Educators of the use of textbook with a keen

Educators and researchers share the view thatprovision of textbooks in schools in developing countries is closely linked tothe achievement level among learners: ‘Students do better on tests when thereare textbooks in the classroom’ (Heyneman et al. (1978), Fuller (1987) andClarke (1993). Yet, there is very little known how these textbooks are beingutilized in the classroom to support active learning. Despitethe fact that textbooks are a staple in almost every ESL class, it issurprising that limited investigation has been conducted in terms of how andwhy materials are selected by the teachers. One reason could be that in 21stcentury communicative teaching experts who advocate and advice on the use oftextbooks may seem out of step with the socio-constructivist teachingmethodologies. Yet, regardless of how great an emphasis is placed on the use ofauthentic materials, teachers frequently do not have the additional time, orthe administrative support, to adapt all the necessary materials for theirclasses.

ESL textbooks have a significant role to play inlanguage learning, however textbook teaching needs to be supported by otherrelevant authentic materials. There is an ongoing debate throughout the ELTprofession on the relevance of using diverse teaching materials in English as aSecond Language classroom. Some issues of consequence have emerged in recentyears regarding textbook design and practicality of the use of textbook with akeen discussion on methodological validity. Use of textbooks need to be innovativeand there needs to be an authentic representation of language, course content,gender representation and cultural features of the language.  Why Teachers Use Textbooks? When investigating the textbook selection, it isimportant to contemplate why teachers use textbooks and how have they becomethe central focus of so many classrooms? Use of textbooks in teaching English as a secondlanguage plays a crucial role in language teaching and learning and isconsidered to be the second important factor in the second/foreign languageclassroom compared to the teacher. As Hutchinson and Torres (1994) suggest, ‘Thetextbook is an almost universal element of English language teaching.Millions of copies are sold every year, and numerous aid projects have been setup to produce them in various countries…No teaching-learning situation, itseems, is complete until it has its relevant textbook’ (p.315).

Haycroft (1998) indicates that there are manyadvantages of using textbooks in an ESL classroom; they are without doubt anessential tool for teachers and students as progress and ongoing achievementcan be measured against the assessment objectives. O’Neill (1982) suggests thattextbooks are sensitive to students’ needs, even if they are not madespecifically for them, they are efficient in terms of time and money, and theyshould allow for adaptation and improvisation. An advantage highlighted byCunningsworth (1995) is the ‘potential that textbooks have for servingadditional roles within the ELT program’. He argues that they are a good sourcefor independent learning, a convenient resource for the presentation ofconcepts and activities, a good reference point for students.

Hutchinson andTorres (1994) have pointed out that textbooks play a key role in supportinglanguage learning. They conclude that textbooks provide teachers with thescaffolding to structure their own activities, promoting creativity and diverseteaching strategies. Sheldon (1988) identifiedthree main reasons he believes textbooks are so heavily utilized. Firstly,developing the classroom materials from scratch is an arduous task for theteachers.

Secondly, marking and planning takes central focus in the teachingprocess and is time-consuming, therefore limiting teacher time to develop newmaterials. Thirdly, external pressures restrict many teachers. It is arealistic reflection of the strains teachers feel and using a textbook is oneof the most efficient and readily available ways in which to combat theseobstacles.

On one hand, use of textbook lessens preparation time and on theother provides ready-made activities, and concrete samples of classroomprogress through which management/administrators can be satisfied. However, there are other less positive reasons fortextbook use. Often, instead of selecting course books that fulfill the goalsof the curriculum, “An approved textbook may easily become the curriculumin the classroom” (Lamie, 1999).

Anytime a teacher permits this to occurit is unfortunate because the learners’ needs and learners’ wants are defeatedin favor of the restricted prospects of the text. As Cunningsworth asserts”course materials for English should be seen as teacher’s servant and nothis master” {p.15, 1984} which leads to the issue of how texts are orshould be used in a classroom.