During last Thursday’s session we talked a lot about materials adaptation, and while we were doing so, I made a few brief notes of what sprung to mind about the way I adapt materials.
We then worked in groups to explore the topic further. Although in my group we briefly discussed when, why and what, we chose to focus primarily on how, as we felt this to be the most interesting area in terms of reflecting on our own practice – what we actually do in the classroom. Here’s a photo of what we came up with:
I really felt the benefit of working on this collaboratively, and although my initial notes were jotted down in a far shorter time period – and were more focused on my specific teaching contexts and experiences, it’s easy to see how much more content is generated when there’s a dialogue going on.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to redraw these notes, primarily for clarity, but I also find that doing so aids my own processing of thoughts and ideas.
The phrase that particularly struck me during this process was ‘lift it off the page’. I’ve used this expression before with reference to coursebook-based teaching, and consider it such an important part of the dynamic between teachers and materials. If we don’t lift the material off the page, then do we risk negating the need for the teacher at all?
But there’s a dichotomy here, because if the materials need the teacher to lift them off the page, does this decrease their value? Does it make them dull and/or impenetrable? Should they jump off the page of their own accord?
This must – in part – come back to context and the purpose of the materials, whether they’re meant for self-study or classroom use.
I think there are two factors at play here:
- Are the materials designed to be flexible / universal? Only we, as teachers, come close to really understanding the specific context in which we’re using the materials, and thus what’s needed by way of adaptation. Which means that materials designed to reach wider markets (coursebooks, primarily), will inevitably need to be adapted to suit the specific learners.
- Do the materials communicate the instructions for each activity? Should they? Again, it depends on whether or not they’re meant for self study, but I would argue that sometimes less is more. Which takes me back to a point I made in an earlier post: materials should be important.