Published 23rd October 2017

You’d think as teachers of English as a Foreign Language that we have enough on our plates, what with having to deal with discipline, learner motivation and classroom management, just to name a few issues. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to do even more to make our lessons more effective. This is the reason so many TEFL teachers find themselves creating and developing their own materials to supplement their classroom coursebook.

Coursebooks have their advantages (and disadvantages) but sometimes it’s necessary to add something extra into your lessons, to tweak the coursebook materials or just to do something completely different. Maybe a particular unit in the coursebook is not particularly relevant to your students, maybe an activity is a bit too easy or too complicated or maybe you know your students are not interested in reading about a man with an extensive doll collection; whatever the reason, writing your own materials is a great way to bring your own flavour into the classroom.

The question is, how can you do it well?

Three Tips for writing your own materials

Consider your EFL students

The biggest benefit about creating your own EFL materials is that you have free rein over the content, format, activities – everything. It makes sense, then, to create materials which are relevant and interesting to your students. So that’s the first step: Make sure your materials are on a topic which your students will find engaging and make sure your activities are appropriate and exciting. This means that you need to get to know your students and also that not all of your materials will work with all of your classes.

Check the level

Again, this is something that will be different for each class you teach. Always keep the level of your students in mind when writing your materials to ensure that they are not too easy or too difficult. You want to maintain a certain level of challenge without overwhelming or underwhelming your students with the difficulty level. If you’re unsure of whether or not you’re pitching at the right level, use your coursebook as a guide. You can compare any texts you are using with those in the coursebook and check the language in comparison to the language dealt with in the coursebook.

Find an editor

Finally, before you use your materials, ask a colleague or a teaching friend to edit and proofread your work. Let them check not only for typos but also for clarity of instructions and the logic behind your activities. If you spend a lot of time working on your materials it can be quite difficult to look at them from an objective point of view at the end so it helps to have a fresh set of eyes look at it.

Making your own materials is a great way to supplement your usual classroom materials and being able to create engaging and effective materials is an essential skill for a TEFL teacher. If you’ve never done it before, give it a go but make sure you follow these three easy steps to ensure you create the best materials possible.