Language teaching material plays an important role in EFL classroom. With the rapid development and competitiveness of materials publishers, ‘the wealth of published material for English Language Teaching (ELT) available on the market makes selecting the right coursebook a challenging task’(Cunningsworth, 1995, p5). However, there is no coursebook can be absolutely ideal for a particular group of learners (Cunningsworth, 1995); evaluation and selection of suitable material would be essential and important issues for language teachers. Each group of learners has its own needs and language teachers should choose suitable materials that best fit the learners’ needs in terms of the purpose of the course, learners’ language proficiency, learners’ learning styles and the aim of the materials. Allwright (1981, p5) also suggests that the role of materials should switch from ‘teaching material’ to ‘learning material’. David (2006) conducts a class-specific questionnaire survey to identify learners’ needs so as to “create in learners a level of interests involvement and investment that would not be possible to achieve with textbook-driven courses (p9)”. In this view, when evaluating materials, more emphasis needs to be put on the learners to satisfy their needs and interests.
This paper will present ways of material evaluation based on previous researches. Then, a coursebook, ‘Lung Teng English Reader for Senior High School: Volume I’ (Lin S. & Tian, W. S., 2005) will be evaluated in terms of the ‘external’ and ‘internal’ approach to material evaluation. (McDonough and Shaw, 1993). In addition, two tasks from this coursebook will be adapted to be more appropriate for the teaching context that I work in. Finally, I would like to provide teacher’s notes for these two adapted tasks. While making a retrospective assessment of this coursebook, the paper aims to gain insight into the coursebook development in the specific EFL pedagogical context.
2.Literature reviews on material evaluation
Materials evaluation is a huge research area in language teaching profession. (Cunningsworth: 1995, Tomlinson: 1998, McGrath: 2002, Graves: 2003). This area will be in connection with many different issues in language teaching, for example, the course design, curriculum development, or school management. For language teachers, it is time consuming to design or write their teaching materials specifically for their learners (Cunningsworth, 1984). Thus, a mixture of using a coursebook and self-made materials would be a possible solution. However, choosing a suitable coursebook for the specific group of learners is not an easy task. Cunningsworth (1995) has claimed four essential guidelines that coursbooks should follow in order to have a better interaction with learners. First, they need to correspond to learners’ need. Second, they should reflect the uses which learners will make of the language. Third, they ought to facilitate the learning processes without dogmatically imposing a rigid method. Fourth, they need to have a clear role as a support for learning. Language teachers should know how to evaluate and adapt the materials for their learners. There are no two evaluations can be the same in that ‘the needs, objectives, backgrounds and preferred styles of the participants will different form context to context’ (Tomlinson 2003, p15). He claims that there are three types of evaluation: (1) pre-use evaluation which involves the predication of what potential value will bring to the learners; (2) whilst-use evaluation involves the measurement of the value of the materials while using the coursebook. This type of evaluation is more objective than the first type in that we can actually know how this coursebook affect the learners from their feedbacks and comments; (3) Post-evaluation is...