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Critical Review

How effective does the usage of textbooks as a primary source for teaching material
in a primary ESL classroom is a question that every Malaysian teachers face. This critical
review is a part of a coursework that seeks to enhance students creativity and innovative
skills in line with Shift 1 of the education Blue Print that states, Revamp examination and
assessment to increase focus on higher order thinking students by 2016. Developing and
using resources for primary ESL classroom is the subject for this coursework, therefore,
textbook as one of the teaching resources shall be critically reviewed by me based on the
two articles by Leslie E. Sheldon and Hasan Ansary. Once again, textbooks can be a reliable
material, but how effective can it be?
According to Hasan Ansary, no textbook is perfect. Therefore, teachers should have
the option of assigning supplementary materials based on their own specific needs in their
own specific teaching situation. Meanwhile, Leslie E. Sheldon stated that he wish to
concentrate on course books because, whether we like it or not, these represent for
both students and teachers the visible heart of any ELT programme. I agree with both
Hasan Ansary and Leslie E. Sheldon statements because course books are the main and
important guide in every lesson. In my opinion, course books play a major role in guiding
students and teachers by highlighting each topic of the subject in a neat and organized
manner rather than using other teaching materials that does not have specific guide on
certain topic. For example, if one teacher uses educational DVD or VCD in the primary ESL
classroom to teach, it would be very frustrating for the teacher because he or she needs to
set up the computer, refer back to the content of the lesson and preparing teaching aids.
Thus, this will make a very time consuming procedure as students need to be in class right
on time and the teacher need to follow the time constraints regarding the time allocated to
teach of each stages from the lesson plan.
If the teacher uses text book as the main resource for teaching a primary ESL
classroom, the lesson will be guided as the text book has sequence for each stages in the
topic. For example, if the teacher plans to teach grammar for the next lesson, he or she will
read the topic, sub topic, main title, sub title, content, sub content and illustrations related to
the lesson. This shows that when using the text book, it acts as a framework or guideline for
the teacher to teach for the next lesson. Other teaching materials such as DVDs or posters
are not bad teaching materials; it is just not properly guided as teachers need to do several
external researches based on the topic, for example referring to textbook or the internet
before they teach. Unlike text books, which are already guided and systematic therefore
does not require explicit external researches. However, if the content of the textbook itself is

unreliable, outdated or not in depth and the teacher needs to do further researches before
teaching, the teacher may do so because textbooks cannot be updated automatically and
newer versions will be printed later in the future. Once again, based on the two articles by
Leslie E. Sheldon and Hasan Ansary, a short summary is formed. Text books are a reliable
teaching resource. However, text books are not up-to date.
In spite of the lack of technological advancements compared to other modern
teaching resources, text books and course books are still the preferable teaching resources
amongst all teachers and students either in the primary ESL classroom, secondary school
level and even tertiary level education. Text books are useful and reliable as it is mobile and
compact compared to other teaching resources. Some can fit inside pockets and some can
even be as big as a door. However, the main concern is the content of the book and how
useful it is for the reader. The usage of the textbook is also varied as different teachers have
different methods in teaching and some apply the content from the textbook into the lesson
by directly copying down the whole content onto the white board or chalk and talk, transfer
relevant points or data into the lesson systematically and using the textbook as a guideline to
teach something entirely new or authentic. Other aspects such as the suitability of the
content of the textbook are also something important to ponder upon and must be taken
seriously as some students are sensitive towards certain content of the textbook, such as
racial differences and family ties. Students that came from unfortunate families dealing with
poverty, divorce and racial conflicts are some of the issues that the teacher should care of.
Therefore suitable content to teach based on the textbook must be carefully selected in order
to achieve a successful lesson. Suitable content to use to teach the students should be taken
care seriously and teachers must be smart not to hurt the students emotionally. It is the
teacher that should be able deliver the content of the lesson successfully, not the text book
itself.
Primary ESL textbooks are easy to access as most of them are easily acquired at the
library and bookshops. Therefore teachers and students should not face any problems
regarding difficulties in accessing the textbooks. In terms of interesting graphics and
captivating display, textbooks are not able to produce vivid and lush three dimensional
displays. However beautiful hand painted illustrations with different brushstroke techniques
and mesmerizing pencil sketches will keep the readers at bay. Some readers are not
interested in beautiful illustrations and colourful displays but they do appreciate the
visualization of each characters and the landscape of the environment in the illustrations
because this will enable them to understand the content better. Primary ESL students
sometimes get bored quickly by reading bland texts. Therefore, illustrations are drawn and

coloured beautifully in order to captivate the readers attention and make them understand
what they read better.
As a conclusion, based on the two articles by Leslie E. Sheldon and Hasan Ansary,
textbooks can be a reliable teaching material and resource because it is mobile, compact,
and full of content, contains clear guideline on the topics and have interesting illustrations to
keep the readers interested. Teachers will face no problem in using the textbooks because it
is one of the ideal teaching materials ever produced. Primary ESL learners will have no
issues using the textbooks as it is detailed and following the syllabus.

REFERRENCES
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RELATIONSHIP TO THE LANGUAGE OF READING TEXTBOOKS AND THE QUALITY
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http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED002970)
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