TI-AIE: Using resources beyond the textbook

What this unit is about

Your secondary English textbooks provide a useful structure and syllabus for your teaching. They present a variety of texts to students, including passages from prose, plays and poetry written by a range of authors from India and beyond. There are many things that students can learn from these textbooks in terms of language use and vocabulary, and they can be a great resource for your teaching. However, the National Focus Group on [the] Teaching of English (NCERT, 2006) states that ‘curricular freedom cannot exist in the presence of a single prescribed text’ (2006, p. 22). It recommends that resources from radio, print or television news stories be used in classrooms with older learners. Research shows that frequent and relevant use of resources beyond the textbook can promote better learning among students (Westbrook et al., 2013).

Figure 1 Using resources beyond the textbook can help to create authenticity in learning activities by making learning familiar and meaningful to students.

Resources beyond the textbook enable you to connect students’ learning to their own experiences and contemporary events outside your classroom, and create opportunities for you to find out the knowledge that students are bringing to the classroom. Resources from radio, newspaper or television provide topics that are current and are likely to be interesting for students. Carefully planned lessons using these resources can support your students in developing critical thinking skills.

Using resources beyond the textbook also allows students to experience how English is used outside the classroom and to engage with authentic contemporary language. The examples in textbooks are often from literary sources with older styles of language. This is why the Position Paper of India’s National Focus Group on [the] Teaching of English (NCERT, 2006, p. 14) states that students also need to be exposed to ‘authentic’ texts that are not written for learners, but are for general readers and audiences. This will help them to learn to communicate in the language as it is used outside the classroom environment in India and beyond.

This unit gives you some ideas for using resources beyond the textbook in your English classes. These resources do not need to be expensive or even necessarily all in English. These activities help you to bring creative and contemporary topics and language into your English classroom, and to make learning more meaningful for your students.

What you can learn in this unit