16. Coursebook-based teaching: adaptation


Coursebook-based teaching: adaptation – further responses to McGrath

In earlier posts (From objectives to lesson structure and Course Planning) I write some thoughts and responses to McGrath’s chapter on Coursebook-based teaching: adaptation (McGrath 2002:57-79).  This post is a place for me to note a couple of other thoughts and responses.

  • ‘Does the proposed sequence – consider objective, method, content/topic – correspond to your own approach to the evaluation of material at the lesson planning stage?’ (McGrath 2002:61)

I don’t think so, no.  I think my consideration of methods in materials comes after the objective and content/topic.  To answer this properly I need to explain what I understand by these terms:

  • objective = what I want my learners to learn (language point/function/skill)
  • methods = how the language point/function/skill is taught, i.e. what the learners do
  • content/topic = the subject matter of the material, i.e. what it’s about

Although I think the methods important, I think I evaluate the topic first, maybe because I know that if the language and topic are relevant, I can adapt what I actually do with it (as in beginning with a text – see From objectives to lesson structure).

  • ‘…when we supplement … we have to be very vigilant lest we introduce a new learning objective’ (McGrath 2002:65)

Yes, but… while we don’t want to detract from the main aim or objective of the material, if additional learning occurs incidentally due to exposure to language, surely that’s no bad thing – and is reflective of the complex nature of real world language use.  If supplementary material is designed in such a way as to still contribute to ‘the goals that underpin this material’ (McGrath 2002:65) without the language point being so isolated or de-contextualised that it becomes unnatural (not to mention dull), then there is always a risk that other, incidental language points will crop up.  I think that’s okay, so long as we can predict that these won’t overload the learner or set them back, and that the main objective is not compromised.adaptivetreeroots


  • McGrath, I. (2002)  Materials Evaluation and Design for Language Teaching.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University. pp57-79.

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