Preparation and Evaluation of Instructional Materials for Language Teaching

Instructional materials may be operationally defined as specially designed classroom tools that contain instructions to learners and teachers, and which specify each increment of learning: the content to be learned; the techniques of presentation; practice and use of that content; and the modes of teaching associated with those techniques (Johnson, RELC Journal)

Instructional materials generally serve as the basis for much of the language input learners receive and the language practice that occurs in the classroom (Richards). IMs  are an important element within the curriculum and are often the most tangible and visible aspect of it (Nunan, 1991). They can provide a detailed specification of content, even in the absence of the syllabus (Richards and Rodgers, 1986). They can define the goals of the syllabus, and the roles of the teachers and the learner within the instructional process (Wright, 1987)

Cunningsworth (1995) summarizes the role of materials (particularly coursebooks) in language teaching as a:
    • resource for presentation materials
    • source of activities for learner practice and communicative interaction
    • reference source for learners on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.
    • source of stimulation and ideas for classroom activities
    • syllabus (where they reflect learning objectives which have already been determined)
    • support for less experienced teachers who have yet to gain in confidence in the language classroom.
Dudley-Evans and St. John (1998) suggest that for teachers of ESP courses, materials serve the following functions:
    • As a source of language
    • As a learning support
    • For motivation and stimulation
    • For reference
    • Materials should achieve impact.
    • Materials should help learners to feel at ease.
    • Materials should help learners to develop confidence.
    • What is being taught should be perceived by learners as relevant and useful.
    • Materials should require and facilitate learner self-investment.
    • Learners must be ready to acquire the points being taught.
    • Materials should expose the learners to language in authentic use.
    • The learners’ attention should be drawn to linguistic features of the input.
    • Materials should provide the learners with opportunities to use the target language to achieve communicative competence.
    • Materials should take into account that the positive effects of instruction are usually delayed.
    • Materials should take into account that learners differ in learning styles.
    • Materials should take into account that learners differ in affective attitudes.
    • Materials should permit a silent period at the beginning of instruction.
    • Materials should maximize learning potential by encouraging intellectual, aesthetic and emotional involvement which stimulates both right and left brain activities.
    • Materials should not rely too much on controlled practice.
    • Materials should provide opportunities for outcome feedback.
    • Provide materials for presentation of new items for reinforcement, consolidation, and practice
    • Provide materials for teaching particular skills, particular areas of languages, and other special difficulties
    • Guide the teacher on the methods and techniques in introducing the lessons and the series of exercises for teaching the concepts
    • Give them more opportunity to make the best use of their time and skills to do more real teaching
    • Concretize the syllabus
    • Opportunity for individual work in or outside the classroom
    • Follow a course of study with little help from teachers


  1. The curriculum, syllabus, and learning competencies
  2. Learners’ learning styles, aptitudes, proficiency
  3. Pedagogical principles held by the teachers
  4. Societal demands

Contextual Factors

  1. Learner factors- age, interests, level of proficiency in English, aptitude, mother tongue, academic and educational level, attitudes in learning, motivation, reasons for learning, preferred learning styles, and personality
  2. Setting- role of English in the country; role of English in the school; management and administration; resources available; support personnel; the number of pupils; time available for the program; physical environment; the socio-cultural environment; types of tests to be used; and procedures for monitoring and evaluating.