barebones ©Thor May 2001                                                            back to barebones index

All the materials in barebones are working teaching documents 
subject to review, alteration or abandonment in classroom practice.
Anyone is welcome to use this stuff, but copyright remains with
Thor May. Feedback, positive or negative, is very welcome.

ESL materials & ideas developed in Korea

Sungsim Courses - Printed Materials Design

a) Grading: Written materials presented to students should be graded consistently according to their language level, general intelligence, vocational needs, and interests.

b) Activities: Classroom activities, and possible out-of-class activities, which might be attempted with each bit of language learning material should be stated explicitly for both students and teachers; (some teachers are inventive, but many are not). Such listed activities need not limit teachers and students of course, but they do provide a minimal base line.

c) Variety: A range of activities should be associated with each piece of written material catering both to extremely elementary students, and to those with more developed skills.

d) Social Learning: Many students are "social learners", so much text book or other written material should cater to this psychological need.

e) Interest: The human brain learns by stimulation. If materials are boring, they are useless for learning (except in the hands of a gifted teacher who can make anything interesting). No matter how important lesson content, if it is boring, it is lost.

f) Humour: Nothing wakes people up faster than humour. Humour is difficult across cultures, but every text should be examined with an eye to lightening its context with a bit of whimsy, if possible.

g) Illustrations: Isolated photographs, pictures, cartoons or graphs do not necessarily make a story, especially where imagination is in short supply. If these aids ARE used, they should be accompanied by suggested contexts, questions, activities etc. Much better for teaching are panels showing a series of pictures which do tell a story visually. Sometimes comics are also useful, with different speech balloons whited-out for each pair of students.

h) Games: Language games can be an excellent medium for learning languages. However, EVERY language game must be honestly justified and tested by a teacher for its precise learning objective. Time-fillng and baby-sitting are not legitimate teaching objectives.

i) Musical Lyrics: Many popular songs have fine lyrics, and are extremely popular with some students. There is no quicker way to learn a bit of English than memorizing the words in an appealing song. Note however that playing the song a few times is only the start of a language lesson, not its completion! Having mastered the words, they need to be explored, developed and used..

j) Revision: One reason that slow learners are slow learners is that many have never revised what they are taught. They walk out of each lesson (perhaps not even having brought a paper and pen), and everything is lost. Indeed, many teachers never revisit a topic after dealing with it once, and that topic too is lost to memory. A text book, or bound and printed papers, are one way to put material systematically before students, and with careful design, introduce them to a cycle of revision. The design of a text or printed course should therefore build in revision in creative and interesting ways 


"Printed Materials Design" copyrighted to Thor May 2001; all rights reserved

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