English Textbook Evaluation: Indonesian Context


Firman Parlindungan

Graduate Program of English Education, Islamic University of Malang, Indonesia

1.1  Background of the Study

Textbook evaluation is a prominent activity to provide teachers and students an effective and efficient material in the classroom. This activity should be done before the teacher plans the lesson. This is an attempt on how teachers present the lesson is appropriately suited the goals, level of students, and time allotment in the class (Brown, 2007: 191)

Evaluating textbook can be done based on checklist or criteria. It is to see the weakness and strength of the textbook. Cunningsworth (1995: 1) highlighted that “Criteria of selecting textbook is to give enough detail to ensure good match between what the textbook contains and the requirement of the teaching and learning situation”.  Therefore, this paper will discuss briefly the result of textbook evaluation, precisely commercial textbook.

 

1.2  The Identity of The Textbook

The textbook chosen to be evaluated is “The Door to the Global Communication” (Bukhori, A., 2005). It is kind of English commercial textbook for Junior High School Students class VIII. This textbook published by CV. Regina located in Bogor. It contains 19 units with a review after the end of semester. A separate teacher’s manual contains a listening script to complete it on how to teach the lesson and it is for teachers only. Based on the preface given by the author, the goal of this textbook is to provide teachers and students with activities that make the English lesson. In addition, it provides students with the skill they need to use English outside the classroom.

1.3  Criteria of textbook evaluation based on Cunningworth (1995)

Cunningworth (1995) selected some of the most important criteria for evaluation and selection purposes. They are (a) Aims and approach; (b) Design and organization; (c) Language content; (d) Skills; (e) Topic; (f) Methodology; (g) Teachers’ book; (h) Practical consideration. Then he added that textbook evaluation can be done quickly by seeking its weakness and strength.

In the other discussion, Brown (2007) stated criteria for textbook evaluation in 12 points. They are (1) Goals of the course; (2) Background of the students; (3) Approach; (4) Language skill; (5) General content; (6) Quality of practice material; (7) Sequencing; (8) Vocabulary; (9) General sociolinguistic factors; (10) Format; (11) Accompanying factors; and (12) Teachers’ guide.

Furthermore, Cunningworth (1995) also revealed that teachers can see various features of the textbook such as the quality of the visual, how attractive and clear the layout is, what the course package is made up of, how the materials are sequenced, etc. this kind of overview is good to have general introduction to the material. In this paper, the criteria selected is kind of checklist as mentioned by Cunningworth (1995) in the paragraph before.

 

DISCUSSION

2.1 Aims and Approaches

The “Doors to the global communication” aims to train students to communicate accurately in English by giving them a solid grounding in the basic elements of language. In this book, students learn to recognize and produce important language functions, such as complimenting people (Chapter II speaking task I), offering and accepting things, giving instructions and they learn to understand and use rules of English grammar, such as the formation of tenses, arranging the word (unit 15 task 8), Students also recognize and produce vocabulary related to appropriate topics for the age group, such as fruits, pets, food and drink.

This textbook emphasizes the communicative functions of language – real life situations. It tries not only to reflect the students’ needs and interests, but also emphasizes skills in using the language. So not just the forms of the language although it is not activity based. The book encourages work in groups and pair by pair worksheets in the teacher’s book (unit 1 task 4). Both content and methods reflect the authentic language of everyday life.

2.2 Design and Organization

In design and organization, the components of whole course book package and how the grading and progression is suitable for the learners. This point should be taken into consideration. The layout is not clear enough, and the structure, function, topics and skill was not organized well. Students might have difficulty in following the instruction and to connect the topic form one material to other material.

Basically, the material designed for integrated skill. Each unit contains four English skills starts form Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Vocabulary exposure is given in Speaking and Reading skill. But this book serves a few language function for students in Speaking as well as grammar.

2.3. Language Content

As explained before “The Door to the Global Communication” does not cover grammar items for each topic or unit. It just give a few grammar discussion and it is not enough for students need. In short, the grammar items cannot meet the requirement of the curriculum. It is discussed further in the following parapgraph.

2.3.1 Grammar

Grammar is presented in the context of a photo story which is always followed by comprehension questions. Students practice language functions in the communication section. Students understand and use the rules of English grammar such as formation of tenses. The study skill section shows the students how to develop language learning techniques that they can use in class and at home in order to become more independent in their learning. At the end of each book there is a grammar summary part which is useful for self-study.

2.3.2 Vocabulary

Cunningsworth (1995:38) explained that “As well as teaching many new words as possible, course book can help equip students with strategies for handling the unfamiliar vocabulary that they will inevitably meet”.

In each unit of “The doors to the global communication”, there is a page that focuses specifically on vocabulary building, but new vocabulary is introduced in other sections of units. The new vocabulary that is introduced in each unit is listed in the teaching notes. The list of vocabulary contains the most important words which students need to focus on and learn to use; the list of vocabulary contains words which students need to be able to recognize and understand but are not expected to use actively at this stage.

2.3.3 Pronunciation

According to Cunningsworth (1995: 41) the teaching of pronunciation should emphasize at least on the aspect of phonology such as weak forms, stress, and rhythm as on producing individual sounds. Because the production of natural sounding connected speech depends on the speaker’s ability to handle the sentence stress and intonation of English with some degree of appropriateness.

The doors to the Global Communication” contains a section which focuses on common pronunciation problems. By means of this section, students learn to recognize and use correct features of English pronunciations such as vowel and consonant sounds, stress, intonation. Pronunciation part can correct errors and help individuals with particular problems. Most useful study skills are applied for pronunciation. In The doors to the global communication study skills sections students are trained to ask questions about pronunciation.

2.4 Skills

2.4.1 Listening

A course book should aim to teach major skills to the students which are discriminating between sounds both in single words and connected speech, recognizing and understanding various stress and intonation patterns, recognizing language signals in talks and lectures lastly overall comprehension skills (Grant, 1987: 19-20). “The doors to the global communication” gives helpful directions for developing listening skill. At the beginning of each unit students listen to presentation pictures. New grammatical and lexical items are introduced by these stories. Generally at the first of the units there is a part (pictures box) and in this part listening which are related to learning are provided to the students (unit 2 task 1).

2.4.2  Speaking

Cunninsworth (1995: 49) mentioned that “Speaking practice takes place through the oral presentation and practice of new language items, in dialogue work and in roleplay.” Speaking skills are throughout each unit. Speaking activities include dialogue practice, controlled communication work and more open-ended texts involving information pair work, group discussion and activities in which students are asked to rearrange the following into two meaningful dialogues. (Unit 2 task 2). General at the end of units there is a part called Glossary it can helps students to memorize new vocabularies.

2.4.3 Reading

Reading texts allow students to reflect on the structure and use of language at their own pace without the sometimes stressful real-time constraints that go with listening and speaking (Cunningsworth, 1995:73).

At the beginning of each unit new language items are introduced in reading passages (Chapter 3 task 1). Depending on the level complexity of the passages increases. The reading material is linked to other skills such as listening. The texts encourage both intensive and extensive reading. The texts which are in the form of dialogues provide authentic language for the students. The subject matter is appropriate for the students since it provides interesting dialogues, challenging reading passages and some topical projects. All of the texts are complete and pre-reading questions before some of the reading passages.

2.4.4 Writing

Based on Cunningsworth (1995: 80) “Different kinds of writing have different conventions for their organization and expression, and a coursebook should cover as many of these as is appropriate for the level and aims of the learners.” In The doors to the global communication there is a writing part at the end of each unit which is devoted to the careful development of the writing skill. Students are introduced to the skills of; for example, arrange the following jumble words, paragraph writing, Language points focused on include connectors and linking words. In addition, students are taught the skills of note-taking and note making, checking grammar, spelling and punctuation.

 

2.5 Topic

Course books must represent language as it is actually used and therefore they contain subject matter and deal with various kinds. The topics taken in this textbook are Flora and Fauna, Friendship, Travel, Health, Teenage Life, Recreation, and Seasons.

 

2.6 Variety and Range of Topic

Real topics are included in the series of the doors to the global communication. They are varied from hobbies, friendship, travel seasons, teenager life. By the variety of topics, the coursebook contribute to expanding learners’ awareness and enriching their experience. It relates to and engages the learners’ knowledge system. The topics at each chapter are suitable for the age group. So, students can link the topics with other subjects (geography, science, history).

As Cunningsworth (1995:86) explained that “A study of a language solely as an abstract system would not equip learners to use it in the real world. Coursebooks must and do represent language as it is actually used and they contain subject matter and deal with topics of various kinds.”

 

2.7 Methodology

The Teachers Manual for the course book clearly states that in keeping with modern trends in EFL teaching this will be a communicative text which recommends two differing methodological approaches to be used in the classroom. The preface to the teacher’s manual first recommends the use of a Task-Based Language (TBL) methodology, or as an alternative they suggest that ‘at times’ the teacher may wish to employ a Task-Based Language (TBL) teaching.

 

2.8 Practical Consideration

This textbook does not give a clear guidance for teacher on how to use the book and teach the material. The textbook does not require the use of any certain media or laboratory. So it can be practical for teachers who do not have such tools. The cost is also cheap and easy to find in any bookstore. Especially in the village because the publisher emphasizes that this book is available in any bookstore.

 

CONCLUSSION

In conclusion, the book of “The Door to the Global Communication” Textbook is presented in an organized, logical manner and is appropriate for the age, grade, and maturity of the students. Textbook lacks consistency in organization and appropriateness for the grade/age of students. Textbook is organized appropriately within and among units of study. Scope and sequence is confusing and not easy to understand.

Moreover, format design includes titles, subheadings, and appropriate cross‐referencing for ease of use. Organizational properties of the textbook offer limited assistance in understanding and processing content. Writing style, syntax, and vocabulary are appropriate. Readability may be appropriate but is inconsistent throughout the text. Writing style and syntax may be inappropriate or lack variety, offering limited support for student understanding.

Finally, Vocabulary may be too challenging or too familiar. Graphics and illustrations are appropriate. Visuals are somewhat unclear and offer limited support for the text and student understanding. Sufficient instructional strategies are provided to promote depth of understanding. Materials provide students with limited opportunities to integrate skills and concepts.

 

Suggestion

Based on the discussion above, it is suggested that teacher should elaborate the use of “The Door to the Global Communication” with additional material or other supported material as supplementary material. Besides, teachers need to explore the grammar in each skill more detail to have the student use a better English because the book does not serves enough explanation about it. Finally it is also suggested that teacher should explain the order of the book in order to make students understand how to link what skill to another skill and one topic to another topic.

 

References

Brown, H., D. 2007. Teaching by Principles. New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Cunningsworth, A.. 1995. Choosing Your Coursebook. Oxford: Heinnemann Publishers Ltd.

Grant, N.. 1987. Making The Most of Your Textbook, Oxford: Heinnemann Publishers Ltd.

 

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