The textbooks, such as English File and Headway, are just made for new EFL teachers. You still have to plan your lessons, but the guesswork is taken out of planning. The topics and activities in the textbooks are tried-and-tested material. Published material, such as this, certainly has its advantages.
But don’t get too dependent on just the textbook. You should include authentic material in your lessons, such as newspapers, advertisements, menus, sets of instructions, etc. And here’s why:
1. After a while, textbooks can get boring to students. Even though the topics are well varied, they are often presented in the same way.
2. Sometimes students come to an EFL class in your school only to find that they already used this textbook in a previous language school. Then what are you going to do if that’s all you’re relying on?
3. Textbooks may not appeal to everyone’s style. Some students tire of practicing grammar on worksheets over and over. Some students may prefer more real-life material in English-like an article out of today’s newspaper.
4. Textbooks may not be relevant to a student’s life and background. Some EFL textbooks don’t include enough cultures that may be represented by the actual students in your class. Then some students may feel the book is irrelevant as a teaching tool.
5. Textbooks are expensive. Some students don’t stay long enough in the class to justify them buying the book. Typically, the stay for an EFL student ranges from a couple of weeks up to three months. Someone only staying a couple of weeks may resent having to buy the book.
6. One of the strongest reasons for not depending entirely on the textbook is that there can be a lot of repetition if a student moves from one class in the same level to another. For example, if you have an advanced student in Class A and that student has to move into Class B with a teacher using the same textbook, the student may find him/herself going over the same chapters from the previous class. In order to prevent this repetition from one class to another, teachers who primarily use the textbook have to literally be on the same page all the time. And this is almost impossible to do-as each class, even on the same level, moves at its own pace through the book.
So use the textbook in your EFL classes as a foundation for your lessons, especially if you’re a new teacher. But as you gain experience, bring in some material from the real English-speaking world. It’s more challenging for both you and your students-but also more fun.
Ilene Springer teaches EFL in Malta and is author of An-American-in-Malta.com.