Published 5th December 2017

lot of TEFL teachers have a love-hate relationship with the coursebook. We love to have one but we often don’t actually like using it.

The good thing about coursebooks is that they provide a structure to our lessons and give us an accurate way of assessing our learners’ levels. On the downside, coursebooks can be outdated or irrelevant, and following a coursebook to a T is a sure way to destroy any kind of motivation in your classroom.

Is there a way we can utilise the good parts of a coursebook while ignoring the bad bits?

Of course there is!

Here are 5 ways you can adapt the coursebook to make the most of it:

Supplement the texts

Coursebooks are usually organised thematically. Each unit will have a theme around which the listening, reading, writing and speaking texts are organised. Try to find other texts which fit the theme which you can add to your lessons, preferably authentic texts. Using audio or video clips can make even the most bland topic interesting.

Replace the texts

The other option available to you if a particular text is uninspiring, irrelevant or inappropriate is to replace the text altogether. If you can find a relatively similar text which would be better suited for your students, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it and construct your own activities to go with it.

Personalise the activities

Coursebooks use generic prompts for their activities. There is no need to make your students read instructions in a coursebook when it can be much simpler for you to explain what needs to be done and demonstrate with a personal example. You are doing the same activity but taking your students’ heads out of the coursebooks, which they will appreciate.

Let your students decide

Give the control of the content of the lessons to your students. Let them decide which parts of a unit they want to do and which parts they don’t. You should find that because they have the autonomy to choose what they are going to do in the lesson, they will be more invested in the activities.

Use the online resources

Thankfully these days coursebooks often have online supplementary material. This could include videos, webquests or interactive activities. Make use of these and other resources available on the publisher’s website to make the coursebook come alive.

Coursebooks are a necessary part of any EFL classroom, no matter where or who you are teaching. While they definitely have their positives, there are still negatives which need to be considered when deciding how to utilise a coursebook. Using these few tips will help you make the most out of your coursebook without throwing it out the window.