Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Designing Various Activities for Each Unit in English Text Books

Most textbooks are written and compiled in the same models and components or monotonous within all units of a book. With style like this, there are many weaknesses found, though it also has advantages. The advantages of this style are that students can quickly get used to understand and follow the activities which are in that book. However, this benefit does not last long along with the increasing meeting frequencies. First, students will get bored and lose of a challenge because every time the meetings are conducted, they always face them with the same pattern and model.

The second weakness is the lack of need adjustments to the topic being discussed. The discussion topic requires its own patterns as typical features. If all units are treated in the same activities or models, it will narrow the discussion topic in each unit. What it is meant by the narrowing topic of discussion is the nature of the context of discussion. For example, when a teacher discusses 'Jobs Description "and he uses an activity like a guessing game, then this will be fun. But this is no longer fun when used in the discussion topic of "Conversation on the phone".

Third, it is true that every unit in a teaching and textbook must have the same basic components and teaching chronologies. However, it does not mean that there should be no variation or development in it. Even, if there is no variation, boredom and lack of interest of students will continue to haunt teachers. Most of every unit demands a brainstorming or warming up stage, but when it is treated in the same way for all meetings or units, then it will not run properly. Thus, the need for variation in the brainstorming or warming up stage is much needed. In addition, in each unit there are always listening, speaking, reading, and writing. What will be the concerns for each unit is that they should be designed in various activities.

Here are the ways how to create various activities in listening: 1) finding and collecting all available activities, 2) looking back at the topic discussion, 3) choosing the activities suitable with the topic discussion.

For example:
There are several pre-listening activities as follows:
  • looking at pictures, maps, diagrams, or graphs
  • reviewing vocabulary or grammatical structures
  • reading something relevant
  • constructing semantic webs (a graphic arrangement of concepts or words showing how they are related)
  • predicting the content of the listening text
  • Make a list of possible problems that might have happened to him before you start the listening.
  • going over the directions or instructions for the activity
  • doing guided practice
The next step is to look at the topic. Take for example, the topic is Talking on the phone, then the last step is to choose the available appropriate activities with the topic. Looking at the list of the activities above and considering the topic, it can be said that the appropriate activities that might best suit are looking at pictures, reviewing vocabulary or grammatical structures, view films or photos.

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