Saturday, November 12, 2016

Enhance your English class with Supplementary Materials

Supplementary teaching materials have a worthwhile influence on ESL/EFL learners’ motivation and attitudes towards English. Applying various activities in EFL classes make the lessons more fun and motivate the learners, especially those who are getting bored with commercial textbooks. User-friendly and good instructional teaching materials are essential in teaching a foreign language. 

It is highly recommended that EFL teachers use different materials for teaching the language skills and concepts. Harmer (2007) points out that “Activities and materials which frequently engage learners include: games, music, discussions, stimulating pictures, dramatic stories, amusing anecdotes, etc” (p. 52). Such supplementary materials engage the students’ hearts and minds, raise their motivation and encourage them to use the language freely and communicatively. Crawford (2002) outlines that classroom materials should include audiovisual components because such materials have a lot of linguistic and cultural information. The use of video and multimedia helps English learners understand the English language and culture. Learners also explore the non-verbal concepts such pitch, intonation, and gestures used in the target language. Using newspaper articles or reading texts from encyclopedias compatible with the learners’ level helps them practice and expand the grammar and vocabulary they have learned from textbooks, and build up their vocabulary. 

          English language teachers should apply supplementary ELT materials that involve students in critical thinking and real-life problem-solving activities. These activities open the gate to EFL students to use the language cooperatively and share their ideas with their peers usually in a group work. Such classroom exercises motivate students and encourage the shy and slow ones to participate more without worrying about making mistakes. Opp-Beckman and Klinghammer (2006) state that critical thinking tasks give students the freedom to discuss the topic in the way they like with no restrictions, and most of their answers are accepted. A good example of a critical thinking activity is that when the teacher divides the class into groups; ask students to imagine that they are parents and they want to enroll their young children in a good school. The teacher imposes a few questions such as “What makes a good school?”, and “Are you going to enroll your children in a state or private school? Why?” Then he allocates students 10 minutes to discuss these questions and share their ideas among the group members. Then one student from each group reports to the class the group’s opinions and reasons. In the end, the teacher asks for a vote for the best ideas. 

In addition to the aforementioned materials, Zoreda & Vivaldo-Lima (2008) argue that enhancing EFL class with literature would offer more exposure to English and it would educate students about the British and American cultures; this can be done by using Graded Readers, which are simplified versions of novels designed for learners of English at different levels. The researcher will explain the importance of extensive reading to his students and raise their awareness about the benefits they will gain form reading every day. To encourage them, he will read the first chapter of a simplified novel at the beginning of the course and then discusses some of the linguistic and cultural aspects from the story. The other chapters will be assigned to students as extensive reading at home, and each week one group of three or four students will report to class a summary of the chapters and what they have learned from those chapters. This task will engage students to work cooperatively together to prepare a short presentation to the class.

In conclusion, supplementary teaching materials have a great influence on learners’ motivation and attitude. Motivation in the classroom has the lion’s share of learners’ success. With implementing a variety of supplementary teaching materials, learners will go far in learning a foreign language and they will be more interested. Different materials usually arouse the students’ desire to learn the language, speak it fluently and use it communicatively.


Crawford, J. (2002). The role of materials in the language classroom: finding the balance. In J., C. Richards & W., A. Renandy (Eds.). Methodology in language teaching: An anthology of current   practice (pp. 80 – 91). New York: Cambridge University Press. 

Harmer, J. (2007). How to teach English (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited. 

Opp-Beckman, L., & Klinghammer, S., J. (2006). Shaping the way we teach: Successful practices around the world. Washington: the Office of English Language Programs.

Zoreda, M., L. & Vivaldo-Lima, J. (2008). Scaffolding linguistic and intercultural goals in EFL with simplified novels and their film adaptation. English Teaching Forum: 46(3), 22-29.

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