A language school, somewhere…
Teacher: Look at the man on page 26. What do you think he does for a living?
Student: Actually, teacher, I think he is probably a model hired by a big book company for the purpose being in this book.
Teacher: OK, fair, umm, yeah. Hah. Good point. Well what mood do you think he is in?
Student: You mean, “What mood is he supposed to be in for the purpose of this question?”
Teacher: Yes, I guess so.
Student: I’d say he is supposed to be pensive. Yes, pensive.
Teacher: Pensive, wow, good word. Why do you think he is pensive?
Student: Because we are an advanced class and we covered all the normal words in previous books. So we need new words.
Teacher: Well, what do think is making this fictional person pensive?
Student: Probably some sort of middle class problem or something related to the aspirational lifestyle. Maybe he is thinking about ipads or something like that.
Teacher: Interesting. Thanks for sharing. What….?
Student: What…What does he look like? Is that what you are going to ask? This is not my first time using a textbook, you know?
He is pretty good looking and has very nice skin and teeth. I should also mention that I think his race was specifically chosen to be appropriate for this page in the book. We can’t have too many white people you know. We need a nice mix of races and the occasional handicapped person. It doesn’t matter if coursebooks reflect real life because that is not their job and it would be impossible for them to reflect real life for all students in any case and not all students want coursebooks to reflect real life, anyway, or something. So, that is why we are looking at this nicely dressed good looking guy with nice teeth and skin and you are asking us a series of farcical questions.
My original intention when I started typing this post was not (really) to trash coursebooks. It was actually to praise #ELTpics and to spread the word about this incredible resource. I guess the book trashing was just a bonus. One thing (of the many) I love about #ELTpics is that there are pictures of real people doing real things. The pictures tend to have a lot of character as well as characters. So, if you don’t know #ELTpics I strongly recommend you check it out. Here is the Flickr photostream. Check it out and tell your teaching friends.
As for the rant, well, I figure sometimes it is better to let out a rant instead of keeping it bottled up for a long time. 🙂
(Slightly related to the dialog above)
R is for Representation by Scott Thornbury
The views expressed above are solely and not actually entirely those of the author.
The author fully realizes there are a variety of ways to teach.
The author realizes there a variety of factors, pushes, pulls, and decisions that go into writing and publishing a coursebook.
There is no suggestion that all coursebooks are bad nor that coursebooks hurt people.
No coursebooks were hurt in the creation of this post.
This post is the fifth of 5 posts in five days so the author wishes to excuse himself if this post doesn’t make sense.
He’d also like to apologize for using the third person so much.
Some of my best internet friends are coursebook writers.