Language Skills and Materials Development Chapter

Excerpt from Chapter :

TESOL classroom? What is their function?

Materials are critical in regards to the TESOL classroom. In many instances, individuals are learning a language that can often be convoluted and confusing. Materials help classroom participants to synthesize the appropriate materials in a manner that is relevant to them. Materials also provide a tangible study aid for students. Materials in the TESOL classroom can be brought home for further study and practice. While at home, the student is not constrained by time. The student using the TESOL study materials can better focus on problem areas while at home and in the presence of family members.

Materials also provide aid to students who learn in a different manner than their more traditional counterparts. For example, some students are visual learners while other rely on thorough practice. Through the use of materials, students who learn in varying manners are better able to learn difficult concepts.

Finally, there is a cultural component that underpins all teachers of English to foreign students. In many instances, foreign students develop cognitive and learning abilities based on cultural influences. For example, Asian cultures tend to be collectivistic in nature. These culture do not emphasize individualism as it relates to the group. This is in stark contrast to western society that emphasizes individual merit and achievement. As a result of these cultural influences, students learning the same material can learn and comprehend in varying ways. Through the use of materials, instructors can take advantage of these differences by using materials that aid in the individuals development.

The function of materials is to help facilitate the learning of individuals within the classroom settings. Lesson activities for example, could include games, puzzles, and warm-ups. Materials can also help individuals teach and practice each of the core skills of language learning: speaking, listening, writing, reading, grammar, and vocabulary. These activities can be used as a component of a lesson, as homework for extra practice, or they can be developed into a complete lesson

What do language teachers take into consideration when developing materials? What makes good materials? Cite some of your own criteria for selecting, adapting and designing materials.

Developing materials can vary depending on the teacher. For example, certain teachers has skills and abilities that they excel at while others have abilities that need to be developed. When constructing materials, teachers must be cognizant of their strengths and abilities as it relates to the implementation of classroom materials. Second, teachers must be aware of the cultural influences that are pervasive within the classroom setting. As mentioned above, materials must cater towards the cultural influences that are relevant within the classroom setting.

Good materials should enhance the overall learning of the student. Materials should not be "busy work" that only functions to keep students from asking relevant questions. Instead materials should help facilitate learning and help engage students. English in particular is a very confusing language to learn. Therefore, students are apt to become frustrated. Materials should make learning interesting and engage students in situations that they will encounter in real life.

My own criteria for selecting, adapting and designing materials is very straightforward. I ask myself if the materials presented will enhance, or detract from the student's ability to learn. If the materials enhance the students learning, how does this occur? I attempt to pinpoint exactly how the student will benefit from utilizing the materials presented. In addition, I prefer material that are useful well beyond the initial exercise. Materials that allow students to refer back to them for further guidance are particular useful. Materials that have longevity and can be utilized in a variety of settings allows students to continually benefit.

Think back to several writing courses you have ever taken, or to writing classes you have observed, or classes you have taught in which writing activities took place. Identify some of the components that were found in each and every one of these courses.

Many of the more successful writing courses have similar components to them. The successful writing courses that I have taken were engaging. Many course merely recite the contents of the text book with little emphasis on engaging students. The successful courses however engage students in a manner that encourages continual learning. Assignments for example allowed for flexibility and creativity in regards to content. Students were allowed to discuss and talk about topics that are relevant to them in a manner that is conducive to learning. Feedback was also a vital component to many of the more successful writing courses. Instructors provided constructive feedback that encouraged students to learn and to become more productive. Feedback is very critical to writing classes and students often have vary different styles of expression and writing. Finally, an openness was pervasive within the classroom setting. I mentioned above about the cultural influences that are within a particular class. Success instructors realize this and embed culture into their overall instruction. Students through synergy can learn better from one another. By allowing controversial topics to be written…

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