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BY S USSA N A BEDINZADEH East Azarbaijan Marand Kha.zra High School 2008

p. c:. 514931 SS e.mai! : sue abeclinzadeh tel. 09144915173



EFL textbooks can play an important role in the success of language programs. In facts some authors say they are the visible heart of any ELT program" . They provide the objectives of language learning; they function as a lesson plan for teachers and learners.So these Materials and textbooks which are in fact the realization of the process of syllabus design should closely reflect [the needs of the learners and] the aims, methods, and values of the teaching program. But if textbooks can play such an important role in language programs "Why does the EFL textbooks in our public high schools never meet the expectations of the learners/teachers?

This lack of success can be attributed to some factors that syllabus design ( Means /ends specification) is one of them . Regarding the meaning of content as something that is supposed to be taught it consist of whole concepts and information of a textbook Then in selecting content of textbooks some principles and criteria should be taken into account .

According to Chastain, K. (1971), Rivers, W. (1981), Ur, P. (1996)these criteria can be :

- Objectives

- Vocabulary Explanation and Practice - Periodic Review and Test Sections

- Visual Materials Available

- Interesting Topics and Tasks - Clear instructions

- Good Grammar Presentation and Practice - Fluency Practice in all four skills

Here the textbook 1 and 2 will be examined according to these criteria


Content and objectives

Content should be related to educational objectives To achieve the goals learning activities should be selected in a way that the student has opportunity to perform the mentioned behaviour.As we know objectives (let's say long term and short term objectives ) should be explicitly stated in an introduction, and implemented in the materiaLSo the question is :Has this been done in textbook 1 and 2 ?

Well, in book I there is an introduction which tries to specify the teaching objectives . But both long term objectives (what learners are expected to learn at the end of the program )and the short term objectives remain unspecified in the introduction. Maybe the general educational objectives are : improving reading skills , learning new words,learning new structures and new language functions to extend their previous knowledge. In fact We do not know what the learners should be able to do to demonstrate that they have achieved the intended objectives at the end of each course e.g. at the end of each year in the educational program.In book 2 even this section has been totally omitted

Part (A) of the Introduction is concerned with why the section "New Words" is included in the book and how it must be instructed by the teachers It reads,

"The purpose of this section is to familiarize learners with the new vocabulary in the Reading Comprehension section."

However, considering the the number of the new words in the Reading Comprehension section the number of the new words introduced in the New Words Section is less . The question that rises is how and where those missing words are to be taught? In Book 2-Lesson 3, almost 24 new words are introduced, whereas, only 12 of them are included in the New Words Section and in lesson 7 with so much new words only 5 new words have been introduced


Good vocabulary explanation and practice

Two types of problem are observed in the explanation and use of the new vocabulary in the series. One is concerned with the lack of correspondence between the different senses of the word introduced in the New Words Sections and the senses which are used in the Reading Comprehensions. In some cases, the meaning for which a particular word is introduced in the New Words Section is not consistent with the meaning of the same word used in the Reading Comprehension, and this probably confuse the students. For example, in Book 1-Lesson 1, the word "pay" is used as a part of the expression "pay attention to" in the Reading Comprehension whereas introduced as "pay for sth" in the New Words Section which are incompatible in meaning.

The other type is attributable to the poor contextualization of the new vocabulary in the New Words Sections.

In Lesson 1 we see several new words in on sentence:

"There are a banana and a slice of cake on the lp ate. "or in the same lesson one encounters: "When she does the puzzle rlght, the man gives her a reward."

Periodic review and test sections

At the beginning and the end of Book 2 , there are review exercises. However, they are not enough. It seems better to include tests and review tests at the end of each one of the lessons. It is worth mentioning that the tests should be comparable with the format and the testing methods which will be employed in the mid- term and final exams.

To compensate for this shortcoming of the textbooks teachers had developed supplementary workbooks for each one of the books (Tajik,Golvazhe )though they are never used because of the less hours allotted for this course .

Clear attractive layout, print easy to read'

Most often the paper of the books in the series is of low quality and in some cases is

Gilliland, 1., Readability (University of London Press, 1972 .I

more like papers which are used for daily newspapers. There are 4 inter-related factors in lay out :


-- the size of type,

-- the length of line,

-- the spacing between the lines (the 'leading) and, -- the weight of print.

-- the weight of print


In book 2 the line spaces in texts are just at least which causes problems in reading comprehension and speed of reading Aswe know where emphasis is required, bold type is read more quickly than italics or capitals while none of these style you find in texts The lenghth of lines is 14 or 15 in these texts books while line lengths of 7 - 12 average words seem to be optimum.

If this low quality is due to factors of economy or shortage of fund then how is it that for other books in the curriculum other than English like biology, physics, etc. there is no such a problem?

It would be better if colorful pictures of real people and real environment were used in these books .


Appropriate visual materials available

Visual materials can be defined as the facilities that can be employed by teachers and learners to enhance language learning in classrooms. They may range from simple hand-made realia, charts and pictures to electronic and digital materials.

Unfortunately the only visual materials we have are those black and white and sometimes blur pictures or lets say caricatures . There are so many new words the students have to learn without even a picture for these words. In book 2 lesson 7 there is n't even one picture to illustrate the words An book 2 lesson 6 there is the same problem Just a simple picture like this has been left out from books :


breath out/ breath in

Surprisingly the way the new words are introduced in lesson 7 is entirely different from previous ones.They contain some pictures and some questions after the sentences introducing the words but none of them can you see in lesson 7 As we

know this lesson was the first lesson of book 3 before. (I myself =Abedinzadeh - have designed a CD for book 2 with so many intersting pictures, which is very helpful in learning new words .

Content and the learner's interest (Content and usefulness)

The content of textbook should be related to his experiences , needs and interests .He should be interested in learning activities Pictures charts,maps ......should be interesting too. Content should be related to learners' daily life .

In textbooks the topics of readings sometimes are funny stories.But what can be said here is that it would be better if the topics were updated to become more congruent with the taste of the new generation which might be a bit different from that of the authors who designed the books at least ten years ago.In fact at this age of speed and improvement they are out of dated . Nowadays, learners' needs are different from what they used to be and; hence it looks better to include texts more related to computer games, internet, and satellite programs though here another problem rises : Some students know and work with computers while some in some areas may have never even touched it . There are no educational aids no cassettes based on standard pronunciation no educational cd (of course some have been prepared which are only the scan of materials :no sound no colorful pictures ....)

Clear instructions

Most of the instructions are clear and easy to understand for the learners in the books . Even if the learners might not be familiar with the structures and the lexis used in the instructions, the models given for each group of exercises provide contextual clues for the learners as to what they are expected to do. However, some of the instructions are lacking in the required contextual information and in the meantime, are beyond many of the learners' English language proficiency in terms of linguistic complexity.

In lesson six speaking 7 (self pronouns)there is some ambiguity and complexiry(though the example is clear but the activity is not :Answer these questions with myself yourself .....)

"Are you makinz a dress for your sister ?

The students are confused whether they say : No, she herself is making a dress.

No, I 'm making a dress for myself .

Content and learner's ability

Conetnt should be based on learners' abilities. When writing a textbook, a work-sheet

or an examination paper, an author is intent on transmitting information to the reader.

How well the author succeeds will depend on the readability of the text.

The term readability refers to all the factors that affect success in reading and

understanding a text.

These factors include:

1.  The interest and motivation of the reader.

2.  The legibility of the print (and of any illustrations).

3.  The complexity of words and sentences in relation to the reading ability of the reader.

1. Interest and motivation

This aspect of readability is probably the most important Generally, motivation for reading school books is likely to be low. Indeed, a textbook has been defined as 'a book that no-one would read unless they had to'.

In practice, this means that the prose in a school book usually should be much simpler than the readers are capable of reading.

This is particularly necessary when pupils are given instructions to perform a specific task -- not only may the motivation be low, but the learning experience is likely to be spoilt unless the instructions are followed accurately.

2. Legibility of print (discussed in Clear attractive layout, print easy to read) 3. Sentence structure

The third factor affecting readability is concerned with the words and sentences chosen by an author. This factor is the most easily quantifiable. Consider two examples:

1. This short sentence needs a reading age of less than nine years.

2. This longer sentence, which contains an adjectival clause and polysyllabic words, has a reading age of more than sixteen years.

We use the term 'reading age' to indicate the chronological age of a reader who could just understand the text. The term is also useful when applied to the text itself - a text with a reading age of 14 years is one that could be read and just understood by a 14-year-old pupil having average reading ability.

In considering the suitability of a book or a work sheet for a class, it is desirable to determine the reading age of the text, to see how well it matches the reading ages of your pupils.How to do this?The methods of assessing Reading Age will be discussed later in this paper .(Index 1)

So readability is concerned with the problem of matching between reader and text. An accomplished reader is likely to be bored by simple repetitive texts.

A poor reader will soon become discouraged by texts which s/he finds too difficult to read fluently.

This is likely to happen when the text is :

•    poorly printed,

•    contains complex sentence structures, •          long words or

•    too much material containing entirely new ideas

Some of the Reading Comprehension texts tend to be more difficult for the learners to understand than others due to their structural complexity. In working with learners from different proficiency levels it is realized that the learners misunderstood or did not comprehend some parts of the Reading Comprehension texts not because they did not know the meaning of the new words included in them but simply because those sentences were too complex for them to parse..

In Book 2, Lesson 2, there are at least 8 compound sentences which are perceived as

challenging to the learners. One of the sentences which is used at the very beginning of the text reads: "Did you know that the same side of the moon faces the earth all the time?" As you see it is not so easy to change this sentence into some simpler sentences which convey the same idea or range of meanings. Likewise, at the ending line of the same text you come across: "So now you know what people who lived before 1959 didn't know.':


Good grammar presentation and practice

Grammar drills occupy the most important part of lesson and range from repetition, substitution to transformational ones. They are aimed at providing the learners with oral practice of the intended grammatical points.As we know they have been provided for automatization. Automatization (As I myself worked in my M.A .paper :A communicative Approach to teaching language forms:Abedinzadeh (2001) is to develop the ability to process a given piece of information without awareness or attention, making relatively more use of long-term memory.

However, because the so called standard tests which are usually administered by the officials of the Ministry of Education are almost completely lacking in tests items measuring the productive ability of the learners, the teachers, for this or maybe some other reasons, usually skip the drills and replace them with the explicit explanation of the rules and formulas underlying the patterns at issue. Frankly speaking, in regular English classes at high schools they are most often disregarded by the majority of the teachers.

A grammatical point can be presented in context or in comparison to other structures which are compared by the students to get the form by themselves In practicing the form            the books contain just the controlled drills and no more than this ,while the newly- learned form can be practiced in meaningful drills through a picture or in a text.The students are asked to talk about a picture showing different things .

Fluency practice in all four skills

The books have devoted more space to reading ability and developing and enhancing this ability of the learners. Considering the idea that the main needs of the learners might be to acquire an acceptable degree of mastery and skill in reading materials written in English, this allocation looks justified. However, neither in the introduction nor in the lessons has it been explicitly mentioned by the writers of the

books how to treat listening comprehension and writing skills. It is totally left to the teachers to decide whether to practice it or not. There is no section in the lessons specifically designed to develop and enhance listening skills in the learners. However, the teachers can probably work on this skill through having the learners listen to the reading passages read aloud by the teachers or other learners in the classroom. To involve the learners actively and attentively to listen to the passages read aloud, the

teacher can ask various comprehension questions at different points or at the end of the listening activity to check their understanding. Speaking skill is also taken into account though indirectly and as a marginal activity. There are certain questions at the end of each reading passage which require the learners to give oral answers.

The last and not the least is the writing skill which has been neglected in the textbooks . Although, some exercises of the lessons are intended to enhance the writing skills of the learners, they are limited to a few isolated sentence production activities in a decontextualized and sterile milieu of communication. Nowhere in the book, are the learners assigned writing activities to communicate and express themselves . The authors could have included writing activities in different formats varying from controlled to fi-ee writing according to the proficiency levels of the learner groups.

Content and the allotted time

There should be a balance between the content and hours allotted to it      It should be

High school text book content analysis according to

William D. Romey's content analysis 2

William Romey (1968) in his book "Inquiry techniques for teaching science"presented a quantative approach of examining the textbooks.

In Romey's approach the objective is to examine the textbook to see if it has been designed in an active way to involve the the learner actively in learning -teaching process or not.According to this method the content is devided in 3 parts        :

1. text                                                              3.questions

Text Evaluation

Romey examines the text of textbook according to these 8 categories

a. Texts that express a fact (observations done by people other than the students themselves.e.g.

"The earth goes around the sun. "

b. General expressions

General principles presented by authors about different subjects.

"To stop hiccup you can ask someone to scare you,or breathe in a pocket " "The purpose of small talk is to let both people agree on something. This makes meeting people easier and more comfortable"


"Small talk means the little things we talk about at the start of a conversation ". "Greeting is a way of being friendly to someone"

d. Questions have been stated by author in text and answered immediately there,too.

"Do you know the same side of the moon faces the earth ?" "What causes hiccups ?"

"What of the moon's other side ?What was it like ?" Would she keep on doing puzzles without a reward ? How do birds know when to fly south ?

What's happening high in the sky ?

e. Questions the answer of which requires the learner to analyse what he has learnt.

f. The learner is required to talk about his inferences(what results he has gain ed)( 1 lesson 8 :A question of this kind can be like this. "Do you know any "saying"which refers to this text in your own language and English ?Discuss."

"Clothes make no man"What do you understand from this saying and what is its relation to "Eat, Clothes,Eat "

g. To do an experiment and analyse the observations or solve the problems .A sample question of this kind:

"Just think your friend has gone hic for a long time. What cure do you suggest ?Why?"

i. Questions that have been stated by author in text but not answered by author.

Of these 8 categories" a,b,c,d," are as inactive categories because the learner is not active and does nothing and no involvement is here.The learner is passive Whereas in "e,f;g,i, "are active ones in which the learner is active The activity involves the learner in taking part in some actions He is involved in learning -teaching process.


In book 1 and 2 there are so many cases for "a,b,c,d (inactive categories, but so few for e,f,g,h (active categories )and we conclude that the texts doesn't    involve the learner in taking part in some actions And the learner isn't involved in learning - teaching process .

Picture Evaluation

Romey examines the pictures and charts of textbook according to these 2 categories:

a.Pictures used to explain a specific subject

b.Picture requiring the learner to do an activity or do an experiment Here the "a" category is inactive category and "b" is active one .


When the students work on questions like this :

"Compare All and his brother (tall /short )Write 4 sentences":

The students will be so active they think they compare they work together to

compare them:

They may say:

1.Ali's brother is shorter than Ali.

 2.Ali is taller than his brother

3.Ali's brother is not as tall as ali.

4. Ali's brother is not so tall as AIL

But unfortunately all the pictures are in a sentence level and they are used to explain a

specific subject.

Questions like :


1. Talk about this picture,or

2. Compare these two pictures and talk about their differences " or

3" What do you see in this picture,say as many as sentences you can to

describe the picture . ........"are all questions that makes students be active in

learning teaching process.The questions which are neglected in our text books.


درباره : زبان دبيرستان ,
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مشخصات نویسنده غلامعلی عباسی درباره : غلامعلی عباسی متولد 1340 دبیر بازنشسته زبان انگلیسی در شهرستان اردبیل هستم . این وبلاگ دفتر یادداشت بنده محسوب می کردد . هر مطلبی که به یادگیری بیشتر زبان انگلیسی کمک نماید و به نظر من مفید باشد در این وبلاگ جمع آوری نموده و با علاقه مندان زبان انگلیسی به اشتراک گذاشته ام . اطمینان کامل دارم که انتقادات و ایرادهای بیشماری متوجه این وبلاگ می تواند باشد ولی بنده به عنوان مدیر این وبلاگ در بهبود این کار انتظار راهنمایی و پیشنهاد از طریق دوستداران زبان و اهل فن را دارم . تا حد ممکن منابع اعلام میگردد . امیدوارم مورد قبول و پسند همكاران ارجمند و دانش آموزان و دانشجویان زبان انگلیسی واقع گردد .

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