Instructional Materials Commonly Employed by Foreign Language Teachers at Elementary Schools *

By Çakir, Ismail | International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, September 2015 | Go to article overview

Instructional Materials Commonly Employed by Foreign Language Teachers at Elementary Schools *


Çakir, Ismail, International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education


Introduction

Changes in learning styles of students and types of instructional materials available have put a great amount of pressure on the teachers, who inevitably need to keep up with the innovative techniques in technology and teaching methods. It is a fact that teaching, which is admittedly a long and hard process, is primarily composed of five components: students, teachers, instructional materials, teaching methods, and evaluation (Kitao & Kitao, 1997). Of these components, instructional materials in foreign language teaching can refer to a variety of things. They can be defined as any tool that teachers use to assist their students in adequately learning the target language; means used to increase students' access to that language; every instrument that contributes greatly to students' progress; anything which is used by teachers and learners to facilitate the learning; and the keys to have influence on what goes on in the classroom, just to list a few (Brown, 1995; Crawford, 2002; Jones, 2009; Littlejohn, 2012; McDonough, Shaw & Mashura, 2013; Richards, 2010;Tomlinson, 2008).

As regards the use of instructional materials to foster foreign language learning, foreign language teachers tend to employ them at the right time and in the right proportion. Offering a myriad of benefits to both teachers and learners in teaching and learning English as a foreign language (EFL) context, a variety of instructional materials need to be included in the agendas of teachers. Research proves that instructional materials highly facilitate learning and greatly draw learners' attention to the target language (Littlejohn, 2012; McDonough, Shaw & Mashura, 2013; Solak & Çakir, 2015; Tomlinson, 2012). Simply put, they have a considerable influence on foreign language learners and they play an extremely influential role in the EFL classes. To support this view, Richards (2001) asserts that instructional materials generally serve as the basis of much of the language input that learners receive and the language practice that occurs in the classroom. Thus, it is suggested that instructional materials need to be motivating and interesting. According to Chomsky (1988), 99% of teaching is making the students feel interested in the material. To make the materials more interesting for foreign language learners, teachers should seek to find and present alternative techniques. In this sense, the present study with its findings and suggestions aims to contribute to the professional development of the teachers and preservice teachers so that they can be more effective and well equipped in teaching the target language.

Significance of the study

This study intends to shed light on the issue of professional and qualified language teachers' need to be able to use instructional materials properly. Investigating this issue is important for teachers currently working at schools and student teachers who will take active roles in the classes in coming years. Additionally, it can be asserted that this study is significant in that there is not much research exploring the instructional material preferences of English language teachers at elementary schools in Turkey.

Review of literature

The essence of the current century brings about an overwhelming amount of information which involves using efficient mechanisms to ameliorate learning and teaching activities (Kuzu, Akbulut & Sahin, 2007). In this respect, as mentioned above, it is worth stressing that instructional materials play a crucial role in any EFL setting. Before explaining its role in language teaching settings, it would be wise to clarify the types of materials that are commonly utilized by teachers and learners. Tok (2010) categorizes these instructional materials into two groups: printed ones such as course-books, workbooks, teacher's guides etc.; and non-printed ones such as computer-based materials, videos etc. Correspondingly, Tomlinson (2012) classifies the language teaching materials in terms of instructional purposes as follows: informative (informing the learning about the target language); instructional (guiding the learner in practicing the language); experiential (providing the learner with experience of the language in use); eliciting (encouraging the learner to use the language); and exploratory (helping the learner to make discoveries about the language). …

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