Este material analiza el uso de distintos materiales (libros de textos, audios de canciones o diálogos, videos y cuadernillos de actividades) para enseñar a los alumnos a comunicarse en inglés.

How can we drive our learners to communicate?

There are many ways, but one is surely the result of the materials we use: the textbook.

But they cannot perform the miracle on their own. They need help. What kind of help would be required, then?

The kind of help required is rather obvious, and it has to do with what a teacher can get from a textbook, basically, and from other resources, like songs, audio, videos and their teacher guides (if any), books on activities and the like.

Have you identified any already? Are any of these being used in your classroom? Are they in use? If, so. What?/Which?

If one focuses on the textbook, there are a number of requirements the textbook must comply with. Let's see if we can give a few examples.

In this respect, the obvious answers are: a sensible grammatical grading, suitable contexts, interesting, motivating, cognitively engaging subject-matter, functional activities, good ideas for recycling, effective suggestions for reinforcement and correction, suitable samples for testing, good illustrations, attractive subject-matter and layout, a low price, so that learners do not opt for making photocopies…

Some authors discuss the relationship between the textbook, the learner and yourself as a kind of inseparable trio that fares the whole year. Other authors go to the extreme of postulating a «marriage relationship» between the teacher and the textbook, which is not supposed to last a lifetime a whole school year… At least!

How do you feel about the textbook you use?

Faithful? Unfaithful? Disrespectful?

And when you choose your textbook, do you take into account some of the following criteria?

Does the textbook you're going to use/you're using,

  • offer clear guidelines as to how it can be used?
  • focus on relevant topics for your learners?
  • make its objectives explicit to you? To your learners?
  • make provision for the diversity of learner backgrounds, learning styles and personal rhythms?
  • take account of learner beliefs, prior knowledge and social and cultural conceptions?
  • allow learners their own learning pace?
  • include successful pieces for presentation of new material (language, communication, topics)?
  • faster recall, recycling and integration of previous learning?
  • provide suitable (relevant, functional) contexts of learning?
  • offer a suitable linguistic and communicative sequencing?
  • include a variety of relevant samples of language, texts, situations, topics and the like?
  • provoke reflection on what is being learnt and on how it is being learnt?
  • take account of your learners as active catalysts of language and knowledge area content?
  • give feedback to your learners?
  • help learners to make their own connections, conclusions and contributions?
  • make connections with other materials that can be used?

    And then,

  • Is it attractive as a textbook?
  • Does it provide you with material that appropriately fits into the existing learning context?
  • Are you happy with it? Are your learners happy with it?

As a possible activity on the choice of textbook you might carry out a survey among your learners. You might present them with a series of questions drawn from the ones above, and you might add others, for example relating to characters' age and ways of reacting in social situations. That might be a clue as to what your learners feel about the textbook they use every day.

And then you might include other ancillary materials, like songs, oral narrations, videos, extra activity books.

Can you measure the effect on your teaching and on your students’ learning?


HARMER, J. (1998). How to Teach English. London: Longman.


Publicado: 20 de enero de 2015

Última modificación: 26 de febrero de 2015



Área / disciplina

Lenguas Extranjeras




Material pedagógico






comunicación oral

comunicación escrita


comunicación audiovisual




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