ELT materials, teachers and learners

Writer's paradigm


When I write materials for ELT I’m very conscious of – not surprisingly – how materials interrelate with the teacher and the learner. At first I have a mental image of how the material will be used by the learners and the teacher. The four sections [1] [2] [3] [4] in the diagram (shown above) highlight where the cross over occurs between the three. All ELT writers need to understand the implication of these relationships on what they write and how they write.

[1] Teacher + Learners + Materials

This is the meeting point in the middle where the teacher uses materials with the students. Often this takes the form of a course book but the material could also be a newspaper article the teacher (or a student) has brought it or it could be use of online materials delivered to students’ laptops. It also includes students and teachers developing their own written materials for use in the lesson.

[2] Learners + Materials

This meeting point is typified by self-study material such as workbooks or the more controlled types of exercises you find in computer-based learning. These types of materials should be distinct from the type of material that is used in [1]. It will affect the ‘voice’ of your materials as you write directly to the learner rather than to the teacher. It could also represent when students produce their own material to share with each other.

[3] Teacher + Materials

These materials are used by teachers so here I’m thinking about teacher’s books or resource materials you might write for online teacher’s resource websites. Again, it means a real shift in the type of writing and the ‘voice’ you use in your writing; perhaps resembling more the style of writing found in a cooking recipe book

[4] Teacher + Learners

This part of the paradigm is perhaps the most interesting for writers because it’s where written materials take no part in the lesson. It’s the moment in the lesson where, for example, a teacher asks students about their weekend. Often is occurs before a course book is opened or for a dogme-based lesson it IS the lesson. When writing a course book, it is still part of the lesson that I take into account. Awareness of when the course book will remain closed or unused is part of the whole writing process.


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