Thursday, 27 June 2013

English Material Development at Glance

Since practitioners in English education are importantly necessary to be able to develop the materials as the content of learning, thus, it is really essential for them to have understanding and ability concerning with the material development. In some of his writing, Brian Tomlinson emphasizes theoretically that by knowing any stuff dealing with the topic it will help them to create more systematic and principled materials. I do agree with that and might add that practically, if they have the understanding of material development, they are expected to be able to create learning materials optimally which results better in the term of achievement of learning objectives.
Dealing with English material development, there are some applicable important terms. Among lots of the terms, here I’ll just come short with 2 terms: materials evaluation and adaptation. Both terms are basically related and support each other, and might be mixed-used in developing materials.

Material evaluation
Materials evaluation involves measuring the value (or potential value) of a set of learning materials by making judgments about the effect of the materials on the people using them. Summarized from Brian Tomlinson (2004), the material evaluation might try to answer the following questions:
§  the appeal of the materials to the learners (i.e. are the materials attractive?)
§  the validity of the materials (i.e. is what the materials teach worth teaching?)
§  the ability of the materials to interest the learners and the teachers
§  the ability of the materials to motivate the learners (i.e. to stimulate the learners to want to give time and energy to the materials)
§  the potential learning value of the materials
§  the assistance given to the teachers in terms of preparation, delivery and assessment
§  the flexibility of the materials (e.g. the extent to which it is easy for a teacher to adapt the materials to suit a particular context

So, what is the material evaluation for?
As its name, it can be used to evaluate any materials to measure whether the materials are proper, or fit with the learning and all the things in it or not. As the follow up of evaluating, the material evaluation can, then, be used to determine any further actions; for examples material adaptation and adaptation.

Material adaptation
When the materials are seen to completely fit the learning objectives and characteristics, it then can be fully used without any modification. That is what is called material adoption. However, such absolute ‘match’ is rarely found in the real field. The education practitioners are mostly insisted to look thoroughly to compare the materials and the need which then result the necessary of modifying the materials. Tomlinson describes that material adaptation involves changing existing materials so that they become more suitable for specific learners, teachers or situations.

So, what to do in this material adaptation?
Teachers, materials writers, publishers, or learners may:
§  decide to use only part of a unit
§  add or delete texts or activities
§  replace or supplement texts or activities with one from other sources

This is ‘material development at glance’ and really, there are actually still much to expose about.

Check on the ‘Book’ for further references; or download to get sample of English materials, which consist of teacher’s and students’ book, developed by our contributor, Tata.

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Brian Tomlinson and Hitomi Masuhara. Developing Language Course Materials. RELC Portfolio Series 11 Published by SEAMEO Regional Language Center. 2004
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