This article shows how criteria can be developed for evaluating English language textbooks. It presents a scheme for evaluation which can be used to draw up a checklist of items relevant to second (or foreign) language teaching. Instructions for using the checklist are given as a way of suggesting how teachers can evolve their own criteria for different situations.
In situations where there is a shortage of trained teachers, language teaching is very closely tied to the textbook. This does not mean, of course, that the method demonstrated in the textbook is always faithfully reflected in the method as practised by the teacher. It is ironical that those teachers who rely most heavily on the textbook are the ones least qualified to interpret its intentions or evaluate its content and method. The textbook can be a tyrant to die teacher who, in his or her preoccupation with covering die syllabus, feels constrained to teach every item in exactly the same sequence and context in which it is presented by the textbook writer. Any textbook should be used judiciously, since it cannot cater equally to the requirements of every classroom setting. In bilingual and multilingual situations, there are special limitations on the amount of English language teaching that can be done via the textbook. The textbook can present examples of common difficulties, but diere are problems specific to different language groups which are left for the teacher to deal widi. It is also likely that a textbook will outlast its relevance because of changes in the language policy of the community for which it was written. The question of relevance lies at the heart of this article. My purpose is to suggest a method by which teachers can develop criteria for evaluating textbooks used in teaching English as a second (or foreign) language. The suggested framework for evaluation takes into consideration firstly a number of assumptions...