Practical English Teaching Materials

Another major responsibility of instructors in our program is the preparation of teaching materials. We write all the textbooks, workbooks, and videos that are used in our courses. This has not been a small task.

The story of how we came to be producing our own teaching materials is worth relating. I don’t know if this is a true story, but it is the story that circulates through our teaching faculty. The Japanese Department, or so the story goes, once decided to write their own teaching materials. The president of the school heard about this, and ordered us to write our own. But there’s a big difference he failed to take into account; Japanese students are absolute beginners. Students in the Practical English program are rarely beginners. We do not need books to teach the alphabet, as the Japanese Department does, we need books that turn elementary speakers of English into intermediate speakers.

This is not easy. In fact, there are a huge number of commercial text books that address this issue and most of them do so only poorly. If large publishing houses with professional writers have trouble conceptualizing good textbooks, how can we do it? The books themselves contain many mistakes, typos, and poor writing. After years of refining and proofreading the books, we are now nearing an end to this process. However, the books continue to be plagued by poor paper quality, bad illustrations, and no focus.

Added to this has been the problem of budget. Some of the people involved in the material production have been given reduced teaching hours, but this is a recent innovation. I was told that initially, everyone was given a writing assignment and a deadline, told to go home and just do it. The result was less than satisfactory. It has taken years to reorganize this, but the problems that resulted have continued.


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