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What's the WORST course book you've used? 
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Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:38 am
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Post What's the WORST course book you've used?
The worst course I've used is Side By Side, a multi-level course aimed at teens and adults. It seems to have been devised for ESL within the USA, and may be fine for that purpose. However, it's distributed internationally as well - I used it with teens in China.

The main problem was that the contexts totally failed to engage the interest of the students. Much of the language is transparently inauthentic - it's just to demonstrate a grammar form. There are far too many boring drills, and although there are a few ideas for interesting games and activitities in the teacher's book, you need a lot of patience to wade through the rather verbose text to find them. I found it very hard work to use, and my students hated it - they groaned every time I suggested opening the book.

It may be OK for evening classes in the USA, but I think it should never have been distributed more widely.

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Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:23 pm
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I opened up this thread with a mind to name the same book.
I have never had success with that book, and ended up doing more supplemental work and finding better ways to teach the same content that it wasn't worth the students money to buy it.


Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:50 pm
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I'm not fond of book series tha have large jumps in ablitiy from one book to the next.

I used the BackPack series in Seoul for awhile.

Book 1 started off with alphapbet, book 2 had simple sentences like, "It;s a t-shirt. It's blue. It's a blue t-shirt."

However, if I remeber correctly book 3 had things like " A kanagaroo keeps it's baby in a pouch."

They really need to have another book in between. Some like 1A, 1B, 2A,2B, etc. The jump was just to big.

I taught each book for 4 months and many students were lost after they moved up to the next level. Some of the parents asked that I have their children repeat the previous book.

I also don't like book that offer impractical advice. I used one that told us to bring a doll house in to class, with furniture etc. I'm sure some teachers in their home countries have access to this kind of material. I bet the majority of us don't.

I guess they were just trying to give us extra ideas, so I shouldn't really complain.

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Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:56 pm
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Post Re: What's the WORST course book you've used?
jonmarks wrote:
The worst course I've used is Side By Side, a multi-level course aimed at teens and adults. It seems to have been devised for ESL within the USA, and may be fine for that purpose. However, it's distributed internationally as well - I used it with teens in China.


Thats interesting because I find it a tad boring, but for low level students, esp older students, they love it.
I certainly wouldn't use it for higher level students but its great for the real low ones


Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:11 pm
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Worst book I ever used was called "Take Me There" I used it about 4 years ago at an academy and I am happy to report I have never seen or heard about it since.


Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:56 pm
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I have to say I love Side by Side. It works great for my adult beginner students. I do have to get out of the books sometimes and do some extra activities to make it more fun - also the videos they have are really good and funny. I use 1B to review the basic grammar and my students' grammar get a lot better. Also the chants and rap they have, they are enjoyable and helpful.

worst book? probably "top notch".. I found it difficult to teach.


Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:12 pm
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yes, the chants & raps etc are quite good


Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:34 am
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Hmm... interesting. We have three votes against and two for SBS. Just goes to show that there's a wide variety of tastes and needs for both students and teachers. Anyway, fair play to SBS. If it has its fans, it can't be all bad.

I kind of hoped my other post on this ("What's the BEST coursebook you've used") would attract more attention, but it wasn't to be...

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Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:36 am
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Post Bad vs Good Books
The books that I did not like using were levels 5&6 of the Fantasy series of books. These levels of the Fantasy books were weak on vocab and grammar for students at these levels. I found that any series of books that any Chinese public school uses as being terrible, I have done a lot of demo type classes in public schools in China and have yet to see a decent series of books in a school yet.

As for good books I enjoyed using the SBS series of books and the Camridge English books as not being too bad.


Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:17 pm
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I agree that SBS is tremendously dull... I've gotten to the point where I don't use any textbooks at all. I just go through the stacks I have, take the parts I like, modify others, make my own... kind of design my own fruit salad. Maybe Mark did much of the same thing when he designed these unbelievable sites for us to enjoy... I sense some past frustration with how things were and a passion to improve the status quo..


Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:26 pm
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markg wrote:
Maybe Mark did much of the same thing when he designed these unbelievable sites for us to enjoy... I sense some past frustration with how things were and a passion to improve the status quo..

Yeah, a little. I taught for a while in the elementary schools before I opened up my own school. When I decided to open up my own school, I was pretty disappointed in what was out there (7 years ago.) Unless you were going to have the kids'nose-down' in a book, there really wasn't much choice and the PRICE! Wow!

Anyway, I felt like I could make my own things for the kids classes and so I did. A few years later I started uploading them and 3 years late, here we are.

There's still a ton to do ...

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Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:30 am
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Mark,

I feel EXACTLY the same way. I taught high school for years... I taught university for years.... I also got the chance to start teaching kids, and kids who REALLY wanted to learn... so getting to do your own thing is a hug boon. Psychologically going to work has a whole new meaning now. Thanks again for the great stuff here. I am very glad to have discovered your site this year and look forward to hanging around as long as you are able to host us all!

Best and kindest regards,
Mark G


Mon Dec 22, 2008 7:06 pm
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