Today, I want to explain a bit more why we choose to write our own materials. I want to state, from the off, that we’re not anti-course books, not at all. They are, and continue to be, a great resource to us.
Of course, like with everything, course books, come with their upsides and downsides; it’s the latter that we hope to get around with our own materials.
UP-TO-DATE TOPICS - We started writing our own material in response to Sts being a bit bored of topics about ‘going out’ or chatting about ’natural disasters’…they wanted real-world conversation about something that happened last week, last month, even last year. They wanted to learn and activate that language to discuss these topics with their colleague while making a brew or sipping one down the pub. So, that’s how it started…
PARSNIPS - Have you noticed that your students are fans of Netflix and books, just like you? Yea! Me too! Course books tend to avoid PARSNIPS - we don’t - in fact, thinking about our own students and speaking clubs, we tend to head towards them. Of course, all classes are different (that should be borne in mind) - our Sts however wanted to talk about those contentious topics - politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics, isms and pork… because that’s what they talk about in their L1 and they want to have a voice on those things in English too.
(I want to add, we know that there are certain no-go areas - upsetting your Sts is one of them!)
INCLUSIVENESS - We feel that course books lack inclusiveness. There seems to be an assumption that all English learners are all white upper middle-classed, heterosexual, jet-setters with a buzzing social-life - (haha remember what socialising is?! - F-you COVID!). English learners come in all shapes, sizes, genders and socio-economic background - we want to try acknowledge and represent them - and to give language that's meaningful to how they're going to actually use it. We’re still learning how to write more inclusive materials and if you have any tips, send them my way.
PRONUNCIATION - well, the model that tends to be given in a course book is standard American or RP. I get it - it’s a good model to use when your books are being published all around the world. However, in our experience, we think Sts lack exposure to all varieties of English. The videos we use are not pre-scripted for a course book. The people in the videos use their real voices, real language and speak at a real pace.
This all comes with a caveat - some of our material, is only for adults because in some countries I could be dragged to court for propagating certain topics to under-18s.
So, what else are we missing? What else should we be considering? I look forward to knowing more!
Finally - nod nod, wink wink - if this kind of thing sounds good to you - check out our website and our growing-number of lexically-rich worksheets with real-world videos, authentic readings - all complete with teacher’s guide.