The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Textbook

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Textbook

The use of textbook by teachers as their source for teaching materials might happen because they are aware of the advantages of using textbooks. There are some advantages of using textbook for both teachers and students. The first advantage is that textbook can be suitable for the students even they are designed not for the specific group (O’Neill, 1982). Finding the suitable textbook for a specific group of students is not easy. Whereas, if the teacher finds that kind of book, then it will covers all the things needed in the teaching and learning process. In other words, the materials needed for teaching and learning process are provided on that textbook. Thus, it would be easily to adapt and reusable by the teacher (Woodward, 2001:146).

The second advantage is that textbooks allowed the students and the teachers to look at the previous lesson they have learned or next lessons they are going to learn (O’Neill, 1982; Woodward, 2001). Sometimes students want to review their previous materials to check something or just to make sure they did not forget what they have learned. In addition, they usually review their lesson before they are facing a test. Moreover, textbook was used to look at the next materials they are going to learn I the next meeting by the materials can be done using textbook because it was provided all the materials in a semester or a year (Cunningsworth, 1995).

The third advantage is that textbooks can save money and time (O’Neill, 1982; Woodward, 2001; Cunningsworth, 1995; Ur, 1996; Sheldon, 1988). All the materials in a semester or a year have been compiled in one textbook with an inexpensive price (Woodward, 2001) or costs fairly reachable (Cunningsworth, 1995). It is economical than buy one book contained with just a specific materials (grammar, genre, etc). textbook has provided ready-made materials (Woodward, 2001; O’Neill, 1982; Cunningsworth, 1995). The ready-made materials provided can help teachers because it reduces teacher’s preparation time (Cunningsworth, 1995; Woodward, 2001).

The forth advantage is that textbooks provide adapted materials (O’Neill, 1982; Sheldon, 1988). The materials provided on the textbooks enable the teacher to adapt or improve it to make it more suitable for the students (O’Neill, 1982:105). The materials help teachers from their confusion on designing teaching materials because they can adapt or improve the ready-made materials on the textbook. (Woodward, 2001).

The fifth advantage is that textbook is a map that will show the teaching progress (McGrath, 2002:10; see also O’Neill, 1982; Ur, 1996, Sheldon, 1998:238) and provide direction and ideas on how the lesson would be delivered to the students. Some of them proposed that textbooks present the syllabus in an English Language Teaching program (Ur, 1996) and it facilities the curriculum change (MrGrath, 2002). Textbooks can save the learners from the teachers’ incompetency and deficiencies in providing the materials (O’Neill, 1982; Litz,2005). In addition, it is also economic and proper teaching materials for students (O’Neills, 1982, Ur, 1996).

The sixth advantage is that textbooks can support the teachers from some conditions such as the change of the curriculum (Hutchinson and Torres, 1994: 321-323; McGrath, 2002), demonstrate new and or untried methodologies, disturbing and threatening change processes, and help teacher arrange a good and effective scaffolding (Hutchinson and Torres,1994:321-323). Textbooks become the help for teacher, especially if those conditions happen in a sudden.

Meanwhile, despite of the advantages provided by the textbooks, some other theorists have pointed out the disadvantages of using textbooks. Allwright (1982), for example, conveyed that textbooks are too inflexible and generally show the pedagogic, psychological, and linguistic preferences and the authors’ point of view on the lesson. Allwright (1982) also adds that the methodology of the textbooks can influence the classroom by imposing the learning objectives and learning principles to the students as well as inappropriate instructions to teachers who use them. Subsequently, textbooks can establish and care for the methods, processes and procedures of language teaching and learning in the classroom.

Finally, pedagogic principles displayed on the textbooks may also be conflicting, contradictory or even out-dated based on the view of the publisher (Allwright, 1982 cited in Lawrence, 2011).

Another theorist who proposed some disadvantages of using textbooks is Woodward (2001:146-147). First, textbook can provide character and situation that are not relevant and interesting to learners. Second, it has to propose a lock-step syllabus than the one based on the student’ readiness. Third, even though sequence is good but if it is too familiar, the student could get to be predicted and bored. Moreover, the amount of the units can be too long or too short for the lesson or the content is too compact, or hard to be graded or too rare for the student. Then, method used by textbook may not fit with the class. Lastly, the textbook would not fit with the classroom, teacher and also the student are the worst case (Woodward, 2001: 146-147).

Tsiplakides (2011) has concluded some disadvantages of the textbook. There are five disadvantages of the textbook, these are:

a)  Coursebooks are not flexible and generally simply mirror the pedagogic, psychological, and linguistic preferences and biases of their authors

b)      Coursebooks contain social and cultural biases, such as gender bias, sexism, and stereotyping (Carrel and Korwitz, 1994; Renner, 1997)

c)  They are often too contrived and artificial in their presentation of the target language. For example many scripted language models and dialogues are unnatural and inappropriate for communicative or cooperative languages teaching

d)      Textbooks may prevent teachers” creativity if teachers are obliged to follow the coursebooks sequence to the latter (Skierso, 1992,p.432)

e)   The teacher’s role is undermined. Teachers may find themselves as mediators; they only carry out teaching practices imposed on them (Ur, 1991). (Tsiplakides, 2011: 759)


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