The newer someone is to teaching English, the more they’ll usually ‘obey’ a coursebook. 

And this is understandable, as following one gives a teacher a soothing ‘security blanket’ of ‘…and if there’s still time, I’ll just assign exercise 7 after 5 and 6 as well…’. This is a useful guarantee that they won’t have to enter into a terrifying staring contest with their group at the end of the lesson either.

Using a coursebook also has a lot of ‘face validity’ in most contexts, which comes in handy when a lesson just isn’t going right, and we can just point at it and say ‘hey, don’t blame me, it’s in the book!’.

But this then creates a vicious circle of blaming the material for our bad teaching and the lingering tedium, confusion and overwhelm in our learners, and sinking our own teaching to its quality.

Instead what we should do is acknowledge that coursebooks are FAR from perfect (–some even less so than others), and that it is on US to shift things around, throw stuff out (!!), substitute, rearrange, re-purpose and re-imagine. Sometimes boldly too. 

I know it’s sometimes hard to remember this, but JUST BECAUSE IT’S PRINTED, IT MAY NOT BE PERFECT. And it might definitely not be perfect for YOUR context.

Can you think of a lesson from an IELTS coursebook that you decided to seriously rewrite? What was in the original printed material that you thought wouldn’t work? What did you change around? Why?

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Hi. I’m Fatime. I’m an IELTS Teacher Trainer, helping CELTA-qualified English language teachers become better at teaching SKILLS, as opposed to just testing them. 

Check out my courses here:

How to Teach IELTS Listening:

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