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Survey: learner training in EFL

course books
Barbara Sinclair and Gail Ellis

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Flying Colours 1
Judy Garton-Sprenger and Simon Greenall
Heinemann 1990
Student's Book 114 pp. ISBN 0 435 28300 6
Workbook 76 p. ISBN 0 435 28301 4
Teacher's Book 126 pp. ISBN 0 435 28302 2
Class cassette ISBN 0 435 28305 7
Language Study Cassettes:
Setl: ISBN 0 435 28304 9
Set 2: ISBN 0 435 28307 3

Blueprint Intermediate
Brian Abbs and Ingrid Freebairn
Longman 1989
Student's Book 128 pp. ISBN 0 582 02131 6
Workbook with key 76 pp. ISBN 0 582 02130 8
Teacher's Book 128 pp. ISBN 0 582 02129 4
Student Cassette Set of 2 Class Cassettes

Fast Forward 3
Marion Geddes, Sylvia Chalker, and Pam Eaves
Oxford University Press 1986
Classbook 106 pp. ISBN 0 19 432308 0
Resource Book 52 pp. ISBN 0 19 432310 2
Teacher's Book 58 pp. ISBN 0 19 432309 9
Class Cassette

ELT Journal Volume 4612 April 1992 Oxford University Press 1992 209
Headway Advanced
John and Liz Soars
Oxford University Press 1989
Student's Book 160 pp. ISBN 0 19 433563 1
Workbook 102 pp. ISBN 0 19 433564 X
Teacher's Book 122 pp. ISBN 0 19 433565 8

Early Bird 1

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David Vale
Cambridge University Press 1990
Student's Book 47 pp. ISBN 0 521 40977 2
Teacher's Book 120 pp. ISBN 0 521 40976 4

Stepping Stones 1
Julie Ashworth and John Clark
Collins ELT 1989
Course Book 64 pp. ISBN 0 00 370412 2
Activity Book 94 pp. ISBN 0 00 370413 0
Teacher's Book 202 pp. ISBN 0 00 370414 9

Outset 1
Opal Dunn
Macmillan 1987
Pupil's Book 117 pp. ISBN 0 333 42469 7
Workbook 1A 78 pp. ISBN 0 333 42471 9
Workbook IB 62 pp. ISBN 0 333 44824 3
Teacher's Book 109 pp. ISBN 0 333 42470 0

Adventures in English 6e
Norman Whitney and Janette Samuel
Oxford University Press 1990
Manuel de l'eleve 170 pp. ISBN 0 19 433945 9
Cahier d'activitgs 104 pp. ISBN 0 19 433947 5
Livre du Professeur 143 pp. ISBN 0 19 433946 7
Livret de tests 1 36 pp. ISBN 0 19 433966 1

210 Barbara Sinclair and Gail Ellis

Introduction This survey aims to review the extent to which learner training (or
learning to learn) is included in a number of recent EFL course books for
adults and younger learners, as well as the manner in which it is presented.
It focuses in part on publications which make claims about helping
students learn how to learn, and attempts to assess how far these claims
are justified. It also looks at some books which make no such claims, but
perhaps should. We were prompted to write this survey review by requests
for advice from teachers wishing to incorporate learner training into then-
classes and who needed to be able to evaluate their current course books in
terms of their learner-training potential.
We will begin by considering what we mean by learner training in terms

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of its content and methodology, then present and describe the criteria we
find useful for evaluating the 'learning-to-learn' potential of EFL course
books and comment on the books selected for review in the light of these
criteria. Tables are provided in order to summarize the results of our
survey (see Figures 2 and 3).
The current interest in and research into theories of how people learn a
foreign/second language have increasingly led to the inclusion of
elements of learner training in ELT course books. Those reviewed here
were chosen because we consider them to contain such elements
although some do so more than others (see Figure 1). In addition, those for
adult learners were selected because of their current popularity and
availability, while those for younger learners primarily because of the
recent introduction of English as a compulsory subject in state schools in
many countries and because experiments (Ellis, 1991) have shown that
such learners are both willing and able to express opinions about and to
take on more responsibility for their learning. Furthermore, it has been
seen that doing so creates a desire in young learners to learn the new
language. Since it has not been possible to review each book in a series,
we have focused on one level from each.
We would like to emphasize that this survey is only concerned with the
learning-to-learn elements of these publications and does not presume to
assess them according to any other criteria.

What is learner The term 'learner training', appears to mean different things to different
training? people (Whitney, 1988) and, indeed, is not acceptable to some as a 'label'
for the kinds of classroom activities it may generate. Certainly, it is not a
new concept in itself. What is perhaps relatively new is the attempt to
systematize the content and procedures for helping language learners
learn how to learn and to provide a framework (Ellis and Sinclair, 1989)
from which teachers and learners can plan suitable courses of training. It
is this framework which provides our working definition of learner
training and the basis for the appraisal of the course books reviewed here.
Learner training, then, 'aims to help learners consider the factors that
affect their learning and discover the learning strategies that suit them best
so that they may become more effective learners and take on more
Survey: learner training in EFL course books 211
responsibility for their own learning' (Ellis and Sinclair, 1989: Teacher's
Book, 2).

The content and What should one look for in ELT course books when evaluating their
methodology of learner training potential? The content of learner training is wide-ranging,
learner training but is essentially concerned with helping learners to develop greater
awareness and expertise in the following three areas: the language
learners themselves, including exploring learning attitudes, expectations
and aims, increasing awareness of learning habits and style, identifying
needs and wants; the language itself (language awareness) and language
learning, including the development of skills for evaluating learning

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and practice strategies, identifying preferred strategies, assessing
performance and monitoring progress, organizing learning and learning
materials and exploiting language resources. In practice, however, it
would be unusual to find all of the above in one EFL course book.
Selection would depend on the length and nature of the course (see Ellis
and Sinclair, 1989, Teacher's Book, 19-25), as well as on other factors,
such as the level, age, cultural and language learning background of the
learners for whom it is intended.
In books for low-level adult learners, we might expect to find a greater
emphasis on confidence building, clarification of aims and expectations
and setting realistic goals. There might be language awareness at an
accessible level and a heavy focus on vocabulary recording and learning
techniques. Learners would be introduced to and encouraged to
experiment with basic subskills for listening and reading as well as to
using language resources, such as simple bilingual dictionaries, and to
organizing their learning materials. The concept of self-assessment and
monitoring might be introduced using simple charts and check-lists. The
use of the mother tongue for learner training and instructions might be felt
to be appropriate. Above all, though, there would be an emphasis on
experimentation and discovering different ways of doing things, and on
providing basic learning 'tools'.
In materials for more advanced learners, We would expect there to be a
more specific and more detailed development of skills and strategies for
self-assessment and monitoring, for evaluating classroom activities and
learning strategies in terms of personal usefulness and preference, as well
as greater opportunities for self-directed learning. The language
awareness aspects of the course would include more complex issues, such
as appropriacy, textual organization, style, cross-cultural awareness,
gender issues, and so on. There might also be a greater emphasis on study
skills and preparation for forthcoming examinations.
In course books for younger learners, we would expect to find an
emphasis on developing positive attitudes towards the new language and
language learning in order to create a desire to want to go on learning. For
children learning in a school context, we would also expect a focus on
developing learning skills which cross subject boundaries within the
curriculum. These would include cognitive skills, such as sorting,
212 Barbara Sinclair and Gail Ellis
classifying, observing, comparing, analysing, hypothesizing, matching
and identifying, basic study skills, social skills, such as collaborative
learning, and manipulative skills involving activities in which children
physically make or do things. An overt link between the language learning
itself and other subjects in the curriculum would also be expected in order
to provide pupils with familiar contexts and to enable them to become
aware that foreign language learning does not exist in isolation, but can be
a useful tool for acquiring knowledge about other subjects.
Methods of implementing learner training in the classroom range from
those which are learner directed and allow students to make all the
decisions affecting, their learning (including syllabus negotiation),

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gainingone hopes^-meaningful insights into their learning by doing so,
to the no-nonsense, teacher directed, 'Let's teach them the learning
strategies that research has shown work best'. Thefirstextreme appears to
assume that the learners are already able to make informed decisions
about their learning and do not need any preparation in order to help them
do so, while the latter assumes that they need a teacher to tell them. There
are, of course, skills areas, such as reading, where it is clear that certain
strategies work better than others (e.g. reading in chunks rather than
reading word by word when reading for meaning), and for a teacher not to
draw learners' attention to these would be counterproductive.
Nevertheless, our view is that it is useful to take a middle path between the
two extremes outlined above which permits the focus on the process of
learning to be teacher-guided, but enables the learners ultimately to make
their own decisions about their learning, thus ensuring that learning
strategies are not imposed. This path provides the freedom to adjust the
degree of learner-directedness according to the overriding constraints of
the teaching and cultural context, the growing ability of the students to
manage their own learning and the increasing confidence of the teacher as
a learner trainer.

When focusing on learner training for younger learners, for whom school
and learning are central in their lives, it is particularly important that it is
introduced in a meaningful learning context and strategies demonstrated
with transfer in mind. Thus, pupils become aware, for example, that a self-
testing strategy using two-sided cards can be used not only for learning
English vocabulary, but also for times-tables in a maths class or countries
and their capitals in a geography class. In order to help pupils focus on
learning to learn, teachers of younger learners might adopt an activity-
based or enquiry-based approach to involve the children actively in the
learning process. They might usefully take on a questioning role, often
using the learners' mother tongue, to encourage pupils to reflect on their
basic assumptions about learning, as well as to model the types of
questions about learning that pupils can gradually learn to ask themselves.
In reviewing the course books, then, we looked for evidence in both the
learners' and teachers' materials that the learner-training activities were
appropriate in content and methodology for the target learners. We looked
for a general approach to learning to learn which neither mystified nor
Survey: learner training in EFL course books 213
prescribed, but provided clearly signposted opportunities for reflection
on, experimentation with, and evaluation of learning and practice
strategies, as well as for self-direction. In addition, we checked the
teachers' materials for clear and detailed guide-lines on procedures for
implementing the learner training in the course.

Criteria for We chose to use the following criteria for the assessment of the learner-
evaluating course training elements in the course books reviewed.

Explicit focus on the To what extent is there a focus on the learning process (how to learn)? Is

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process of learning this focus explicit and 'informed'? (Wenden, 1987: 159-60) Is the
purpose of an activity obvious to the learners? Are there clearly stated
objectives, clear introductions to activities, and clear instructions?
Informed training enables learners to focus on and evaluate strategies that
they may be able to apply to different learning situations, to understand
what they are doing and why. The main focus of activities in course books
is naturally on what is to be learnt. When an attempt is made to focus on
how to learn, however, it needs to be made explicit either by the learners'
materials or the teacher in order for it to make sense to the learners.
Making learning to learn explicit without its overwhelming the language
learning aims of the course can be, however, a difficult balancing act for
writers, and it is not surprising that such explicitness is often missing or
presented inconsistently.
Of the books for adult learners reviewed here, Flying Colours has a
disappointing score in this category because of the book's claims to
provide systematic learner training. Learning-to-learn activities are not
signposted in the Student's Book and there are many missed opportunities
to raise learners' awareness about why certain strategies can be useful. In
a beginners' course, where it may not always be possible or desirable to
include long or detailed rubrics in the Student's Book, we would expect to
find very detailed notes in the Teacher's Book on how to exploit the
learner training. While each learner-training activity is clearly labelled in
the Teacher's Book, information on how to handle the activities is by no
means systematically provided. This means that unless the teacher is
well-versed in both the concepts and methodology of learner training,
much of what the book aims to do will be by-passed.
Blueprint unlike Flying Colours makes few overt claims concerning the
provision of learner training, but it does include 'building learner
independence' and the development of 'good learning techniques'
amongst its aims, and thus enters the realms of course books offering
learner training. The materials in the Student's Book and the Workbook
are accessible, well-suited to the level of the learners, and all clearly
labelled in terms of what the learners are learning or practising; but there
is little explicit focus on how to learn. Exceptions are. the optional
introductory learning questionnaire in the Teacher's Book, as well as the
exercise on page 45 in Unit 18, Communication, in the Student's Book,
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where learners are asked to write a paragraph about why they think
English is an easy or difficult language to learn and why. This is not
exploited, however. The Lesson Notes for teachers, clear though they are
about what is to be taught, do not focus on providing detailed guidance for
building learner independence or good learning techniques. Although this
course gains points for its clear language-awareness and reference
materials, it loses due to its lack of explicitness about the process of
Headway Advanced makes no specific claim about focusing on learning
to learn, but perhaps should, as several of its aims, such as 'to introduce
learners to error analysis and correction', 'to encourage effective learning

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habits and a measure of responsibility for vocabulary acquisition' provide
a 'learning to learn' focus. It scores relatively well due to its explicitness
in handling language awareness. Its language study sections provide clear
explanations and good examples (see, for example, Unit 7, page 81 of the
Student's Book). There are fewer explanations in the Workbook, but the
coverage is truly comprehensive. Learners are also provided with a good
deal of metalanguage, which is essential at this level if they are to be able
to analyse language systems adequately. This course scores relatively
well for its explicit focus on learning in its introductory unit, but,
disappointingly, there is little such focus throughout the rest of the course.
Fast Forward 3 is another course which makes no specific claim
concerning learner training. However, it scores the highest in this
category for its explicit introductory unit and, throughout the course, for
its focus on vocabulary learning techniques. (See, for example, Unit 1,
Section 3 on page 8 of the Classbook for a consideration of how
illustrating new words can help make them more memorable; and Unit 5,
Section 8 on page 46 of the Classbook for information on why and how
visualization is a useful technique for remembering words.)
The course books for younger learners, too, tend to be insufficiently
explicit in their learning-to-learn activities. Although Stepping Stones 1
Teacher's Book makes explicit reference in its introduction to the
teaching of positive learning habits, including organizational, reference
skills and the importance of co-operation, it loses points because there is
no further explicit reference to these topics either in the Teacher's Book or
the learner's materials. Thus, both teacher and learners are left to identify
and uncover the implicit.
Outset 1 makes no specific claims regarding learning to learn, but perhaps
should, because of its emphasis on self-correcting, reviewing, and self-
testing. Although the guide-lines in the Teacher's Book are clear, Outset 1
does not, however, score particularly well because it is nowhere suggested
that the teacher explain to the pupils or encourage them to think about why
these strategies can be useful.
Early Bird 1 claims that 'with Early Bird all children can become
successful learners of English'. A claim such as this would lead us to
expect explicit guide-lines on how teachers can help their pupils attain
Survey: learner training in EFL course books 215
this status. Apart from a rationale on the learning theory espoused by the
book, there is little explicit focus on learning strategies in the lesson plans.
As with Stepping Stones 1, the teacher and learners need to uncover the
Adventures in English 6e scores the highest in this category. Learning to
learn is one of the major objectives of the course and the language
awareness, study skills, and vocabulary sections focus clearly on different
learning strategies. (See, for example, pages 18, 73, 85 in the Student's

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Integration To what extent is the learner training integrated with the language
learning activities or topics throughout the book?
Integration will always be a matter of degree (Wenden, 1987:161); short
learner-training activities can either be closely interwoven with the
language teaching or practice activities, arising from or leading into them,
or take up a longer block of classroom time set aside specifically to focus
on a particular training area. Such learner training blocks would,
nevertheless, also include opportunities for the learners to apply the new
strategies to a language (or another subject) learning or practice task.
There are two reasons why we feel that integration is important. Firstly, it
is likely that training which is more closely integrated into the language
learning materials will be more meaningful and, therefore, more
memorable for the learners. In addition, it is less likely to be regarded by
them as 'wasting' time which could be used for learning the language.
Of the books for adult learners reviewed here, Flying Colours 1 scored
relatively well for integration of learner-training activities. These are to be
found throughout the Student's Book, although only signposted in the
Teacher's Book, and generally feature as the last exercise in a lesson.
Mostly, these are linked to the unit in some way. In addition, there are a
number of learner-training activities to be found in the Workbook.
The other books for adult learners scored less highly because of an over-
reliance on the use of what we might call a 'Zero Unit' or induction
section for learner-training purposes with little follow up throughout the
rest of the books. Fast Forward 3, however, does this very well; its
'Introduction' unit performs a very useful learner-training function,
focusing learners on reading, listening, speaking, vocabulary learning,
and language awareness (plurals, spelling, and pronunciation). This 'Zero
Unit' works because it has a light touch; it recognizes that upper-
intermediate learners can discuss learning with a minimum of prompts
and that learner training need not be patronizing in its tonea problem
which can occur at this level when teachers or course book writers try to
make it too detailed. The notes in the Teacher's Book are brief, but cover
the main points of the learner training. The introduction unit in the
Resource Book provides an opportunity for learners to assess their
understanding of verb tenses and information about pronunciation,
spelling, and the phonetic script. Throughout the rest of the course, there
is, however, only a limited emphasis on the process of learning to learn.
216 Barbara Sinclair and Gail Ellis
Blueprint Intermediate's teacher's notes for the First Lesson include a
questionnaire to encourage learners to think about how they learn and to
prepare them for some of the learning activities they will find in the
course. This questionnaire has to be photocopied as it is not to be found in
the Student's Book. It looks very useful in that it addresses, albeit briefly,
learners' expectations, attitudes, and learning habits. There is also a
section on 'Learning New Words'. The instructions to the teacher are
minimal, mentioning only that responses could be discussed in class. This
is the only part of the course which focuses explicitly on the learner in this
Headway Advanced starts well; the 'Orientation', subtitled, 'What makes

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a good language learner?', begins with a clear statement of aims for the
learner, followed by an adaptation of Meara's quiz (Sunday Times, 1985)
which aims to test aptitude for learning foreign languages. The discussion
points which follow are thoughtful and promote much reflection on the
learner's own aptitude, as well as on what makes a good language learner
in general. Also included in the 'Orientation' are sections on the
organization of a dictionary entry, pronunciation and the phonetic script,
and Language Study. Although the teacher's notes for this part of die
'Orientation' are very detailed, no suggestions are made for encouraging
the learners to identify areas they personally need to work on, or to draw
up short-term learning goals. In the rest of the Student's Book, there is
little further overt reference to the process of language learning.
Although the books for younger learners reviewed score well on their
integration of activities to develop basic study skills, cognitive skills,
social skills, and manipulative skills, they rate less highly on their
integration of learner training for language learning and none of the books
encourage pupils to think about their expectations or draw up short-term
Adventures in English 6e was the best in this category. Learning to learn is
integrated systematically throughout the pupil's and activity books. The
activities are to be found in an introductory unit, in sections on language
awareness and in 'Ask about English', which develops basic
communication strategies, vocabulary and study skills. These are clearly
signposted and well linked to each unit.
Outset 1 contains a detailed introductory unit, described in the Teacher's
Book, based on a discussion of English as an international language. The
aim of this unit is to motivate children to learn English and it also serves
the useful purpose of raising their awareness and arousing their curiosity.
In addition, an activity which gets children to think about the English
words they know already can increase their confidence. Outset 1 scores
relatively well due to its integration of self-assessment at regular intervals
throughout the Pupil's Book.
A similar discussion, described in the Teacher's Book of Stepping Stones
1 is labelled as optional. It also misses an opportunity for discussing
pupils' attitudes to language learning, clarifying expectations, and
Survey: learner training in EFL course books 217
developing an awareness that foreign language learning is a continuing
process. For example, although a cartoon character, Supersnake, makes
reference to Book 2 at the end of the course, this is not exploited. Stepping
Stones 1 does not score highly in this category as there is only a little
explicit learner training to be found in this course.
Early Bird 1 scores relatively well for its integration of learner training
because it includes some clearly signposted activities in the learner's
book, such as, 'Teach Your Parents', 'Think', dictionary pages, and a star-
chart for self-assessment.

Accessibility To what extent is the learner training appropriate and relevant to the

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language level and age group of the learners? Can they understand it?
The first consideration is the suitability of the learner-training activities
themselves. It is counterproductive if such activities require the learners
to think or act in, to them, totally unaccustomed or unacceptable ways;
learner training needs to start from where the learners are and develop
from there. Neither should activities ask them to consider the glaringly
obvious or otherwise ignore learners' needs. The second consideration is
the suitability of the language used to present the learner-training
activities. Detailed descriptions or rubrics are unsuitable for low-level
course books, for example. In these cases, we would expect to find very
detailed teacher's notes which would enable the teacher to take on a
guiding and informing role, including using the learners' mother tongue,
if appropriate.
All of the books for adult learners reviewed here scored relatively well for
the accessibility of the learning-to-learn activities provided.
Young learners' course books for beginners pose a real problem for
materials writers considering how to present explicit learner training
activities in an accessible way. Adventures in English 6e, written for the
francophone market, overcomes this in the initial stages by using French
for instructions and simple English to signpost activities, which are both
accessible in themselves and fun. This book scores well in this category
for the above reasons.
In books for an international market, the use of symbols or simple labels
in English can help make learner training activities more accessible for
younger learners. Early Bird 1, Outset 1, and Stepping Stones 1 all rated
highly for using these techniques to make accessible their learner-training
activities which focused on cross-curricular strategy development.
Overall they scored less well, however, because of a general paucity of
learning-to-learn activities.

Variety To what extent are the learners exposed to different approaches to

language learning, different activity types, etc., in order to accommodate
a wide variety of learning preferences?
Most course book writers today recognize the importance of an approach
which provides a wide variety of activity types, methodology, topics, etc.,
218 Barbara Sinclair and Gail Ellis
in order to motivate students and to accommodate different learning styles
and preferences.
All of the course books for adult learners reviewed here provide good
variety, with Blueprint Intermediate and Headway Advanced scoring the
The course books for young learners also provided good variety, with
Stepping Stones 1 and Adventures in English 6e scoring the highest. In
Early Bird 1 the emphasis is on physical response (based on Asher's Total
Physical Response) which may not suit all learners all of the time.

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Pairing of To what extent do the materials provide learners with a sequence of
metacognitive and reflection on, experimentation with and evaluation of different learning
cognitive strategies and practice strategies?
Recent research (documented in Willing, 1989) has confirmed that
learners have their own basic learning styles. However, many learners
employ strategies, often as a result of socio-cultural conditioning, which
are incompatible with their learning style .and this can lead to ineffective
learning. For this reason, learner training aims to help learners discover
the strategies and techniques which work best for them.
There is at present, however, little consensus on what constitutes a
learning strategy, neither is there one definitive typology of learning
strategies (although researchers, such as Oxford (1989) have recently
added significantly to the body of literature on the subject). For the
purposes of this article, we have found it useful to focus on metacognitive
and cognitive strategies, as referred to by O'Malley et al. (1985: 24).
There are two main reasons why the pairing of metacognitive and
cognitive development appears to be important. Firstly, it has been
suggested that much of the reported failure of learning strategies being
transferred to new learning tasks is due to not combining metacognitive
information with a cognitive approach, that is, enabling learners to have
hands-on experience with and evaluate what they have been encouraged
to reflect on (O'Malley et al. 1985: 24). Secondly, experiments (Sinclair,
1989) have demonstrated that courses in which the learner training
focused on both metacognitive and cognitive strategy development
tended to produce more positive feedback from learners and a greater
determination to carry on learning after the course than those which only
focused on one of these aspects.
The course books for adult learners reviewed here generally encouraged
reflection and experimentation, but little evaluation after the event. Fast
Forward 3 was the best in this category, particularly with regard to
vocabulary development. Learners generally have the opportunity to
experiment with the vocabulary learning techniques they are asked to
Flying Colours 1 does not score very highly. There are missed
opportunities for reflection in the Student's Book and, in particular, for
Survey: learner training in EFL course books 219
encouraging learners to evaluate what they are doing and experiencing.
To be fair, however, the Workbook does this more successfully and there
are some good opportunities for learners to reflect in, for example,
Lessons 22, 23, and 25.
Generally speaking, the authors of Blueprint Intermediate and Headway
Advanced have been careful to enable learners to experiment with and
practise the language items and skills that they have been encouraged to
reflect on, though this is not made explicit and does not extend to
evaluating learning and practice strategies.
The course books for younger learners reviewed here provided many

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opportunities for experimentation, but very few for reflection either
before or after an activity, with the general exception of Adventures in
English 6e. However, this book, too, misses some opportunities for
encouraging pupils to evaluate the different learning and practice
strategies they have experimented with.

Opportunities for To what extent are learners encouraged to make decisions about their
self-direction own learning? Do the materials explicitly encourage learners to choose
alternative ways of dealing with exercises, texts, etc? Are they provided
with alternative activities to choose from? Can they make choices about
content and whether to work alone or with others? What room is therefor
Dickinson and Carver (1980) identified 'practice in self-direction' as one
of the key areas in which learners need preparation for learner autonomy.
Clearly, if a materials writer's aim is to enable the learners to acquire some
measure of responsibility for their learning (one of the aims of learner
training), there must be opportunities for learner choice.
All of the courses for adults reviewed here incorporate workbooks for
self-study {Flying Colours 1 and Blueprint Intermediate also have
cassettes for self-study), and provide for a measure of learner choice in the
freer practice stages of a unit. None of them makes any specific attempt to
allow learners to negotiate course content or methodology, nor provide an
explicit choice of activities. The Student's Book of Flying Colours 1 does,
however, generally encourage learners to select for themselves
vocabulary to learn. Unfortunately, this is somewhat negated by the
following, rather prescriptive instruction, which is a feature of each
Lesson, 'Now turn to page X and look at the Structures to Learn and the
Words to Remember'.
In this category, the course books for younger learners were more
impressive than those for adult learners. They all scored well in this
category as they provided interesting and motivating opportunities for
self-direction, particularly through the inclusion of pair and group work.
In this respect, Early Bird 1 suggests that pupils are assigned roles, such as
a tidy monitor, a noise controller, an organizer and an English teacher to
facilitate classroom management and share responsibilities.
220 Barbara Sinclair and Gail Ellis
Course books or activity books for younger learners are often designed for
children to complete independently by drawing, colouring, collecting,
pasting, etc. Early Bird 1 's Student's Book contains page layouts and cut-
out sections for this purpose. However, these pages on their own would
make little sense to pupils and so, ironically, they are dependent on their
teacher to elucidate all. However, the overall aim, which is commendable,
is to enable pupils to build up gradually a personal record of work done in
the classroom and at home. Through doing so, children practise self-
direction by choosing what to incorporate. This must give children a great
deal of pleasure and encourage personal commitment and motivation in
their language learning. In addition, cut-out dictionary items and an index

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are provided for pupils to use as a core for creating their own picture
dictionary, thereby allowing the children a degree of choice regarding the
vocabulary they wish to learn. Early Bird 7 also encourages pupils to work
together by helping each other and correcting each other's work. Finally,
there is a cassette for home listening which pupils can use to teach their
parents something they have learned.

The other courses include activity books for homework which provide
opportunities for self-direction. These, too, are designed for children to
complete? (See, for example, Stepping Stones 1 Activity Book pages 21
and 40.) Outset 1 suggests that pupils build up their own word book,
rhyme and tongue-twister book, sets of word cards, and a spelling book.
There are also opportunities for auto-dictation and for pupils to organize
their own spelling quizzes and a cassette for home listening is provided. In
Adventures in English 6e there are opportunities for learners to select for
themselves vocabulary to learn. (See page 54 of the Activity Book and
page 152 of the Pupil's Book.)
As young learners' courses are usually bound by the constraints of a wider
curriculum, it is not surprising that none of the books reviewed allow
pupils to negotiate course content. However, the provision for some
choice of activities would have been a welcome addition, even bearing in
mind such common constraints as under-resourced schools and large
class sizes.

Self-assessment To what extent are learners provided with the opportunities and
and monitoring instruments for monitoring their learning? Are there charts, checklists,
summaries of content at regular intervals which learners can use to
assess their performance and monitor their progress?
Flying Colours 1, Blueprint Intermediate and Headway Advanced all
contain review sections where learners can do revision activities linked to
the contents of preceding units. These generally provide a useful
summary of content and enable learners to check their progress. However,
they do not provide answers against which a student can measure
performance. In contrast, Fast Forward 3 provides no such opportunities
for self-assessment in its course book, although its Resource Book
enables learners to test their understanding and use of the tenses. Answers
are provided.
Survey: learner training in EFL course books 221
In contrast to the course materials for adults, the course books for young
learners offer a more innovative approach to self-assessment and score
better in this category. With the exception of Stepping Stones 1, they
provide children with opportunities to evaluate their own progress
through the use of simple instruments. In Early Bird 1, this takes the form
of a star chart which children colour in once they have finished a unit.
(Yellow = excellent, blue = good, and so on.) Outset 1 places a
particularly strong emphasis on self-correcting, reviewing, and testing
throughout the course. In addition, Units 15 and 30 consist of self-check
tests which provide a r6sum6 of what has been covered. These tests
provide a chart beside each exercise allowing the pupils to record whether

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or not they know an item of grammar. If the answer is no, footsteps direct
the pupils back to the relevant unit for revision. Adventures in English 6e
Activity Book invites pupils to complete 'My English Progress Diary' in
order to evaluate what they can and cannot do. The page is divided into
sections for vocabulary, grammar, communication, and pronunciation.
FinaUy, pupils are encouraged to reflect further and write down what they
preferred in the unit. They then sign and date their diary entry. In addition,
page 19 of the Teacher's Book contains a grid that pupils can include in
their exercise books to keep a record of their marks.
All the books contain revision units or build in reviewing throughout. In
the main, however, these opportunities for self-assessment focus learners
on what they have learnt or not learnt, rather than on how they have learnt.
They are not encouraged to evaluate learning strategies, learning
activities, or content.

Reference materials To what extent does the course contain helpful resource materials for the
learners' own use, such as grammar-reference sections, vocabulary lists,
tape transcripts, answer keys, indexes, etc?
In order to acquire a measure of independence, learners need to have
access to the learning resources and reference materials generated by their
course book. If not, they are dependent upon the teacher. It is somewhat
surprising to note how many courses keep tapescripts, answer keys, and
other such useful reference materials in the teacher's books.
All of the workbooks reviewed here, except that of Flying Colours 1
contain answer keys, but Blueprint Intermediate and Headway Advanced
get the highest scores for providing access to the most reference materials
in the student's books. Blueprint Intermediate Student's Book includes: a
Grammar Index, listing structures and sample sentences; a
Communication Index, listing functions and exponents; a Vocabulary
List, with phonetic transcripts; and Self-Check Keys. Headway Advanced
provides an impressive Grammar Section in its Student's Book, as well as
full tapescripts of the recorded material used in the units. Solutions to
some of the problem-solving activities in Fast Forward 3 can be found at
the back of the Classbook. However, answers to exercises are in the
222 Barbara Sinclair and Gail Ellis
Teacher's Book. Reference materials, such as grammar explanations and
answers to exercises, are to be found in the Resource Book; but, again, all
tapescripts are in the Teacher's Book. Flying Colours 1 scores points with
its language study sections, its Pronunciation Guide, and its list of
irregular verbsalthough the latter is presented in alphabetical order
rather than according to common patterns or spellings, which would seem
more useful. Both the Student's Book and the Workbook lose points for
having no tapescripts, which are in the Teacher's Book with the answer
All the course books for younger learners contained some reference
materials. Adventures in English 6e scores the highest for including an

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appendix of pronunciation showing phonetic symbols and a vocabulary
list organized alphabetically. These are supplemented by verb forms,
essential grammar, essential communication, and vocabulary topics in the
Activity Book. All tapescripts and answers are, however, contained in the
Teacher's Book.
Outset 1 Pupil's Book contains a check-list of vocabulary organized by
topic and, in Units 1-14, Study Boxes highlight the use of a structure or
vocabulary introduced. Despite this book's emphasis on self-correction,
however, answers are kept in the Teacher's Book.
Stepping Stones 1 Course Book also contains word groups, a games pack;
and there is a reference page in the Activity Book consisting of classroom
language and a list of words. Pupils can check their own work by referring
back and comparing it with the Course Book.
Early Bird 1 contains dictionary items, as described above. Answers and
tapescripts are to be found in the Teacher's Book. There are no grammar
reference sections in either the learner's or the teacher's materials.
(Useful reference sections for teachers can be found in Outset 1 and
Stepping Stones 1. Outset 1 contains a Do-It-Yourself section which
shows how to make the materials needed for the course, but Stepping
Stones 1 is more impressive with its excellent resource file containing
over sixty optional ideas for the classroom.)

Conclusion It is encouraging that the course books reviewed here show that writers
and publishers are addressing themselves to the task of helping language
learners of all ages leam how to learn and that authors of courses for
younger learners, in particular, are providing many innovative and
motivating learner-training features. There is at present, however, a
discernible tendency to jump upon the learner-training bandwagon
without fully considering its implications. One problem is that a course
simply may not deliver on its promise of a learner-training dimension;
many of the course books reviewed here, for example, are not sufficiently
explicit about the learning process. Another is the question of support for
teachers; a course book purporting to help learners learn how to learn
cannot yet assume that all teachers are familiar with the theory and
practice of learner training, although many are.
Survey: learner training in EFL course books 223
Learner training is not a gimmick. It represents a genuine move by the
ELT profession to enable our students to discover their own ways of
becoming more effective and independent learners. We look forward to
seeing new generations of course materials systematically and explicitly
incorporating more opportunities for students to learn how to learn and
providing teachers with adequate support for helping them to do so.

Received June 1991

Figure 1:
Amount of learner Flying Colours 1

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training in the course Blueprint Intermediate
books reviewed
Fast Forward 3

Headway Advanced

Early Bird 1

Stepping Stones 1 *

Outset 1

Adventures in English 6e

Figure 2:
Summary of results for Criteria Flying Colours Blueprint Fast Headway
course books for adult 1 Intermediate Forward 3 Advanced
learners Explicit focus * * * * * *
on the process
of learning
Integration * # # * * * *

Accessibility # # # # * # # # # ##
* # *
Pairing of * * # * # * * *
and cognitive
Opportunities # * * # #
for self-
Self-assessment # * * # # # * *
and monitoring
Reference * * # # # # # #

224 Barbara Sinclair and Gail Ellis

Figure 3:
Summary of results for Criteria Early Bird 1 Stepping Outset 1 Adventures in
course books for Stones 1 English 6e
younger learners Explicit focus * * # * *
on the process
of learning
Integration # * # # # # # * # #

Accessibility # * # # * # * # # #

Variety * #

Pairing of * # * #

and cognitive

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Opportunities # # # # * * * * # # # * # # #

for self-
# * # # * #
Self-assessment * *

and monitoring
Reference * * * # * * # * * #


References The authors

Dickinson, L. and D. Carver, 1980. 'Learning how Barbara Sinclair is currently in Britain writing for
to learn: steps towards self-direction in foreign Cambridge University Press. Until recently, she
language learning in schools', in ELT Journal worked for The British Council, first as Director of
Vol. 35/1. Studies in Munich, then in Singapore as Director of
Ellis, G. and B. Sinclair. 1989. Learning to learn Teacher Education, and lastly as Director of
English: a course in learner training. Cambridge: Industrial Language Training and Project Director of
Cambridge University Press. a large-scale workplace literacy scheme. She has an
Ellis, G. 1991. 'Learning to learn', in Teaching MA in TESOL from the University of London
English to Children: From Practice to Principle. Institute of Education, and her professional interests
(ed.) Brumfit, C , J. Moon, and R. Tongue. Collins include learner strategies, syllabus design, adult
ELT. literacy, and academic and project management. She
O'Malley, J. M., A. U. Chamot, G. Stewner- has written and co-authored a number of publications,
Manzanares, L. Kupper, and R. P. Russo.1985. including Learning to Learn English (Cambridge
'Learning strategies used by beginning and University Press, 1989).
intermediate students', in Language Learning
Vol. 35/1.
Oxford, R. 1989. Language learning strategies:
what every teacher should know. New York:
Newbury House. Gail Ellis is English Teaching Adviser for Penguin
Sinclair, B. 1989. 'Munich', in DTE Development France. Before that she was an English Teaching
Package 2: Learner Training, File 3: Case Studies. Adviser for The British Council in Paris. She has
The British Council: London. taught ESL and EFL to primary and secondary school
Wenden, A. 1987. 'Incorporating learner training in pupils as well as adults and has trained teachers in
the classroom', in Learner strategies in language many countries. Her professional interests include
learning, (ed.) Wenden and Rubin. Prentice-Hall learner training for young learners and developing
International. self-help activities for teacher training. She has an
Whitney, N. 1988. 'Editorial' in ELT Journal. MA in TESOL from the University of London
Vol. 42/3. Institute of Education, and has written and co-
Willing, K. 1989. Teaching how to learn: learning authored books and articles on various aspects of ELT
strategies in ESL. Sydney: NCELTR, Macquarie including Learning to Learn English (Cambridge
University. University Press, 1989).

Survey: learner training in EFL course books 225