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The learning english text book And supplementary readers
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A text book is a book used in the class for teaching the text of the lesson. The text book is a powerful tool in the hands of the teacher to- teach a language -especially a foreign language. It is a useful aid to language teaching. It helps to revise and reinforce the language material already taught.
Importance of text book
The text book is one of the major tools in the hands of a language teacher, especially a foreign language teacher. A language can be learned no doubt, without any text book. But that may involve a lot of unnecessary repetition. Moreover, that may also involve significant omissions. The progress in this case would be less planned. If a text book is used, which is well planned and well-written, it can always prove to be a very useful tool both for the teacher and the taught. It can help them in the following manner.
- It gives meaning and purpose to the teaching-learning process of a language.
- It presents examples of the matter to be learnt.
- It keeps the teacher on guard against any ill-planned and haphazard repetition and omission .
- It facilitates and stabilizes the learning of the students.
- It serves as a memory aid for the pupils.
- It prepays ground for writing work .
- It reinforces what the students have learnt orally.
It should not be concluded from what has been said above, that the text book is the be-all and end all of the teacher’s work. It should be remembered that the text book is a meaning and not an end in the learning of language. The teacher should not give an undue importance to the text book. But the fact is that most of English teachers treat the text book as the ultimate thing in the teaching of English. The result is that they devote too much time to it. They mainly concentrate upon the content of the lesson of the text book and do not devote proper time to the language in which that content is presented. However, the teacher must make use of the text book to avoid unnecessary repetition or omission of essential language patterns.
Characteristics of a Good Text Book in English
A good text book in English should have the following characteristics.
(1) The reading material of the text book should be presented in relation to pupils surroundings and the social atmosphere in which he lives.
(2) The reading material should be according to the age, interests, aptitudes and needs of the young learners for whom the text book is prepared . The topics may gradually shift from the near to distant scenes in keeping with the interest of the pupils.
(3) There should be sufficient variety in the material.
(4) The words, phrases, sentences and structures should be selected, graded and presented systematically.
(5) The new words and structures once presented in interesting situations, must be repeated many times afterwards in different situations. Such repetitions should be properly spaced for fixing the words and structures firmly in pupils, minds. It has been suggested by some language experts that new linguistic items should be repeated at least four times in the lesson in which it has been introduced for the first time and about ten times in subsequent lessons.
(6) The words and structures used should be useful for making a number of different expressions about various objects and actions. They should be simple for the young learners to speak and write. They should be worth teaching in all class situations.
(7) There should be sufficient and suitable teaching and testing exercises at the end of each lesson. The content and language material in each lesson should be further practiced and tested through many graded exercises at the end of a lesson. There may also be instructions along with each exercise. These instructions should be very brief and simple enough for the students to understand.
(8) The English text book should be so designed that it provides facilities for developing the necessary language skills of speaking, reading and writing in young learners.
(9) The English text book should clearly state the target to be achieved by the end of the year and from lesson to lesson in terms of phonetics, grammar and content items. There should be a clear indication to this effect in the list of contents at the beginning of the book as well as at the beginning or end of every lesson.
(10) A good English text book should be neatly and artistically printed. The type used should be sufficiently bold. There should be appropriate spacing between words.
Supplementary readers are books meant for reading purposes in order to supplement the gains obtained from the text-books in English. These readers are not to be taught in the class as text books are taught. They are to be read by students themselves. The teacher is required to help them in case of difficulty only.
A good example of supplementary readers is Read” and Learn Series of Readers published by Orient Longmans, Bombay. They are known as ‘Supplementary Reader I, Supplementary Reader II a: i.d Supplementary Reader Ill.
Selection and gradation of supplementary readers
The Supplementary Readers should be selected and graded systematically and scientifically. At lower stage, the structures should provide the vocabulary. Hence, they should provide an ample drill in each structure with common vocabulary. The structures should be selected from purely Indian background and the vocabulary items used in the structures should relate to day-to-day life of Indian students. The gradation of the structures should also be done thoughtfully. This fact should be quite clear from the first and the last lesson of the reader:
The vocabulary used in the Readers should also be well graded. The vocabulary used in Supplementary Reader should be · between 400 and 450 words. The words used in Reader I and new. Words introduced in other Readers should be shown at the end of each book. The selection of vocabulary should be done intelligently. The vocabulary used in a Supplementary Reader should have dose connection with the vocabulary used in the text books in English for that stage. Words should be taken from purely Indian background and the settings should be cast in day-to-day life. A good point in the presentation of vocabulary in that a new word once introduced should be repeated a number of times in the subsequent lessons.
The subject matter given in the Supplementary Reader should reflect Indian background. It should be in tune with the mental age, interests and educational needs of the students. The scenes and settings should move from near to the distant ones. For example, from the family in Reader I, the subject matter should slip to school, play ground, bazaar, village temple, post office and railway station in. Reader II and it should shift to other villages, towns, cities, rivers and mountains in India in Reader III. There can also be references to foreign countries also in Reader III, but it should mainly concentrate on the life of people in India.
Critical review of traditional text books
The standard of traditional text books used in our schools is far from satisfactory. They give the basic facts of learning a language, especially a foreign language. They do not care for selection and gradation of language items. Moreover, they do not provide for ample practice, revision and repetition of words and structures to fix them in the minds of the students. They treat language as a content subject and not as a skill subject.
The traditional text books generally suffer from the following defects.
(1) Structures-The grading of structures in traditional text books is faulty. They do no teach one structure at a time. They mix up many structures a t a time. It is contrary to the principle of sound structural syllabus.
(2) Vocabulary-The use of words in traditional text books is not based on the principles of selection and gradation, quite difficult words and less frequent words find a place in text books, such as quiver, zebra, vehicle, yoke etc. Another defect is that there is no spaced repetition of new words to fix them in the minds of the students.
(3) Unreal illustrations-A number of illustrations in our traditional text books are unreal. Some of the illustrations are also misleading.
(4) Exercises- Simple .exercises is not provided in our traditional text book. Moreover, there is lack of variety in exercises. There are exercises of the same type given at the end of every lesson. Sufficient drill is not provided, in these exercises, for words and structures taught; in each lesson.
(5) General Standard-The general standard of our traditional text books is not high and upto the mark. The material given in them is not up-to-date. At son;ie places, the material contained in our text books in English is not according to the mental age of student. Our text books are generally written by schools, lectures or professors, in colleges, who know nothing of the mental ability of small children.
It is necessary that a Text book in English for a particular class should be written by a teacher or a group of teachers who have sufficient experience of teaching English to that class. They should be fully conversant with the mental age, interests, aptitudes and educational needs of the students for whom they are written. They should be quite fit and appropriate for the students for whom they are meant.