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2.1 Blackboard
2.2 Flashcards
2.3 Magazine Pictures
2.4 Posters
2.5 Charts
2.6 The Coursebook
3.7 Other Printed Materials


4.1 Overhead Projector
4.2 Slide Projector

5.1 Tape Recorder

6.1 Video
6.2 Computer


Teaching aids are an important asset within the classroom. Teachers are
using them for many years and, their place in the syllabus being strongly
motivated, it seems that they will be used as long as the process of teaching a
foreign language is concerned.
At the beginning teachers were forced to use only their imagination in
order to create adequate materials for the classroom. Then, as technology has
strongly developed and the teacher and, respectively, the school have been
able to get most of the instructional materials from the market. That is why,
nowadays, teachers can choose from a very large number of materials, and use
or adapt them in many adequate ways.
My opinion is that teaching materials have a great importance because,
first of all, they provide variety for the classroom. This paper is meant to
demonstrate this point of view.
As we shall see, materials, whether commercially developed or teacherproduced, are an important element within teaching. Richards and Rodgers (1)
suggest that the instructional materials can provide detailed specifications of
content. For an activity they give guidance to teachers on both the intensity of
coverage and the amount of attention demanded by particular content or
pedagogical tasks. Some are designed to be used by inexperienced teachers
while others are intended to replace the teacher completely (e.g. there are
countries where many schools use computers for testing the students).
There is today a large variety of teaching aids that can be used in very
many situations, whenever necessary to make the link between the student and
the foreign language he is to learn, more successfully. For example, the use of

audio- visual materials is also important, as a main asset in arousing the

students interest and therefore improving the conversational skills.
As a conclusion for this short introduction I share the opinion of those
specialists who assert that teaching aids evidently increase the efficiency of
learning provided that they are used in proper ways.

(1)Richards and Rodgers- Approaches and Methods in Language
Teaching- 1986

1.0 A teaching aid is a tool used within the classroom especially when
teaching a foreign language. It helps the teacher to develop students
reading, writing and communicative skills. The utilization of the teaching
aids has also the purpose to make the presentation of the lesson more
attractive, having in the same time a mobilizing function.
The teaching aids have a very important role especially when teaching
a foreign language to children. When the students are young, the teacher has
to make supplementary efforts in order to get their attention. That is why the
teacher has to find attractive and interesting methods so as the child to focus
on his tasks.
One of the most important and difficult I would say, task for a teacher
when teaching English, for example, is to be able to identify the various
ways in which materials may contribute to the learners perception (of
knowledge, language, learning roles), to their affective and cognitive
development, and to their general stock of information.
1.1 There are several criteria according to which teaching aids can be
classified, but I have selected only four of them that have relevance for the
issues dealt with in this paper.
1) the author:
- commercial materials
- teacher-produced materials

2) the technical appliances:

- visual aids
- audio aids
- audio-visual aids
3) the purpose of teaching:
- teaching vocabulary aids
- teaching communicative aids
- teaching grammar aids
- teaching literature aids
4) size:
- aids for individual use
- aids for whole class use
The present paper will deal with one criterion for teaching aids
classification, namely materials according to technical appliances. The
reason for choosing this criterion is that it is more complex than the others,
but nevertheless there is an interaction between criteria. For example, when
talking about visual aids we can also talk about commercial or teacherproduced materials.
1.2 It is worth considering the important role that materials have played
in different language teaching methods. In their book on different
approaches and methods in language teaching, Richards and Rodgers(1)
have pointed out that different methods imply very different roles for the

teacher and role relationship between teacher and learners. The same also
holds for materials. For example:
The role of materials within communicative methodology might be
specified in the following terms:
Materials will focus on the communicative abilities of interpretation,
expression and negotiation.
Materials will focus on the understandable, relevant and interesting
exchanges of information, rather than on the presentation of grammatical
Materials will involve different kinds of texts and different kinds of media,
which the learners can use to develop their competence through a variety
of different activities and tasks.
In his article on materials, Rossner(2) focuses in particular on the role of
teaching aids in communicative language teaching. He argues that while
classroom practice has continued its circumspect and patchy evolution,
there has been a significant change in materials, particularly in the range of
materials available and in the attitude of materials writers to issues of
selection and grading. In Rossners view teachers look for materials to
provide new information on how language works at a formal level, to
provide focused practice in manipulating language forms and in practicing







communicative consciousness raising on the part of learners, to provide

opportunities for simulating and rehearsing communicative situations to be
encountered outside the language classroom, for testing and self-assessment
and for increasing motivation and interest in learning.
When selecting commercial materials it is important to mach the
materials with the goals and objectives of the program, and to ensure that

they are consistent with ones beliefs about the nature of language and
learning, as well as with ones learners attitudes, beliefs and preferences.
Evaluating and selecting commercial materials is not an easy task. As
Low(3) points out, rather like the evaluation of hi-fi equipment, it remains
something of a black art. Designing appropriate materials is not a
science; it is a strange mixture of imagination, insight and analytical
reasoning, and this fact must be recognized when the materials are
Nevertheless, the selection processes can be greatly facilitated by the use
of systematic materials evaluation procedures which help ensure that
materials are consistent with the needs and interests of the learners they are
intended to serve, as well as being in harmony with institutional ideologies.

(1) Richards and Rodgers- Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching1986
(2) Rossner- 1988
(3) Low- 1989


Before this very fast and monopolizing development of electronics,

teachers were forced to use their imagination in order to find appropriate
methods for students to learn different foreign languages. One of the aids
used for a very long time is the blackboard. The blackboard is perhaps the
most useful of visual aids and the majority of teachers would feel hampered
in a classroom which would not have one.

There are some things that should be kept in mind when using the
blackboard, namely:
the blackboard has to be clean at the beginning of the lesson because,
when teaching a foreign language, the spelling is very important and a
dirty blackboard could make the students include some odd signs in the
spelling of words.
the things on the blackboard must not be rubbed as soon as the teacher
has finished with them or as soon as they have been copied; the students
benefit by seeing the things the teacher tries to teach them exposed
through the lesson;
the teacher should try out different coloured chalks on the blackboard and
see which one shows up the best; some colours cannot be seen very
clearly, so they prove to be useless;
it is very important that the teacher doesnt obscure the blackboard while
using it;
in order to have good results, the teacher has to make full use of the
Before doing a dictation it might be a good idea to write the text on the
blackboard and mask it with a piece of cloth or a cardboard and reveal it
when necessary.
According to A. Wright(1), there are some advantages when using the
the whole class can see it;
texts and pictures can grow in front of the class;
texts and pictures can be rubbed, added to or substituted quickly;

parts of the blackboard can be covered;

texts and pictures on papers or cards can be propped against the
blackboard, stuck to it or hang over it;
a white cloth or sheet of paper can be stuck to the board or hang over it to
act as a projector screen;
several people can work on a board at a time;
The blackboard drawing is also very important. Many teachers are
reluctant to try their hand at blackboard drawing, saying that they cannot
draw. Simple stick figures are very easy to draw, and can be very useful
when the teacher has no other materials to use.
The teachers can also plan the blackboard work. Much of the chaotic
and untidy work on blackboards can be avoided if the work is planned in
advance and included as part of the lesson plan.
Ideally, the blackboard can be sectioned off into areas. There are various
ways of dividing it up, but it is well to keep one section free for things that
crop out in the lesson, that were not foreseen. One way of dividing the
blackboard is into four. Thus part of the blackboard can be kept for pictures,
part for writing tables and for lists, or part can be kept for planned work and
part for impromptu work. This is how, when most things are no longer
needed and are rubbed off the blackboard, there is a permanent section for
vocabulary items which probably benefit from being exposed on the
blackboard as long as possible.
The permanent part of the blackboard also serves the end of the lesson
to refresh the students memory of different activities that have been done
and the language which arose out of them.

As for picture composition, this can be made more interesting by

drawing the pictures on the blackboard rather than having them on specially
prepared flashcards. Thus more suspense can be created among students if
the pictures go up on the blackboard as they are watching.
A flashcard is a card having as main characteristic the fact that it is
flashed, shown quite quickly in front of the students. The flashcards can
contain a lot of information and many subjects can be presented to the
classroom when using them.
For young learners, using flashcards is a very recommendable technique.
They can be used, for example, to rehearse the newly taught letters or
syllables, and also to improve the vocabulary. The teacher can show the
students some flashcards containing all kind of objects, animals, plants, then
ask them to write down their names. There are many varied and attractive
exercises, which can be practiced and solved by using these flashcards.
There are two categories in which flashcards can be divided:
a)picture flashcards
b)word flashcards
As their very name suggests, picture flashcards are pictures drawn on
cards. Picture flashcards can be used in various ways, in accordance with
teachers imagination and purposes.

Picture flashcards have the advantage that the teacher can prepare them
at his leisure at home. In this way they can be made more attractive and
colourful and can include details impossible to include in a hastily drawn
blackboard picture. Although they are used the same way and for the same
purpose as the blackboard drawings, the picture flashcards bring the
advantage of cutting down greatly on time as well as providing variety.
One can also make double-sided flashcards to use when drilling certain
contrasting language items.
Side one: She usually drinks tea.
Side two: but now she is drinking champagne.
The picture flashcards are normally used by the teacher in oral work for
cueing responses to questions or in communicative work for stimulating
conversation, story telling, etc.
There are very attractive and complex exercises using the picture flashcards
as proposed by G. Gerngross (2) like the one entitled from story to picture/
from picture to story.
Types of picture : picture stories featuring stick-people
Skill areas

: Reading, listening, speaking


: Past tense


: Telling stories, correcting, agreeing, disagreeing


: Intermediate and above


: 50 minutes


: Practicing the language of negotiation, telling stories

from pictures

The teacher needs copies of four stories plus two cartoons depicting the
contents of two of the stories.
In class

1. copies of the story given to half the class and copies of a cartoon
depicting the same story to the other half. The students work in
pairs. Partner A, who has got the text, reads the story silently and
B, who has got the cartoon, tries to make up his/her mind what the
picture story is all about. B than starts telling the story to A. As
task is to listen, to correct whenever necessary and to help with
verbal prompts when B seems to be stuck or completely wrong
concerning the content of the story.
When B has finished telling the story, A reads it out. Then they
change roles, using the text of another story and the cartoon
depicting it.
2. The learners again work in pairs. But now both partners receive
stories which they read. The stories are different and the students
are not allowed to show their texts to one another. Both partners
then draw the contents of their stories in the form of stick-people
cartoons. When they have finished, A hands his cartoon to B, who
tries to tell the story from the cartoon. A guides, helps and corrects
if necessary. The roles are changed.

(Picture in action- G. Gerngross 1992)

Another example is related to the so-called Picture qus
Types of picture : six to eight pictures, at least half of which should show
some sort of action
Skill areas : speaking, listening
Vocabulary : as related to content of picture
Grammar : past tense
Functions : narrating
Level : elementary and above.
Time : 20 30 minutes
Purpose : enhancing students creativity, story telling.
Preparation :
The teacher has to select a set of photographs, to copy them so that to
have the same set of six to eight photos per group of four students for one
half of the class. For each student of the one half he/she has to prepare a
photocopy of a For each student of the one half he/she has to prepare a
photocopy of a worksheet containing comprehension questions in the past.

There should be at least one question per picture, but the questions need not
necessarily show a narrative link with one another.
In class :
1. the class must be divided in two halves and each half should be asked to
work in groups of about four;
2. each of the groups of the first half of the class gets one set of pictures;
they are asked to create a story based on the pictures;
3. the group of the second half of the class gets the handouts with the
comprehension questions; each group is asked to write a story together
based on the comprehension questions;
4. each group has to read out their story and compare the story created.
There are countless exercises that can be practiced using picture
flashcards. Here is an example : the teacher shows to the class a picture card
containing action but the students must not be given enough time to think to
everything they have seen. They must be asked what they have seen and of
course that there will appear differences in their opinions. The fact that the
students may argue with each other is already a good exercise for practicing
communicative skills.


Word flashcards contain only one word and they are used in order to
drill the newly taught words and thus improving the vocabulary. They can
also contain a picture having written beneath the word that defines that
picture. The last ones are much more productive because they capture the
visual attention of the students.

They are mostly used in reading and writing.

The word flashcards can be prepared by the teacher or by the students.
They can be displayed at the same time by sticking them on the board, by
putting them on a shelf or by using a sentence maker.-A. Wright (1)
The aim of this technique of teaching a foreign language is, among
others, to familiarize the students with the written form of the word.

Word flashcard game of groups

A word flashcard can also be used for structure practice. The teacher
thinks of a sentence containing the structure. The same number of students
as there are words in the sentence come to the front of the class. Each
student takes one word card, and they must form themselves into a line, so
that the sentence may be read correctly. With several groups this may be a
highly competitive game.
The teacher can use many kinds of such word flashcards within the
lesson. There may also be dialogue sentence cards with sentences written on
them used for building up dialogues, command cards with which the teacher
can practice the commands written on them- e.g. : the teacher shows a
student a card and the student obeys the command on it.
Separate cards, each containing a word belonging to a sentence, are also
helpful in that that the student has to arrange them in the right order. Thus
the student becomes familiarized with the order of different words especially
in English which is very rigorous with order in a sentence.
One can also use questions/ answers cards, the students task being to
match the sentences.

(Play Games with English- C. Granger(3)- 1993)

Of course, we could go on with the examples as far as the use of flashcards
is concerned, but it would be difficult because this is a very large area. The
most important conclusion on this subject is that the teacher should make
full use of this technique which, compared to others, is very simple, cheap,
easy to use and with satisfactory results. The use of flashcards is unlimited
and the only thing that the teacher has to do is to benefit from his/ her
Magazine pictures are one of the most useful visual aids available to
teachers. Firstly they provide variety from other visual aids, e.g. blackboard
drawings, and they are often much imaginative than wallcharts.(A. Wright
(1)). The students can be presented with completely unusual situations in
magazine pictures, which at the same time are stimulating and colourful.
Magazine pictures are also easily accessible to everyone, they are cheap
and easy to find. Besides magazine pictures, calendars, greeting cards and
free pamphlets and brochures can be used. They also have the advantage that
they can be used for a variety of purposes.

These magazine pictures must not be used in a chaotic way and only for
one lesson. The teacher has to think about every step in presenting them
first, before the lesson, while he is planning it and then, during the lesson
itself. An ideal solution is to build up a magazine- picture library by storing
and filing magazine pictures, so that one has a ready made collection from
which to draw.
Peter Hubbard(4) speaks about using pictures in sets. A teacher would
rarely want to use only one magazine picture alone considering that it would
be more useful to think of pictures in sets.
A very important subject which could be dealt with using magazine
pictures is the verb tense, using a story which could be later used for drilling.
The magazine pictures could be used before presenting a text, so that the
students get familiarised with the new subject and find it more attractive.
The magazine pictures can also be used as cues in controlled drills, for
practising various structures.
An exercise with a satisfactory result is the pair work when the students
power of concentration is bigger. Once the class is familiar with the
structure, the teacher can get them drilling in pairs. According to Hubbard,
the teacher can have a standard stimulus in which case only the response
needs a magazine picture, for example :
Stimulus (Student 1):
What does Jane want for Christmas?
Response (Student 2):
I think she wants a ring.
Student 1:
I bought Jane a ring for Christmas.
Student 2:
She didnt want a ring.

She wanted a handbag.

or both the stimulus and the response can be cued from two connected
magazine pictures glued onto the same card, for example : guessing games
are even more versatile than memory games.
Magazine pictures can obviously be used in many different ways for
games, for example, in guessing games, bingo games, memory games and
generally as cued drills.
The poster may be defined as an informative, often decorative way to
attract attention to the information it contains.
Materials of this kind are invaluable, particularly for younger learners,
and teachers find that they constantly use them. This type of material can be
largely homemade- glossy-papered magazines in particular are an excellent
source of pictures. They can also be produced by students, drawn or made by
collage on a given topic.
The main reason for using the posters is that they can display a lot of
information or even instructions. The teacher could find, for example, a
poster containing very many details that the student has to observe and talk
about. This is an example of how posters may help improving the
communicative abilities.
The poster should be big enough for the whole class to see it and has the
advantage that, even if not very easy to find or to make, they can
successfully be used more than once.
There are a lot of topics that could be dealt with when using posters.
Here are some examples :

The poster can be a basis for story telling. The teacher shows an image
which could be the beginning of a story and the student has to continue it,
using his/her imagination.
For beginner and intermediate learners a poster could be a source of
vocabulary practice in that that the teacher could ask the students to look at
the poster and than to say all the words they remember and which could be
related to the picture.
A poster could also be useful in presenting and drilling the sequence of
tenses. The teacher should find an image representing action and ask the
students to say everything they see on that image.
The posters may also be used in very many complex games. With games,
students power of concentration is totally no matter the age and this is a
technique that provides very good results. Everything depends on teachers
ability to find attractive games that fit perfectly in the lesson.
A. Wright(1) gives a lot of examples of games. The true/false game,
for example, allows the student to make a number of statements, some of
which are true and some of which are false. If this is done orally, then the
students can correct the teacher when he/she makes a false statement.
A chart is an useful way to present and display information or
instructions, especially in a classroom or other educational situations.
There are several types of charts :
Alphabet chart

Flip chart
Wall chart
Vowel chart
Consonant chart
Number chart
Punctuation chart
Song chart
The alphabet chart helps the teacher to introduce letters within the lesson.
On these alphabet charts the entire alphabet can be displayed. They can be
more complex than a simple row of letters in that that every letter can be
accompanied by a keyword that begins with the aimed letter, or even by an
illustration of the keyword.
A flip chart is a collection of large pages that are bound together at the top.
The pages are flipped, or brought up to the back as they are used.
A lot of situations and information can be displayed on a flip chart, this
being very easy to handle.
Wall-charts can be hanged on the wall and can be used for listening
comprehension, games and presenting structures. They can also be used for
picture composition, and their usefulness is further increased if certain parts
of them can be made to change or move, for example things can be masked.
As other visual aids already tackled with, the charts can also be used in
games. Here is an example of such a game :
A wall chart showing as many people as possible is displayed. Students are
allowed one minute to study it before the teacher masks one of the people on
it. The students then have to describe this person. To add realism, they can

be told that that person is a notorious criminal and they are being asked to
give the police his description.
As for consonant and vowel chart the teacher can use charts displaying
consonants or vowels accompanied by keywords or images.
A number chart is a chart helping the teacher to teach the numbers which
can be displayed on such a chart. The students can be shown with a tack
every number and asked to say it loudly. Ordinal as well as cardinal numbers
can be taught using a number chart. An association with images could also
give satisfactory results.
As for punctuation chart and song chart the same methods could be
Workcards having approximately 15cm x 20cm, and worksheets are for
individual student use or for use by students working in small groups. They
provide an extremely useful base for the development of some kinds of skills
without the teachers immediate involvement. Good cousebooks provide a
lot of such material. However, many teachers make their own material for
students no matter how good their coursebook is.
This type of visual material can be treated with a very wide range of
techniques. For any individual and group activities to be successful two
things are necessary :
1. the students should understand what they have to do
2. the language demands should be within the students capabilities.
Standard exercise types

The following are well known types of exercises and they are usually not too
difficult and time consuming for the teacher to prepare in the form of cards
and sheets :
a text intended for translation
a text and comprehension questions
a text or a picture and multiple choice questions
a text or a picture and true/false statements
sentences and/or pictures that must be matched
a picture to be described
gapped texts to be completed
jumbled texts (words or sentences to be arranged in the correct order)
word games including crosswords, anagrams, etc.
There are some characteristics and techniques as far as the use of
workcards and worksheets are concerned :
pictures, drawn by the teacher or by the students or taken from magazines,
can be combined with texts either handwritten or typed or taken from
authentic printed matter;
the two sides of the card can be used for presenting different information is
useful in certain types of activity;
a set of worksheets enables the teacher to give either individual or group
tasks which students can perform more or less independently of the
the cards or sheets contribute to variety and interest in the classroom.

The most important characteristic is that individual students can work at

their own pace and level with their own workcard chosen by the teacher
and/or themselves.
Worksheets can be used to help students learn to write in English. Cards
and sheets can be designed by the teacher to guide the student in the
formation of individual letters and in joining of letters. The students should,
first of all, watch the teacher actually forming the letters on the board. The
sheets or cards then offer individual guidance and memory support. Once the
students (beginners and children) have developed a reasonable degree of
accuracy and control in letter formation and joining, they should be
encouraged to produce some personal writing, for example writing their
names or their friends names.
One of the most practiced exercises when using worksheets is to practice
writing. Straightforward copying is mind numbing and not very useful. It is
better to give students a reason for copying. One reason for copying is to
have a copy for oneself of a song or a poem. The student does not have to be
familiar with all the language of the song, but, of course, it would be
sensible if he/she had heard it and liked it.
Another example of exercise is the true/false copy writing. Copying does
not need to be unthinking! Various simple challenges can require the
student to think of the meaning of the text whilst actually only having to
copy it. Simple challenges could include :
1. only copy the true sentences;
2. sort out the sentences into the correct order and then copy them;
3. copy out the sentences which go together.

These challenges not only add interest and reason for using the language,
but also allow the teacher to use the technique for a higher proficiency level
of student. In this example the student must only copy the true sentences :


1. It was beautiful; there wasnt a
cloud in the sky;
2. The path was easy to follow.
3. There was a bridge over the
4. The stream was nearly empty.
5. John walked behind all the time
6. I carried the heavy sack.

magazine picture or

True or false

Handwritten or


( A. Wright- Visuals For The Language Classroom )

The term coursebook means a textbook of which a teacher and, usually,
each student has a copy, and which is in principle to be followed
systematically as the basis for a language course.

In some places coursebooks are taken for granted. In others, they may
not be used at all : the teacher works according to a syllabus or according to
his/her own programme, using textbooks and supplementary materials as the
need arises. A third situation is where a coursebook is used selectively, not
necessarily in sequence, and is extensively supplemented by other materials.
2.7.1 Advantages and disadvantages of using a coursebook
1. A coursebook provides a clear framework and learners know where
they are going and what is coming next, so that there is a sense of
structure and progress.
2. In many places the coursebook serves as a syllabus : if it is followed
systematically, a carefully planned and balanced selection of language
content will be covered.
3. The coursebooks provide texts and learning tasks which are likely to
be an appropriate level for most of the class. This of course saves
time for the teacher who would otherwise have to prepare his/her own
4. A book is the cheapest way of providing learning material for each
learner. Alternatives such as kits, sets of photocopied papers or
computer software, are likely to be more expensive relative to the
amount of material provided.
5. A book is a convenient package. It is bound so that its components
stick together and stay in order; it is light and small enough to carry
around easily. It is of a shape that is easily packed and stacked, it does
not depend for its use on hardware or a supply of electricity.

6. For teachers who are inexperienced or unsure of their knowledge of

the language, the coursebook can provide useful guidance and
7. The learner can use the coursebook to learn new material, review and
monitor progress, with some degree of autonomy. A learner without a
coursebook is more teacher-dependent.
Of course that there are also some small disadvantages when using a
coursebook and Penny Ur(5) pointed them out :
Every class- in fact every learner- has their own learning needs : no one
coursebook can possibly meet these satisfactorily.
The topics dealt with in the coursebook may not necessarily be relevant
or interesting for the class.
A coursebook is confining : its set structure and sequence may inhibit a
teachers initiative and creativity, and lead to boredom and lack of
motivation on the part of the learners.
Teachers find it too easy to follow the coursebook uncritically instead
of using their initiative.
2.7.2 Features of a coursebook
The coursebook, as one of the widest spread and one of the most used
teaching aid, can be characterized by the following features :
Objectives explicitly laid out in an introduction, and implemented
in material;
Appropriate visual materials available;
Interesting topics and tasks so as to provide for different learner
levels, learning styles, interests, etc.

Clear instructions;
Systematic coverage of syllabus;
Content clearly organized and graded;
Periodic review and test sections;
Good pronunciation explanation and practice, good vocabulary
explanation and practice;
Good grammar presentation and practice;
Fluency practice in all four skills;
Encourage learners to develop their own learning strategies and to
become independent in their learning;
Adequate guidance for the teacher.
A coursebook should be related to critically : we should be aware
of its good and bad points in order to make the most of the first and
compensate for or neutralize the second. Any single unit of a
coursebook should cover a fair range of language content and skills.
Here are some categories of content :
- pronunciation practice
- introduction of new vocabulary and practice
- grammar explanation and practice
- recordings for listening practice
- listening and speaking communicative tasks
- mixed skills communicative tasks
- short and long reading texts
- dictionary work
- review of previously learnt material
- some entertaining (funny) material- jokes, games, crosswords

If the texts are too easy, the teacher may need to substitute or add further
texts. If, on the other hand, they are too difficult, he/she may still be able to
use them : by careful pre-teaching of vocabulary, by introductory discussion
of the topic, by preliminary explanation or key selections, by careful
omission of difficult bits.
The texts may be unsatisfactory, even if of the right level, because
they are boring or trivial in content; or because all the texts in the book seem
to be the same genre, style and overall topic. Interest may be added by
challenging or original tasks; but the problem of sameness of genre can only
be solved by providing supplementary texts (David Nunan-(6)).
Referring to coursebook exercises, some of these are more like texts :
brief checks to see whether the learner knows something or not, rather than
frameworks for extended and interesting rehearsals of different aspects of
If the tasks are too short and do not provide for very much learner
activity, they can be extended by, for example, adding further similar items,
or by making items open-ended instead of close-ended so that each can
trigger a number of learner responses; or by simply supplementing with
further activities. The teacher may need to supplement also in order to
provide more heterogeneous or interesting tasks for the class; or in order to
provide material that is more relevant to their individual or group needs.
When preparing to teach a coursebook material, it is worth devoting a
little thought as to how best to activate learners in particular task in order to
set optimum learning benefit out of it and make it interesting.
Apart from coursebooks, there are textbooks. The term textbook is
used to apply to both coursebooks, which typically aim to cover all aspects
of the language and, supplementary, textbooks devoted to particular topics or

skill areas. Unless otherwise specified, textbook is used to refer to

coursebooks. Textbooks are so many and so varied, that it is very difficult to
make accurate generalizations about them.


A lot of other printed materials can be used as teaching aids :
newspapers, magazines, publicity, technical instructions for equipment, all
kinds of brochures, etc.
Students, especially these days, often come in contact with diverse and
more or less authentic printed materials. Of course that this makes them
curious and this is a positive thing since they have thus the opportunity to
enrich their vocabulary.
2.8.1 Newspapers
Using newspapers within the lesson is an efficient and very much
used technique. The fact that newspapers contain very much information in
the native language makes them an useful aid for teachers.
There are a lot of exercises that can be practiced using the articles in
the newspapers. Besides the fact that students can learn very many new
words, they can also use their imagination so as to comment different
statements, to make observations, and so on. Thus, they improve the
communicative abilities as well.
A good practice for developing predictive reading skills is : the
teacher cuts several headlines and asks the students to guess what the article

might be about; another exercise ( jig-saw ) is when the teacher cuts an

article into pieces, mixes them and asks the students to match the pieces.
For advanced learners a good exercise would be to study the way the
journalists use English and their specific particularities. This is an efficient
method for the student to come in contact with the way native speakers
2.8.2 Publicity material
As A. Wright (1) points out, publicity material includes : the
advertisement of major industries, the small ads ( advertising rooms to
rent, jobs, work, etc.), propaganda ( health care and road safety ).
There are several things the teacher can do using publicity materials :
1. Ask the students to write an advertisement for a product, whichever they
2. The teacher can give them holiday brochures and then ask them to choose
a place where to go; they are asked why they have chosen that place,
what they intend to visit, how much the trip costs and when they have
chosen to go.
3. The teacher can read technical instructions for an equipment and ask the
students to guess what that object is.
4. The students are asked to write an imaginary letter to a company in order
to complain about an article they have bought.
5. The students are asked to list all the plurals in the material.
6. The students are asked to note all the tenses used in the sequence.
7. The teacher can show the students a number of advertisements and ask
them what they are about, what is being advertised and maybe who the

publicity is aimed at. A. Wright (1) recommends that beginners can be

allowed to use their mother tongue for this analysis.

References :
(1) Allan Wright Visuals for the Language Classroom (1987); Longman

Gunter Gerngross Pictures in Action (1992); British Library

Cataloguing in Publication Data

(3) Collin Granger Play Games with English (1993); Oxford University
(4) Peter Hubbard, H. Jones A Training Course for Tefl (1983); Prentice
Hall International
(5) Penny Ur A Course in Language Teaching (1996); London : Longman
(6) David Nunan Language Teaching Methodology (1991); The National
Magazine Company

Overhead projectors are useful for presenting visual or written material
to classes. They are more vivid and attention-catching than the black or
white boards.
Overhead projectors project horizontally placed transparencies onto a
screen. They can be used both in daylight and artificial light. They are used
with long rolls of acetate or special cellophane paper that can be written or
drawn during the lesson. It is possible to write with either water-based pens
(which can be rubbed out) or spirit-based (which are permanent). It is also
sometimes possible to photocopy directly onto acetable squares.
The OHP is very useful with large classes as the teacher can face the
class as he writes. The writing position is better than writing on a

blackboard, as the teacher is writing on a horizontal surface. An OHP is also

less messy than chalk.
Masking is very easy with an OHP. The teacher simply needs to place a
piece of paper over whatever he wants to obscure. Overlays can be used,
where one transparency is placed over another, and so an increasingly
complex picture can be built up.
There are overhead projectors in many schools but not always in the
hands of language teachers. This is a pity because they are one of the most
useful tools a language teacher can have. The teacher can use the
transparencies again and again and, at the same time, he can adapt and create
images of many kinds.
According to A. Wright (1) the characteristics of OHP are :
1. The whole class can see the projected image;
2. The image can be projected without darkening the room;
3. Text and pictures can be modified in front of the class by :
adding transparency or taking one away;
writing on the transparency or wiping lines off;
obscuring or revealing parts of the transparency by putting something
opaque on the screen or removing it;
4. Transparencies can be prepared beforehand and used many times;
5. Permanent pens make transparencies that last for a long time; the marks
of water-based pens can be removed with a damp cloth;
6. There are pens with a variety of thickness of the nib and a variety of
7. Transparencies can be made by photocopying.

3.1.1 Single unprepared transparency

Characters and techniques : the teacher or the student can write or draw
directly on the transparency as on the blackboard but with the advantages of
projected size, brightness of colour and clarity. Here is an example :
The teacher should draw a picture of something or someone and ask the
students to describe it. Then he/she has to add some other features to the
drawing and contradict the students, and ask them to say again what is
happening. The students can take over the teachers role once they have got
the idea.
Example :
Teacher : (having drawn the first stage of the picture) Tell me about the
Student A : It is a man.
Teacher : What is he doing?
Student A : He is standing.
Teacher (adding a skirt and long hair) : No, he is a man! Tell me about the
Student B : It is a woman.
Teacher : What is she doing?
Student B : She is standing.
Teacher (changing the legs to running) : No she is not! What is she doing?
and so on.
3.2.2 Single prepared transparency
Characteristics and techniques : one of the basic advantage of the OHP
is that the teacher can prepare a text or a picture and use it instantly and as
often as he/she wishes without further work.

Example 1. Sentence construction

The teacher should put a number of strips of text on the projector end
challenge the students to place them in a logical sequence :
the classroom

of the most

useful tools in

overhead projectors

are one

Example 2. Storytelling
The teacher has to prepare a number of strips of transparency with a small
drawing on each one, for example a car, a man, a cat, etc. He/she and the
students can move these pictures on the screen and illustrate a story.
3.2.3 Single transparency with a water-based pen
Characteristics and techniques : usually the transparency is prepared
before the class with a permanent pen and during the class the teacher or a
student can add information with a water-based pen. The additions in waterbased ink can be cleaned off any time. Here are some examples of
exercises :
1. a text can be written in permanent ink with wide spaces between the
lines. The spaces can be used to mark in stress and intonation :
Good morning! How are you?
Terrible! It is the worst day of my life.
2. a text can be prepared in water-based pen. The class attempts to reduce
the text to nothing. The teacher allows them to remove one, two, or three
adjacent words. They can change the meaning of the text but the
grammar must remain correct.
3.2.4 Two or more transparencies

The teacher can add information or take it away by preparing several

transparencies. Translations, annotations, additions and modifications can be
made by placing a second, third transparency on the top of the first one.
If they have an overhead projector available, teachers find that it is a
delight to use. It can do everything a board can do and lots more besides.
The two things a teacher needs to become expert at are getting the image the
right size and focusing and presenting the information attractively.
The slide projector projects large images (not drawings) that can be seen
by all the students in the classroom. As with all other equipment, it is
important to know exactly how to operate the machine before using it with a
class. Getting the slides into the holder the right way round needs practice.
As with all other audio-visual materials, planning and preparation are
necessary to ensure that the slides are an integral part of the lesson and not
simply an entertainment.
The slide projector can be used especially for developing vocabulary,
discussion practice, description practice and literature lessons.

References :
(1) Allan Wright Visuals for the Language Classroom (1987); Longman

It seems to be taken for granted these days that listening practice should
be based on (cassette) recordings.
Taped listening passages can be prepared in advantage, thus saving the
teacher work in the actual lesson. When the teachers pronunciation is
noticeably foreign, recordings may provide the students with valuable
exposure to native accents; and their use also makes available a fair greater
range of language situations ; different voices and accents, moods, registers,
background effects. Moreover, it may seem rather difficult for a single
teacher to present dialogue effectively in the classroom using only his/her
voice a recording can solve this problem. Finally, the absence of a visible
speaker forces the students to focus on the actual sounds, thus giving more
concentrated aural practice (Penny Ur (1)).
Recordings should be used for definite specific purposes : to make
available types of discourse, accent or listening situations that are difficult to
be presented live, to make students concentrate on aural perception of the
foreign sounds, intonation or stress patterns, or for testing.
The obvious conclusion is that recorded speech should have a place in
classroom exercises.


Audiotapes are used extensively for giving students practice in speaking

English themselves.
Cassette recorders and cassettes are relatively cheap and easy to use; and
they are the main source (other than the teacher) of spoken language in most
classrooms. They are more mobile and easier to use than video recorders but
lack, of course, the visual content.
As for all other equipment, the teacher needs to master the operation of
the machine before embarking on using it in the classroom.
One of the first things that have to be kept in mind when referring to the
use of the tape recorder is positioning of the equipment so as to make good
use of the classroom environment. The teacher can choose the location for
the cassette recorder by trying it in various positions and varying the volume
and tone until he/she gets the best results.
If the acoustics of the room are poor the teacher can move the students
closer to the cassette recorder. It is sometimes particularly appropriate to
bring the students into a fairly informal group. Gather round and listen to
the story is a natural suggestion and, after the story, the students can go
back to their places to do the work related to the story.
There is a great deal of recorded material available from all the major
publishers of English material, much of it written in association with
coursebooks. So, the teachers coursebook may well have tapes/cassettes
that he/she can use in the classroom or in the language laboratory. The
teachers book will almost certainly give guidelines on how to use the
recorded material.
There are a few advantages when using the tape recorder :
it gives a chance for students to listen to a variety of voices apart from
the teachers;

it is a way of bringing native speakers voices into the classroom;

students who have only heard English spoken by their teacher often
have difficulty understanding other people;
recorded materials are useful for listening to dialogues, interviews,
discussions, etc., where there is more than one person speaking;
otherwise the teacher has to act the part of more than one person.
Of course that there are also some disadvantages with this modern
technique. Listening to a cassette is much more difficult than listening to the
teacher. When we listen to someone face to face, there are many visual clues
(for example gestures, lip movements) which help us understand. When we
listen to a cassette these clues are missing.
In a large classroom with bad acoustics, listening to a cassette may be
very difficult indeed. Up to a point, trying to listen to something that is not
clear can provide good listening practice, but if it is too difficult it will just
be frustrating.
According to Mary Underwood (2), when selecting the audio recordings
for the lesson, the teacher must take into consideration a few criteria :
the recordings must be really clear, not just for one person to listen,
but for use in a large classroom;
the recording must be at a right level for the students;
the recording has to be easy to use, with clear divisions between
exercises and sections and so on, so that the teacher may easily find
the part he/she wants;
the links between the recorded material and the related printed
material should be straightforward;

the recording must be interesting, with a variety of voices and

the recording must be culturally appropriate; the students should be
able to identify with speakers or at least recognize the sort of people
they are.
When talking about listening comprehension, P Hubbard(3) gives
several types. An important part of listening is being able to catch words
and phrases that the students hear. Those who have not much chance to
listen to English often fail to recognize words that they already know. The
cassette recorder is very useful for giving practice in this because the
cassette can be stopped and a phrase played over and over again. This kind
of listening practice is often called intensive listening.
Here is a demonstration of this sort of exercise :
- the teacher has to introduce the listening and give one or two guiding
- he/she should play the cassette once without stopping, and discuss the
guiding questions;
- the cassette should be played again; this time the teacher must focus on
important points, pausing and asking what the person said each time.
So, the two types of listening comprehension are :
1). Intensive listening, where we can distinguish two types of intensive
listening exercises :
a. exercises which focus on detailed comprehension of meaning and this
can be done through comprehension questions, summary questions or
logical problems.
b. exercises based on intensive listening of language.

These are possible when the students can understand what they are listening
to and the purposes of these exercises in the recognition of grammar
problems or of those of structure.
2). Extensive listening exercises are those where a student is primarily
concerned with following a story or finding something out from the passage
he is listening to.
When using this method within the classroom, first of all, the teacher must
help the students listen. An important part of the skill listening is being able
to predict what the student is going to say next. The teacher can help
students listen by giving them some idea of what they are going to listen to.
When doing listening activities in class, the teacher can also ask the
students to guess what they are going to hear next; this will help them
develop listening skills and is also a good way to keep the class actively
involved in listening. This technique is especially used for telling stories to
the class; a natural part of listening to an interesting story is to wander what
will happen next.
There are countless exercises that can be practiced when using the tape
recorder. This can help the teacher to introduce and drill very many subjects.
The purposes are also extremely complex : to develop visualization and
imagination while listening, to develop quick interactions with a speaker, to
promote listening for detail, to promote group interaction, to develop
responsiveness to instructions, to develop strategy of listening for specific
information, etc.
The so-called jigsaw listening can also be practiced when using the tape
recorder. For this the teacher will need more than one tape recorder, usually
three. The class is split up into three groups and each group listens to their

tape and extracts relevant information. The groups than exchange the
information they have found out.
The groups can begin different parts of the same story so they do not
discover the whole story until they have exchanged information.
Alternatively, they can be given a problem to solve- the best route for a
prisoner to escape, for example. They are only able to solve the problem by
pooling all their information.
Jigsaw listening can be an excellent way of integrating the language
Using recorded material necessitates the same attention to preparation as
any other form of material. It is important to make sure that the students
know precisely what is expecting of them before the teacher plays the
recording. Are they to repeat? To respond orally? To write something down?
Simply to listen and then try to remember some points? It is extremely
difficult to concentrate on long stretches of recorded material in a foreign
language. By giving the students a clear purpose for listening each time, the
teacher will help them to keep their attention focused on the task. Fatigue
and boredom can set in quite quickly. A listening comprehension passage or
a dialogue of about two minutes duration is plenty for early learners.

References :
(1) Penny Ur Teaching, Listening, Comprehension (1984); London :
(2) Mary Underwood Effective Class Management (1987);
Advance Communication Learners;
Prentice Hall International
(3) Peter Hubbard, H. Jones A Training Course for Tefl (1983);
Prentice Hall International

The video is an excellent source of authentic spoken language material; it
is also attractive and motivating. It is flexible : it can be started and stopped,
run forward or backward whenever necessary, freeze still frames in order
to talk about them.
Some teachers have video recorders, and even video cameras. The same
kind of care must be taken about their positioning and use as in case of the
audio systems.
There is relatively little specially produced video material on the market,
but English teachers find that they can make effective use of material
recorded from TV channels.

The video is a powerful tool for bringing the outside world into the
classroom and exploits the fact that almost everyone in the world wants to
watch television. The teacher, however, must ensure that it is used in pursuit
of the learning objectives set for the students and must device activities
based on the viewed material.
Once the financial problem solved (most schools in Romania do not have
the possibility to buy a video recorder and a TV set) there are certain things
that have to be kept in mind when using the video recorder :
The TV must be large enough so that all the students be able to see it;
The material and the planning of the lesson must be prepared before the
The video recorder can be used at all levels;
When planning a video lesson, the teacher should always have a backup alternative lesson because occasional breakdowns and technical
problems might appear;
The tapes must be stored in adequate conditions.
A disadvantage of the video recorders is the lack of mobility. Few video
sets are portable, which means that classes need to be specially scheduled for
video rooms.
Being a complex and modern device, the video recorder has many
utilities within the classroom and the topics that can be dealt with are
A. Wright (1) points out some :
a) developing writing
b) teaching vocabulary
c) developing speaking skills

d) developing listening
e) teaching literature
a) Developing writing
A task for developing writing could be for the students to see a movie, a
television show, a documentary, etc. and write down their impressions about
characters, facts, action and so on. This will improve their writing skills in a
foreign language.
b) Teaching vocabulary
The students can be asked, when watching a film, to write down new words
At the end the teacher should provide meaning and spelling for every new
word or expression. The students can also be asked to guess, guiding
themselves after mimics, what the characters say.
c) Developing speaking skills
After watching a film, the simplest task for the students would be to
discuss everything they have seen. All the students should be rallied in the
discussion and everybody should have opinions, the more different, the
better. Thus, they improve not only their speaking skills, but also their
communicative ones.
d) Developing listening
The most important device when trying to develop listening is, of
course, the tape recorder, but the video recorder is useful, too. Even more
useful because, with the video, the voices are combined with gestures and
When using the video recorder instead of the tape recorder, the teachers
can easier capture the students attention to the topic of the lesson. That is so

because the video recorder offers attractive images and stimulates the
students imagination.
e) Teaching literature
When teaching literature, nowadays, in schools that have possibilities, the
teachers prefer to use, occasionally, the video recorder. And that is possible
because there are a lot of movies produced after famous books. This method
of teaching literature is, of course, more attractive than any other, as long as
the teachers do not abuse it. Reading is more important nevertheless. But,
for diversity, the use of the video recorder is quite an efficient method
because it gives the students the opportunity to involve deeper in the subject
of the story, to discuss it and to share impressions with each other.
Computers are seen by many people as an important teaching aid. These
days learners seem to be computer literate and, because of their
performances it would seem logical to take advantage of them for language
learning. They enable individual work, since learners can progress at their
own pace, and many programs include a self-check facility.
Also, younger and adolescent learners in particular find the use of
computers attractive and motivating. However, it takes time to train both
teachers and students in their use; and in practice a lot of time in a computer
lesson often goes on setting up programs, getting students into them and
then solving problems with moving from one stage, or one program, to
For teachers who are familiar with their use, computers can be
invaluable for preparing materials such as worksheets or tests.

References :
(1) Allan Wright Visuals for the Language Classroom (1987);

The theme of this paper has been the presentation and evaluation of
some of the most important teaching aids used when teaching English,
namely materials that help the teacher to introduce new topics within the
The focus of attention has been principally on the evaluation, adaptation
and use of the commercially produced materials as well as some teacher
developed materials. As we have seen, materials, whether commercially
developed or teacher produced, are an important element within the
curriculum, and are often the most tangible and visible aspect of it.
The most important conclusion that can be inferred from this paper is the
fact that the best materials, if used in the right way, can be a useful
professional development tool.
A teacher of English, more than any other teacher of any other specialty,
has to search has to search all the time for new and complex materials in
order to have satisfactory results and to avoid fatigue and boredom within
the classroom. This is not an easy task and everybody knows it. The way
materials are organized and presented, as well as the types of content and
activities, will help to shape the learners view of language. The process as

such is very difficult, and demands extra efforts, imagination and creativity.
But when the teacher obtains satisfactory results, this does not count very
In this paper I have tried to survey some alternative perspectives on
materials use, to identify the various ways in which teaching aids may
contribute to learners perceptions (of knowledge, language learning, and
roles), to their affective and cognitive development, and to their general
stock of information about the world.