Posted by: raghdah | June 9, 2009

Coursebook Evaluation (HEADWAY)

Number of Words: 2,600 words

Student’s Name: Raghdah Al-Madany
Presented to: Dr. YOSIF AL- Shumaimeri
Student’s number: 429921289

ABSTRACT:

The aim of the paper is to investigate Saudi students’ view of the English textbooks Headway Series based on need analysis, in order to identify the students’ needs and help them learn the English language in a smooth way. The study consists of three parts: the literature review, the research methodology, and the empirical effort. First, I will give an account of the literature review which tackles the importance of textbooks. The second step is the questionnaire *Appendix A* that will help me in evaluating the textbook presented in this study from the point of view of the students. Finally, the focus is going to be on revealing the results of the empirical work and concluding the findings of the study.
The results showed that there was a general satisfaction about the textbook, most students’ answers showed that the textbook has a good design; it covers all the four skills and encourages learner’s independence and the use of technology. The book authors’ Soars and Soars, (1993) Promise to fulfill all the needs for learners of English in which they accomplish their objectives presented in the textbooks according to two studies. The first study done by Zareva, (not mentioned) on Bulgarian learners which evaluated Headway Elementary. The second study evaluated Upper-Intermediate textbooks done by Ranalli (2002 ) on Korean students.

I) INTRODUCTION:
Language teaching nowadays is quite important in order to be able to connect with different nations or people. English is the language that most people speak around the world. According to London Teacher Training College (LTTC) TEFL handbook English is used as an official or semi-official language in over 60 countries, also there are 300 million mother tongue speakers of English in addition to 300 million people who use English as a second language, adding up 100 million people who speak English fluently as a foreign language. It is also quite motivating to know that two thirds of the world’s scientists write in English, while 80% of all the information stored electronically around the world is in English. English language is used everywhere whether in books, newspapers, sports, medicine, technology or even music and academic conferences. In fact, learning English or any other subject involves three main participants, the teacher, the textbook, and the student Alshumaimeri (2001). We should also ensure “that careful selection is made, and that the materials selected closely reflect [the needs of the learners and] the aims, methods, and values of the teaching program.” (Cunningsworth, 1995 p.7).
In my paper, I will specify the textbook from the point of view of the learners.
Textbooks are the core of the curriculum and syllabus in most of our classrooms, according to Vellegna (2004) also, Hutchinson and Torres (1994) suggest: “The textbook is an almost universal element of [English language] teaching. Millions of copies are sold every year, and numerous aid projects have been set up to produce them in [various] Countries…No teaching-learning situation, it seems, is complete until it has its relevant textbook. “(p.315). yet, rarely do they offer adequate information for learners’ pragmatic competence. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate Headway Elementary since the series is used in the PSCC (Prince Sultan Cardiac Center) for heart technicians in order to make the students capable of reaching an intermediate level of general English. The Headway Series is taught for a year and a half. I will evaluate the book according to general guidelines. Also, the study is going to be empirical through a questionnaire Appendix A based on to the students’ answers (20 students) who have been studying the book for a 7 month now.

11) CONTEXTS:

A) THE LEARNERS:

This course is aimed at High school graduates who somewhat lack simple communication skills in English as a foreign language. These students are being taught English for a year and a half in order to have a good command of the language. This course is considered an important one that holds (120) credits. The language of instruction is English; also the books aim to cover the four skills of the language not to mention grammar. A questionnaire was conducted in order to evaluate the book from the point of view of the learners themselves.

B) THE BOOK:
I have chosen this book for the following reasons. I also borrowed some reasons from Zareva (Not mentioned):
• According to the authors, Headway Elementary has been designed for adult and young adult who would like to use English both for fluency and accuracy and all the four skills are developed systemically (Soars and Soars, 1993) which makes this book appropriate for all kind of learners.
• The book concentrates on traditional approaches such as a clear focus on grammar with in-depth analysis and clarification, through many exercises and reading material, yet it employs the “Communicative approaches” since students are required to work out rules individually and reflect upon their personal opinions According to Ranalli (2002).
• The book has been used for more than five years in the PSCC Center for Saudi Students.
* The book is suitable for beginners and a false beginner (Zareva) given that it is the first of five books, which cover the initial stage of language learning.
• The textbooks have been written to satisfy the needs of all kinds of learners from different countries or backgrounds, they are not merely used for a particular national group.

111) THE LITERATURE REVIEW:

The choice of the teaching material is quite important since the learners are making their initial steps in learning the language and getting a hold with other cultures according to Zareva; the textbook is a very essential factor for learners’ attitude towards the language and culture(s) it represents. By means of its content – texts and language learning activities – the textbook may encourage or hinder the process of developing learners’ intercultural competence (Zareva). Student needs and interests present good reasons for choosing the greatly popular Headway series, which is for students who want to make use of English accurately and fluently, and to communicate with ease in both social and everyday situations (Soars & Soars, 1996).

Cunningsworth (1995) and Ellis (1997) have suggested that there are three different kinds of material evaluation. They argue that the most common form is probably the ‘predictive’ evaluation which is intended to study the future performance of a textbook. The other types of textbook evaluation are the ‘in-use’ evaluation planned to study material that is currently being used and the ‘retrospective’ (reflective) evaluation of a textbook that has been used in any respective institution. For this paper, I’m going to employ the second kind. My first question revolves around whether the textbook units and topics are designed in an attractive way, which can motivate learners? Does Headway Elementary encourage “Communicative approaches”? Does it integrate the four skills of the language beside the excessive rules of grammar? And many more questions.

THE CRITERIA:

In order to evaluate Headway Elementary books, I have borrowed certain criteria points from De Jong (De Jong 1996), Byram (Byram 1991), Zareva , also I worked some points out myself in which the designed questionnaire was built upon :
1. The design of the book is interesting and brings the best in the students and motivates them.
2. The topics are of interest to the student and up to date.
3. The books cover the major skills of the language and encourage students’ center learning.
4. The text materials, visuals and learning tasks should represent the cultural difference and encourage comparison between their culture and what they encounter through the process of learning English
5. The book encourages pair/ group work and full of multiple tasks or activities.
6. The book encourages learners’ independence.
METHDOLOGY:
The Role of Textbooks in the EFL/ESL Classroom:
Sheldon (1988) consents that textbooks not only “represent the visible heart of any ELT program” (p.237) but also offer considerable advantages – for both the student and the teacher when they are used in the ESL/EFL classroom. (p.237) but also offer substantial reward – for both the student and the teacher, when they are being used in the ESL/EFL classroom. Haycroft (1998) most important reward of using textbooks is that they are psychologically vital for students since their accomplishment can be measured concretely when we use them. According to Cunningsworth (1995) and Ellis (1997) who both suggested that textbook evaluation helps teachers move beyond generalized assessments and it aids them to obtain helpful, precise, systematic, and contextual insights into the overall nature of textbook material. Also Chambers (1997) who points out that the activity of evaluating a certain book is frequently very beneficial once it is taken by everyone involved in the teaching and learning process. The study consisted of the theoretical literature review and the empirical study *quantities * a questionnaire given to 20 students who have been studying Headway Elementary books series for 7 month now. I have chosen the questionnaire method because it is feasible, moreover it is self-administering, and easy to classify and analyze Alshumaimeri (2001).
PARTICIPANTS:
The study was conducted in Prince Sultan Cardiac Center (PSCC). Data was collected from 20 Saudi female students age (18+). The students’ level ranges from mere beginners to Pre-intermediate. The students are high school graduates, who are specializing to be heart technicians, as a requirement of this major; they have to take an intensive English course for the first year and a half in order to be able to communicate in everyday situation since the program as a whole is taught in the English language only.
There will be a sample accompanied within the research.

DATA ANALYSIS:
Through looking at the results of the, thirteen questions it was very clear that most of the students (20 students) showed high agreement on most of the questions as shown the diagram below:

According to the criteria mentioned and the students’ answers to the questionnaire, it is very clear that the Headway Elementary textbooks have achieved the objectives mentioned.

Check the suitable answer for you in the following items:
The item Strongly agree agree Don’t know Strongly disagree disagree
1)The book is interesting and colorful 18 2 0 0 0
2) You like the way the book and the units are designed 10 10 0 0 0
3) The book covers all the Four skills (Reading, writing , listening and speaking + GRAMMAR) 10 8 1 0 1
4) Are the activities during the unit enough and the explanation of the grammar supplied at the end of the book sufficient 11 4 3 0 2
5) Does the book encourages the use of technology and has Cd’s and online support for the learner?
9 6 3 0 2
6) The topics tackled * touched upon* on the book are very old and lacking of innovation 2 5 1 2 10
7) The tasks required from you in the classroom are vague and very difficult to work on 1 7 2 4 6
8) Each unit of the book cover a reasonable amount of vocabulary and new information 9 10 0 0 1
9) The book relates to everyday
life situation 9 7 3 1 0
10) The exercises or activities of the book vary and are very motivating in learning a new skill? 5 13 1 0 1
11) The book encourages cooperation among pairs and groups of learners 4 11 2 0 3
12) The text book encourages comparison between the students’ culture and the culture they meet during the process of learning English. 3 13 2 1 1
13) The textbook encourages learners independence 9 9 2 0 0

111) DISCUSSION:

Thirteen questions were presented to 20 students. The first question deals with layout and design of the book. According to the greatest theorists in the field of ELT textbook design and analysis such as Williams (1983), Sheldon (1988), Brown (1995), Cunningsworth (1995) and Harmer (1996) all agree, that the evaluation checklists ought to have some criteria relating to the physical characteristics of textbooks such as layout, organizational, and logistical characteristics. On the cognitive level, Reda (2003) examined topics of a sample of six EFL textbooks including the well-known Cambridge English Course and Headway. The topics covered many aspects such as food, colors, fashion, leisure and sports and many other things * Appendix 2 part 2*. He recommended enlarging the amount of vocabulary presented in the book. On the affective level, Peacock (1997) inspected the importance of the use of authentic material to raise learners’ motivation. On the procedural level, Jacobs and Ball (1996), focusing on the quality of interaction. All the students agreed on the book’s colors and design, also in the second question, students approved of the way the units were designed and arranged. In the third and fourth question the majority of the students agreed that the book covers the four major skills and it has multiple task and activities that encourage interaction among pair/ group work, according to Vygotsky (1978) and Long (1990) who have advocated the cognitive value of student-student/social interaction for promoting learning. Moreover, Long (1990) mentioned five benefits which include students enhancing their opportunities of learning, encountering new ideas , elaboration, re-conceptualizing information, expressing ideas, getting feedback, and justifying their claims (Bruning, Schraw, and Ronning, 1999) As for the fifth and sixth question which dealt with technology and new topics, it seems that the students enjoyed the topics tackled in the book. Furthermore, the questionnaire gives an insight of what students would like to change in the book, which was very little in this case.
As for the eighth question, according to Reda (2003) headway books incorporate vocabulary through its five graded levels: elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced * Appendix 2 *

Even when it came to the use of authentic material and cultural comparison, a high majority of students agreed that the textbook presented everyday life situations. Also the students enjoyed doing the tasks presented in the textbook and the textbook itself covers a reasonable amount of vocabulary. The textbook raises English cultural awareness among students which develops their intercultural competence at the early stages of their language learning Zareva (not mentioned).

1V) CONCLUSION:

According to Zareva (-) in his study of Headway Elementary books, the book is quite attractive with it is pictures and layout design. The textbooks take into consideration the needs of its learners through developing their receptive and productive skills within a selection of context. Thirdly, the textbook provide learners with knowledge about different cultures as they are being exposed to native and non-native English speakers in the textbook itself. Many kinds of tasks and activities are presented in the book in order to encourage pair/ group work. Learners’ autonomy is stressed through out the textbook and the use of communicative activities is very obvious since students have to attempt these exercise first. The in-depth analysis of the grammar was not a drawback. According to Cunningsworth (1995) and three guidelines which dealt with the book corresponding to the learner’s needs , reflecting different uses (present and past) which learners will make of the language. Also, considering the students needs as learners and smooth the progress of their learning the language without commanding a stiff method. According to Ranalli (2002) assessment of the New Headway Series Upper-Intermediate is well designed and well written so that it provides a fine deal of support for learning. The book offers a great balance on accuracy and fluency. The authors have done a great job in making sure to engage learners in diverse tasks and multiple activities. The book also encourages learning through mistake and trial (communicative approach)

REFERENCES:

Alshumaimeri, yousif (2001) Saudi Students’ Perceptions of Their Textbook: English for Saudi Arabia, (EFSA), Secondary Year One.
Al-Shumaimeri, Y. (1999) M.Ed TESOL Assignment. University of Leeds. Leeds.
Brown, J. 1995. The Elements of Language Curriculum. Heinle and Heinle Publishers.
Bruning, R.H., G.J., Schraw, and R. Ronning. 1999. Cognitive Psychology and Instruction. Prentice Hall.
Byram, M. and Esarte-Sarriers U., 1991, “Investigating cultural studies in foreign language teaching”, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters 62.
Chambers, F. 1997. ‘Seeking Consensus in Coursebook Evaluation’. ELT Journal. Volume 51/1.
Cunningsworth, A 1995. Choosing Your Coursebook. Heinemann.
De Jong, W., 1996, Open Frontiers. Teaching English in an intercultural context,
Heinemann
Ellis, R. 1997. ‘The Empirical Evaluation of Language Teaching Materials’. ELT Journal.
Volume 51/1.
Harmer, J. 1996. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Longman.
Haycroft, J. 1998. An Introduction To English Language Teaching. Longman.
Hutchinson, T. and E. Torres. 1994. ‘The Textbook as Agent of Change’. ELT Journal. Volume 48/4.
Litaz, David (2001) TEXTBOOK EVALUATION AND ELT MANAGEMENT:
A SOUTH KOREAN CASE STUDY. Asian EFL Journal. http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/Litz_thesis.pdf
Jacobs, G.M. & Ball, J. (1996): “An investigation of the structure of group activities in ELT coursebooks.” ELT Journal, vol. 50/2, 99-107.
Long, M.H. 1990. ‘Task, Group, and Task-Group Interactions’ in S. Anivan (ed.). Language
Teaching Methodology for the Nineties. SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
London Teacher Training College (LTTC) TEFL handbook
Peacock, M. (1997): “The effect of authentic materials on the motivation of EFL learners.” ELT Journal, vol. 51/2, 144-156.

Ranalli, James(2002) An Evaluation Of New Headway Upper-intermediate . University of Birmingham, March (2002)
Reda, G. (2003): “English coursebooks: Prototype texts and basic vocabulary norms.” ELT Journal, vol. 57/3, 260-268.
Sheldon, L. 1988. ‘Evaluating ELT Textbooks and Materials’. ELT Journal.
Volume 42/2.
Soars, L. and J, 1995 Headway Elementary. Student’s book, OUP
Soars, L. and J, 1995 Headway Elementary. Work book, OUP
Soars, J. & Soars, L. (1996) New Headway Intermediate, Oxford University Press
Vellenga, Heidi (2004) Learning Pragmatics from ESL & EFL Textbooks: How Likely? Northern Arizona University (2004). http://tesl-ej.org/ej30/a3.html
Vygotsky, L.S. 1978. Mind in Society. Harvard University Press.
Williams, D. 1983. ‘Developing Criteria for Textbook Evaluation’. In ELT Journal. Volume 37/3.
Zareva, Desislava (not mentioned) “THE ROLE OF HEADWAY ELEMENTARY FOR DEVELOPING BULGARIAN LEARNERS’ INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE” New Bulgarian University.

APPENDIX A
Check the suitable answer for you in the following items:
The item Strongly agree agree Don’t know Strongly disagree disagree
1)The book is interesting and colorful
2) You like the way the book and the units are designed
3) The book covers all the Four skills (Reading, writing , listening and speaking + GRAMMAR)
4) Are the activities during the unit enough and the explanation of the grammar supplied at the end of the book sufficient
5) Does the book encourages the use of technology and has Cd’s and online support for the learner?

6) The topics tackled * touched upon* on the book are very old and lacking of innovation
7) The tasks required from you in the classroom are vague and very difficult to work on
8) Each unit of the book cover a reasonable amount of vocabulary and new information
9) The book relates to everyday
life situation
10) The exercises or activities of the book vary and are very motivating in learning a new skill?
11) The book encourages cooperation among pairs and groups of learners
12) The text book encourages comparison between the students’ culture and the culture they meet during the process of learning English.
13) The textbook encourages learners independence

HEADWAY BOOK SAMPLE APPENDIX 2
Ghsoon Reda (2003)

PART 2

Ghsoon Reda (2003)


Responses

  1. very interesting… Headway is my father’s favorite book for teaching English, he said it’s very thematic and organized.

    • yes, I like the book but it lacks more reading which Im always doing

      Best Regards.,
      RAG

  2. assalamu’alaikum…

    alhamdulillah, finally i’ve found an article which has the same objective with my thesis.

    would you like to teach me how to evaluate the result of questionnaire? because i don’t really understand.

    moreover, if you do not mind, would you like to send me the copy of “Sheldon, L. 1988. ‘Evaluating ELT Textbooks and Materials’. ELT Journal.
    Volume 42/2.”

  3. Cool!

  4. if you do not mind, would you like to send me the copy of “Sheldon, L. 1988. ‘Evaluating ELT Textbooks and Materials’. ELT Journal.
    Volume 42/2.”
    Because I do my thesis as well.
    Thanks any way

  5. hi i’ve read your articl above and you gave me hope that someone can help me in giving me the sources that you used,plz can you send the sources to me.another favour, can you suggest another topic which is similar to yours and can you help me in it?

  6. SIR,
    I AM ALSO DOING RESEARCH ON COURSE BOOKS ESPECIALLY AT SECONDARY GRADE SCHOOL LEVEL, ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE. I WOULD BE GRATEFUL IF YOU COULD GUIDE ME IN THIS REGARD. I HAVE COLLECTED OPINIONS FROM THE TEACHERS ON THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEXTBOOKS. ACTUALLY I DO NOT HAVE PROPER GUIDANCE. IF IT HELPS KINDLY SEND ME “Sheldon, L. 1988. ‘Evaluating ELT Textbooks and Materials’. ELT Journal. Volume 42/2.” sharmakvrk@gmail.com

  7. http://203.72.145.166/ELT/files/42-4-1.pdf
    The article

  8. It is very interesting, and i was motivated to ask you for help because my graduation project is to compare between two course books. I need the references that can help me.

    • Be specific so I can help you

      Best Regards,
      Raghdah Al-Madany

  9. It is a fantastic article. would you mind sending me references about evaluating textbooks

    • no problem

      just a minute….

      • if possible send my any valid e-mail I can give you some references

  10. it s an exciting article. if you mind providing me with resources about evaluating textbooks.

  11. my e-mail is : ahmedali19801@hotmail.com

  12. oh u r so late but thank you for ur reply, it was my project’s topic and i ‘ve already handled it thank you again but sure i will be happy to know ur experience in this major

  13. That’s a GooD piece of WorK Raghdah.

    GOOD LUCK


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