This subject is uppermost on my mind at the moment, as the final lesson of my materials development module will be this Friday. Next Friday, we will be doing “Dragon’s Den” presentations, where we have to speak persuasively for 12 minutes justifying and “selling” the materials we have been designing for the module assessment. Hopefully our materials will be principled, workable, suited to the chosen context and we will show evidence of the application of theory to practice – with a splash of creativity thrown in!
The materials I designed are aimed at upper intermediate students studying at private language schools in the U.K. It’s been an interesting and rewarding experience developing them from random sparks of ideas into a coherent 6-8 hour unit. I do like the idea of the module assessment being something which is not only practical and will be useful in the long run but also generates learning rather than simply testing it. The group has had 3hrs a week of input for the module this semester, in which we’ve systematically worked through different aspects of materials design from picking out theories of language, learning, acquisition and teaching, principles in existing materials and identifying what theories and principles we believe in, to evaluating and adapting materials for a particular context, and looking at things like visual impact, clarity of instructions, how to integrate effective systems and skills development into materials, as well as issues such as how to develop intercultural competence. I expect I’ve probably left something out, but I’m sure you get the general idea.
Anyway, my question for anybody out there who happens to find this page is this:
What, in your opinion, separates the wheat from the chaff as far as materials are concerned?
What principles/theories etc influence your materials writing or teaching the most?
And finally, How important do you think enjoyment is to language learning and why?
I shall post my presentation/powerpoint on here after I’ve delivered it, which will provide a good idea of my own views, but meanwhile what about all of yours? I’d be very interested to hear.
Feel free to answer as few or as many of the questions as you like – any and all responses are welcome!