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Why use a Teacher’s Book? (Part 1)

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Teacher holding a book in classIn the first of a two-part series, Julietta Schoenmann, a teacher and teacher trainer, presents the benefits of using a Teacher’s Book to help plan and execute your lessons. Please note, this article contains references to the New English File Teacher’s Book series.

Do you remember when you first started teaching? Were you like me and treated your teacher’s book like a bible – the all-knowing, multi-purpose guide to all things pedagogical? Did you follow its advice carefully and rarely deviate from what it suggested for….ooh……the first year of your teaching career?! Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. But there’s no doubt that a good teacher’s book can:

  • save us time when it comes to lesson planning
  • offer ideas for bringing a topic alive
  • provide a wealth of extra materials to give our students practice in the areas of language they find challenging.

What’s more, the introduction to a teacher’s book often has a detailed outline of the methodological approach that the course book takes – very handy for those potentially awkward moments when students come up to you at the end of the lesson and ask why you don’t teach more grammar, etc. You can explain your rationale for teaching in the way that you do, supported by the evidence found in the introduction.

Also useful is the information included on how the student’s book is organised – what you can find in each unit, what other materials are available like CD-ROMs or workbooks and what resources are included at the back of the book. I cringe every time I remember a student who came up to me after about three months of classes and said he hadn’t realised there was a grammar reference section at the back of his course book. After that embarrassing experience I decided to help students on the first day of term find their way round their new course book with an orientation quiz. E.g. What topic can you find on page 76? Or What useful section is located on pages 157-158? This sort of quiz is quick and easy to make if you use the teacher’s book to help you.  

So what do you use your teacher’s book for and how can it help you to plan and deliver effective lessons? Let’s think about lesson planning first….

We all know that feeling – 24 teaching hours a week, different classes at different levels and NO TIME to prepare! Many of us therefore rely on the teacher’s book for guidance and inspiration. In one school I worked for I can recall having to squeeze more units into a term than was educationally comfortable but a quick glance at the teacher’s book and what were the key language items included for that unit helped me to select what was essential and discard the rest.

How many times have you been sitting at your desk trying to think of the best way to begin the lesson? Can’t think of a good lead-in to a reading text that mentions colours several times in the story, for example? (NEF Pre-intermediate 2D) The teacher’s book gives you a hand by suggesting you begin the lesson by asking the class to brainstorm all the songs they know with colours in their title e.g. Yellow Submarine. You then write them on the board and get your students to tell you who sang it. Simple idea but guaranteed to get the lesson off to a great start!

Then there are those occasional moments when you’re presenting a new structure to your class and a problem crops up, something that you couldn’t anticipate – for example, the way students have difficulty in remembering not to invert the subject and verb when forming indirect questions. (NEF Intermediate 7B) But the good news is that the teacher’s book flags this up so you can be prepared for these sorts of trouble spots well ahead of the lesson.

How do you use a Teacher’s Book? To prepare for lessons? To point students to useful additional materials? Or for something infinitely more creative? Share your thoughts below.

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Author: Oxford University Press ELT

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8 thoughts on “Why use a Teacher’s Book? (Part 1)

  1. Oh yes, Teacher’s Books are great for new teachers. And not-so-new teachers. Maybe too good as they can become – as you say – a bible. With teaching hours often being more than is humanly good for someone, they do indeed provide a welcome help.

  2. I use a Teacher’s Book all the time. It helps me understand how the authors wanted to present a lesson in a classroom. Ideally I would like to see a demonstration video of some of the lessons. Usually when I present a lesson the second time I do it better. Sometimes I wish I was a clairvoyant. It can happen when a Teacher’s Book is not written by a course’s authors. But generally I find the book very helpful. I also found that I cannot rely on it all the time. I have to create my own example sentences or create contexts in which students feel more at home.

  3. I was remided of course books for very young learners while reading this post. If you use a couse book (and to be honest, it can be nice for young learners to have a book with good visuals to look at in class and at home) with pre-school or early primary learners, the teacher’s book can be essential, whether you are in your first year of teaching or your twentieth! The main reason for this is that the children’s books themselves have very little to guide the teacher – a two-page lesson spread is often just a picture story. Now, some teachers may prefer to use this input to design their own lesson plan, but who really has time to do so for all their lessons? In any case, you may need to spend half an hour trying to decipher what the story is about before then choosing lesson aims and objectives, and how this fits into the bigger picture. The teacher’s book, however, provides all this information, along with lots of ways in which to present the material, and a wealth of games and activities are often provided in a separate section at the back of the book. I think teachers should take advantage of the teacher’s book by using it in their planning – you don’t need to follow it step by step – but it is often a brilliant source of ideas written by people who know what they’re talking about!

  4. Let’s accept the fact that not all teachers are creative and nor all of them have sufficient time to invest in making the lessons really interesting. Many of the teachers then resort to teacher’s books. Teacher’s books suggest a number of ideas and a teacher has the liberty to pick and choose anything that best suits his/her classroom situation and students’ level. Apart from this most importantly, if a teacher’s book has lesson plans on 20 stories then it would try to suggest different subskills to deal with the main skills.It not only brings variety but also aids teacher in getting to know different strategies that can be used in the class apart from the regular ones.

  5. I like using teacher’s books and I consider myself a professional user. I consider them invaluable sources. They really make the lessons quite different and much more interesting. They are time saving and they provide different teaching techniques and methods that non-natives cannot think of themselves. They are a good start anyway.

  6. Pingback: Using multimedia in our classrooms « Oxford University Press – English Language Teaching Global Blog @OUPELTGlobal

  7. can some one help me?i need teacher’s book . english time 1

  8. i am Mathematics teacher and i have a problem in teaching Oxford Mathematics ISBN Number 9780195979565, because i have no teacher guide if some one have please send me on “shuaibedu@gmail.com’ because in Pakistan key of this book are not available

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