The Role of Textbooks in Language Teaching

The Role of Textbooks in Language Teaching

Textbooks have become one of the major resources used by the teacher for teaching and learning process in the classroom (Richards, 1993 cited in Tsiplakides, 2011). Textbooks are used not only by the teacher, but also by the students as their resource (Richards, 1993 cited in Tsiplakides, 2011) or as an acces to the previous or next lesson (O’neil,1982). In addition, Sheldon stated that textbooks can enhance student’s linguistic and communicative abilities (Sheldon, 1987 cited in Lawrence, 2011).

Some teachers use textbook much of the time as their syllabus and test material, methodology, task guide and visual and auditory aid (Woodward, 2001) which shows that the textbook is their primary resource. Some other teachers use it as their supplementary material to their own syllabus and ideas so that they can omit or adapt things from the textbook freely (Woodward, 2001).

The role of textbook for the teacher should be balance (Cunningsworth, 1995:7). It would be best if the relationship between textbook and the teacher is partnership that shares the same goal and gives their own contribution to help learners learn the materials (Cunningsworth, 1995:7). Moreever, he added that “the role of the textbook is to be at the service of teachers and learners but not to their master”.

           According to McGrath (2002:8), there are a lot of metaphors to explain what the teacher’s perceive towards textbook. Those metaphors are textbooks is just like a recipe and others may say that textbooks is like a holy book, a springboard, a compass, a straitjacket, a survival kit, etc. all of them explained the role of the textbooks in a view of some teachers. Textbooks is like a recipe because it consists of the important ingredients for teaching and also explains how to use and make those ingredients become something ‘delicious’. Textbook is just like a survival kit because it saves people in emergency situations. It means that textbook can help and save the teacher when they need in an emergency situation (McGrath, 2002).

           Those examples of the metaphors show the importance of textbook for some teachers. The role of the textbook for one teacher may be different from other teachers. It depends on their requirement towards the textbook. Therefore, those metaphors show the teacher’s dependence of the textbooks they use. According to Sheldon (1988:238), “… for students, teacher-generated material (which potentially has a dynamic and maximal relevance to local needs) often has less credibility than a published textbook, no matter how inadequate that may be”. In line with that, Chanie (2013,69) stated some students’ views when they see their teachers use textbook. Those are:

·      Teachers use the textbook for their teaching and learning process in the classroom because teachers would not similar capacity and language competence for developing their own activities.

·      Teachers use the textbook for maintaining the standard and uniformity of the teaching and learning process because of the teachers’ limited capacity.

·      In situations where teachers can develop their own materials, they do not need to follow the prescribed textbook.

·      Textbooks should be used because teachers do not have similar competence to prepare their own teaching materials, and to enable students pass the national examination.

·      Teachers should not stick to the textbook since there are problems of activities that cannot address students’ learning needs.

·      Teachers should use the textbook to make their lessons uniform and this can minimize the problems of material preparation. The textbook is also the source of national examinations.

Therefore, textbook gives roles for the teaching and learning process. Even though some researchers had pointed out the importance of using textbook in the classroom, there are also some other researcher that had conveyed whether the textbook can be helpful or hinder will the teaching and learning process.


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