Textbook Evaluation and ELT Management: A South Korean Case Study

| November 6, 2005
Textbook Evaluation and ELT Management: A South Korean Case Study

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David R. Litz

David Litz has completed a BA, BEd, and an MA in TESL/TEFL. He is presently working towards a doctorate in Educational Administration and Management. He has taught in South Korea, Canada and the UAE and his professional interests include testing/assessment and higher education administration.

davidralitz@yahoo.com / allielitz@yahoo.com

ELT materials (textbooks) play a very important role in many language classrooms but in recent years there has been a lot of debate throughout the ELT profession on the actual role of materials in teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language (TESL/TEFL). Arguments have encompassed both the potential and the limitations of materials for ‘guiding’ students through the learning process and curriculum as well as the needs and preferences of teachers who are using textbooks. Other issues that have arisen in recent years include textbook design and practicality, methodological validity, the role of textbooks in innovation, the authenticity of materials in terms of their representation of language, and the appropriateness of gender representation, subject matter, and cultural components.

Whether or not one accepts the value of textbooks, it must surely be with the qualification that they are of an acceptable standard or level of quality and appropriate to the learners for whom they are being used. It is absolutely essential, therefore, that we establish and apply a wide variety of relevant and contextually appropriate criteria for the evaluation of the textbooks that we use in our language classrooms. This paper will discuss and describe the intricate and complex evaluation process that was undertaken at Sung Kyun Kwan University in Suwon, South Korea in 2000-2001 for a textbook (English Firsthand 2) that was being used in this particular learning environment. The purpose of this research project was to determine the overall pedagogical value and suitability of the book towards this specific language program.

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