Animating your Coursebook


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What is the secret message in the Wordle above?

Have you guessed it?

If you are pretty happy following your coursebook page after page and exercise after exercise without omitting anything, then this post may read somewhat strange to you.

If on the other hand, you have spent the best part of every book exhibition hunting for the perfect course book for your class, here is what the message above says:

“There is no one ideal coursebook! Even the one you yourself wrote for last year’s class will probably not be good enough for next year’s class!”

Resign to this idea  

no coursebook is perfect! 

You might be interested in exploring a principled way of looking at and ‘fixing’ coursebook faults.

But First things First!


Learn to …

  • ·     Analyze it
  • ·     Evaluate it
  • ·     Keep the good stuff
  • ·     Throw out the bad stuff

Then, learn to…

Animate it! 

You might ask “Why? Is is dead?” (yep – pretty much 🙂 ) 

Heaven's Gate
Photo Credit: Hartwig HKD via Compfight

Well, if your course book is not motivating your learners to talk, if learning English is a chore for them and for you, if your learners cannot contain their yawns, even if they are motivated adults, if they have better things to do in class, like send text messages or tease their friends, you might as well have brought a dead cat in to teach your lesson!

   KARAVEL - 05 0042

The ideas in the slide presentation are good for making a coursebook come
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The ideas in my presentation are good for making a coursebook come alive but, hopefully, you can find them useful as ideas for overall good materials design whether it involves adapting material you have found or material you are creating from scratch.

Here is a short version of my seminar which I presented as a Pecha Kucha at the Virtual Round Table Conference in 2010


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29 replies

  1. Hi Marisa,
    Looks I missed a great workshop.Great powerpoint presentation, great tools… I loved it very much and I’m so glad that I have a chance to meet a like-minded person via twitter. This feeling is great. This is the comfort zone we are enjoying very much nowadays.
    Congratulations and keep inspiring us.

    Eva Büyüksimkeşyan

    • Hi Eva,

      Presenting it at ISTEK was great but it meant I missed two slots with concurrent workshops by friends I would really have liked to see!!!

      I am glad this made sense even to someone who was not there – I was a bit worried about it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


    • Jason!

      What a great way to leave me a comment – I was hoping someone would soon!

      Thanks for positive feedback here and on Twitter – I was worried this might look a bit thin as there were workshop tasks around it…

      Anyway, I thought I should point out that these may look nice as guidelines for animating material but they are not bad to remember when you are writing original material, too!

      Sorry you missed ISTEK – was looking forward to meeting you too – but there will be more opportunities I hope!



  2. This is great, Marisa. Thank you.
    I use a lot of power points in class for lots of the reasons you mention and also because it give me more control over pace and gets faces up out of books so I can sense comprehension (or lack of it) better
    But sometimes find them a bit time consuming to make and I’d love it if publishers produced sets of animated powerpoints to go with course books. Do you and others agree?

    • Hi Vicki

      I like your idea of powerpoints.

      To get faces out of books you need some other material – without powerpoint, you end up having to produce lots of other bits and pieces, lots of it probably on handout (more trees dying by the minute!)

      Publisher prepared of animated ppts sounds fabulous – as long as they don’t follow the tradition of the book but take a more creative plunge into materials design.

      T-prepared ppts are fabulous too – the teacher knows what she needs – right?

      I will confess – and not in a whisper – that overhead projectors do just as fabulous a job and sometimes they are easier to handle – just a turn on/off function and you are in business. Not all schools have laptops and data projectors available in every class but OHPs are quite cheap.

  3. Dear Marisa,
    I was there and I remember you asking “Draw the image that comes on your mind when I say coursebooks.” The very first thing on my mind was “Boring” but I hesitated to shout out for it may sound weird. But I was quite amazed when I heard other people saying “Boring!” and drew a bored face! I really enjoyed the session not only it was useful and inspiring with a lot of new ideas but also the way you shared your knowledge and experience with us. I am really very pleased to meet you in person:)

  4. Great work , Marisa…. you`re absolutely right in the fact that, as teachers, we ought to supplement our coursebook with interactive activities that come either from technology or from communcation games. … so as to promote authentic interaction in our Ss` TL….

  5. Dear Marissa,
    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to have access to this highly informative and important presentation. No doubt , how beneficial it is for us teachers even while selecting the right coursebook for our learners.I’d like to have your permission to share the presentation with my lead .


  6. Good evening Marissa,

    I meant my supervisor:).
    Thank you so much and good luck for your presentation at Harrogate. i’ll be following online.
    Best Regards,

  7. Dear Marisa,

    I couldn’t have the chance to attend your presentation at ISTEK(no tickets left:), thanks for sharing it with us. It has many practical ideas in it, I’ll share it with my colleagues at Bahcesehir K12 Schools.

    All the Best,


  8. Marisa,

    Thank you for sharing this presentation. I teach at British Side in Istanbul, but I missed your live version. This sparked some more energy in my EFL brain center and now I have you to thank for that. I wrote out four new ideas for activities with specifics, so your efforts were worthwhile. If I ever venture to Athens, I hope we can meet over some good Greek coffee to exchange ideas and experiences. Always good to meet more EFL colleagues!

    Kind regards,

  9. Thanks Marisa… so interesting to see you in action! I am such a newbie to blogging… so learning loads here!

    M x

  10. Thanks Marisa,
    I am from Kyrgyzstan and found this PPT from our webinar resources of Shaping the way teaching English and it is so useful and interesting. I got new ideas how to enrich out textbooks and boring text.
    Could you please inform me if there will be other your interesting presentations.

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