A Terrible ESL Textbook: Here’s How it Happens
I’m sure we’ve all been there. We’re given a terrible ESL textbook that most fittingly belongs in the trash. It certainly doesn’t belong in the hands of our students, who’ve done nothing to deserve this fate, nor does it belong in the hands of the teacher, who has plenty of better things to do with their time than make something terrible work. It usually is the result of administrators designing courses, which isn’t so terrible, unless they’ve never actually set foot in the classroom before. They’re at a total loss, but are often scared to admit this and ask for help in choosing a textbook from the teachers.
A Terrible ESL Textbook: Here’s What to Do
Don’t use it. Unfortunately, I know, that’s usually not an option. (“The parents have already paid for it!”) That’s okay. You can visibly use parts of each chapter and supplement it with more useful materials. Look critically at each lesson for something salvageable: theme, vocabulary, grammar, etc. Take what you can use and find or create related materials to actually teach them. If the dialogues are riddled with errors, create your own as a model, and have students make and perform dialogues. If the activities are too easy or difficult, modify them accordingly. As long as your students are opening their books each class and writing something in them sometimes, you are “using the book.”
Nobody Will Notice, Trust Me
I’ve been given a lot of garbage to work with, but I’ve never been taken to task for adding to it. As long as I followed the expected time frame and taught the vocabulary and grammar presented, no one ever noticed that’s all I was using the book for. As with so many things, appearances count. It is enough just to look like you are using the required textbook.
Want some Textbooks that Aren’t Trash?
Here are some of my favourite ESL textbooks that can check out if you’re lucky enough to choose your own!
More Tips and Tricks for the ESL Classroom?
This advice about making a terrible ESL textbook work is from the book: ESL Classroom Management Tips and Tricks-For Teachers of Students Ages 6-12. It’s available on Amazon in both print and digital formats and it’s going to make your teaching life easier, guaranteed. If you read this book and don’t pick up at least 3 tips and tricks to make your classroom run more smoothly and effectively, get in touch with me and I’ll refund your money.