The status of materials is often downgraded. One of the main reasons is that language is a spoken phenomenon and text books seem artificial, formal and too rigid. They are all of those things but they are also something else: ABSOLOUTELY ESSENTIAL!
If you are in the country of the language you are trying to learn then you can disregard text books –but if you are in your own country you can not avoid them. You need them to assimilate grammatical forms, vocabulary, and as an impetus to speak and write.
An incredible 92% of students begin and end their course without the adequate materials. Trying to learn a language without all the materials is like trying to study medicine without an anatomy book.
Even if a conscientious school ensures that a student has all the materials then we run into another problem: insufficient reinforcement. Basically, most text books do not have enough exercises for you to learn the vocabulary or grammar point they’re trying to teach you. This is a major cause of students learning English for years but never making progress: students repeatedly only ‘half’ learn things – meaning they have to go back to them again and again.
You must do lots and lots of exercises to assimilate grammar and vocabulary and you must have the adequate materials! So please, if a student is about to start a language course then make sure he or she is prepared with…
1. A vocabulary Book (with a method for learning the words)
2. Listening exercises.
3. A grammar book (with lots of exercises.)
4. Reading material (so you can see language in context.)
5. Conversation manual.
Then talk about a coursebook or classroom activity book. Please understand something. Coursebooks are not designed to take students to fluency – they are designed to briefly go through key areas of language in an interesting and informative way, but they are not designed to consolidate, repeat and push a student through the arduous journey to fluency.
Stop allowing students to do courses without the necessary materials: it’s like taking someone on a skydiving course and chucking them out of a plane with no parachute. With one key difference – the fall from the plane is at least a quick death – a course without the materials is a slow inherently flawed winding lane to failure.