Published 29th March 2018

Coursebooks are tricky animals. Some teachers love them, some teachers hate them. By now, you should be well aware of the positives and negatives of coursebooks and you probably have a clear idea of where you stand on the coursebook debate. In this post we’re not going to get into why we love or don’t love coursebooks; what we are going to do is look at ways you can make the coursebooks work for you. Tiny little changes you can use to make the coursebooks you use a little more suited to your classroom.

Tips to make your coursebook work for you

Choose what you teach

Coursebooks are geared towards a certain level. They are generic and do not cater for the difference in the level we are likely to experience in the classroom. Levels themselves have, well, different levels – in that an Intermediate coursebook is meant to be used for low Intermediate as well as high Intermediate classes and you may need to adapt it to your needs.

Have a look at the language presented to you in the coursebook and make decisions based on your class. Do you need to teach all the language in the unit? Sometimes, especially with vocabulary, coursebooks can be quite overwhelming as they seem to cram as much as possible into a unit. Or maybe there is not enough vocabulary for your class and you need to add some in. Consider the level of your class and their previous knowledge and adapt the language load accordingly.

Use visuals and graphics

Thankfully, coursebooks are generally good at providing images along with their text. However, these images can be outdated or inappropriate. For each unit you teach, look through the unit quickly beforehand and decide whether or not you need to supplement the images provided.

Visuals are king in the EFL classroom, so if the ones given to you are not up to scratch, find some that are. This applies not only to the introduction of the topic or visuals to aid discussion, but in the teaching of language points too with graphs or timelines.

Manipulate the listening tapescripts

For every listening exercise you do, your coursebook should provide you with a tapescript so that the students can follow along once the listening exercise has been done. Take full advantage of this by turning your tape scripts into gap-fill exercises.

It may take some time and some preparation but if you’ve done it once you can re-use the template endless times, and doing this will add another exercise to your lesson.

Make use of the supplementary material

Coursebooks are rarely stand-alone resources. Along with your coursebook you should have at your disposal a teacher’s book and possibly a CD-ROM. Make sure you take the time to have a look at the teacher’s book. It is there to give you extra ideas for games and activities related to each unit. It should also have some extra worksheets or homework ideas for your lessons. The CD-ROM should have video material, activities or tests for you to use.

Whether we like them or not, coursebooks are here to stay and are probably a part of your everyday teaching experience. Use these few tips to make sure your coursebook is used in the best way possible for your class.