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Textbooks and ESL Existential dilemnas

As any of you know who read my last post, I was raring to go and give my first class speech on Monday and begin a new world order (in ESL terms). Unfortunately, the speech will have to be shelved on account of an unexpected e-mail from the office. It went something like this…

– Group 1: Headway intermediate
– Group 2: Market Leader Intermediate (new)
– Group 3: Proficiency gold

etc.. etc…

Well, it turns out that they’re already following the books given to them by the previous school… and I just have to continue were they left off.

Help - ESL existential panic!

For me, this represents a lot of what I don’t understand in the world of language teaching and learning. I was there thinking that I was being called in because the previous teacher’s classes weren’t up to scratch, and now I just have to carry on what the previous teacher was doing. Which brings me to my problem with text books and it’s resultant existential panic.

If a class is following a book then I don’t really see what my role is. The answers are in the back so they don’t need me to correct them, the exercises are in front of them so they don’t need me to bring materials, and the book is already a course so they don’t need me to create a programme. What then am I? I’m tempted to use Markus’s term – “A TEFL muppet.”

Obviously, I can see the answers to many of my questions… I’ll be a bit like the conductor of an orchestra – guiding them through the book. I’ll bring in supplementary activities. I’ll do all the stuff teachers do – counsel, motivate, advise. But there in lies the problem…

Fundamentally I don’t like text books such as Headway, Murphy etc… because they simply don’t reinforce what they’re trying to teach enough times. They don’t work. Therefore, if a course is going to be centred around a book which I don’t believe will work, then I find myself a little lost.

Has anybody got some advice on the issue?

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