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What do lve want teaching

materials for?1
R. L Allwright

The question "What do we want teaching materials for?' is premature

until we establish what there is to be done in teaching and who should

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do it. Starting with a unified conception of language teaching and learn-
ing as 'the management of language learning', this paper proposes a
management analysis which establishes a necessarily limited role for
teaching materials, given the great complexity of the management
problem revealed by the analysis. This leads to a diagnosis of teacher
'overload' and learner 'underinvolvement', with implications for
teacher-training and 'learner-training'. (Training is probably necessary if
learners are to become productively involved in managing their
learning.) 'Learner-training' has further implications for course design
and for teacher-training, and raises the question of how teachers can
best put their expertise at the disposal of 'trained' learners. Returning to
materials, the paper then makes specific suggestions in support of a
switch of emphasis from 'teaching' materials to 'learning' materials.
Finally the conclusion is drawn that questions of materials should
generally be related to the conception of the whole of language
teaching and learning as the co-operative management of language

The question In this paper I will focus on the sorts of publications we might want pub-
lishers to promote, in terms of the sorts of jobs we might want teaching
materials to do.
To ask 'What do we want teaching materials for?' is unfortunately a pre-
mature question. To say "What do we want materials to do?' may clarify the
problem, because it may remind us that, if we are thinking about the role
of teaching materials in the whole teaching/learning operation, then we
ought first to ask 'What is there to be done?' This question deliberately
avoids reference to teaching or to the teacher, because I wish, at this stage,
to leave 'who should do what' in the management of language learning an
open question.
T o be done' suggests action, but in fact there are three phases in
management, rather than one. There are things to decide, actions to be
taken on the basis of those decisions, and a process of review to feed into
future decision-making.
Figure 1 should help reinforce this point, widi its circularity and over-
lapping segments indicating the dynamic interrelationships involved. After
a decision has been taken—say, to use a particular texdjook for a particular
• course—some organization is necessary—namely die purchase and delivery
of an adequate quantity of the books to the classroom—before the decision
can be fully implemented. The use of the textbook, for a sensible review to be
possible, has dien to be monitored to permit evaluation of its use and

ELTJournal Volume 36/1 October 1981 5

Fig. 1. Decision, Action, Review.
effectiveness, and the result can then go forward to inform subsequent
In addition it seems necessary to take a preliminary look at two different

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approaches to the question of die role of teaching materials. On the one
hand there is die DEFICIENCY view. According to this view, we need teaching
materials to save learners from our deficiencies as teachers, to make sure, as
far as possible, diat die syllabus is properly covered and that exercises are
well diought out, for example. This way of thinking might lead, at one
extreme, to die idea diat die 'best' teachers would neidier want nor need
published teaching materials. At die odier extreme we would have 'teacher-
proof materials diat no teacher, however deficient, would be able to teach
badly widi.
On die odier hand, diere is die DIFFERENCE view, which holds diat we
need teaching materials as 'carriers' of decisions best made by someone
odier dian the classroom teacher, not because die classroom teacher is
deficient, as a classroom teacher, but because die expertise required of
materials writers is importandy different from that required of classroom
teachers—the people who have to have die interpersonal skills to make
classrooms good places to learn in. For some diis conception may seem to
'reduce' die teacher to die role of mere classroom manager. For odiers, it
'frees' die teacher to develop die expertise needed for dealing widi prac-
tical and fundamental issues in die fostering of language learning in die
classroom setdng.
Bodi die DEFICIENCY and die DIFFERENCE views have enough trudi in
diem to be worth holding in mind simultaneously as we move towards a
management analysis. Bodi views are based on die assumption diat
decisions are best taken (and 'acted upon', and 'reviewed') by diose widi
die relevant expertise. Aldiough diis must, at first sight at least, seem
entirely reasonable, it does ignore die important possibility diat, at least in
some not very improbable circumstances, die question of who takes die
decision, etc., might be more important dian die quesdon of whether or not
die 'best' decision is always taken. We shall need to return to diis issue
later. Now it is dme to introduce an analytical answer to die question 'What
is to be done?'

The analysis This analysis of die issues involved in die management of language learning
is simplified for die sake of exposition. (See Appendix 1 for die same
analysis elaborated into 27 separate points.) It is not intended to be
especially radical or controversial in its division of language teaching and
learning into four main areas. It may be surprising to see 'Guidance' given
a section to itself, but odierwise die content should be familiar and, I hope,
generally uncontroversial. The novelty, if diere is any, consists mainly in

R. L. AUwright
presenting the analysis without reference, at this stage, to 'who should do
what', or 'what should be covered by teaching materials'.

Goals Four main points need to be made about goals:

1 Points of view
In considering goals, at least four different points of view need to be taken
into account.

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Fig. 2. Points of view.
Figure 2 attempts to show, by means of the one-way and two-way arrows,
that language teaching institutions and sponsors may interact and nego-
tiate goals for particular courses, but that language teaching institutions
may impose goals on teachers, and sponsors may impose goals on learners.
Teachers and learners then meet and may also get involved in negotiation
of goals.
2 Types of goals
At least two types need to be distinguished here: goals for oneself and goals
for others. All four 'points of view' represent people or institutions who
must be expected to have personal goals. Teachers wish to develop their
teaching careers, language teaching institutions want to survive financially
and with enhanced prestige, sponsors want to further their own interests,
and learners, we hope, want to learn the language. The first three, however,
have goals for the learners as well as for themselves. They not only have
goals, they may seek to impose those goals on the learners. Hence:
3 Probability of conflict
Given these complications, it is not surprising if a conflict of goals is found.
Teaching materials, of course, are chosen at least partly because of the
learning goals they embody, but these, we know, are not the only goals
involved in the whole management of language learning. This brings us to:
4 Materials may contribute in some way, but they cannot determine GOALS.
The role of teaching materials must then be relatively limited. No matter
how comprehensively the materials cover learning goals, they can never
even 'look after' everything to do with goals, let alone actually determine

Content There are three main points to be made about content, and then four
categories of content to be described (but see Appendix 1 for a more
detailed analysis).
1 Input
We have got used to the input/intake distinction (c.f. Corder, 1967) in
recent years but only in terms of input from the teacher. Learners in class-
rooms, however, listen to each other as well as to the teacher, and are
exposed, potentially, to much more language than is focused on in
teaching. I wish to distinguish between 'what is taught' in the classroom,
and 'what is available to be learned' there, as a result of the interactive

What do we want teaching materialsfor? 7

nature of classroom events. If, for example, the teacher explains some-
thing in the target language, the language of that explanation is available to
be learned. It constitutes potential 'intake'. Similarly, all the things that get
said when errors are being corrected constitute potential intake, as do all
the things said in the target language by other learners.
2 'Emergent' content
If we define 'content' as the sum total of'what is taught' and 'what is avail-
able to be learned', then it becomes clear that 'content' (potential intake) is
not predictable. It is, rather, something that emerges because of the inter-
active nature of classroom events.
3 Materials may contribute in some way, but cannot determine CONTENT.
Again we find that the role of teaching materials is necessarily limited. Even
what learners learn is in an important way independent of die materials

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This notion of content needs further analysis (see Appendix 1) but here I
can simply indicate four main types of content:
a. The target language itself
b. Subject-matter content
This may include knowledge about language in general, about target
language culture, literature, etc. In die ESP (English for specific purposes)
context, subject-matter may be an important part of'what is taught', or it
may be simply die 'carrier' of all the language content.
c. Learning strategies
Part of the content of instruction (bodi diat which is 'taught' and diat
'available to be learned') may be learning strategies, diat is, ways of dealing
widi language input to turn it into intake, or means of generating input (see
Seliger, 1980). Aldiough die learning of learning strategies has not,
traditionally, been an explicit goal of language instruction, it has become,
recently, much more usual to give it emphasis, as in 'study skills' courses
for foreign students, for example. But all courses, not just diose labelled
'study skills', could well aim to help learners widi learning strategies, as an
obvious part of die management of learning. Learners diemselves, of
course, may well want to become better language learners. We shall return
to this issue under die heading 'learner-training' later.
d. Attitudes
It is well accepted diat one of die goals of school language instruction is to
improve die attitudes of speakers of different languages to one anodier.
However seldom this may be achieved, die development of positive inter-
cultural attitudes remains important, but it is not often discussed as part of
die content of instruction. Even where atutudes are not being explicitly
'taught', however, diey are almost certainly 'available to be learned' in any
language classroom, from die teacher and from everyone present. They
include atutudes to learning, of course, and not just language or inter-
cultural atutudes. To summarize, anyone involved in die management of
language learning has necessarily to deal widi atutudes as part of what
learners may learn.
This analysis of CONTENT has pointed to some of die many complexities
involved: enough, I imagine, to reinforce my contention diat not too much
can be expected of teaching materials.

Method Here diere are diree main issues that have to be attended to (decided, acted
upon, reviewed) in die management of language learning.

R. L. Allwright
1 Learning processes
The fundamental question is 'What learning processes should be fostered?'
This is dearly central for all concerned, from curriculum developers to the
learners themselves.
2 Activities
The next question is 'What activities, or what learning tasks, will best
activate the chosen processes, for what elements of content?' A less deter-
ministic version of this question might be 'What activities or learning tasks
will offer a wide choice of learning processes to the learner, in relation to a
wide variety of content options?' This amendment suggests, I think
correctly, that we can neither predict nor determine learning processes, and
therefore perhaps should not try as hard to do so as we usually do in our
teaching materials.

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3 Activity management
The third basic question is 'How can we manage these activities (set up
group work, run simulations, etc.) so that they are maximally profitable?'
(i.e. minimizing the management risks discussed in Allwright, 1978): for
example, who will work best with whom, how long can be allowed for any
particular activity. Such questions may be the subject of suggestions in
teaching materials, but detailed local decisions are clearly beyond the scope
of publications.
Again we come up against die fact diat teaching materials are necessarily
limited in scope. They can, and do, contribute to the management of
language learning, but cannot possibly cope widi many of the important
decisions facing the 'managers' working in their various situations.

Guidance I am using the term 'guidance' to refer to all those things that can be
expected to help people understand what they are doing and how well they
are doing it. The scope of die term dius ranges from the provision of a full-
scale grammatical explanation, to die mere nod from a teacher to signify
acceptance of a learner's pronunciation. It also covers, of course, guidance
about mediod (e.g. instructions for a simulation) as well as about content,
and guidance about appropriate standards of attainment. These are major
issues in die management of language learning, involving decisions, for
example, about die most helpful type of explanadon to offer for given
aspects of die language, and about die type of error treatment diat will help
an individual learner.
Clearly, in die circumstances, there is again a limit to what teaching
materials can be expected to do for us.
This analysis has quite deliberately been presented widiout raising the
important quesdon of'who should do what'. That we can cover in die next
section. Meanwhile, die analysis should have reinforced any doubts diere
might have been about the viability of 'teacher-proof teaching materials!
The whole business of die management of language learning is far too
complex to be satisfactorily catered for by a pre-packaged set of decisions
embodied in teaching materials. This is obvious if we recognize that, while
teaching materials may embody decisions, diey cannot diemselves undertake the
action and die review phases of die management process. Of course very few
writers actually claim diat dieir teaching materials can do everything, but a
surprising number do state diat dieir materials are entirely suitable for the
learner working neidier widi a teacher nor widi fellow learners, and diis
implies strong claims for what die materials can do. In turn it suggests a
possible need for a 'learner's guide' to language learning, of which more

What do we want teaching materialsfor* 9

later. Meanwhile, the main point is that the management of language
learning is inevitably complex.

Implications So far I have delayed answering the question in my title and have pre-
ferred instead to consider a more fundamental question: 'What is diere to
be done in the management of language learning?' In this section I shall
deal with implications for teacher-training, then with those for what I will
call 'learner-training', and finally with implications for materials

Implications for The main implication is clear: if we subscribe to the 'deficiency' view of the
teacher-training role of teaching materials, then we are forced to admit that teaching
materials cannot possibly make up for all our possible deficiencies as

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teachers. Perhaps teacher-training, then, should be based on a 'manage-
ment of language learning' analysis, and should concentrate on those areas
of teacher expertise (like die action and review phases, for example, or the
practical business of classroom interaction management) drat cannot be
safely left to materials. This is hardly a new idea for teacher-trainers, but it
does seem worth emphasizing here.
If that was the only implication for teacher-training of die analysis
presented above, little would have been gained. The analysis, by high-
lighting die complexity of die teacher's job, also sheds light on a common
problem found almost every time diat teachers are observed or observe
diemselves. It is die problem of teacher 'overload'. Teachers, it appears,
seem to do 'all die work', and exhaust diemselves in die process. As
Telatnik noted in die diary she kept as a teacher (Telatnik, 1980) 'I'm
working harder dian they are'. This might not matter, if teachers could
keep up die pace widiout running into trouble, but die evidence (mosdy
informal, but see Allwright, 1975, McTear, 1975 for specific examples)
suggests diat teachers who do so much work in die classroom run foul of a
number of management risks (see Allwright, 1978 for a fuller analysis) and
typically fail to present the language to be learned as clearly as they had
intended (because diey may offer off-die-cuff explanations diat are faulty,
or treat errors inconsistendy, or leave die learners in doubt about what
diey are supposed to be doing, etc.).
The obvious answer would be to offer more training to produce more
efficient classroom teachers who could cope widi die inevitably large
workload widiout falling foul of die risks. If, however, we entertain die
possibility diat teachers are not just doing 'too much' work, but doing
work diat die learners could more profitably be doing for diemselves, die
immediate implication for teacher-training must be diat teachers need to
be trained not to do so much work, and trained instead to get die learners
to do more. Hence die concept of'learner-training', since it is unlikely diat
learners will be able to share die burden widiout some preparadon.

Implications for Teacher 'overload' often entails learner 'underinvolvement' since teachers
learner-training are doing work learners could more profitably do for diemselves. Involve-
ment does not just mean 'activity', however. It is not just diat learners are
not busy enough. 'Involvement' means somediing more akin to Curran's
'investment' (Curran, 1972 and 1976), which suggests a deep sort of
involvement, relaung to die whole-person. This sort of 'whole-person
involvement' should be related not simply to 'participation in classroom
activities' but to participation in decision-making, and in die whole

10 R. L. Aliwright
business of the management of language learning. (It is, after all, their
learning that is being managed.) But we should not expect the learners to
be already expert at the sorts of decision-making (and action and review)
involved in the management of language learning. We must therefore
consider ways of conducting learner-training. Before doing that, however,
there is a further point to be made about the possible benefits of greater
learner-involvement. One of the 'management risks' is 'spoonfeeding', and
this shows up most obviously in the treatment of error: teachers seem to
prefer supplying the correct answer to asking the learner to think again (see
Lucas, 1975; Fanselow, 1977; see Cathcart and Olsen, 1976, for evidence
that learners, as things are, prefer it too). If learners could be trained to
take much more responsibility for identifying and repairing their errors,
for developing their own criteria of correctness and appropriateness, then
we could expect a direct improvement in their language learning. At least

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in this area, then, and no doubt in others as well, the investment of time in
training learners to assume a greater share of management responsibilities
should bring dividends in the short term as well as in the long, both
direcdy and indirectly.
But what ideas do we have for 'learner-training'? Of course, very many
teachers practise 'learner-training' already, but I wish to give ideas for
learner-training the prominence I believe they deserve. Thus, rather than
attempting a comprehensive review of learner-training as currently prac-
tised, I shall instead report on personal experience with a course designed
to foster learner-training and English-language training simultaneously.
In 1978 I was asked, through the British Council, to direct the Polish
Academy of Science's annual three-week 'English seminar' for their
research scientists (who work in the Academy of Science's various research
institutes across Poland). From the outset it was agreed that the course
(repeated in 1979) should be aimed at learner-training, at helping the par-
ticipants become the sort of learners who could effectively go on with their
language learning after the course was over, even if no further courses were
available to them. At the same time it was of course agreed that we should
direcdy help the learners with their English. We could not offer the 'future-
orientation', as we called it, while neglecting the present need.
In planning the course, the first essential was to think of ways of getting
the learners to accept the innovation—a preliminary, but fundamental,
problem of learner-training. What has developed over die two years is
firstly a 'warm-up system' whereby prospective course-members receive, a
few weeks in advance, a letter describing die intended nature of the course
and asking them to come to it having thought about their learning
priorities and their preferred ways of learning English, and some intro-
ductory activities for die start of die course, consisting of 'workshops' at
which participants are given die task of producing personal profiles of their
learning needs, and of dieir preferred language learning strategies (see
Appendices for copies of die profile sheets). These profiles dien constitute
die paper input to interviews of each learner by two of die tutors (one of
whom, for die sake of die less confident learners, is a speaker of Polish). At
diese interviews die priorities emerging from die profiles are discussed, to
make sure we know what die learner intended and to make preliminary
decisions about die learner's learning. At diis stage we tutors only have an
outline structure for die course, in die form of a suggested daily timetable.
The learners are asked if diey can already see how diis structure might
facilitate or frustrate pursuance of dieir personal priorities, and we discuss

What do we want leaching materialsfor* 11

what adaptations might be possible on either side. For example, a person
who wished to get much more writing practice than was allowed for in the
timetable was invited to use Private Consultation Time (described below)
for this purpose. From these workshops and interviews we hope learners
emerge with a clearer idea of what they want from the course and how to
get it (within our necessarily imposed 'future-oriented' scheme). On the
other hand, we tutors emerge ready to meet and take decisions about
grouping the learners, assigning tutors to groups and planning the first
lessons. One of the course-members (the one chosen to be student-
representative) is present at our meeting to help in the important decision-
The second essential element in our course-planning was to find a
course-structure that would offer us and the learners a framework which

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was clear enough to satisfy our need for order, and yet which would be
flexible enough to take into account die fact'that we would not know much
about our learners' needs until die course-members actually assembled.
The structure we developed consisted of three main timetabled elements:
1. Class Time.
2. Self-Access Time.
3. Private Consultation Time.
(There was a fourth element, die writing workshop, which was important in
its own right but less importandy structurally; see below.)
These three elements were given equal time (90 minutes each in a 6 x 45
minute timetable) in the order in which diey are listed above. To meet die
demand for writing work and simultaneously to reduce die demand at any
one time on die self-access facilities, die Self-Access Time alternated daily
widi a writing workshop, so diat half die participants (25 to 30 people)
worked on dieir writing while die remainder used die self-access facilities.
These comprised four rooms: a listening centre, a 'communication room',
a 'language workroom', and a 'reading/writing room'. (The self-access
facilities were also available at untimetabled times in die early afternoons
and diroughout die evenings and weekends.) There were also social activi-
ties each evening, if only films to watch.
The diree timetabled elements were allotted equal time to reflect dieir
equal potential, and also to avoid die implications of die usual bias in
favour of class time. The intention was diat die diree modes of learning
should complement and feed into each odier. 'Class Time' was dierefore
used not only for familiar language learning activities but also as a training
ground for decision-making. (For example, learners were asked as part of
dieir 'homework' to study in groups available texdjooks and select appro-
priate exercises to propose for use in class.) In diis way Class Time was used
to help learners learn how to make best use of Self-Access Time. Individual
or small-group problems diat could not be appropriately dealt widi in class
could be dealt widi by die learners in Self-Access Time, or in Private
Consultation Time, when time could be booked for private discussions
widi die tutors. Our monitoring of what learners chose to do in Self-Access
Time and of what sorts of problems diey brought to us in die Private Con-
sultation Time fed into our decisions about die best ways of spending Class
Time. It was particularly interesting diat often die learners brought learning
problems radier dian language problems to diese Private Consultations. For
example, diey wanted advice on how to deal widi a listening com-
prehension problem after diey had exhausted listening comprehension
materials in our listening centre.

12 R.LAUwright
Halfway through the course we interviewed the learners again to
discover whether they felt that their learning priorities (in terms either of
language or of learning strategies) had changed, whether they found
current course activities profitable, and whether they felt die course was
helping or hindering in any way their pursuance of dieir priorities. Thus we
continued to involve learners in the decision-making, die action based on
diose decisions (aldiough we tutors accepted die greater share of respon-
sibility for die organization and implementation widi respect to class time
and to die course as a whole) and in die reviewing of bodi decisions and
action. We were asking die learners to monitor continuously and evaluate
before taking more decisions. The mid-course review did all diis in a rela-
dvely formal way, but the decision-action-review cycle was of course more
often handled informally, whenever tutors and learners discussed die selec-
don of materials during Self-Access Time, for example.3

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The diird essential task in our planning was to diink ahead to possible
follow-up activities. We could not hope to make our 'future-oriented'
course credible if we gave die future no diought ourselves. In practice,
however, diere was litde we, as visiting tutors, could directly plan. We
could only hope to persuade the Polish Academy of Science and die British
Council of die potential value of making provision for learners who might
be ready to make much greater demands on dieir facilities and supporting
services. No persuasion was in fact needed, and it is good to be able to
report progress in die development of year-round self-access facilities and
die creadon of an English 'club' for Polish Academy scientists wishing to
condnue dieir learning of English in a non-class setdng.4 Widi more money
more could be done, of course, particularly for learners away from the
main centres. We have also evolved a follow-up quesdonnaire (distributed
several mondis after die end of die course) to help us find out what learners
diemselves are doing to build on die diree-week course, and to get their
advice for future courses and follow-up activities.
This Polish Academy of Science course has been described at some
lengdi (diough still very sketchily) to reinforce die point diat learner-
training is a concept widi implicadons diat go well beyond die classroom.
Of particular importance, I believe, are die implications for course struc-
ture, since widiout such changes 'learner-training' may uldmately lack
credibility.5 Also of obvious importance, however, are die implications for
teacher-training, to which I will now return.

Further implications Learner-training is not going to be done well by teachers who believe diat,
for teacher-training since only diey have die necessary expertise, only diey can be allowed a
responsible role in die management of language learning. Teachers need to
be trained to help learners develop dieir expertise as learners. Apart from
die practical problems diis involves, diere is also die problem of what die
teacher is to do widi whatever pegagogic expertise he or she already has.
How can we put our expertise in die business of language learning 'at the
disposal o f die learners, so diat it is neither imposed upon the learners nor
devalued by diem (in dieir new-found independence)? We call teachers
'masters' radier dian 'servants', and yet, in the best traditions of domestic
service, it is servants who have die expertise, as cooks or valets, and so on,
and dieir problem is identical to die teacher's problem as I have outlined
it: how to make dieir expertise available widiout imposing it (because diat
would be presumptuous), and widiout having it devalued (because then
diey would not get the rewards their expertise merited). It may help, then,

What do we want teaching materialsfor? 13

(and it may be salutory for other reasons) to see teachers as 'servants'
rather than as 'masters'. Of course, it is not in the best interests of
domestic servants to train their employers to do without them, but in
education the situation is different: in education, since courses are necess-
arily finite, there is an obvious need for teachers (servants with expertise)
to help their learners become independent of them (to develop their own
expertise as learners) so that they can continue to learn efficiently after the
course is over. In order to achieve this, without either imposing dieir
expertise or having it devalued, I suggest that teachers, in addition to dieir
role as 'activities managers' in die classroom, need to accept the roles of:
1. 'ideas' people, ready widi practical advice about language learning
strategies and techniques, both for classroom and for outside use;
and 2. 'rationale' people, ready to discuss language learning and justify

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their opinions and advice.
These are certainly the qualities we needed as tutors in Poland, especially
during Self-Access and Private Consultation sessions. Somehow, we need
to encourage die development of such qualities in teacher-training. At the
same time we should explore the possibility that there might be a role for
materials writers in all this.

Implications for In the type of language learning described above, we are not going to want,
materials I suggest, materials diat pre-empt many of the decisions learners might be
trained to make for themselves. We are going to need learning materials
radier than teaching materials.
The most obvious and radical form for 'learning materials' to take
would be that of a learners' guide to language learning. It is difficult to find
many examples in publishers' lists at the time of writing, although there is
work in progress. The research so far is by no means conclusive, but any
such guide could profit from die work of Rubin, and of Naiman and his
colleagues (see Rubin, 1975, and Naiman et al, 1977), on die charac-
teristics of die 'good language learner'. One possibility would be a guide to
'independent' language learning, for learners widiout teachers. Such a
guide could include advice on how to establish one's priorities, advice on
die most productive ways of exploiting native speakers and other useful
people (like off-duty teachers), and also advice on die sorts of exercises a
learner might devise for personal use, or perhaps for use with friends. It is
too early to know what problems diere might be in writing such a guide
(aldiough we can predict some, of course) but diat should not prevent us
from exploring die concept.
An alternative learners' guide might be produced for classroom
language learning. Such a guide could include much of the same material
as for independent learners, but would focus on how to exploit die class-
room as a language learning situation widiout making it more difficult for
odier learners to do die same, and widiout antagonizing die teacher; on
how to make full use of die teacher's expertise widiout becoming
dependent upon it, and on how to develop your own expertise as a learner.
At its simplest diis may involve suggesting die sorts of diings learners might
do to obtain repetitions or clarifications of diings said in die classroom.
The difficulties widi such learning materials as commercial publications
might be considerable, if we aimed diem primarily at die 'captive' learner
(who, by definition, has not chosen to study a language) in our state school
systems. It would seem more sensible to aim them at die 'non-captive'
learner, die sort of learner who, in Britain, might buy a 'teach-yourself'

14 R.L. Allumghl
book and/or voluntarily enrol in evening classes. The captive learner is un-
likely to have the strength of motivation required to purchase an extra
book, and may well resent it if such a thing is imposed by the teacher. For
such learners something much less ambitious, probably locally produced,
would seem preferable, something that could be highly specific and there-
fore more directly useful to poorly motivated learners. One possibility, in
such circumstances, would be to make the production of a local guide a
task for one generation of learners for the sake of future generations, who
would then have the task of updating the guide as and when necessary.
Apart from 'learners' guides to language learning' there are other poss-
ibilities for learning materials. If, as I have suggested, the teacher needs to
be an 'ideas' person and a 'rationale' person, there is a potential need for
'ideas' books and 'rationale' books.

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Under the heading of 'ideas books' I suggest we should first include
books full of ideas for content. In circumstances where there is easy access
to 'raw' data in the target language (e.g. newspapers, magazines, etc.) it may
be quite unhelpful to suggest that teachers should look to specialist
language teaching publications for content ideas. But in die many settings
where 'raw' data in die target language is not at all easily available there is
little reason to complain if teachers resort to specialist publications. There
are examples on publishers' lists already6 but diere could be room for
many more perhaps, if teachers demonstrated a willingness to use such
collections of ideas rather than fully predetermined courses.
Another need is for ideas for activities. Although language drills are
'activities' under any general definition, what I have in mind here is more
restricted in scope and biased towards relatively extended activities, for
which we could still use plenty of ideas. Under this heading we could ask
for more published simulations, for example, more role-play ideas, and
more ideas for communication games (but see die British Council work at
ELTI for major contributions in these areas7). Another need is for more
ideas for what I call 'filler' activities, diat is, short, easily interrupted activi-
ties diat die quicker groups can use during group work to supplement
extended activities, while waiting for odier groups to catch up. In my
experience such 'activities ideas materials' (for example the Canadian
'Gambits' materials by Keller and Taba Warner, 1976) can be passed to
learners for them to make dieir own selections (perhaps leaving die teacher
to look after the organizational problems diat arise, once die learners have
made dieir decisions). Again die important point is diat such materials will
flourish on publishers' lists only if teachers are willing to use them in pre-
ference to fully worked out course books.
When we talk about 'rationale books' we are at our furdiest from
'normal' teaching materials, but teachers trying to share management
responsibilities widi dieir learners will need not only 'ideas books' but also
books diat help diem understand die thinking diat lies behind dieir
teaching and dius may help diem explain it to dieir learners. Of course
diere are plenty of books about die general background to language
teaching* but reladvely few deal widi die most recent ideas in a manner diat
is accessible to die majority of teachers.' Again I am not advocating some-
thing new: radier I am trying to draw attention to and reinforce a change
of emphasis diat is already perceptible. It is a change that could perhaps be
producdvely accelerated if its relation to a general change in die concep-
tion of teacher and learner responsibilities for die management of
language learning was more widely accepted.

What do we want teaching materialsfort 15

Summary and I started with a question: 'What do we want teaching materials for?' I
conclusions attempted to answer it through an analysis of what there is to be done in
the management of language learning. This analysis, with its obvious com-
plexity, carried implications for teacher-training that themselves led to the
concept of 'learner-training' as a necessary development if learners are to
share management responsibilities properly.
'Learner-training', I argued, has important structural implications for
language courses, and this point was illustrated from my experience in
Poland. This led to further implications for teacher-training, because of
the difficulties it creates with the teacher's expertise, specifically with how
the teacher can sensibly put his or her expertise at die disposal of the
learners. From this I moved on to consider die implications for materials.
Most obvious here was die change from 'teaching' materials to 'learning'

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materials, leading to support for die notion of 'learners' guides' to
language learning, and for 'ideas' and 'rationale' books for teachers.
Throughout this latter section I was concerned to point out that I was de-
scribing a change already in progress, and attempting to reinforce it and
perhaps accelerate it.
Finally, I should return to my tide. I hope I have dealt with both the
straight and die ironic interpretations of my original question. If I have not
dealt with them satisfactorily, I hope at least I have raised questions diat
odiers will be prompted to pursue. The most important point for me is diat
materials should be related to die conception of die whole of language
teaching and learning as die cooperative management of language
learning. Q
Received October 1980

Notes c. the book ELT Guides No. 1 (Byrne and Rixon,

1 This is based on a paper presented at the Four- eds.): Communication Games, published by NFER.
teendi TESOL Convention, San Francisco, 1980. For further details see the References.
2 See also related work at CRAPEL (Nancy, France) 8 See Corder's Introducing Applied Linguistics, for an
and at the School for International Training excellent example.
(Bratdeboro, Vermont). 9 But see Allen and Unwin's series, edited by Geddes
3 Anyone who knows anything about teaching will and Sturtridge, for example.
know that reality cannot possibly have been so neat.
It was not so neat, but this brief account, for all its References
over-simplification of what was organizationally Alhvright, R. L. 1975. 'Problems in the study of the
very complex, will perhaps indicate what we were language teacher's treatment of learner error' in
trying to do, and what we to some extent succeeded Burt and Dulay (eds.). New Directions in Second
in doing. There are numerous practical problems Language Learning, Teaching and Bilingual Education.
involved in the introduction of such a course struc- TESOL. 96-109.
ture. We think we sorted out a lot of them, but Allwright, R. L. 1976. 'Putting cognitions on the map:
many remain unsolved. an attempt to model the role of cognitions in
4 See Ruth Hok's 'Some thoughts on study circles and language learning' in Povey (ed.). Workpapers m
their potential for language teaching' in TESOL Teaching English as a Second Language Vol. X (June):
Quarterly, March 1980. 1-14. UCLA.
5 At the same dme, those who cannot make radical Allwright, R. L. 1978. 'Abdication and responsibility
structural changes should not be discouraged from in language teaching' in Studies m Second Language
trying 'piecemeal reforms' and finding ways of Acquisition Vol. 11/1:' 105-121.
making them credible to their learners. Allwright, R. L. 1979. "ESP and classroom manage-
6 Swan's Kaleidoscope and Spectrum come first to mind. ment: the role of teaching materials'. Paper pre-
7 Of special interest are: sented at the Second Latin American ESP Regional
a. the issue of ELT Documents devoted to Games, Conference, Cocoyoc, Mexico.
Simulations and Role - Playing (\9111 \); Bridsh Council. 1977. ELT Documents 77/1: Games,
b . the film Communication Games in a Language Simulations and Role-Playing.
Programme j Bridsh Council. 1979. Communication Games in a

16 R. L. Allwnght
16 Selection of learning processes to be em- (FREQUENCY — ) , but it is very important when it
ployed/exploited. does (IMPORTANCE ++). You may feel that it is
17 Selection of learning activities/tasks to be em- necessary to be very good at English (PROFICIENCY
ployed/exploited. REQUIRED ++) in order to write scientific papers,
18 Allocation of time. and you may feel that, at present, your own pro-
19 Allocation of people. ficiency (for writing) is much lower (PROFICIENCY
20 Allocation of space. NOW -). You may be absolutely certain of this (CON-
21 Sequencing. FIDENCE ++ because you have just been trying to
write a paper and have found it extremely difficult.
D. Guidance
'Guidance' refers to information about die goals of
the course, the target content, and about die learners' • + very high - low Name .
mastery of it all. It will also cover instructions about + high — very low
learning activities and tasks. 0 medium Date ....
22 Explanations/descriptions of goals, all types of
content, and of learning activities/tasks.

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23 Cues/hints to draw attention to criterial features of
target content.
24 Immediate yes/no feedback (knowledge of results).
f I* I
25 Evaluations of learner progress (including tests).
26 The timing of 22- 25 (exactly when to do what).
27 The setting of standards of performance for all
aspects of target content, and for classroom
behaviour in general.

Appendix two Learning activity/strategy/technique

++ very high - low Name What do you actually do in order to learn ?
+ high —very low Frequency- How often do you do it ?
0 medium Date ... Enjoyment- How much do you enjoy/like doing it?
Usefulness- How much does it help you ?
Efficiency- How good/efficient are you at doing it?
•p f. Are you getting die most out of die
3 activity?
Needs I mi l The author
Dick Allwright lectures on Applied Linguistics at die
University of Lancaster. His teaching career started
with EFL in Sweden, followed by study at Edinburgh
University. For twelve years now he has been teaching
postgraduate applied linguistics, specializing in
psychological and socio-psychological aspects of
Need- What do you use English for? language teaching and learning.
What do you do with English ? He has worked on short courses and seminars in a
Frequency— How often do you have this par- good many countries, and spent a whole year as
ticular need ? Assistant Professor in the TESL Section of die Univer-
Importance- How important is it to you (pro- sity of California at Los Angeles. He is a member of
fessionally and/or personally) to TESOL's Research Committee, and co-chairperson of
perform well in diis situation ? the Colloquium on Classroom-Centred Research diat
Proficiency required- How good is it necessary to be at is becoming a regular feature of each TESOL National
English to perform well in the Convention.
situation? His research has increasingly focused on die role of
Proficiency now- How good are you already? the learner and die possible benefits of increased
Confidence— How sure are you about your learner involvement in managing die learning process,
judgement of your own pro- but his interest in improving die quality of learning via
ficiency? radical changes in classroom practice is rooted in die
For example: belief that understanding what goes on in classrooms
You may need to be able to write scientific papers in is in many ways more important than changing what
English. Perhaps diis does not happen very often goes on.

18 R. L. AUwright
Language Programme. Film and Notes for Teacher A. Goals
Trainers. Materials may or may not embody a fixed set of aims
Bryne, D. & S. Rixon. 1979. ELT Guides No. 1: Com- and objectives. Some materials serve highly specific
munication Games. British Council/NFER. aims and are difficult to use for other purposes. Other
Cathcart, R. L. &: J. W. B. Olsen. 1976. Teachers' and materials are much more flexible and consist of ideas
students' preferences for correction of classroom that can be exploited for a variety of purposes. The
conversation errors' in Fanselow and Crymes (eds.). teaching, whether helped by the materials or not, must
On TESOL 1976. TESOL. reflect the relative weightings assigned to the aims, and
Corder, S. Pit. 1967. The significance of learners' also attend to the sequencing of objectives.
errors' in International Review of Applied Linguistics 1 Long-term aims.
5/4: 161-170. 2 Short-term objectives.
Corder, S. Pit. 1973. Introducing Applied Linguistics. 3 Relative weightings.
Penguin Modern Linguistics Texts. 4 Sequencing.
Curran, C. A. 1972. Counseling-Learning: A Whole-Person
Modelfor Education. Grune and Stratton. B. Content

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Curran, C. A. 1976. Counseling-Learning in Second What we teach is of course the 'language' but this
Languages. Illinois: Apple River Press. needs a lot of further analysis, because we may also
Fanselow, J. 1977. The treatment of error in oral want to teach (and/or learners may want to learn)
work' in Foreign Language Annals, Vol. 10/4. features of target language discourse, and features of
Geddes, M. & G. Sturtridge (eds.). 1980. Practical the target culture. Also we may include subject-matter
Language Teaching Series. Hemel Hempstead: Allen from other disciplines (as in ESP). Some of the
subject-matter we use may be there just to carry the
and Unwin.
language practice, and not to be learned (e.g. con-
Hok, R. 1980. 'Some thoughts on study circles and
versation topics, or the content of drill items).
their potential for language teaching'. TESOL
Quarterly Vol. 14/1: 117-119. 5 Target language content.
Keller, E. & S. Taba Warner. 1976. Gambits (three 6 Target discourse content.
volumes: Openers, Links and Responders and Closers).7 Target cultural content.
Public Service Commission, Ottawa. 8 Target subject-matter content.
Lucas, E. 1975. Teachers' Reacting Moves following 9 'Carrier' content.
Errors made by Pupils in Post-primary English-as- What we teach may also include selected learning
a-Second Language Classes in Israel'. Unpublished strategies and techniques, because we may want our
M.A. Thesis, Tel Aviv University. learners to be better learners after whatever course we
McTear, M. F. 1975. 'Potential sources of confusion in are giving them, so that they can carry on learning
foreign language lessons: the rules of the game'. effectively, perhaps even without a teacher.
Paper presented at the Fourth International 10 Target learning strategies to be developed.
Congress of Applied Linguistics, Stuttgart. 11 Target learning techniques to be developed.
Naiman, N., M. Frohlich, H. H. Stern, and A. What we teach may also include attitudes, in the sense
Todesco. 1977. The Good Language Learner. OISE, that we would hope our learners would develop
Toronto. positive attitudes towards both their current learning
Rubin, J. 1975. 'What the "good language learner" and their future use and learning of the target
can teach us'. TESOL Quarterly Vol. 9/1: 41 -51. language, etc.
Seliger, H. W. 1980. 'Second language acquisition: the 12 Target attitudes.
question of strategies'. Paper presented at the Third Lastly, after selection, matters of weighting, of timing,
Los Angeles Second Language Research Forum. and of sequencing have to be attended to.
Swan, M. 1979. Kaleidoscope. Cambridge: Cambridge 13 Assignment of weightings to all elements of
University Press. content.
Swan, M. 1979. Spectrum. Cambridge: Cambridge 14 Assignment of time to all elements of content.
University Press. 15 Sequencing.
Telatnik, M. A. 1980. The intensive journal as a tool
C. Method
to identify and illustrate ESL teacher/teaching Determining how all the various elements of content
variables in the classroom'. Paper presented to the are to be learned is obviously a complex matter and
Third Annual Colloquium on Classroom-Centred involves thinking about the learning processes to be
Research, at the TESOL Convention, San Francisco. employed, the activities or tasks that will draw upon
those processes, and about how to relate content, in all
Appendix one its complexity, to the activities or tasks. Then the
The twenty-seven point management analysis aaual performance of the activities or tasks has itself
Language teaching analysis to be thought about: the amount of time needed, the
The role of the teacher and the role of the teaching materials nature of the groupings, etc.

What do we want teaching materialsfor? 17