How Closely Should You Follow A Textbook?
Reasons for following the book rather closely:
- Textbook editors/authors, at least modern ones, are generally well-educated people who know what they are doing. Yes, each group’s needs will be unique, but textbooks are often good guides. Individual needs will also be diverse, and sticking around the book can avoid you having to choose to meet the needs of some and not others.
- Students are often tested on the book and also often required to buy it. I wouldn’t say these are reasons to stick to a bad textbook like glue, but I personally think there should be a good reason not to use it, rather than the other way around.
Reasons for not following it so closely:
- The exercises are quite unmotivating or uncommunicative and you have a good alternative.
- As a group, students wishes are quite different, however if everyone in your class says they are interested in speaking fluency practice, and your book is quite grammar oriented, it is probably a good decision to adapt it. That doesn’t mean completely dispensing with grammar, though.
- I also think that it’s important to figure out in advance if you have a realistic amount of time to cover everything that is supposed to be covered. If you don’t, set some priorities at the beginning so you can make sure to cover what’s most important and don’t end up just covering whatever happens to come first in detail and then rushing at the end.
Of course, much of this depends on your experience and training. A teacher with a Master’s Degree or DELTA or several years experience is probably in a better position to decide how much to adapt a book and come up with additional exercises and activities, but there are also plenty of acceptable reasons for a newer teacher to decide to do so.