This chapter aims at presenting the rationale for the field-study, its aims and scope, the research questions, significance, methods, and design of the field-study.
It is a common assertion that materials in general play a crucial part in language learning (Robinson, 1991; Nunan, 1991). This accounts for the fact that discussions of the roles of materials appear in almost all books on course design. Materials not only provide learners with a wide range of useful and fascinating information but also can play a part in enhancing learners’ motivation- thus, facilitate their acquisition (Dudley- Evans& St John, 1998; Nonaka, 2001). On materials, it can be seen that the textbook is the ‘visible heart’ of any ELT (English Language Teaching) program. Several advantages of using textbook have been suggested by researchers. For example, textbooks help to standardize instruction and assessment. That is, by giving students in different classes the same textbook, teachers can teach and test them in the same way (Richards, 2005). Textbooks also provide syllabus for a program, thus supporting novice teachers, training them in methodology and saving their time and effort for more worthwhile pursuits than material production (Cunningsworth, 1995). What is more, since textbooks are always carefully tested before being brought into the market so they give students credibility. Students also often expect to use a textbook in their learning program (Sheldon, 1998). In spite of the aforementioned positive view of textbooks use, however, there have also been certain reservations about this use. One of the most cited concerns is that textbooks are often implicitly prescriptive and thus might control the methods, process and procedures of classroom practice and ‘deskill’ teachers (Allwright, 1982). Another concern is that since textbooks are often written for global markets, they may not suit all classrooms and might require adaptation to better meet students’ true needs (Richards, 2005). Non-authenticity is also the most limited feature of almost text books. Due to teaching purpose, both content and language are presented in idealized and standardized ways rather than they are in real life (Cunningsworth, 1995). Many experts have written on how to choose or develop materials, which are relevant to learners, so that materials can give assistance to learners’ language learning process. In developing materials for ESP, it is advisable from many experts to use authentic materials because they can provide students with up-to -date knowledge, expose them to the world of authentic target language, can bring the real world into the classroom and significantly enliven the class (Martinez, 2002; Kaprova, 1999; Leloup& Prnterio, 2000; Dumitrescu, 2000). By this way, authentic materials can motivate students, give them more stimulation in learning a language.
1.2 Rationale for the study
In Vietnam, ESP has become an indispensable branch in English language teaching in almost all universities to meet the growing demand for communication in many fields such as tourism, banking, science and technology and especially medicine. Therefore, selecting, using and adapting textbooks for ESP course are much concerned issues to ESP teachers. Given that materials development is an essential process in any language teaching program, this study is conducted to investigate and assess authentic materials use which give assistance to students of medicine in ESP program. Before the field- study is discussed further, it would be helpful to provide some background for the situation of ESP program in Vietnam in general and at Hanoi Medical University in particular. So far English has been kept its dominant role among worldwide languages. In Vietnam, English is considered as a key instrument in training human resource, especially, people working at high levels need to be equipped with the English proficiency to engage in...