from the teachers` point of view - International Journal of Language

International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
Volume 9 (1), May 2015; 85-­‐91 Arabloo, P EISSN: 2289-­‐2737 & ISSN: 2289-­‐3245 THE IRANIAN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEXTBOOK
Parisa Arabloo
M.A. in TEFL
Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch
[email protected]
This study was an attempt to evaluate and analyze the teachers’ points of view toward the newly
developed Iranian junior high school English textbook “Prospect 2”. For this purpose, eighteen
male and female teachers teaching junior high school (grade eight ) from some cities in Iran,
namely, Tehran, Urmia, Chaldoran, Khoy, Sanandaj and Tabriz were asked one interview
question. The researcher recorded their voices while talking by a voice recorder and then
listened and summarized the answers and perceptions toward the book. The teachers mentioned
both positive and negative points about the book, but finally the findings of the study revealed
that most teachers have positive attitudes toward Prospect 2. Some practical implications are
presented which are on the basis of the results of this study and might be of use to the teachers,
teacher trainers and materials developers. For example, teachers should incorporate appropriate
and practical techniques for the instruction of CLT which the book is based this method.
KEYWORDS: Textbook Evaluation; Teacher's points of view; Prospect2
Textbooks are of great value and effect in the process of teaching and learning. As stated by
Zohrabi, Sabouri, and Kheradmand (2014),"textbooks are one of the elements that may promote
or discourage learners depending on their materials. They are a kind of support for both teachers
and learners. Textbooks provide students a kind of consistency"(p.95). They have an important
influence in the instructional process. ELT textbooks have major function in the current
discussion. Sheldon (1988, p. 237) states that “textbooks represent the visible heart of any ELT
program”. Textbooks are an almost universal component of English language teaching.
According to Cortazzi and Jin (1999), ELT (English Language Teaching) textbooks play the role
of a teacher, a map, a resource, a restrictor, and as an ideology. Further, as Cunningworth (1995)
contends, a textbook can be a source of activities, a syllabus for pushing the teaching/learning
process toward systematization, and as a scaffold for novice teachers. Still others refer to
textbooks in tandem with innovation, students’ needs, issues related to money and time
(Hutchinson & Torres, 1994; O’Niel, 1982).
International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
Volume 9 (1), May 2015; 85-­‐91 Arabloo, P EISSN: 2289-­‐2737 & ISSN: 2289-­‐3245 Textbooks hold a paramount status as an indispensible ingredient of language teaching
profession; therefore, appraising and evaluating them seems to be imperative to assure their
efficiency and consistency with the objectives defined and expected of the course. Constant
evaluation of textbooks to see if they are appropriate is of great importance. This process enables
us to make informed decisions through which student achievement will increase and educational
programs will be more successful (Zohrabi, Sabouri & Behroozian, 2012)
It is good to mention here that Prospect 2 is the newly developed junior high school English
textbook which is taught in schools now. It is based on the communicative language teaching
approach (CLT). School teachers from all over the country have different perceptions and
viewpoints toward its content. But there is no research to analyze and discuss it. The current
study was an attempt to evaluate the strength and weaknesses of the junior high school English
textbook “Prospect 2” from the teachers’ point of view.
As Zohrabi (2011, p. 216) argues, “Materials, especially coursebooks, need to be evaluated at
every stage of the course in order to find their weaknesses and improve them.” As Tomlinson
(2006) states, no textbook is perfect, since it can be used by different students in different
circumstances. In evaluating a textbook, we need to know how it meets learners’ needs.
Evaluation might vary from one context to another based on the aims, wants, and abilities of the
evaluators. Assessment of textbooks is a profitable way of teacher development and gives
beneficial perception to the teachers.Teachers' perceptions and experiences play indispensable
roles in the process of book evaluation. (Ahmadi & Derakhshan, 2014)
There is conclusive body of researches in the field of book evaluation. The next paragraphs report
some of the works done in Iran and other countries. The study by Zohrabi, et al (2012) evaluated
the merits and demerits of English for high school freshmen in Iran from the viewpoints of
teachers and students. They focused on seven sections of layout, vocabulary, topics and content,
exercises, skills, pronunciation, function, and social and cultural activities. The results of the
investigation pointed out that the book was grammar-oriented and more emphasis was placed on
reading more than three other skills; insufficient practice was provided for pronunciation; with
respect to target culture, no social and cultural activities were included; and the layout of the
book was believed to lack beauty (Jamalvandi, 2014)
In other studies, Yarmohammadi (2002) and Abdollahi- Guilani, et al (2011) concluded that there
is not authenticity in Iranian ELT books. They also added that there is not correspondence
between the students’ needs and the content of the materials. In a study done by Litz (1997) ,
ELT textbooks in South Korea were proved to be successful in reaching their desired goal. In his
case study on ELT textbooks not only did he take into account skills, content, tasks, but he
appraised cost, availability, authors and publisher’ credentials, layout and design and packages
and websites related to the book evaluated. The textbook was shown to enjoy far more positive
characteristics and it was able to suit the needs of the Korean learners. Multi-skills syllabus, clear
International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
Volume 9 (1), May 2015; 85-­‐91 Arabloo, P EISSN: 2289-­‐2737 & ISSN: 2289-­‐3245 and logical organization of the book, inclusion of teaching strategies, and vocabulary skills were
among the positive traits of the book.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of newly developed book
Teachers’ Point of View?
“Prospect2” From the
The participants of this study were 18 male and female teachers teaching junior high school
(grade eight) which were supposed to answer the research question (interviewees). The teachers
were from different cities of Iran, namely Tehran, Urmia, Chaldoran, Khoy, Sanandaj and Tabriz.
Their teaching experience was from 6 to 30 28 years. Some of them which were the researcher’s
colleague in school discussed the subject face to face and the others responded by telephone or
Email. They were free to speak in Farsi or English. The teachers were selected according to their
accessibility by the researcher.
Instrumentation and Material
The material for this study is the English language textbook taught in Iranian junior high school
(grade eight). "Prospect2"(Alavi, ForozandehShahraki, Nikoopoor, KhadirSharabian &
Kheirabadi, 2014) includes work book, student book, audio CD and teacher's guide. The
instrument used in this study was an open-ended interview question which the tearchers were
supposed to talk or write about it about 15-20 minutes. A voice recorder was used to record the
teachers’ voices while interviewing in order to be able to listen later and take notes.
This study began with an interview question. The researcher interviewed 18 teachers teaching
junior high school (grade eight). Eight of the teachers expressed their ideas face to face with the
researcher. Three of them talked on the phone and seven send their ideas by Email. The teachers
expressed their ideas about the textbooks in accordance with the objectives of the textbook. The
interviews lasted between 15to 20 minutes. The researcher recorded their voices via a voice
recorder and then listened again and took notes to be able to summarize them.
Eighteen teachers were interviewed and their opinions were asked about “Prospect 2” book. They
talked about the virtues and weaknesses of the book. The researcher took notes and she tried to
summarize the gathered data.
The teachers had both positive and negative perceptions toward “Prospect 2” but the positive
attitudes were stronger than the negative ones. They all were agreed that the new book is
according to communicative language teaching method (CLT) and satisfies the students’ needs.
International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
Volume 9 (1), May 2015; 85-­‐91 Arabloo, P EISSN: 2289-­‐2737 & ISSN: 2289-­‐3245 They believed that the book is developed after a deep needs analysis and is exactly what students
and teachers and the educational system in Iran needed from many years ago.
The researcher summarized and categorized all the advantages and disadvantages mentioned by
the participants. The positive points are as follows:
1. The book is according to CLT which is one of the latest methods and focuses on
interaction and communication.
2. The book is finely continuing the goals of “Prospect 1” which was developed the year
before “Prospect 2” for the seventh grade students.
3. The vocabularies of the book are the necessary words which are needed in a daily
4. The book uses the vocabularies of the “Prospect 1”.
5. The activities are group or pair instead of individual ones.
6. The activities are higher order and there is no drill and memorization and they allow
students to use their own features, favorites and information in responding the questions.
7. The book creates a friendly atmosphere in class.
8. The book ( like Prospect 1) concentrates on speaking and listening and prepares students
for communications in the society.
9. Topics are update and attractive and related to the everydaylife( like health,
10. The lessons are from easy to hard.
11. To have a photo dictionary at the end of the book was a great idea.
12. Work book is a good practice. It’s questions are not limited to one-answer questions.
There are lots of questions that demand student thinking and wants student’s own idea.
13. Teachers’ guide is good for teachers to be familiar with the right ways of teaching the
book and knowing the goal of the book.
14. It is a finely-developed book for strengthening students in oral abilities.
15. Like Prospect 1, new words are taught in context not isolated.
16. The CD which distributed with the book helps students in listening which the previous
series of the English books lack.
17. The book and its activities in it, creates a challenging atmosphere in class and make the
students to participate. For example, the cards at the end of the book, the tables in the
book like page 46, 52, 57 and etc. so, students are motivated to response the questions like
what the city they live in it is like. Or what are their own hobbies and etc.
18. The teachers are satisfied and glad to teach the new book and they contend that they get
energy from teaching it and it is not boring.
The negative points are listed below:
1. The time allocated to the book is limited and not enough to practice perfectly.
2. There is absolutely no grammar in it. It is better to put some grammar points, not
complicated ones, to make them aware of the structures. When the students
International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
Volume 9 (1), May 2015; 85-­‐91 Arabloo, P EISSN: 2289-­‐2737 & ISSN: 2289-­‐3245 3.
memorize the sentences, they learn in Audio-lingual method, but the aim of the
book is to teach in CLT. Some grammar can help solve this problem.
There is more than one subject (material) in one lesson. For example, lesson 5
introduces several structures like “ where is it_ what’s Isfahan like/famous
for_Are there/Is there”
The accompanying CD is audio cd instead of video one. In this stage of life,
students need video graphics and listening to audio CDs get them bored.
The earlier studied vocabularies are not repeated in the later lessons.
The teacher has to speak in Persian; otherwise, students will not understand the
content well.
There are too much new words in some lessons like lesson 6 and 7 and few ones
in lesson 1.
The same as Prospect 1, Reading and writing is somehow neglected and the focus
is on speaking and listening.
There should be some activities for teaching prepositions ( to-on-in-at …) in either
student or workbook.
10. The teachers who did not take the classes and enough trainings to teach in CLT,
have problems teaching this book. They must take the required classes to be
familiar with the goals of the book.
11. Review parts in the student book are confusing and students cannot do them
without the help of the teacher.
12. The book puts a great pressure on teachers’ shoulders and teaching it, needs
knowledgeable and experienced teachers.
13. Teaching this book needs help and collaboration from school, because the
projector, computer, audio system are required and there are some cities and
villages in Iran without any facilities.
According to the teachers’’ points of view about Prospect 2, it seems that the book is finely
accepted and proved by them. They mentioned some positive and some negative points about the
book but the positive ones exceeded and they mentioned at the end that the new book is much
better than the previous book and they are glad to teach this book. They asserted that the book is
successful in teaching communicative aspect of the language. According to Alemi and Hesami
(2013), the previous junior high school textbooks were not on the basis of students’ needs and
expectations. The new book is developed to solve students’ problems in oral skills and
communicative needs. Ghorbani (2011), in his study, analyzed and evaluated the previous
textbook being taught in Iranian senior high schools. Findings of the study showed that the book
is not successful in teaching four skills. It is structural-based and does not pay attention to
communicative skills. There are no CDs and teacher guides or workbooks.
Previous textbooks being taught in junior high schools of Iran entailed teachers to teach in
grammar-translation method and also entailed the students not to be active in communicative
skills. There were just transferring data not negotiating or other higher order activities. the newly
International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
Volume 9 (1), May 2015; 85-­‐91 Arabloo, P EISSN: 2289-­‐2737 & ISSN: 2289-­‐3245 developed series of Prospect, (in this study, Prospect 2), covered all the deficiencies of the
previous books. According to the teachers’ points of view, Prospect 2 paid attention to students’
needs in its content and tried to teach four skills, especially oral skills which are very important in
society and modern era. Prospect 2 demanded experience teachers and active students.
This study examined and analyzed the Iranian junior high school English textbook “Prospect 2”
from the teachers’ point of view. It was on the basis of an interview question which was asked
from 18 teachers in some cities of Iran. The results of the interview showed that the book is
successful in teaching communicative skills and the teachers are satisfied with it and have
positive perceptions toward the book. In other words, the newly developed book had tried to
cover all the deficiencies of the last series of junior high school books. Prospect series pay
attention to all four skills specially listening and speaking skill. The method of teaching is CLT
which is suits the content and also demands experienced teachers. Teachers’ book, workbook and
accompanying CD are all the merits of Prospect 2 and help students to learn communicative
skills in much better ways. Activities are higher order and requires students to think critically.
The teachers said they are eager to teach such books because these kinds of books are motivating,
fresh, update and gives energy to them. The findings of this study are useful for teacher trainers
and teachers to incorporate appropriate and practical techniques for the instruction of CLT.
Teachers should be trained in an appropriate way. Materials developers also can use the results of
the present study to recover the deficiencies in the introduced book or the later books.
This study was done with some limitations. The number of the interviewees were eighteen which
is not that much enough for a research study. Another limitation was the interviewees’ cities. The
researcher had access to the mentioned cities and not other areas of the country. The third
limitation was experiences of teaching. the researcher tried to interview the teachers with
different years of experience but as a limitation, the teacher did not have access to such teachers.
Some other limitations also exist. These limitations might affect the results of the study.
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Alemi, M., & Hesami,Z.( 2013) .Textbook evaluation: Teachers’ perspectives. Roshd FLT, 28( 1)
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Jamalvandi,B.(2014). ELT Textbook Evaluation in Iran, New Insights. European Online Journal
of Natural and Social Sciences,3(4), 1068-1078.
Litz, D. R. A. (2000). Textbook evaluation and ELT management: A South Korean case study.
Asian EFL Journal.
Sheldon, L. (1988). Evaluating ELT coursebooks and materials. ELT Journal, 42(2), 237-246.
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