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Materials on a limited budget

July 12, 2005

Hello again. This is my first entry since the London bomb attacks. I have been thinking a lot about the courageous people there who have to go about their daily business despite the threat. I worked in the capital during the years of the IRA bombings and my greatest fear was of just such an event, as I used the transport system daily. Will people ever learn that violence is not a solution?

Recently I discussed this problem with a school drector:
My school is quite small and we have to keep our student fees low because people do not have a lot of disposable income in our country. Students usually can’t afford to buy their own books. However, our budget for books and materials is modest and we can’t buy all the latest offerings from the publishers. The teachers complain that the books are out of date but the students don’t seem too bothered by this. What advice can you give?

I can understand this difficulty. Teachers fresh from training courses have probably examined lots of recent materials and so are likely to be disappointed if they find these are not available in the school. Students are less likely to be aware of the range available so are often less critical.

I would suggest that the way forward is to use your limited budget to get the best value for money. Instead of buying sets of course books, buy single copies of teachers’ resource books that permit photo-copying; buy good grammar reference books and dictionaries. Instead of issuing students with course books, issue them with folders in which they can collect their worksheets and their notes.

Plan time in the working week when teachers can meet to devise materials. There are wonderful free resources on the Internet that your teachers can access to help them build up files of materials for the library. I have listed some in the Resources section below. Have training sessions to help teachers gain confidence in themselves as a classroom resource. They can use their personal experiences as wonderful topic material for their classes: my first day at school; what I usually do to celebrate my birthday; my favourite food/books/music. If the teachers share their experience with their students, the students have a real sense of learning living English. Of course it is wonderful to have all the latest materials but with modern technology and a creative approach, you can manage very well without them.

Any tips you may have will be very welcome.


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