Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Evaluation of Top Notch Series for Intensive Language Course from Imam Ali Teachers' and Students' Perspective

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Evaluation of Top Notch Series for Intensive Language Course from Imam Ali Teachers' and Students' Perspective

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Coursebooks are integral elements in teaching-learning processes. They somehow dictate what is taught, in what order, how as well as what learners learn. Yet, whether they are an aid or a hurdle to teaching and learning has created remarkable controversies among applied linguists and ELT practitioners.

Some researchers (Allwright, 1981;Harwood,2005; Thornbury&Meddings, 2001) have, however, questioned the actual role of textbooks in ELTclasses. They contend that there is a big gap between learners'needs, styles and features and the materials prepared commercially for EFL and there has been an increase in demand for English courses due to the global status of English, technological advancements and globalization. Furthermore, creating a well-designed and marketable product that takes into account global and local facts of contexts is a difficult challenge.

Recently, some of English-language teaching books on the market have grown dramatically and choosing a good coursebook an apparently is a demanding task. However, in spite of its great importance, materials evaluation is a new trend in the process of language teaching. It does not have a long history. Tomlinson (2001) contends that materials development was not important enough until the1990s when books on this field started to be published. Materials evaluation is of significant importance since it leads to a much better recognizing the nature of a specific teaching-learning context. Moreover, analyses and evaluations of happenings within the realm of teaching/learning scenario inform the teacher with more comprehensive information about the essence of the exploited coursebooks or materials.

Every year teachers select coursebooks to implement in their courses and learners pay remarkable amount of money to buy them. When a coursebook has been chosen and purchased, there is then a force to use it even if it turns out to be not highly appropriate for a specific purpose or context. Therefore, it is worth devoting some time regarding in a systematic way the quality of the coursebook. For many teachers the evaluation of coursebooks is more significant than designing courses because their teaching condition forces them to work from a coursebook. Therefore, evaluating coursebooks in order to see whether they are suitable is of crucial significance.

According to Sheldon (1988), we need to evaluate textbooks for two reasons; first, the evaluation will aid the teacher or program developer in making decisions on choosing the appropriate textbook. In addition, evaluation of the merits and demerits of a textbook will familiarize the teacher with its probable weaknesses and strengths. This will enable teachers to make appropriate modifications to the material in their future instruction.

Thus, the present study is an attempt to address the issues mentioned above by determining the overall pedagogical value and appropriateness of the Top Notch coursebook from both Iranian EFL learners' and teachers' perspectives.

2. Review of the related literature

2.1. EFL Coursebooks

The long-running argument on the role of coursebooks in a language course has not reached an agreement yet. Some researchers accept using and supporting the textbooks. Richards (2001) states that instructional materials involving textbooks play the major role in most language programs. Hutchinson and Torres (1994) claim that teaching-learning context is not acceptable without its specific textbook. Likewise, Riazi (2003) argues that textbooks have the secondary role, surpassed only by the teacher in language classes and the teacher should know how to implement their materials and how fruitful they can be. Ur (1996) also contends that textbooks provide a clear skeleton. Sheldon (1988) deduces from evidences that they provide the visible heart of any ELT program. It clarifies what is upcoming point and learners know the future plan. McGrath (2002) believes that a textbook is profitable since it founds the direction, content, and to a certain degree how the lesson is to be taught. …

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