Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book or No Book?

There is a lot of debate in the ESL/EFL world about this. I've done both and can see quite a few disadvantages and advantages for either side.

Using a textbook in class:

-obviously, it's easier for the teacher in most cases, unless you are one of those organized people who has a whole file folder system with lessons and things. I'm not one of those people.

-the students can get a more systematic overview of a certain topic, because a well-thought out book will cover the basics.

-it can be motivating for students to finish a book.

Using no textbook in class:

-the lessons can be tailored to the student's needs.

-it can be more interesting because even the best books get old after a while.

Overall thoughts:

I almost always prefer a textbook, because I am perhaps a little bit lazy. Not lazy in the sense that I don't prep, I ALWAYS prepare thoroughly for every class that I teach. But I mean that if I have a book, and I've taught it before or am familiar with the system, I can plan for an hour long class in 10-15 minutes. If I have no book and I'm doing my own thing, it will generally take over 30 minutes to prepare since I'm searching around on the internet and through my old handouts and stuff. This adds up when I usually teach over 20 and perhaps closer to 25 hours each semester.

I also prefer a textbook because I think it's much more systematic. Now, I think that I have a fairly good idea of what I'm doing in terms of teaching ESL, but I certainly don't have the desire to reinvent the wheel. If someone has spent months/years putting a well-thought out textbook together, why would I not take advantage of someone else's labor? Of course, I can mix my own ideas in as well and then the students get the best of both worlds. And this keeps it interesting as well and prevents the boredom of doing the same book, all the time.

What do you think?

1 comment:

John from Daejeon said...

For those who truly want to learn, not only do you need a good textbook, but you also need a good workbook to put what you've been taught into practice while it is still fresh. Most won’t have the opportunity to put the language into use unless they are totally immersed in it. Additional materials, like reading books and newspapers and watching TV and films, help to re-enforce language acquisition as the phrase, "use it or lose it," is spot on in this instance. It’s not like getting back on a bicycle after a really long time.