Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Evaluation of Two ESP Textbooks

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Evaluation of Two ESP Textbooks

Article excerpt


This paper evaluated two ESP textbooks using the evaluation of McDonough and Shaw (2003) based on external and internal evaluation. The first textbook is Business Objectives (1996) by Vicki Hollett, and the second textbook is Business Studies, Second Edition (2002) by Alain Anderton. To avoid repetition, I will use BO and BS, respectively, to abbreviate the names of these books.

The paper briefly discusses the external evaluation and then concludes with the results of a detailed evaluation of one chapter from each textbook for a course that I am teaching. The course is for business major students who wish to apply for jobs at The Saudi Telecommunication Company (STC), which requires a strong command of English.

The evaluation indicated that both books would be appropriate if we merge them together and add some additional materials, as a textbook that can accommodate the needs of all learners does not exist.

Keywords: ESP, Materials evaluation, Textbook evaluation, Teaching, Business, Internal & external evaluation

1. Why Evaluation?

On a daily basis, we as teachers evaluate the materials that we teach, but this type of evaluation is not sufficient. If our purpose is to maximise learning, then we must conduct systematic evaluations (Brown 1995, Ellis 1997, Richards 2001).

In my situation, I have a range of textbooks from which to choose, but the selection process can be time-consuming and expensive (McDonough & Shaw 2001; Karimi 2006). Evaluation is a 'matching process; matching needs to available solutions' (Hutchinson and Waters 1987 cited in Sheldon 1988: 237). This statement is true in my situation, as I am striving to satisfy the needs of my learners. I am attempting to find the book that contains solutions to all or most of my learners' deficiencies. As this course is related to the careers of individuals, the materials must be selected carefully (Hutchinson et al. 1987, 1994). As Sheldon states, '[t]he selection of a particular core volume signals an executive educational decision in which there is considerable professional, financial and even political investment... the definition and application of systematic criteria for assessing course books are 'vital'' (1988: 237). The careers of learners depend on this course because the company (STC) will choose only a few of the best students to improve the expertise of its staffand subsequently improve their profits. The evaluation process should be carefully conducted to assure optimal results (Allwright 1981; McGrath 2002).

The McDonough and Shaw (2003) evaluation model saves us a significant amount of time and effort. These authors suggest two stages: external and internal evaluation. In the first stage, a teacher can scan a book, obtain a general idea regarding the materials and then decide whether the materials conform to his expectations. If the text satisfies his requirements, then he can progress to the next stage, which consists of an in-depth analysis of the materials. I have chosen this model because it is the most appropriate, time-saving, economical and applicable method of evaluation for my situation. In simple terms, I call this model a 'universal model' that can be useful in nearly any context. According to Sheldon (1987), Dudley and Evans cited an instance in which some Egyptian teachers used questionnaires, interviews and seminars as means of evaluation. These methods can be effective if they are well managed, but the authors also cited some drawbacks of these techniques, such as embarrassing situations for teachers in interviews and some types of speech disorders in seminars.

2. The Intended Audience and Context

As mentioned previously, the audience is a group of students majoring in business who have not yet completed their BA degrees. These students want to apply for summer jobs at STC. They have completed most of their business courses in Arabic. The students have a solid background in business; however, they still perform at the lower intermediate level in English. …

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