Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Analysis of High School English Curriculum Materials through Rasch Measurement Model and Maxqda

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Analysis of High School English Curriculum Materials through Rasch Measurement Model and Maxqda

Article excerpt

One of the essential parts of language teaching is related to what materials are used in the teaching process, and therefore, a wide variety of teaching aids is necessary in foreign language classrooms. According to Tomlinson (2001, p. 66), the term materials encompasses "anything used to facilitate the learning of language" and may include linguistic, visual, auditory, or kinesthetic forms, which can be presented in print, through live performance or display, on a cassette, CD ROM, DVD, or the Internet. Since "materials are not simply the everyday tools of the language teachers; they are an embodiment of the aims and methods of the particular teaching/learning situation" (Zhang, 2007, p. 28), the success of the language program depends on the language teaching materials (Pakkan, 1997). "In case of inexperienced teachers, materials may also serve as a form of teacher training-they provide ideas on how to plan and teach lessons" (Richards, 2001, p. 251). Although grammar books and dictionaries were the only language teaching materials of used by teachers in the past, today, there is a great variety of language teaching materials in the market (Crystal, 1987), ranging from textbooks, supplementary texts, pictures, audio-tapes, sliders, transparencies, video tapes, smart boards to the Internet. However, despite a very wide range of commercially available materials, many teachers do not give enough importance to use them effectively and prefer to "produce their own materials for classroom use" (Howard & Major, 2005, p. 101). McGrath (2013, p. 7) differentiates foreign language materials into four categories: materials designed for language learning and teaching (e.g., textbooks, worksheets, computer software); authentic materials selected specially and exploited for teaching purposes by the classroom teacher (e.g., off-air recordings, newspaper articles); teacher-written materials; and learner-generated materials. Among all of the materials used in language classrooms, course books have been the most preferred instructional material throughout the world (Ankan, 2008). Cunningsworth (1995) states that course books are the best resource in achieving aims and objectives regarding learner needs.

Today's language teaching throughout the world could not take place without the extensive use of commercial materials (Richards, 2005). Since teachers may lack time and expertise to design a coherent program of work, course books are designed as "the theory, practice, activities, explanations, text, visuals, content, formats, and all other elements that contribute to the finished product" (Byrd, 1995, p. 8). Furthermore, course books enable a learner to preview or review the progress about what done in class (Harmer, 2001) by reducing time needed for lesson preparation, and especially for teachers who are untrained or inexperienced, course books provide methodological support (Richards, 2001). In addition, teachers who are teaching full-time find course books invaluable because they do not have enough time to create original lessons for every class (McGrath, 2013). In spite of widespread popularity of course books, their evaluation as classroom materials remains in under-researched (Ankan, 2009). Hutchinson and Waters (1987) suggest that materials cannot be evaluated as good or bad: "While evaluating the materials, we try to judge the fitness of something for required purpose" (p. 96). Therefore, it is important to realize that no commercial course book is a perfect fit for a language program (Richards, 2005; Savignon, 1997). One of the prominent complaints about commercial course books is related to the transmission of cultural information of English speaking countries. Cultural information is conveyed by means, such as the use of color, photographs, cartoons, magazine-style formats as well as through the words on the page (Harmer, 2001). However, global course books produced for international market expose the debate on the role of English as a lingua franca or international language, which enables the transmission of "Western" values, a form of cultural imperialism, by the majority of learners studying English outside English-speaking countries and therefore, it is a complex issue and "how this might translate into textbooks is yet uncertain" (McGrath, 2013, p . …

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