The Journey Ends Here (how is that for a metaphor?)

In this module, I have gained a tremendous amount of information and insights into the field of designing teaching materials and all the philosophies and principles that govern this process.  I was first introduced to the notion of materials evaluating through the readings of (Tomlinson, 2013) where I learned that there should be some governing principles for evaluating and creating teaching materials. Tomlinson, in particular, was extremely beneficial for my work and tasks in this module. Moreover, the journey in this module continued and we visited other interesting areas of teaching material.

One of the interesting stops through this journey was the session about the importance of visuals, where we discussed the questions of why, when and how visuals are used in the classroom and their role in the coursebook. We learned that the visuals could be decorative and could be used to space-filling or they could be used effectively to convey the meaning of the lesson. Everyone knows that saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I myself tend to make my lessons infused with pictures and visual which I believe will aid in the learning process. “The more educational materials promote connections between the two methods of coding (visual and verbal), the more learning takes place” (Dubois and Vial, 2000). Yet the journey did not stop in the field of the still visuals, we journeyed to the land of the moving pictures, the use of video in the classroom stop.

Videos in the field of ELT are considered an interesting educational tool to use. I incorporate a lot of videos in my context and it really saves time and aids me in my teaching. But what really caught my attention in the video session was the notion of Video-telling by Jamie Keddie (2014). I believe that the magic of the storytelling has its effect on human beings. We are hard-wired to be in rapt attention to the details of a good story and we could lose ourselves in that fictional realm. Since the time our ancestors used to gather around the bonfire and tell stories about the gods, and since children in the desert used to hear stories from travelers about magical creatures and the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, the story shapes our view of the world. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall is an excellent read in this field. Going back to the video telling, combining the effect of the story telling with video makes it an excellent technique to be used in teaching especially for young learners, and this is a thing I experienced first hand in my context where I saw the effect of the story and video in the eyes of the students.

There are many wonderful and beneficial stops in this wonderful journey, and I know for a fact that I was exposed to a great amount of information (up-dated in formation) about the teaching materials and I am sure that I will apply most of what I learned in my country. Another significant aspect of this module was the sense of confronting in the class. I believe that another source of learning in this module was the interaction and the discussion between the its members. Personally, I have learned more from the different experiences and contexts my colleagues come from, and it was interesting to see how each one interprets what we learned in the class according to their situation.

In conclusion, this module was exceedingly important for me as my knowledge in the area of teaching material was so limited.  I have learned from my tutor and my colleagues and I really enjoyed all the tasks I engaged in. Furthermore , the idea of a weekly post and maintaining a blog was absolutely soemthing new for me. However, I can say that by the end of the journey I can see the fruitful result of all the work throughout the semester. Thank you all.




Dubois, M. & Vial, I. 2000, “Multimedia design: the effects of relating multimodal information”, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 157-165.

Keddie, J. (2014) Bringing online video into the classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tomlinson, B. 2013, Developing materials for language teaching, Second ed, Bloomsbury Academic, London.

Material Design

In this seminar with Teresa, we were introduced to materials design and why would a teacher design his or her materials. the main purpose od this session was to create out own materials. To do so, I teamed up with my colleague Grace and we discussed what the worksheet should be about. The first thing we discussed was the worksheet should follow a certain approach and our approach was a humanistic one. Just like in the humanistic coursebook which respects its users as human beings and helps them to exploit their capacity for learning through meaningful experience and to connect what is in the book to what is in their minds” (Tomlinson 2013, p.139). Thus, we decided to create a worksheet that is relevant to the learners and it can place them in the real world.

Yet to create a worksheet in a systemic way, we decided to follow Jolly and Bolitho’s (2001, p113) design. With this framework in mind, Grace and I came up with the purpose of the worksheet. The main idea of the designed materials was to raise the awareness about the history and significance of the Silk Road.  What made choose this topic was its relevance to our learners both in China and Kuwait. We decided to go over Bolitho’s framework stage by stage as we shaped our worksheet.

There are several stages of Bolitho’s framework, and they are as follow:

  • Identification of need:
    • As stated above, the need was to develop the learners’ awareness about the topic of the Silk Road from a cultural perspective. The worksheet also helps the learners to engage in extensive reading and speaking.
  • Exploration of need:
    • We thought that the chosen topic, coming from a humanistic approach, would be interesting to the learners where they could ameliorate their understanding of the topic and increase the level of the vocabulary. The text of the materials was taken from an article from the New Yorker magazine.
  • Contextual realization:
    • We have established that the topic and the worksheet would be appropriate to our learners who are in high school aged 16 to 18.
  • Pedagogical realization:
    • Part of the materials designer’s work is to make the designed materials accessible and appropriate to the learners according to their context. We considered that the task of the Silk Road is suitable for the learners and we even considered the difficulty of some words and how could the learners deal with these words. We provided some translation and explanation of the difficult words so the students could refer back to them as they read the text. We also, cut part of the original texts due to its length. Moreover, the worksheet is designed for peer or group work, which was another aspect of the worksheet we had in mind as to how the learners engage with the created materials.
  • Physical production:
    • Regarding the production, in the early stages of designing the materials, we referred to Jason Renshaw’s ELT materials design on YouTube. The videos were beneficial and of great importance to our work since both of us don’t have knowledge in creating materials using the word processor. In my case, most of the time I use ready-made materials and introduce them to my leaners.

Referring to the session about Visuals and Text and the importance of the picture in the coursebook, we applied Duchastel’s taxonomy for visual evaluation and its criteria are 1-affective 2-attentive 3-didactic 4-supportive 5-retentional.  Grace and I chose the appropriate pictures that could include all of Duchastel’s criteria.

As for the last two stages of Bolitho’s framework which are the use and evaluation, unfortunately we couldn’t perform accomplish these stages because we couldn’t use in an actual classroom and get the feedback and evaluation from the learners.

In the following session after the Easter Break, all the members of the module brought their designed materials for peer evaluation. Our worksheet was evaluated, and we received the following remarks and feedback:

  • The instruction “talk about the pictures” might be a bit general, some direct instruction like” What do you see in the picture?” or “Where do you think the people in the are taken to?” such lead-in question could clarify the topic to the learners.
  • There was the concern raised by our tutor about the level of difficulty of some words and why we chose them. We thought that exposing the learners to some difficult words might challenge them to know the meaning behind it and thus increase their knowledge about the words. But it appeared that the words were extremely difficult, and we should cater for the differentiation in the classroom.

In conclusion, I must say that although I don’t design materials in Kuwait because we adhere to the coursebook created by the ministry of education, however, I have learned a lot about the process of designing and the worksheet, the use od principles for evaluations, following certain frameworks so your design could systematic.



Duchastel, P. C. (1978) Illustrating instructional texts. Educational Technology18 36-39.

Jolly, D and Bolitho, R. 2011. A framework for materials writing. In Tomlinson, B. Materials Development in Language Teaching. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp107-135.

Tomlinson, B. 2013, Developing materials for language teaching, Second ed, Bloomsbury Academic, London.

Videos in ELT

Videos in ELT

In this seminar, we discussed the importance of using videos in ELT classrooms. One of the points we stressed on was how to push the boundaries with new technologies and explore new possibilities. Also, we talked about the suitability of the materials and its relevance to certain contexts.

The use of video in ELT goes back in time. Ben Goldstein (2017) states that “in 1990 video was just started to be used and it thus played a largely superfluous role in the language classroom” (p, 23). That’s because it was deemed as a leisure time activity of watching a video in the classroom. The learner would watch the whole film or part of it with almost no activity or tasks to perform. However, Goldstein adds that this whole process of video-based learning was transformed with the advent of “the visual turn.” People began exploring new ways of using videos, they thought of the use of video as a social activity and a cultural input where learners learn about the world (Clare, A. 2017). The social activities may include authentic dialogue of native/non-native speakers and allow the learners to engage in a comprehension task where they could identify the hard words or even the nationalities of the speakers.

In my context, I tried the use of video in one of my classes with a group of 7 graders. The video was about the Olympic torch lighting in Barcelona in 1982. The video shows an archer with his arrow and bow standing in the middle of the arena, then with a sharp aiming he shoots an arrow the lights the cauldron of the arena. When I asked the learners to retell the sequence of events in the video, most of them performed the task. I presumed that they visually recalled the actions in the video and with the help of some vocabulary on the board they managed to tell most of the detail. In the class, we also touched on Jamie Keddie’s video telling which I find helpful in the process of engagement and raising the participation of learners with the video. I watch some of his lectures, and I plan to use this technique in my classes in the future.

However, the question still persists why we should include or use videos? I believe that the video is one of the most interesting and engaging tools that could be used in ELT classrooms. In the technological age, the process of creating a video became extremely easy and accessible to almost everyone. Plus, there are many platforms that host videos like YouTube and Vimeo where if put publicly, everyone could watch. When I first came to Brighton, I made a video about the five things that surprised me in the city. I only used my mobile phone camera and uploaded the video to my account in Vimeo. This video can be used in ELT classrooms, so learners can explore and know about the city. Obviously, it was ad hoc when I made this video, but for more knowledge about creating videos especially for ELT, there are books that teachers can read and learn more about the use of video in English language learning.


My video about Bright:
















Goldstein, B. (2017) A history of video in ELT. In: Donaghy, K. & Xerri, D. (eds). The Image in English Language Teaching. Floriana, Malta: ELT Council. pp. 23-32.


Clare, A. (2017) The power of video. In: Donaghy, K. & Xerri, D. (eds). The Image in English Language Teaching. Floriana, Malta: ELT Council. pp. 33-42.

Keddie, J. (2014) Bringing online video into the classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Visuals and Texts

Visuals and texts

The French philosopher Roland Barthes argues that visuals are open to interpretations. However, this interpretation is limited by adding text to the visual in what he calls Anchorage. In this process the text limits the interpretation and directs the reader to the intended meaning of the visual. Look at the humor use of anchorage in this image, the text reveals the purpose of the visual.  In the field of ELT, the connection between the visual and text is different. The visuals are used to elaborate the meaning of the text to the learners. Here the choice of the visuals must cater for the differentiation of learners’ abilities and visual comprehension. Also, the visuals have to effectively reflect or convey the meaning of the text or the subject matter of the lesson. Unfortunately, there are many coursebooks with poor or no visuals at all. Some visuals are used to fill empty spaces decoratively which do not contribute to the learning process.

During the seminar, we learned that the use of visuals in the coursebooks dates to centuries ago. This makes me wonder why there are many coursebooks without visuals aids. We also learned that we live in an age where we are bombarded daily with all sort of images. And the visually literate individual has the ability to encode meaningful visual messages as well as decode them. Having this thought in mind, I came aware of the importance of the connection between the text and the visuals. This idea made me reflect on the task I made with my colleague Grace where we chose to visually analyze two pictures/illustrations from FACE2FACE coursebook.

We discussed first the questions of why, when and how visuals are used. Coming from the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, we stressed the notion that the connection between the text and the visual increases the learning process. “The more educational materials promote connections between the two methods of coding (visual and verbal), the more learning takes place” (Dubois and Vial, 2000).


We then followed Duchastel’s taxonomy for visual evaluation and its criteria are:







My choice was an image of the Indian city Kerala (FACE2FACE 2B p20-21) to evaluate this picture and its connection to the subject matter of the lesson, I applied the criteria proposed by Duchastel.

I believe that the picture is effective is the sense that it attracts the learners’ attention with its vivid colors and contents. The picture consists of a wooden boat in a river surrounded by thick trees which due to their large sizes tend to grab the attention of the viewer. Also, I believe that the picture is attentive in the sense that it motivates the learners to engage with it and try to decode its messages. Also, from a cultural point of view, the city of Kerala and its dwellers had commercial relationships with Kuwait in the past where they, using the wooden boats, used trade with Kuwait and we have similar Indian boats as well. Thus, the picture can initiate cultural topic and the history of the two cities. However, I don’t think the picture is didactic, that is, it doesn’t help in learning the grammatical objectives of the lesson. As for being retentional, the picture is anchored with the text, “I lost my heart in Kerala” the association of the color green in both the picture and the text creates the link between the place in the picture and the word “Kerala”. In other words, the picture assists in memorization of the subject matter because “human capacity for memorising pictures is less degradable than memory for verbal information” (Sless, 1981: 106).

This process of evaluating the visuals in the coursebook allowed me to realize how significant and important the visuals are to the learning process in the field of ELT. Furthermore, the continuous reviewing of the visuals and their relevance to reality is also important for the learning process to be effective.


BARTHES, R., & HEATH, S. (1977). Image, music, text. New York, Hill and Wang.

Dubois, M. & Vial, I. 2000, “Multimedia design: the effects of relating multimodal information”, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 157-165.

Duchastel, P. C. (1978) Illustrating instructional texts. Educational Technology18 36-39.

Sless, D. (1981) Learning and Visual Communication. London: Halsted Press.




Materials Adaptation and Supplement

“There is value in verbalizing attitudes and metaphoric language is particularly revealing of the subconscious beliefs and attitudes that underlie consciously held opinions. “McGrath, 2006:173

In this seminar we discussed the notion of metaphors and what are the metaphors teachers and learners have for the coursebook. As for the Teachers in Kuwait, their understanding of the coursebook is that it is a product of collaborative work of excellent material designers who the government pay to create a coursebook that is culturally appropriate to our context. For them, the coursebook seems to be their Holy book which must not be altered. “textbooks can seem to absolve teachers of responsibility… it is easy to just sit back and operate the system, secure in the belief that the wise and virtuous people who produced the textbook knew what was good for us” (Swann, 1992: 33)This made me reflect on the other issues we discussed in class about process of adaptation and supplement and what, when, how and why teachers adapt and supplement materials in ELT classrooms.

My group consists of three members Steph Khoi and myself. The three of us come from different educational backgrounds and varied experiences. It was interesting to see how we adapt materials in our different contexts.

We decided that to answer the questions of the process of adapting and supplementing materials in the classroom, we should answer the four WH questions

What: we decided that there are four foci which can be adapted or supplemented. 1) the language 2) the process 3) the content 4) the level.

When: the process of adapting materials and supplementing can be Ad hoc that is without prior planning or can be principled. In my case, I don’t need to adapt new materials for my learners because I’m supposed to stick with the assigned coursebook by the ministry of education in Kuwait. However, knowing that adaptation is different than supplementation, that is, supplementation means that teachers provide their learners with material outside the assigned coursebook, often in the form of a worksheet (McGrath 2016). In certain cases, I do supplement like when I need more elaborative materials on grammar for example, I usually look for readymade materials online, but this depends on its availability and suitability for the context and the learners.

Why: teachers tend to adapt materials by assessing their learning environment and whether their teaching situation requires them to adapt and supplement materials. Also, one of the reasons why teachers adapt is based on their learners’ different needs.  Teachers cater for the differentiation in learning with their leaners and take into consideration the personalities of the students. Also, teacher’s beliefs play a major role in the process of adapting and supplementing materials. Some maybe flexible and use some suitable materials from outside the curriculum to enhance the learning process, and some just adhere to the assigned coursebook.

How: there are three categories for adapting and supplementing materials. 1) addition, where the teachers extend or exploit the materials 2) change where the teacher can reorder or replace or simplify the materials 3) supplement where the teachers can use other published materials or create their own.

In conclusion, I don’t personally adapt in general material all the time. However, I tend to use other materials created by other experienced teachers that really solve some of the problems I face in the curriculum.


McGrath, I. (2002). Materials evaluation and design for language teaching. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

McGrath, I. (2016) Materials Evaluation and Design for Language Teaching (2nd edn). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

McGrath, I. (2006) Teachers’ and learners’ images for coursebooks. ELT Journal 60 pp.171-180

Mishan, F., & Timmis, I. (2015). Materials development for TESOL. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Swan, M. (1992) The textbook: Bridge or wall. Applied linguistics and language teaching 2(1): 32-35.

Tomlinson, B. (2011). Materials development in language teaching (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Frameworks and checklists for ELT materials evaluation


The third seminar was all about the process of ELT materials evaluation. That is how could teachers both novice and in-service evaluate a coursebook. I must say that this seminar was of great benefit for me since I don’t usually get involved in the process of evaluating materials back home in Kuwait. I learned that there are frameworks and principles for novice teachers to follow in order to conduct a proper evaluation of ELT materials. Although I’m not a novice teacher, knowing that there are frameworks proposed by researcher like ( Tomlinson, 2013) and (McGrath, 2013) were greatly beneficial.
Based on the knowledge we gain from the seminar, our tutor Paul asked us to create our own framework and checklist for evaluating materials. We were put into groups and my group and I decided to meet in the library to prepare for the task.
Our group decided that the first thing to do was to make use of the already created lists of principled in the seminar. So, from the four groups A, B, C and D we decided to merge the first three ones into one list. We then chose the most appropriate principles from the list we created by omitting the ones we deemed unnecessary.
Regarding the approach we followed for the evaluation process, we followed (McGrath 2013:52) cyclical approach. This approach consists of three stages, pre-use, in-use and post use. However, we only decided to do the pre-use evaluation.
The next step was to place the chosen principles in the new list under universal criteria, and these criteria are adapted from (Tomlinson 2013: 40-43).
The criteria are:
• Universal
• Local
• Media-specific
• Content-specific
• Age-specific

By placing these new principles under these criteria, we have created a table of evaluation that also underwent a revision and changed the members of the group. We then converted the principles in the table into questions and added further criteria. Having done that, our attention then shifted to the process of weighting these criteria of evaluation.
We discussed several weighing methods and finally settled on a rating scale of 1 to 5 with one being poor and five being excellent.
I gained a lot from this experience. Th idea of following certain principles as a framework to evaluate ELT materials can be extremely beneficial for me as a teacher from Kuwait. Even though I’m not a novice teacher, but I believe that these principles and frameworks broaden my vision when I want to evaluate the materials I use with my learners.
McGrath, I (2013) Teaching Materials and Roles of EFL/ESL teachers: Practice and Theory : Bloomsbury.
Tomlinson, B. (2013) Developing Materials for Language Teaching (2nd ed.). London: Bloomsbury




Design Principles for ELT Materials


In the second seminar, we explored the issues of designing and creating ELT materials.  In the field of materials making, there is this belief that the process of making the materials is described as ad hoc, spontaneous and intuitive. This is of course seen from the perspective of experienced teachers who spent years teaching and creating suitable materials for their learners.

However, in the case of novice teachers the case is totally different. Due to the lack of enough experience and actual practice of teaching, novice teachers need some sort of a map or a guide in they want to create educational materials. At this point in the discussion, the issues of principles and frameworks were introduced. The two most important questions in the seminar were 1) what principles are going to underpin the process of design of the materials? and 2) what design framework will be used?

To answer these questions, we were asked by our tutor Paul to individually write down our beliefs and principle that we deem important in the process of creating ELT materials. That is what should or shouldn’t, must or mustn’t materials be. To be honest, although I have a teaching experience and I can say that I know what works and doesn’t work for my learners, I was stuck for few moment and didn’t know what to write. I could explain this uncertainty in writing down my thoughts to the lack of opportunity to actually contemplate and entertain the principles of a suitable ELT material.

We were then put in groups (I was in group c) and were asked to reduce our collective principles to 21 statements. Here you find yourself prioritizing the principles and negotiating them with your group members. Having done that, Paul provided us with principles from different researchers like Tomlinson (2011), Nunan (1988) and Hutchinson & Waters (1987). The next step was to merge our principles with these from the researchers and come up with a final list.

Our list consists of the following principles:



One of my contributions to the list is the principle of having the culture of the target language in the materials, which I believe can contribute to a better understanding of the Other and make the learner interculturally competent.



Hutchinson, T. & Waters, A. (1987) English for Specific Purposes: A Learning-centred Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nunan, D. (1988) Principles for designing language teaching materials. Guidelines 10 pp.1-24.

Tomlinson, B. (2011) Introduction: principles and procedures of materials development. In:

Tomlinson, B. (ed). Materials Development in Language Teaching. (2nd ed) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.1-31.





ELT Material and Ideology


ELT Material and Ideology


The Marxist theorist Stuart Hall once said that no one exists outside ideology, that we all in a sense live in a certain ideological realm where we follow certain rules, norms and beliefs (cited in Gray, 2015). Drawing from this realization, I wonder how does ideology play a role in the field of ELT and especially in creating and designing educational materials?

From a Marxist perspective for example, the society consists of two parts. The first part is called the base which adapts a certain ideology, be it Marxist or Capitalist or any other. This base dominates the other part which is the superstructure. The latter has many facets like the family, the police, religion and schools.  These entities reflect the ideology of the base and in return reinforce that ideology.  For example, the schools (in most cases in the third world) have to follow a certain ideology and cultural identity where the learners need to interpellate.  The main narrative and discourse of the adopted ideology reverberate in the school textbooks as a means to deliver and assert the cultural identity and thought of that certain group, and this raises many questions.

I expect from this module ( TE714 – English Language Teaching Materials) to shed that light on the process of material making in the light of ideology, and which framework should the designers follow. Also, how do the issues of identity and culture play a role in deciding which aspect to include and which to exclude in terms of other cultures? Of course, there are some frameworks that focus on the pedagogical aspect of learning the language when it comes to designing material, but I believe that ideology and culture are extremely sensitive factors in the process of creating ELT material.

Since no one is outside ideology, what goes in the mind of the material makers as they create the course books? Can the course book be value-free and just focus on the pedagogical aspect? These are some question that I expect I will find the answers for as I progress more in the module.