Materials writers

Course-book syllabi traditionally rely on basic organisational language-related components such as grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, language skills and language functions, but they also provide sections on subject specific topics, for example CLIL, and on cultural and intercultural issues. As we have already seen, in recent research studies of course-books, the evidence of a shift towards a more WE and ELF-oriented position is so far mainly in terms of the type of intercultural issues presented in the materials. It would be important on the other hand to provide information through a more comprehensive approach to language work, where teachers may be able to resort to a variety of multimodal resources and learners would thus be exposed to multilingual contexts with real non-native proficient speakers who use English in authentic exchange contexts. For example, extracts from news about international meetings where non-native public figures (politicians, artists etc.) talk in press conferences or use English to communicate and interact with other ELF users.

Audio and/or video materials drawn from 'real' contexts of use may provide both textbook authors and teachers who develop their own teaching materials an opportunity to devise activities where learners are engaged in 'noticing' (Schmidt 2001), i.e. paying conscious attention to language use, and 'languag- ing' activities (Swain 2006: 96), that is, activities involving 'the use of strategies for making sense, negotiate meaning, co-constructing understanding, and so on, in short the strategic exploitation of the linguistic resources of the virtual language that characterises the use of ELF' (Seidlhofer 2011: 198).

One of the drawbacks in materials and course-book production is that materials writers are restricted in their use of source material by issues such as privacy and copyright. It is cheaper and easier for publishers to record their own non-authentic material using writers' scripts and actors. To counter this problem, training courses should therefore offer teachers the opportunity to devise and produce their own materials, encouraging them to use and exploit for teaching purposes what is available on the web, particularly on YouTube, where different authentic uses of English in real contexts are accessible. Being engaged in producing their own materials and/or activities would lead teachers to reflect on the kind of English their students are being presented with. This can be and is already being done in several training courses, but unfortunately writing materials is time-consuming for teachers and many of them, once their course is finished, prefer to resort to the course book only.

 
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