Choosing a Textbook Based on the Four Basic Skills

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With all of the textbooks available in the market, often written by famous authors with years of experience, choosing a textbook is a very demanding and thought provoking task. What makes a textbook valuable in the classroom? We must decide which points are important to us as teachers. What method or methods does the textbook use to convey its ideas? How is the language presented? Is it attractive to the audience? Are there additional materials that can be used to supplement our book such as additional listening or video material, web search ideas, interactive whiteboard software and other additional resources that could be used to enhance the class? Along with these criterion we must analyze the differences between textbooks to come up with the optimal choice for our needs. There are many different approaches used to teach the four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking, the tactic we take as to which one best suits the intended audience will depend on the necessities of the group to be taught, as well as the teacher’s personal preference as to method of teaching. Let’s look at these two textbook chapters and compare the way they look at the four basic skills.
In this paper we will work with two book chapters from two different sources. The books used are Bachillerato Made Easy, by Richmond Publishingi and the unit ‘Botellón!ii’ from an English textbook published in the Basque Country (2010) for teenagers. Both texts are from books whose intended audience are teenagers studying in the Spanish school system. The audience is one of the only things both texts have in common. The Richmond textbook is older both in publishing date, 2001, and in style and content. It follows a traditional textbook pattern, alternating...

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...uggestions to improve the way teenagers are able to participate productively in their own town. It would need to be balanced with additional material to make it truly 'integrated', but leaves room for creativity in both assessment and implementation.
In conclusion we have seen the different ways these textbooks use learning stratagies and multiple methodologies to meet the requirements of the Spanish school system. Penny Ur's comparison of the a tapestry is a very good metephor for integrated skills. We could say the topic is the warp, and the different skills, the weft. All of them are intertwined to form a tapestry. They all build on each other, producing a pleasing product, whether it be a competent language learner, or a decorative item. Neither of these books is perfect, but they could be complmented with additional material to form our pleasing work of art.

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