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An Example of Materials Adaptation for the EFL Classroom


Article published in Thailand TESOL New Focus, Issue 3/May 2011, pages 64-73.



We do not live in an ideal world, so there will be times when teachers are faced with teaching a course with a prescribed course-book. This is not the best situation to find yourself in as very rarely are you going to be in a position where a course that you are teaching can be satisfied with just one course-book (Timmis, Mukundan and Alkhaldi 2009). Even when you do find a course-book that roughly fits the bill, inevitably there will be cause to supplement it with additional material from somewhere else.


I would like to think that I am quite creative in my endeavours at materials design; however, if I am really honest, I would have to admit that I don’t really come up with many original ideas of my own. What I do seem to possess, is the knack of being able to adapt existing materials to fit my own situation. Of course, I have also had my failures too, as the success or failure of teaching materials depend on many variables (Richards 2006).


In December 2003, I attended the 5th Chulalongkorn University Language Institute (CULI) International Conference and took part in a workshop by Joseph S. Cravotta called Communicative Innovations in Intercultural Communication. The workshop focused on intercultural role-plays and had the audience prepare their simulations using pre-designed forms to demonstrate cultural situations, for example, students from different countries waiting at a train station dealing with someone who starts to smoke in a non-smoking area.


As I participated in the activities of the workshop, I realised that this worksheet could be adapted and used in one of my classes. I was teaching a Listening/Speaking 2 course in my first year as a teacher at Udon Thani Rajabhat University and I wanted my students to conduct role-plays using the functions they had been introduced to in class, but in a different context, to prove to me that they really understood what they were supposed to have learned. This was a technique that I had found in a coursebook by Lee and Bushby (2000).



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