An Open Letter To Whoever Is Marking Up The School Copies Of Textbooks

graffiti1.jpgWhoever you are, making your rounds of the English language schools of eastern Europe and, for all I know, much of Asia as well, writing the answers in the school copies of the textbook: please stop!

I have to say I find it especially troublesome when the textbook in question is Elementary. First of all, plan your lessons on a different piece of paper. Second, do you really need to see they answers when the gaps are missing his/her/their? If so, you probably shouldn’t be teaching English in the first place.

Really, though, aside from the fact that the textbooks belong to the school, other teachers use them as well, or will use them after you (unless you plan to steal them). Someone may want to make an illegal copy of a page or two out of the textbook to give a one-to-one student to save them the expense of buying a book, and teacher-generated grammar graffiti makes this nearly impossible.

All kidding aside – and I am most definitely kidding because making illegal copies is, well, illegal – especially when books are shared, it’s just inconsiderate to mark up the book in pen. Often I do the exercises myself, on another piece of paper, to anticipate student mistakes or simply to familiarize myself with a grammar point; this isn’t possible if the answers are glaring out at me in black or blue. I can consult the teacher’s book if I really can figure out an answer. I also just think it gives an unprofessional appearance for a teacher to turn up in class grasping a textbook with the answers jumping off the page. On occasion I’ve brought the teachers’ book with me – and guarded it with my life! – but this just seems different.

If you need to see the answers, and you absolutely can’t just write them on another piece of paper, one solution which seems to suit everyone’s needs is to write lightly in pencil…and erase when you finish.

Thanks in advance,
The TEFL Logue and all the other teachers who don’t write in books.