1 Using the textbook

Short activities done regularly can help you and your students practise English and develop confidence, as the first case study demonstrates.

Case Study 1: Ms Sheela uses textbook lessons to develop language routines

Ms Sheela used her language textbook to reinforce speaking, listening and vocabulary in Class III.

The textbook begins with a story about a baby elephant that likes fruit, and takes away different kinds of fruit from a shop. In the story, he is taught to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’. These words are important in the story. I started to use these words regularly in the class as part of our everyday talk. I encouraged students to use them, and I set the example by using the words myself – even though my accent isn’t perfect.

The textbook also has a poem about the days of the week. I brought a calendar to class and hung it on the wall. I taught the poem, and I also taught the months of the year, which is not in the lesson. Then I started a daily routine where every morning one student gets up to announce the day, date and month at the start of each class: ‘Good morning, class. Today is Monday, October the thirteenth, two thousand and fourteen.’

Now that we have some regular English routines, I have more opportunities to assess students’ English and to improve my own English too.

Pause for thought

  • How much extra planning do you think Ms Sheela needs to do, when she extends the textbook lessons in these ways?
  • Would Ms Sheela’s routines be effective for all students in the class, regardless of their level of competence? Why or why not?
  • What English routines do you have which are outside the language textbook lesson?
  • What opportunities do you have to assess students’ spoken English outside the language textbook lesson?

If you give your students plenty of ongoing opportunities to practise English, not just in the language lesson but at other times of the school day, you will have more opportunities to listen, observe and assess them. If students only hear or write English from the textbook lesson, their progress will be slower and you will have fewer opportunities to assess them. In the next activity you will extend the potential of your language textbook for students. This is also an opportunity for you to practise and extend your own use of English.

Listening, observing and assessing students learning English.

Activity 1: Using the textbook − a planning activity

Look at the next lesson or unit in your English textbook that you plan to teach. Answer these questions in your notebook:

  • What is this lesson or unit about? How much does the topic relate to the experiences of your students?
  • Make a list of the key words and sentences that the students can learn from this lesson.
  • What words from this list do your students already know?
  • Can you think of times during the school day when you could use these key words or sentences?
  • What additional resources or activities could help you extend the use of the key words?

Now choose one or two of the key words or sentences on your list. Use these words or sentences in your everyday classroom routines.

You should practise and do this for at least two weeks. How does this feel to you? Easy or difficult? How do the students respond? Does their use of English improve? How can you tell?

See Resource 1, ‘Using questioning to promote thinking’, to learn more about encouraging all your students to participate and learn.

What you can learn in this unit

2 Pictures and words