Title: Investigating Four EFL Teachers’ Decisions on the Use of CLT-Oriented Textbooks
Keywords: CLT, textbooks, teacher decision making, teacher thinking, institutional reforms
Doctor of Philosophy
Teaching (CLT) in Albanian primary and secondary state schools, Albanian teachers, among others, are officially required to use communication-based textbooks in their classes. Authorities in a growing number of countries that are seeking to improve and westernise their educational systems are also using communication-based textbooks as agents of change. Behind these actions, there is the commonly held belief that textbooks can be used to support teacher learning as they provide a
visible framework teachers can follow.
Communication-based textbooks are used in thousands of EFL classrooms around the world to help teachers to “fully understand and routinize change” (Hutchinson and Torres, 1994:323). However, empirical research on the role materials play in the classroom, and in particular the role of textbook as an agent of change, is still very little, and what does exist is rather inconclusive.
This study aims to fulfill this gap. It is predominately a qualitative investigation into how and why four Albanian EFL teachers use Western teaching resources in their classes. Aiming at investigating the decision-making processes that teachers go through in their teaching, and specifically at investigating the relationship between Western-published textbooks, teachers’ decision making, and teachers’ classroom delivery, the current study contributes to an extensive discussion on the development of communicative L2 teaching concepts and methods, teacher decision making, as well as a growing discussion on how best to make institutional reforms effective, particularly in East-European ex-communist countries and in other developing countries.
Findings from this research indicate that, prompted by the content of Western-published textbooks, the four research participants, who had received little formal training in CLT teaching, accommodated some communicative teaching behaviours into their teaching. The use of communicative textbooks, however, does not seem to account for radical, methodological changes in teachers’ practices. Teacher cognitions based on teachers’ previous learning experience are likely to act as a lens through which teachers judge classroom realities. As such, they shape, to a great degree, the decisions teachers make regarding the use of Western-published textbooks in their classes.