learning usually contrive examples of the language which focus on the feature being taught.223 on Mon Oct 08 15:52:42 BST 2012. The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages 68 Soars and Soars 1996. • cater for learner expectations or try to change them. drugs. Interestingly. complains about the 'safe. violence. The counter- argument is that contrived examples over-protect learners and do not prepare them for the reality of language use. learner needs or market needs. Hutchinson 1997). • be driven by syllabus Downloaded from Cambridge Books Online by IP 190. Wajnryb (1996: 291).010 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press. Some further unresolved issues in materials development include whether materials should: • be driven by theory or by practice (Bell and Gower 1998. Affect is undoubtedly an important factor in learning (Jacobs and Schumann 1992. . Day and Bamford (1998: 54-62) attack the 'cult of authenticity' and advocate simplified reading texts which have 'the natural qualities of authenticity' and R. • aim for language development only or should also aim for personal and educational development.14. However. Most researchers argue for authenticity and stress its motivating effect on learners (e. clean. On Balance 1991).1017/CBO9780511667206. benevolent. the popular Namibian coursebook On Target (1996) contains texts inviting learners to respond to issues relating to drugs. pre-marital sex. The counter-argument is that learners can gain confidence and a sense of progress from focusing on a systematic series of discrete features of the language. • aim to contribute to teacher development as well as language learning. alcohol. • cater for teacher needs and wants as well as those of learners (Masuhara 1998). For example. which usually include sex. Widdowson (1984a: 218) says that 'pedagogic presentation of language . http://dx. violence and politics. Should materials be censored? Most publishers are anxious not to risk giving offence and provide writers of global coursebooks with lists of taboo topics. politics. easy texts or dialogues and it is argued that they help the learner by focusing attention on the target feature. 1994). Whilst some form of censorship might be pedagogically desirable (distressed or embarrassed learners are unlikely to learn much language) and economically necessary (publishers lose money if their books are banned). Prowse 1998).doi. They also provide guidelines to help their writers to avoid sexism and racism (e. Bacon and Finnemann 1990. textbook projects supported by a national ministry of education often suffer less censorship and their books are sometimes more interesting to use. religion. The experiential advocates argue that learners need to be exposed to the reality of language use and can be motivated by the sense of achievement and involvement which can be gained from communicating in a language whilst learning it. Usually these examples are presented in short. undisturbed' world of the EFL coursebook.g.g. many teachers argue that published materials are too bland and often fail to achieve the engagement needed for learning. . ordinary texts not produced specifically for language teaching purposes) can provide meaningful exposure to language as it is typically used. Arnold 1999) and it is arguable that provocative texts which stimulate an affective response are more likely to facilitate learning than neutral texts which do not.

Brown's (1997) evaluation. Another problem is that many instruments have been for pre-use evaluation (and are therefore speculative) and they are too demanding of time and expertise for teachers to use. in J. there is a similarity between new coursebooks from different publishers. Bolitho and Tomlinson 1995.doi. and attention is being given to principles and procedures for developing criteria for specific situations in which 'the framework used must be determined by the reasons. First. There is a return to a greater emphasis on language form and the centrality of grammar. These accounts seem to agree with Low (1989: 153) that 'designing appropriate materials is not a science: it is a strange mixture of imagination. Tribble 1996. 1996. Brown 1997. There is little work on theories of materials development.1017/CBO9780511667206. No one set of criteria can be used for all materials (Johnson and Johnson 1998).010 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press. More books are now making use of corpus data reflecting actual language use. Johnson and Johnson 1998). see Carter and McCarthy 1997). Materials development 69 Research There has been little published research in materials development (though in many universities postgraduate students are conducting research in materials development and publishers are commissioning confidential research). objectives and circumstances of the evaluation' (Tomlinson 1999b). practice and production (PPP) approach (Tomlinson 1999b).g. e. publishers' pilot materials (Donovan 1998) and the evaluation of coursebook materials (Cunningsworth 1984. Alderson 1985). Carter and McCarthy 1997). 1998b). One of the problems in materials evaluation is the subjective nature of many of the instruments of evaluation with the views of the researcher often determining what is measured and valued.B. Also.14. 2012 . There are more activities requiring investment by the learners in order for them to make discoveries (e. Ellis 1998a. Research on the merits of different ways of developing materials . Breen and Candlin 1987.' Maley (1998b: 220-221). I compared nine recent lower level coursebooks from different publishers and found that all followed a similar presentation.and on the effects of different types of materials with similar goals and target learners . recently there have been attempts to help teachers to conduct action research on the materials they use (Edge and Richards 1993. Jolly and Bolitho 1998) and to develop instruments for use in conducting pre-use. (1995) include a number of chapters on how textbooks are written.66. Practice CURRENT TRENDS IN PUBLISHED MATERIALS There are a number of trends noticeable in commercially produced materials. Joseph and Travers 1996. and I have listed theoretical principles for materials development (Tomlinson 1998b) and outlined a principled and flexible framework for teachers to use when developing materials (Tomlinson 1999a). see Fox 1998. However. and states that he operates with a number of variables which are raised to a conscious level only when he encounters a problem and works 'in a more analytical way'. argues that the writer should trust 'intuition and tacit knowledge'. for an example of a teaching book based on corpus data. http://dx. for example. recently there have been attempts to design objective instruments to provide more reliable information about what materials can achieve (R. Ellis 1998a. The published research has mainly focused on macro- evaluation of materials projects (Rea-Dickins 1994. such as Lifelines (Hutchinson 1997) and New Headway Intermediate (Soars and Soars 1996). However.223 on Mon Oct 08 15:52:42 BST 2012. although Hall (1995) describes his theory of learning in relation to materials evaluation. whilst-use and post-use evaluation ( J.g. especially in lower and intermediate level course- books. there are more interactive learning packages which make use of different media to Downloaded from Cambridge Books Online by IP 190. and Prowse (1998) reports how 16 EFL writers develop their materials. extra points are awarded for coursebooks which include tests. Littlejohn 1998). insight and analytical still needed. There are also published accounts of how textbooks are produced: Hidalgo et al. rather than using idealised input (for suggestions on using corpus data.

taking more account of the grammar of speech (McCarthy and Carter 1995.g. Norway. Materials will move away from spoken practice of written grammar. with English being used to gain new knowledge. The materials are often text driven rather than language driven and the texts are often authentic. Also choices are offered to learners and teachers in the books. The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages 70 provide a richer experience of language learning and to offer the learner choice of approach and route (Parish 1995). Furthermore. Singapore and Vietnam. five in Bulgaria). teachers and learners will be helped to localise materials in global coursebooks. Additionally. Experiments have also been conducted in generating materials for courses rather than relying solely on commercially produced materials. Materials will contain more engaging content. wants and views of learners and teachers are given consideration (e. e.66. the following trends are noticeable: • Writing teams often consist of teachers and teacher trainers who are in touch with the needs and wants of the learners. 30 in Namibia. which will be of developmental value to learners as well as offering good intake of language use. Hall (1995) reports on a genre-based approach and a student-generated.14. texts on drug dealing and pre-marital sex in On Target. Indonesia. From observation of such projects in Bulgaria. For a detailed evaluation of current EFL coursebooks. Ireland. 1997. Most second language (L2) learners of English are not learning English primarily to communicate with native speakers. especially in On Target and English for Life (2000). e. There are also more extensive reader series being produced with fewer linguistic constraints and more provocative content (e. the needs. • Materials are content and meaning focused. TRENDS IN PROJECT MATERIALS In many countries groups of writers produce local materials. the Cambridge English Readers series launched in 1999). they are learning it for academic or professional advancement and/or to communicate with other non-native speakers of English at home or overseas. However. experience and skills. the focus shifts from local cultures to neighbouring cultures to world cultures. either abroad or in English-speaking countries. http://dx. e. China. 1998). Materials will stop catering predominantly for the 'good language learner' (who is analytic. Romania.g.doi. deliberately pooling the different talents available.010 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press. through questionnaires. and a number of researchers are currently experimenting with experiential approaches to literature on ESP courses in Singapore and Thailand.1017/CBO9780511667206. South Korea. Materials will become more international. • Writing teams are often large (e. of optional activities or 'pathways' in On Target (1996) and A Cow's Head and Other Tales (1996). lengthy and provocative. Already major global coursebooks series are moving away from a Downloaded from Cambridge Books Online by IP 190. meetings and piloting on the Namibian project). 2012 .org/10. Namibia. They will provide less practice of co- operative dialogues and more opportunities to use the language to compete for attention and effect. pays attention to form and makes use of learning strategies in a conscious way) and will start to cater more for the many learners who are experientially inclined.223 on Mon Oct 08 15:52:42 BST 2012. Possible future directions Materials will continue to aim at the development of accuracy. seven in Romania. see Tomlinson et al.g.g. experiential approach developed at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand. Mauritius. presenting English as a world language rather than as the language of a particular nation and culture. Morocco. fluency and appropriacy while placing more emphasis on helping learners achieve effect. Carter and McCarthy 1995. Sri Lanka. (2001).g. between original or simplified versions of text in Search 8 (Naustdal Fenner and Nordal-Petersen 1997). Carter et al.g.

1017/CBO9780511667206. For sociolinguistics. (1996) A World of English Naustdal Fenner and Nordal-Petersen (1997) Search 8 On Target (1996) (teachers' book) Tomlinson et al.223 on Mon Oct 08 15:52:42 BST 2012. of developing teacher awareness of methodological options. I believe that it will become increasingly central in teacher training and applied linguistics courses and that the consequent increase in both qualitative and quantitative research will greatly improve our knowledge about factors which facilitate the learning of languages. Planet English: www. Textbooks Balan et al.010 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press. development and exploitation of learning materials is an effective way of connecting areas of linguistics such as language acquisition.doi. http://dx.shef. and of improving the effectiveness of materials.g. www.planetenglish.rdlthai.usia. American Studies Electronic Crossroads: http://e. More materials will be available on the internet and many will make use of internet texts as sources. ELLSA American Literary Classics: www. psycholinguistics.g.htm) and electronically published materials (e. (1998) English News and Views 11 Byrd (1996) A Cow's Head and Other Tales Grozdanova et al. Also the US Information Service is active in encouraging the use of American educational websites (e.planetenglish. in Singapore an English coursebook (English for Life 2000) makes extensive use of web search activities and offers accompanying readers on the Materials development 71 mono-cultural approach and soon coursebooks focusing on daily life in the USA or the UK will be rare.14. discourse analysis and pragmatics. (2000) English for Life Key readings Byrd (1995) Material Writers Guide Cunningsworth (1984) Evaluating and Selecting EFL Teaching Material Cunningsworth (1996) Choosing Your Coursebook Hidalgo et al. Conclusion The study of the design. (1995) Materials Writers on Materials Writing McDonough and Shaw (1993) Materials and Methods in ELT: A Teachers Guide Sheldon (1987) ELT Textbooks and Materials: Problems in Evaluation and Development Tomlinson (1998a) Materials Development for Language Teaching Downloaded from Cambridge Books Online by IP 190.html). 2012 .gov/education/engteaching/intl/ieal- Numerous websites make learning materials available ( and a joint collaboration by several European universities puts language learners in contact for bilingual email exchanges ( language analysis.