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Glenski



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 164
Location: Sapporo, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2004 1:35 am    Post subject: some stats on this forum Reply with quote

I happen to have time on my hands today, so I thought I'd do a little math on this page.

Despite textbooks being a necessary evil in most classrooms, it is obvious that there is a glaring deficit of input (or source of input) on this topic.

To date:
43 messages posted with 44 replies
however, 24 messages with zero replies!

7442 people have read these messages = 0.6% response rate

Do people have nothing to offer? The interest is obviously there.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2004 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it interesting to see what everyone is asking about, but I stopped using textbooks because they never really did what I wanted. So I'm not much help. Twisted Evil
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Chercheuse



Joined: 27 May 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2004 10:38 pm    Post subject: Response to Lorikeet - Bypassing textbooks Reply with quote

Lorikeet,

You mentioned you don't use many textbooks in class because they don't offer what you need. I just wanted to brainstrom with you about what you do instead. Actually, I haven't been reading these forums regularly so I don't know exactly who and what you teach, which of course influences how you approach your ESL class. What I'd like to brainstorm is techniques that you use to 1) deliver information and 2) have students practice what you've taught that don't require a textbook or extensive handouts from the teacher.

Some of my thoughts on the issue (Warning: I'm long-winded but thorough:)) : After having been in intensvie English programs and academic preparation programs for the bulk of my ESL career, I 've been doing more vocational ESL with immigrant students the past few years. More than ever, textbooks do not fit the bill, and I am left to discover for myself what and how to teach students. I find this interesting and enjoyable, but it also poses more challenges and takes more preparation time and often more class time too.

One of the problems I have found is that I feel like I go more slowly (and so students progress less quickly in my view) when I don't have a textbook for students (or I don't create a textbook for them with a lot of self-written handouts). Let's say I use the whiteboard to introduce a grammar point or a set of vocabulary words. The students have to spend time copying it, which certainly isn't a waste of time, but I figure there might be better things they could do with that time (like do an actual written or spoken exercise using what I have presented.) And, of course, they often don't copy the words right. If I want them to do a grammar or reading exericse or practice a dialogue, again, I would have to spend a bit of time writing it up there on the board, as there often isn't any kind of projector. The boards I get are really not big enough for anything more than a short exercise and students would have to spend time copying it off the board or continuously look up at it. Well, I'm sure you get my point.

It just seems easier and more productive to center the class around a textbook that everyone has access to. But as I mentoned, there is no textbook for what I need to do (and no doubt, I probably wouldn't be entirely pleased with it even if there were Smile )

To get around these obstacles, I find myself essentially writing a textbook for them, which as you know is a lot of work! I like doing it and I think what I've done is effective, but it's hard to constantly produce, produce, produce before every class.


I'm not an inexperienced teacher, but I'd love to hear your or anyone's ideas about successful techniques that you use in class to bypass textbooks and/or extensive written handouts.

By the way, Lorikeet, I teach in San Francisco too.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2004 1:48 am    Post subject: Re: Response to Lorikeet - Bypassing textbooks Reply with quote

Chercheuse wrote:
Lorikeet,

1) deliver information and 2) have students practice what you've taught that don't require a textbook or extensive handouts from the teacher.


Ah, but I didn't say I didn't use handouts Wink. It's just that I don't like being restricted by what's in a book. I like to do it my own way. Last semester I had a CALL class that spent two days a week in the computer lab. For that class, I used my webpage as the basis, had everyone do the same activities (Ones that I wrote, or ones that I linked to) for about a half hour, and then had a set of links to various websites, where they went to answer the questions I gave them on handouts. (If you are interested, the class website is still up at http://fog.ccsf.edu/~lfried/current.html even though the semester has ended.)

On the other three days, we went to a regular classroom. I had them buy an ESL dictionary (Oxford is the one I used) and I had exercises I wrote in which they worked in pairs and used the dictionary to do lessons about idioms, prefixes, and dictionary meanings. For those exercises, after we corrected them, I passed out the answers on a piece of paper so they didn't have to spend time writing them. I gave dictations, concentrating on listening to the linking and reductions in American English, had them talk in groups about various topics, then had them write a paragraph the next day, and put the student writing on the Internet so they could all read each other's. I also had them work in pairs to arrange a conversation that was cut in strips, and to do "scrambled sentences." I wrote study sheets for the grammar, and gave them homework I corrected in class.

This summer I have to prepare a different level. I know it's like writing a book, but at least if I don't like it I will have no one to blame but myself Very Happy.

Chercheuse wrote:
...Let's say I use the whiteboard to introduce a grammar point or a set of vocabulary words. The students have to spend time copying it, which certainly isn't a waste of time, but I figure there might be better things they could do with that time (like do an actual written or spoken exercise using what I have presented.) And, of course, they often don't copy the words right. If I want them to do a grammar or reading exericse or practice a dialogue, again, I would have to spend a bit of time writing it up there on the board, as there often isn't any kind of projector. The boards I get are really not big enough for anything more than a short exercise and students would have to spend time copying it off the board or continuously look up at it. Well, I'm sure you get my point.


I don't know what the copy situation is where you are, but I am lucky in that I'm not restricted in how many things I copy, as long as I do it ahead of time. I often have them work on something without a paper, and tell them they will get the paper at the end, so they don't have to spend time copying. They just have to spend time understanding and working on it. So I'd have a list of the vocabulary I was teaching ready to hand out after the lesson was finished. I do it that way because if I give them the paper first, they will have their noses buried in it. On the other hand, I sometimes give something first if I think they will want to write a lot on it. I use an overhead projector extensively, instead of writing on the blackboard. I find it saves me a lot of time.

Chercheuse wrote:

I find myself essentially writing a textbook for them, which as you know is a lot of work! I like doing it and I think what I've done is effective, but it's hard to constantly produce, produce, produce before every class.


I agree about writing a textbook. I usually plot out the whole semester before it starts, planning what I'm going to cover, and writing material. Sometimes I finish it all before the semester starts. Other times, I have a portion done, and I have to write during the semester. I usually teach the same course for a few semesters, so after the first semester it's more a question of fine tuning than of starting from scratch. If I'm lucky, I only get class changes over the summer, when I have more time to prepare.

Chercheuse wrote:


By the way, Lorikeet, I teach in San Francisco too.


Wow! Maybe I even know you Very Happy
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2004 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't use textbooks either but I know what I like about textbooks. Everyone has the same information on the same page so you can say, "Look at page 32 for an example of that." There are topics that the students can see in the Index, they can see a progression and building of the material as it flows from one thing to another (though of course this is often not appropriate for the students you have). Students can read ahead and see where you are going. There is a defined amount of work and they can see the end. They get used to a style of working promoted by the textbook and then can do similar work from year to year if the school uses graded versions of the textbook. They feel a certain satisfaction in having finished Blue Cat 8 and going onto Blue Cat 9. They get coloured pictures. The printing is clear and consistant and the layouts are usually catchy. The parents can see that they have something to accomplish and can see the assignments needing to be done and feel their tax money has brought something solid. If the students transfer to another school they will have the same textbook and not be out of step. There is a teacher's manual with extra ideas and exercises. There is an exam manual to help with the oral exams. The topics of the written exams are based on the topics in the textbooks. They cover the grammar points over the year so nothing is missed (I'm sure you could argue long and hard about this). Everyone reads the same stories so you can have shared knowledge for discussions.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Of course, then you could take the opposite view which I do, and say that the topics are rarely relevant to the students because the textbooks are two or more years behind the times, the pictures are culture sensitive as are the topics, the books can be misused because they are given to the wrong levels, you have different levels in your class always and so they are too simple for some and too difficult for others and on and on. It is why we make our materials.

But I try to remember the good points of textbooks and once in awhile get pictures in colour to put on up on their class bulletin boards, make sure the copy quality is good, put page numbers on them for their binders so they can look up a certain page and so they know it is important to keep these pages I copy, give them an outline of the course so they know where they are going once we have negotiated it together at the beginning of the semester, have clear titles and shared stories with the whole class (we have to do at least 50 pages of reading of the same thing), have a list of grammar points to be covered that they can check off and a calendar of due dates for assignment for their parents at the front of the binders. I make sure I give the students the textbook as extra reading in case they do switch schools. They can have worksheets as extra homework as well and mark them themselves from the teacher's manual. I always leave the teacher's manual in the classroom (they can read it as it is in Danish and Greenlandic and there are a lot of translation exercises that I couldn't correct). Some students chose stories from the textbook for their topics for their portfolios. I encouraged graffitti and their own art work throughout their binders to make it more catchy.

We make a vocabulary list at the back like they have in the books and they have to check off if they know and can use all the words in the textbook vocabulary list. We use those for our Arctic English Winter Games.
We made a title page and put all our names as authors and the year of 2004 and a class picture.
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