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La elaboración de materiales curriculares para la clase de inglés. Criterios para la selección y uso de los libros de texto. Documentos auténticos y  documentos adaptados: limitaciones de su uso. La colaboración de los alumnos en el diseño de materiales.



Autora: Mayte Agudo Crespo



1. Introduction

2. Producing curricular materials for English lessons

2.1. Reasons to produce our own materials

2.2. Main features of produced curricular materials

2.3. Types of produced materials

3. Criteria to chose and use a course book

3.1. Reasons to use a course book

3.2. Choosing a coursebook

3.3. Using a coursebook

4. Authentic, simulated authentic and non-authentic materials: use constraints

4.1. Authenticity

4.2. Non-authentic materials: simulated authentic and artificial

5. Involving the pupils in material design

6. Conclusions

7. Bibliography




Very young children learn their mother tongue by receiving a constant input. They live surrounded by that language and they learn it following a creative and progressive process and using natural strategies. When the second language learner is still a child, he or she will learn it according to the same patterns and processes. But our students don’t live surrounded by the second language and they still need to receive as much input as possible. We need to create  a  communicative atmosphere in  which children face and learn English in a natural and meaningful way. That is why we need to select, produce and use authentic and non authentic materials.

Teaching a second language is an extremely complex process in which many different factors take part. On the one hand, the students needs in relation to their interests, differences and abilities will be one of the main criteria to select materials. Contents should be organized around the students’ experiences. Therefore materials should be adapted to their interests and experiences too.

  • On the other hand, the specific methodology of English teaching will also determine the selection of different materials. We need to offer a variety of materials that make children’s learning significant, meaningful and stimulating, based on students active participation, frequent recycling, great use of visual aids, realia, songs, games, etc. The chosen materials should foster independent learning and help develop the competences described in LOMCE, Law for the Improvement of the Quality of Education (LOMCE) dating 9th December,2013.Special attention should be focused on the use of ICT as an excellent tool to create our own materials and to motivate students. Using ICT to create our own materials will help our students to develop the  digital competence described in Royal Decree Royal Decree 126/2014,  28thFebruary 2014, that establishes the curriculum for Primary Education

In this theme I am going to analyze why should English teachers use and produce different materials and what kind of materials could we use. Then I will focus my attention on course books as the most common material used in class.  Finally I will present differences between authentic and non-authentic materials and how children can co-operate in curricular materials production.



2.  Producing curricular materials for english lessons

English teachers need to create a communicative atmosphere in which students face the new language in a natural and meaningful way. Teachers  also  need  to  help  their  students  to  develop  a  cultural awareness about English speaking countries. In order to cover both objectives, adequate materials should be selected and used in class.


2.1. Reasons to produce our own materials

There are two main reasons to create our own materials. The first one is individual differences. In a class, children differ one from another. It is difficult to find a material that suits every single individual. We need to

take into account these differences when selecting the materials to be used in class.

Harmer classifies differences according to the following categories:

y Age

y Number of boys and girls

y Familiar background

y Parents’ occupation

y Motivation, attitude and interests

y Knowledge of the world

y Knowledge of English

y Mixed ability

y Pupils with specific needs

y Cognitive styles

y Pupils with discipline problems


2.2. Main features of produced curricular materials

As I have already mentioned in the previous section, producing curricular materials for English lessons is often a necessary activity. It could be an easy or more complex task but in any case it is time consuming. In order to make the most of the materials we produce, the following considerations should be taken into account:

ƒ The teacher will design, plan, organize and direct the production  of materials. Children could co-operate in many cases feeling they are taking part in their learning process and developing the  Learning  to learn competence. (See section 5 in this theme)

ƒ The materials should be suitable for:

o Children needs, abilities and interests: they should be attractive and significant for children.

o The  teaching  program:  materials  should  fit  in  the  teaching program   and   they   should   be   aimed   to   specific   linguistic objectives.


2.3. Types of produced materials

We can produce any kind of material, especially nowadays with the great help of ICT.

ƒ   Puppets: we can make easy puppets as class mascot or for plays, short stories… (See theme 19) They are excellent materials for very young learners.

ƒ   Play scripts: we can invent or adapt short stories into play scripts to perform them on a stage or to represent short role  plays.(See

theme 19)

ƒ   Games: We can adapt well known games using English language – Trivial, Bingo…(See theme 18)




Course books are the most common material used in English classes. They are excellent tools to use in class, but there are some important considerations to take into account when selecting a book and using it. It is  not  the  only  material  to  use  and  sometimes,  depending  on  the teacher’s criteria, they could even be avoided. The following section aims to analyze main reasons to use a course book and criteria to chose and use it.


3.1 . Reasons to use a course book

According to Halliwell, the main reasons to use a course book refer to both the teacher and the students.

Course books are a great help for teachers because:

ƒ They provide:

o a clear programme in an appropriate sequence

o a wide range of materials


3.2. Choosing a course book

Selecting a course book is quite a difficult task and we cannot know if it is suitable enough until we have been working through it for some time and, even so, it will depend on our pupils and their needs. The main criteria for choosing a book is therefore our students: their age, interests, abilities, previous knowledge, etc.

According to Nunan, the following criteria should be taken into account when selecting a course book:

ƒ The course book makes clear the link between the classroom and the wider word.

ƒ It fosters independent learning.

ƒ It  focuses  children  on  their  learning  process  and  therefore  helps developing the learning to learn competence.


3.3. Using a course book

Once we have chosen a course book we must decide how to use it in the classroom. The course book must be a menu from which the teacher chooses, rather than a recipe that the teacher follows. The chosen text must be adapted to the particular requirements of the class.



4. Authentic, simulated authentic and non-authentic materials: use constraints

Our main objective as Primary school teachers is to help our students to be ready for the outside world. This is why we should bring life into the class. As English teachers, we have to bring the English language and the English speaking countries close to children. That is why authentic materials are important in the English class. They are also essential because they help children to face language in its real context and therefore develop a meaningful learning.


4.1. Authenticity

Authentic materials are materials not written specifically for the teaching of  English  as  a  foreign  language.  Nunan  describes  authenticity  as follows:

“Authentic materials are usually defined as those which have been produced for purposes other than to teach language. They can be culled from many different sources: Video clips, recordings of authentic interactions, extracts from television, radio and newspapers, signs, maps and charts, photographs and pictures, timetables and schedules”. Today we should also add Internet and ICT as a source of authentic materials.


4.2. Non-authentic materials: simulated authentic and artificial

Harmer defines non-authentic materials as those “that have been designed especially for language learners”.

Non-authentic materials can be divided in two groups:

ƒ Simulated authentic: they are design for language learners and they appear to be authentic.

ƒ Artificial materials: they are design for language learners and they illustrate particular language points.

Non-authentic materials are important for beginners who are not able to handle genuine authentic materials because their difficulty but still need to practice in texts or resources that look authentic.



5. Involving the pupils in material design

Material production has to be designed, planned, organised and directed by the teacher. The teacher is the one knowing best methodological approaches and children’s needs. But children can co-operate in this production in two different ways:

ƒ First of all by showing their interests, needs and difficulties so that the teacher can think about new resources that will help  them  to learn in an efficient way.

ƒ Secondly by actually producing different resources following  the teacher’s indications.

Children participating in the production of materials used for their own learning bring great advantages in the teaching learning process:

ƒ They feel responsible for their own learning (autonomous learning


ƒ They feel teacher value their help and work and trust them.  This will increase their self-esteem and motivation.

ƒ They will develop a sense of group and fellowship because  the group  is  involved  in  a  final  project  (  meaningful  learning  and development of the social and citizen competence)

ƒ They  will  develop their  creativity and  social  skills  such  as  co– operation, participation, respecting others, etc ( global learning and development of the social and citizen competence.)



6. Conclusions

The final objective when teaching English is to communicate. This is a complex process in which teachers have to take into account children differences, interests and abilities and the most suitable methodological approaches. In order to reach this final aim, teachers will use a great

variety of materials to create a communicative atmosphere and to bring into  class  the  English  speaking countries  culture  so  the  learning of English is meaningful.

The most common material used in class is the course book. There are different criteria to take into account when selecting books. But in any case course books should be used in a flexible way to suit individual needs and paces. There is a wide variety of materials that can also be used in the English class, authentic and non-authentic materials. Teachers should take  advantage of  new  technologies  to   create materials. Finally, children co-operation in producing materials will bring great advantages in the teaching-learning process especially regarding motivation and language production.




  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN. Law for the Improvement of the Quality of Education (LOMCE) dating 9th December,2013.
  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN. Royal Decree 126/2014,  28thFebruary 2014, that establishes the curriculum for Primary Education,

  Brewster, J., Ellis, G. And Girard, D. The Primary English Teachers

Guide. Penguin. London, 1992

  Brumfit, C.J., and Johnson, K (eds) The Communicative Approach to

Language Learning. OUP. Oxford, 1979

  Halliwell, S. Teaching English in the Primary Classroom. Longman.

London, 1992. (There exists Spanish translation: La Enseñanza del

Inglés en la Educación Primaria. Longman. London, 1993)

  Harmer, J. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Longman.


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