Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Evaluation of the Suitability of the English Textbook (Prospect 2) for Iranian Junior High School Students Based on Students' Needs and Teachers' Perceptions

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Evaluation of the Suitability of the English Textbook (Prospect 2) for Iranian Junior High School Students Based on Students' Needs and Teachers' Perceptions

Article excerpt


Regarding the role of ELT textbooks in the process of English language teaching and learning, a majority of English language teaching professionals share a wide range of opinions about the use and usefulness of ELT textbooks in classes. As Sheldon (1998), for example, suggests, the textbooks not only "represent the visible heart of any ELT program" (p.237) but also offer considerable advantages for both teachers and learners, when they are being used in the classroom. Ahour and Ahmadi (2012) describe textbooks as the main sources that convey the knowledge and information to the learners in an easy and organized way.

So it can be said that, it is important for teachers, textbook designers, and material writers to be sure of usefulness of the textbooks for the context and people with whom they are being used; one way to check this appropriateness is to use the evaluation approach (Azizifar, 2009). In this regard, Hutchinson and Waters (1993) define evaluation as a "matter of judging the fitness of something for a particular purpose" (p.96). For Tomlinson (2011) material evaluation is a systematic judgment of the value of materials in relation to the aims of the materials and the learners who are using them.

Beside the importance of the textbooks and textbook evaluation in teaching/learning programs, it is better to mention that "as the teachers and students are the main users of the textbooks, so it is unreasonable to design or evaluate textbooks without considering their needs and views" (McDonough & Shaw, 2003, p.61). According to Medlin (2009), beside the teachers' perceptions, learners' needs are also important in textbook evaluation. Mackey (1978) states that, for effective language teaching and learning, language educators should be aware of learners' needs and adapt their teaching accordingly in meeting these needs.

One way to gather the data about learners needs is to use needs analysis approach. Brown (1995) indicates that the systematic way to identify learners' needs is needs analysis. According to Jordan (1997) needs analysis is "the process of determining the needs for which a learner or a group of learners require a language and arranging the needs according to priorities which make use of both objective and subjective information" (p.20).

Unfortunately, in some countries like Iran, textbooks are considered as the only source in language teaching programs (Azizfar, Koosha, & Lotfi, 2010; Kheirabadi & AlaviMoghadam, 2014; Rashidi & Kehtarifard, 2014). In this situation the role of the textbooks gets more important and the inappropriateness of them can cause different problems. According to Azizfar, Koosha, and Lotfi (2010) if textbook does not match with learners' needs and if learners can't improve their desired knowledge through the textbook it can demotivate learners, or if the method that was used in the textbook does not match with preferred method of the teachers it can have negative impact on learning/teaching program.

According to some scholars there are also some serious problems with the English textbooks that are used in Iran. For example, according to Rashidi and Kehtarifard (2014) most of the textbooks in Iran are designed without any attention to the learners' needs. They also state that, the same English textbooks (with almost the same language and learning patterns) are published and used by all students throughout the country as the only reliable resource available to the whole population; some of these textbooks may change a little but others are used for years without any modification. Ansari (2004) mentions that evaluation of English textbooks that are taught in Iranian schools is required because there are some problems with these textbooks in that teaching objectives are not well-defined and most of the students do not overcome language learning problems and are not proficient enough to communicate in the foreign language. Ansari also states that, students are not motivated enough to study English and look at the course just as a subject matter, which should be passed, and do not understand its importance as a means of communication with which they can adapt themselves to new improvements in technology and other sciences. …

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