توجه ! این یک نسخه آرشیو شده می باشد و در این حالت شما عکسی را مشاهده نمی کنید برای مشاهده کامل متن و عکسها بر روی لینک مقابل کلیک کنید : Evaluating Iranian High school Textbooks

07-06-2012, 11:36 AM
Evaluating Iranian High school Textbooks (http://13402002.blogfa.com/post-840.aspx)

Prepared by: Teimo or Ansari

Head of English Department

Table of Contents Abstract Statement of Problem, Research Hypothesis, Research Objectives, Importance of Evaluation, Evaluating High school Textbooks, Evaluation Criteria. 1) Audience 2) Course Objectives' 3) The Syllabus Content 4) Procedures used for teaching the textbooks 5) Data Analysis Conclusions References Evaluating Iranian High school Textbooks Prepared.by: Teimoor Ansari M.A. Abstract One of the problems of language learning in Iran is that most of our students do not have the capacity to express themselves in the foreign language fluently after studying English at guidance and high school for six years. In other words, they cannot communicate in English. It seems that it is partly due to the textbooks used, and partly to the kinds of instruction, procedures and techniques used for teaching English as a foreign language at high schools. The present paper has taken an analytic look at the course objectives and course, books written for the high school students by using a questionnaire and textbook evaluation parameters. Statement of the Problem My experience as an English teacher and teaching in Iranian high schools for many years has convinced me that English teaching objectives are not well-defined and most Qf the students do not overcome language learning problems and are not proficient enough to communicate in the foreign language. These students are not motivated enough to study English, and look at the course just as a subject matter which should be passed and do not understand its importance as a means of communication with which they can adapt themselves to new improvements in technology and other sciences . It is said that to acquire the target language effectively, learners need to engage actively in / processing the meanings of whatever they hear and read. A big problem in language teaching which our students encounter is that the tasks included in their textbooks do not give them enough practice in the skills they will need. In short, the textbooks somehow lack the variety of communication tasks which can motivate and give learners a purpose for doing them. Apart from the problem of textbooks, the other major problem is due to the procedures and techniques teacher,5 use to achieve the goals they have in mind. Some of them can use their creativity to change the existing materials of the textbooks into communication tasks and give their students enough practice in different skills. Although during the recent years there have been many changes in English syllabuses at Iranian guidance and high schools, these changes have not always yielded positive results. Although it seems that the designers were honest in their attempts to take advantage of new findings in applied linguistics, they have always looked at English from a narrow point of view, i.e. as a designer, not from the point of view of the learners; therefore, the syllabuses designed were teacher-centered, not student-centered . Research'Hypothesis The high school English text books and the procedures and techniques used for teaching them cannot help our students to overcome their communication problems in English. Research Objectives With regard to the aforementioned problems due to the textbooks and the teachi~g techniques and procedures, the present researcher decided to take an analytic look at high school textbooks and highlight the problems related to both the content of materials and the techniques used to teach them. It seems that the problem here is bidirectional. First, the textbooks themselves should be written in a way that encourage students and motivate them to engage in the learning activities, and teachers need to use new methods, techniques and strategies to prepare the students to take part actively in learning situation in order to achieve the goal; i. e . communication. Evaluation: Richards, et al. (1992, p. 130) define evaluation as: "The systematic gathering of information for purposes of decision making. According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987), evaluation is a matter of judging the suitability of something for a particular purpose. In evaluation there is no absolute good or bad - only degrees of suitability for the required purpose. According to Robinson (1991) evaluation is the discovery of the value of something for a particular purpose . Importance of Evaluation In today's classrooms, textbooks serve as tool and tutor, guidebook and gauge. Teachers throughout the world use texts to guide their instruction, so text books greatly influence how content is delivered. Schmidt, et al. (1997) identified textbooks as playing an important role in making the leap from intentions and plans to classroom activities, by making content available, organizing it, and setting out learning tasks in a form designed to be appealing to students. Good text books can play s central role in improving education for all studetts and the quality of the textbooks should be judged mainly on their likely effectiveness in helping students to achieve the desired goals To make the most effective use of a textbook, teachers must decide which textbooks are appropriate for their needs. A teacher needs to determine the extent to which a textbook focuses on and is aligned with a coherent set of significant, age-appropriate student learning goals that the teacher, school, or district has identified as integral to the understanding of and progress in a particular academic subject. They must also assess how well a textbook's instructional design effectively supports the attainment of those specified learning goals. The only way to gain this information is through careful evaluations of textbooks and other curriculum materials. This evaluation should reveal how well a textbook can support teachers in their effoqs to help students learn specific ideas and skills. Evaluating High school Textbooks In evaluating a textbook there are several logical stages including planning, implementing, interpreting, reporting, and so on. The planning stage is the longest and the most important part of an evaluation process because it is Idifficult to adjust later for the mistakes or omissions at this stage. The way of conducting an evaluation much depends on the purposes of the evaluation, the nature of the program or project being evaluated, the individuals involved- their personalities and their interrelationships- and on the timescales and resources involved. Therefore, evaluation should be conducted in a principled, systematic and explicit manner. It should be noted that no evaluation is ever objective; the evaluators, their sponsors and the objects of the evaluation all have perspectives and understandings which are subjective. The first question about the planning of an evaluation is about its purpose. According to Alderson (1992), the aim might be to convince a skeptical language teaching profession that a particular method works and should be introduced more widely, to investigate whether a project i can contribute to institutional decisions or whether to discard or continue a program or methodology. A good evaluation helps the decision makers decide on the allocation of resources, not claim about the superiority of particular approaches or methods. So in this paper the researcher tries to evaluate the existing textbooks in order to allocate the useful and suitable resources to promote the quality of English language teaching in Iranian high schools.

07-06-2012, 11:37 AM
Evaluation Criteria The following elements are essential to a good text book so the researcher has based his evaluation of high school textbooks on them . 1) Audience: Who are the learners? The problem is if the English text books taught at high schdol level fit the students' educational background, age, native language and culture, and motivation or purpose for language learning. Our students do not have common background knowledge because some of them are trained in rural areas in which un-qualified English teachers teach them while other students are taught in urban areas having access to a lot of classroom facilities to gain advantage of. ~Vhile some of the students take advantage of using satellite programs, VCD and video tapes, and go to private language schools, most of the students just have their textbooks as the only source of learning English. The materials chosen for a textbook should satisfy the students needs and interests and motivate them to get involved in classroom activities and in the learning process. The researcher's own experience after teaching English for 12 years in high schools shows that most of the reading texts included in English textbooks are not suitable for their age and do not motivate the students. To find out how the students feel about their course book materials, a questionnaire was prepared and distributed among students in three high school levels both for ~girls and boys in Esteglal and Meraj high schools in Kuwait. The result of the research proved the researcher's own experience . The high school English textbooks are the same for all students throughout the country and Iranian schools abroad while their cultural background and native language ~re not the same. This may cause learning problems for students. For example, my own experience while teaching in Iranian schools in Kuwait showed that the rate of learning for those students whose native language is Arabic is lower than those whose native language is Farsi because the grammatical points and cultural information included in the textbooks are given in Farsi. For example, most of our English teachers explain passive voice, tenses, direct and indirect speech in Farsi in order to be understandable for the students. Even, the researcher's own experience shows that some of university professors teach grammatical points in Farsi . Not all students have the same motivation or purpose for learning English. Some of them look at English just as a course that should be passed. These students have low motivation to participate in class, and they simply try to get a passing mark to get rid of the course. Other students attend the classes to learn some special points to be successful in the University Entrance Examination so they pay attention to special parts of the book. To be successful in this kind of examination, only a good grasp of vocabulary, some grammatical points, and reading comprehension are sufficient, so the students pay little attention to speaking, listening and writing skills. It is a hard task for the teacher to motivate these ftudents to get involved in classroom activities while most of I them are top students. Only a few students are highly motivated to learn English as a means of communication. The high school textbooks' exercises and activities do not satisfy most of the students with different motivations for learning English. The result of the study done by the researcher proves this point. For example, only 21 % of girls and 28 % of boys believe that their English textbooks are excellent in helping them learn English. Or only 12% of the girls and 9 % of the boys believe that the reading texts have been organized according to the difficulty level . 2) Course Objectives: What are the aims of the course ? It seems that the objectives of the course are improving reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking and writing: Reviewing the content of the high school books shows that these skills are given different weights and reading comprehension and writing are more emphasized. Although different tasks are given to help students to achieve the aforementioned goals, they fail to develop the skills interdependently. The major problem arises when most teachers do not use appropriate techniques to guide students use the activities included in their textbooks to achieve the desired goals. For example, most English teachers read and translate the reading texts and provide the meanings of all unknown words so that I when doing the comprehension questions, students have no reason for reading the text. Let's see if the content of the materials help students to achieve the desired goals or not. 3) The syllabus content: Each lesson at all high school English textbooks consists of seven parts A) New Words, B) Reading, C) Comprehension, D) Speak out, E) Write it down, F) Language Functions , and G) Pronunciation Practice . New words are introduced before the reading text. This prevents the students to work out the meaning of new words from the context. In some cases even the meaning given for a new word in this part does not correspond to the meaning of the word in the reading passage. There is no systematic presentation of the new words. Sometimes the word is given as a new word while it has been used in the previous lessons. For example, the word "giant" which is used in the reading text of the last lesson of grade 3 is introduced as a new word in the preparatory English course. There are so many difficult and new words in the reading text which have not been introduced as new words. Words like "truthfulness, honesty, trustworthy, sense of duty, idol", and so on have been used in the last lesson of grade 1 while none of them have been introduced as new words. The texts chosen for reading should be authentic or authentic like, not too difficult for the learners, suitable for the teaching goal and usable in the series of activities, lending themselves as a resource of information and ideas. They should also have currency of topics, situations and contexts. Some of the reading texts chosen in high school books lacks currency. The reading parts of the high school English textbooks have not been organized according to level of difficulty or background knowledge of the learners. The first lesson of grade one is more difficult than the other two lessons and it has so many new vocabulary items and expressions. The type of activities and exercises included in the comprehension part are not enough to really develop reading skill in the students because for developing - this skill all the techniques related to it such as predicting the content of a text, scanning, skimming, intensive reading, extensive reading and guessing the meaning of unknown words can be dealt with. It seems that the focus is on grammatical points because a high proportion of work is on this point. "Speak out" includes some drill exercises which seem to be more grammar exercises than developing speaking skill. Although these exercises are oral drills and should be practiced orally in the classroom, they 'are mostly assigned as homework assignments to be done at home and are changed to writing exercises so the real aim of this part is ignored . In "Write it down" most of the exercises are completion of sentences, responding to questions, or writing out some items related to grammatical points. Most of the exercises have a model to follow, which will detract from motivation of new answers and decrease creativity in responses. There is little room to expand on these exercises. Some of the questions require students to select a verb tense but do not invite them to go further and create their own sentences. There is little recycling of the grammatical points learned and practiced throughout thl e lessons so a grammatical point which is so emphasized in a lesson is forgotten during the course. Some exercises lack clarity of directions so they are not clear to both students and the teacher. For example, in grade one, lesson 8, Speaking 3, the instruction requires the students to answer the questions. Some of the questions are in passive voice and others are in active voice and the grammatical point taught during the lesson is passive so the students become confused if to answer all questions in passive or not. Apart from these drawbacks, the type of activities and exercises do not require the students to have active participation and do not encourage group work. The dialogue sections provided in the "Language Function" present few genuine or real-life situations. The conversations are superficially organized and pronunciation is taught in isolation. As a whole the format of the Iranian high school English books are not so as to make them attractive, usable, and durable. There is little use of pictures and illustrations to make them attractive enough for the students. Even in cases that some illustrations are given, they are not clear enough to help students understand fully what they are expected to do . 4) Procedures Used for Teaching the Textbooks Everybody knows that a good classroom atmosphere helps to motivate students and stimulate enthusiasm. The room itself can help to promote communication. The arrangement of chairs in Iranian schools does not allow for regular pair or group work. If real communication is to take place in the classroom, the teacher cannot expect silence. This does not mean that it must be noisy. As mentioned before,' most of the exercises and activities of the textbooks do not encourage group work, but a few teachers use their own creativity to encourage ~group work while doing the exercises. If the students understand the purpose of the pair / group interaction, and if the teacher exercises the right degree of control, a room full of students talking simultaneously should not be too noisy. Most of Iranian English teachers do not take advantage of pair and group work in the classroom, which can release them from their position at the front of the class and devote their time to those students who need more attention . In most English classes, the teachers use Farsi and sometimes the students' mother tongue (other than Farsi) for general social interaction and for classroom instruction. They explain activity types and grammar points and cultural information in Farsi. They translate the reading passages and new words into Farsi and do not allow the students to work out the meaning(of the new words from the passage and comprehend the text for themselves. This prevents the students to reach the desired goals and most of them cannot understand the unseen passages. However, the teacher can let the students translate some words or phrases just to show him/her that they have understood it . In presenting vocabulary, the teachers can use different techniques. For example, showing a real object, showing a picture, using actions and facial expressions, giving examples, using synonyms and antonyms, etc. But most of our teachers just resort to giving Farsi equivalents of the words and ask the students to memorize the words in a list along with their Farsi translation. But we know that we tend to recall words through their meaningful association with other words which appear in collocation in the texts. (Doctor is likely to appear in texts in which medicine, patient, pain or hospital appear). It is for this reason that learning vocabulary in context is much more useful than learning isolated words. It is better when introducing a new word, the teacher call the attention of the students to other related words. As most of the words introduced in a lesson do not recycle through other lessons, and if the students do not encounter or use acquired words for a long time, they forget them rapidly, the teacher can introduce games and exercises regularly to give the students an opportunity to help them recall words (they have leaned before. In this way, the students refresh their mind and the availability of the words is increased . Generally speaking, short conversations containing certain cliches that serve such functions as greetings, congratulations, invitations, asking for directions, -asking for pricesf etc. are referred to as Language Functions. They are a part of spoken language, contain stereotypes frequently used in special situations, have structures different from those of written language, and are, at times, so difficult to explain to the beginners in terms of ordinary sentence structures that the teachers have no choice but to give a number of examples. Most of the teachers do not provide ample examples to help the students how they can use them at the appropriate times and situations. Some of the teachers just read through the text and give their Farsi meanings. Another problem is that most of the teachers do not have a good lesson plan. Good lesson planning is the key to effective use of the classroom time. Most students respond well to a well organized lesson. However, an experienced teacher is flexible and changes his plan if necessary. He responds to the mood of the class and continues a popular activity for a longer time than planned.

07-06-2012, 11:39 AM
than planned. 5) Data Analysis As it was mentioned before, most of the problems which Iranian students have regarding English learning are due to the textbooks and teaching techniques. In order to test his hypothesis, the researcher prepared a questionnaire including 30 questions. The questionnaire was distributed between 58 boys and 75 girls in Esteglal and Meraj high schools. The answers rated "very much or excellent", "fair", "poor" and "very poor". Among those questions only 15 items which directly related to the topic of this paper i.e. evaluating high school textbooks and techniques used in the class were chosen. The researcher believes that high school textbooks do not help students to achieve their desired objectives. The findings of the study show that only 23 % of girls and 31 % of boys believe that their textbooks have an excellent role in helping them achieve their objectives, while 35 % of girls and 17 % of boys say the books have a poor role in helping them achieve I the goals. The charts show that only 28 % of boys and 21 % of girls believe that in comparison with other English books they are familiar with; their textbooks are excellent in helping them learn English. 30 % of boys and 21 % of girls think the textbooks have a poor role in helping them learn English. One of the problems which our students face is that they are not familiar with the objectives of the tasks included in their textbooks. They do the tasks while they do not understand the underlying objectives. In this study 13 % of girls and 21 % of boys stated that they were familiar with the educational objectives of different parts of the book. Selection of appropriate and native-like reading materials is a crucial component in the establishment of a productive reading programmer. Reading texts are the important part of each lesson and a good syllabus designer can provide various activities and tasks based on the reading passage in order to improve students' reading skill. 24% of girls and 34% of boys believe that the reading materials are very useful to encourage them to learn English. 38 % of girls and 23 % of boysbelieve that they are more or less useful. The organization of reading texts according to the difficulty level is an important factor in encouraging students to work on reading materials. Only 12% of the girls and 9 % of the boys believe that the reading texts have been organized according to the difficulty level. 36% of girls and 28 % of the boys think that the organization of the materials is fair while 31 % of girls and 24% of boys think the materials have poor organization and 16% of girls and 32% of boys feel that the materials have a very poor organization . Page layout is another factor which affects learning. Some texts overwhelm the students with too much textual information so that students lose their enthusiasm for learning. Nobody can deny the effect of graphic elements like illustrations, photographs, maps, charts, etc. 25% of girls and 21 % of boys hold that the layout of their textbooks is very good and encourage them to learn the language. 51 % of girls and 29 % of boys think the books are fairly appropriate in this regard . Communicative language teaching emphasize pair and group work in the classroom so that the activities and tasks of the textbooks are completed through pair work in the classroom. When completing the tasks in the classroom, the teacher can monitor the students' tasks and make sure they have understood the instructions. When assigning the tasks to be done as homework, the teacher cannot ensure that they have i done the tasks themselves. In our study 57 % of girls and 26 % of boys believe that doing the tasks in the classroom is very effective in learning. 23 % of girls and 20% of boys think it is fairly effective. 16% of girls and 25% of boys feel that it has little effect and 3 % of girls and 28 % of boys think it has a very low effect in learning the language. The type of exercises included in the textbooks can play an important role in helping students achieve the educational goals. Tasks which are designed to increase students' involvement, those which are interesting and require active participation of learners enhance the rate of learning. 25% of girls and 38% of boys believe that the exercises of the book help them achieve the learning goals. 49 % of girls and 45 % of boys think they are fair. 20 % of girls and 16 % of boys feel that they hardly help them and 3 % of girls and 2 % of boys state that they are very poor in helping them to overcome their learning problems. Most Iranian teachers complain that the time allocated for English classes is not enough to let them use ~tppmpriate techniques to teach the language. Allocating one session in a week for language learning in second and third secondary and two sessions for preparatory course is not enough for students to learn English: To enhance language learning, both i the time and the content materials of the book should be increased. 25% of girls and 19% of boys believe that there is good correspondence between the time allocated for language classes and the content of their textbooks. Technology not only increases the need for foreign language skills but also provides new and exciting means of helping students develop these skills. Computers and video programmes can play a major role in the development of second or foreign language skills. While some students have access to these aids for their learning, others have access to learning aids at school. 23 % of girls and 9 % of boys have good access to them out of classroom. 20% of girls and 19% of boys make occasional use of them. 20% of girls and 26% of boys have low access 'and 36% of girls and 46% of boys have very low access to such aids. This shows that the syllabus designers should enhance the possibility of using learning aids at school. 41 % of girls and 41 % of boys believe that using the language learning media has an excellent effect on their learning. A good classroom atmosphere and appropriate language resources on the shelves around the walls of the room helps to motivate students a lot and stimulate enthusiasm. 25 % of girls and 4 % of boys state that they have high access to such resources. 36% of girls and 21 % of boys say that the physical situation of their classes is fairly suitable. 19% of girls and 40% of boys feel that the situation and resources is poor and 19% of girls and 30% of boys feel it is very poor for language learning Conclusions to overcome the existing problems in learning English at Iranian high schools, the following suggestions are suggested. The objectives of the English course should be well-defined. The new language should be presented in a rich variety of oral and reading text-types, including newspaper extracts, conversations, notes, etc. To make the textbooks more interesting and stimulate the students' enthusiasm to learn the language, cartoon stories, poems, and coloured pictures can be used. The tasks and activities should be of a kind to emphasize the four skills and to require the students to do things with the language such as describing people, making suggestions, giving advice, etc. The materials should recognize that language is used in a social; context. Students should work regularly in pairs, and sometimes in groups, simulating social interaction. Most of the tasks should be done in the classroom with emphasis on pair or group work while the teacher monitors their performance. Some of the workbook materials should be designed so that they can be used for independent study, although they can equally well be used in the classroom with the teacher in control. Once students are familiar with the style, they will real#e that they can approach the texts and deal with exercises on their own. To increase the rate of learning, more use of language teaching aids such as wall display materials, video films, computer software programmes, etc. are suggested, since technology provides an exciting means of helping students develop language skills. Combining computers with video disks provides an exciting advancement in the use of machines to teach language. The number of sessions of English classes should be increased at least to four in a week. In teacher's book the techniques and procedures for teaching different parts of the textbooks should be clearly explained so that there should be more correspondence between the techniques used in the classroom by different teachers. It is hoped that high school textbook writers include some learning tasks in high school textbooks as they are found to be useful in developing students' English competence . The result of all these will be a course which makes language learning interesting and enjoyable as well as effective. This study by no means claims to be a complete survey of the problems of high school textbooks and the problems students and teachers are faced with, though I have done my best to accomplish my study. It is hoped that this study would give significant insights into the problems and shortcoming of English textbooks and motivate more research works at larger scales. References: 1) Alderson, J.C.(1992). Evaluation Second Language Education. Cambridge University Press . 2) Hutchinson, T.& Waters, A.(1987).English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge University Press . 3) Richards, J. C., Platt, J. & Platt, H. (1992). Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics. London: Longman . 4) Robinson, P. C. (1991). ESP Today: A Practitioner's Guide. Prentice Hall .
5) Schmidt, W. H., McKnight, C. C. & Raizen, S.A. (1997). A Splintered Vision: An Investigation of US Science and Mathematics Education. Boston. Dordrecht / London. Kluwer Academic Press .