The most commonly found elements in the foreign or second language classrooms all over the world are teachers, learners, and the textbooks, and nowadays multimedias. Those elements cannot be separated one to the others. When there is a teaching and learning activity, those elements should be there. All of the subjects, include language taught at school cannot be separated from the textbooks. The textbooks used in the classroom have been the curriculum that will guide the teaching and learning process in the classrooms. Textbook aspect in the successful process of teaching and learning has been given much less attention than the other aspects. Not all of the decision makers realizes that textbooks and other commercial materials in many situations represent the hidden curriculum of many subjects taught at school, include language teaching and play a significant part in the teaching and learning process. That is why in this paper the writer wants to discuss about the roles of English (Indonesianized) textbooks and their impacts on teachers and, teaching and learning process at schools.


Every year millions of language textbooks are sold worldwide. A variety of commercial textbooks is available to support especially the process of learning the language. They are addressed either to the beginners or to the advanced learners. Unfortunately, many of them tend to be market oriented. They just provide them to fulfill the needs of the market. Sometimes the quality aspect of the textbooks is placed in the secondary determination. They sometimes put the profit as the primary goals.

As we know that most of the learners more oftenly choose the textbooks based on the surface performance and how famous the writer is. Moreover most of the language teachers tend to be more practical and even put the benefit as the strong aspect to select the textbooks. If the publishers can provide good profit for them, they will not think a long to use the textbooks. This is one of the crucial problems for the learners in the efforts to learn the language.

In English learning, for instance, we have ever had the basic series such as English 900 which were designed to be used worldwide. But today there are fewer global course textbooks and an increasing demand for country specific textbooks. The design and production values of textbooks have also changed significantly. Contemporary language textbooks are visually appealing, with full-color art and sophisticated magazine – like design, printed on high quality paper and sometimes supported by an assortment of supplementary resources, such as workbooks, cassettes, CD’s, CDROM’s, and videos.

            Haines (1996: 27) characterizes differences between current and past trends in ESL/EFL textbooks in the following way;



1. Author and academic centered.

1. Market led.

2. Uncertain global market.

2. Specific, Fragmented markets.

3. European focus.

3. Pacific Rim and Latin American focus.

4. Sell what is published.

4. Published what can be sold.

5. Culture of origin, methodology of origin.

5. International and local culture.

6. English for its own sake.

6. English for specific purposes.

7. UK/US publisher dominance.

7. Rise in local publishing.

8. Native speaker expertise.

8. Non native speaker competence.

9. Culturally in sensitive.

9. Culturally sensitive.

10. Low risk/competition.

10. High/Competition.

11. Little design.

11. Design rich.

12. Artificial text and task.

12. Authenticity.

13. Single volume titles.

14. Multi-component/multimedia.

      There are some reasons of discouraging their use include;

1.     Teacher-made materials are more relevant and appropriate tan commercial materials.

2.            Textbooks cannot provide the basis for the comprehensive language course.

3.     Textbooks are often culturally inappropriate (e.g. they might have British or American cultural content that would not work in a non-British or American context). 

4.            Textbooks are not compatible with learner-centered philosophy of teaching.

5.     Textbook should not be needed by good teachers, who can create their own materials.

However, there are too little teachers that can create their own materials in teaching. For many teachers the commercial textbooks is hence the primary source of teaching ideas and materials in their teaching. Factually, the coverage of English language teaching activities worldwide, especially in Indonesia, could hardly be carried on without the help of the present generation of textbooks. In our country, almost all of the English teachers at school either the state schools or private schools are not the native speakers. They even have little or no formal teacher training. That is why, the existence of the textbooks and the teacher’s manual are their primary teaching resources. We find it difficult to encourage our English teachers at least to be creative in providing their own materials in teaching. Most of tem tend to be more practical, they seldom have the initiation to create their materials in teaching by themselves based on their class’s situation and needs.

            Actually if we try to identify this trend, we will realize that the dominant role of textbooks within school systems is reflected in the bureaucratic apparatus and system that has developed in many situations to place and maintain textbooks in schools, often with minimal input from classroom teachers themselves. This situation has been going on for years in which the Ministry of Education produces test formats or guidelines that must be applied by the schools. Then the publishers try hard to produce textbooks to match the guidelines. They write the textbooks based on their own experiences and thoughts. Sometimes they never provide the classrooms’ needs. The schools districts then set in place procedures by which textbooks are reviewed and adopted, print the lists of approved textbooks are published. At the end the teachers then select the books they will use. But unfortunately, in this process of selecting the appropriate textbooks sometimes the benefit for the teachers and schools offered by the publishers plays an important role to make a decision in choosing the commercial books.

            The problem which will come out when we enforce the teachers to use their own materials is how well are the teacher’s capabilities to produce a guide-lined textbook for themselves. To solve this problem, every teacher must have an additional training in preparing the materials. Then they should reduce their teaching loads. They must be able to compete with the commercial materials. And the most important thing is the schools should support their teachers with the large budgets for the development and production. But how comes? The writer thinks it should be managed for the future goals.



             For many educationists, textbooks are seen as having a positive impact on teachers and teaching. According to Harmer (1991: 257) “where a textbook is involved there are obvious advantages for both teacher and students. Good textbooks often contain lively and interesting material. They provide a sensible progression of language items, clearly showing what has to be learnt and in some cases summarizing what has been studied so that students can revise grammatical and functional points that they have been concentrating on. Textbooks can be systematic about the amount of vocabulary presented to the student and allow students to study on their own outside the class. Good textbooks also relieve the teacher from the pressure of having to think of original material for every class.

As we know that a well-prepared textbook is more than just a set of potential lesson plans, and that textbooks survive and prosper because they are a convenient way of providing structure to a learning program. We should have the same view that both teachers and learners look at the textbooks as providing a guide that can help them teach and learn more effectively. Besides the textbooks also provide a map that lays out the general content of lessons and a sense of structure that gives coherence to both individual lessons as well as an entire course. The students (learners in general) will appreciate studying from an attractive textbook, because it can facilitate them in learning the language and make them more enjoyable with the lesson.

            Textbooks can provide an orientation to the students in learning program. The textbooks will also enable them to see what they will be studying, in what sequence, and how much material will be covered. Textbooks also give the learners a sense of autonomy, they do not have to depend on the teachers’ handout.

            In another hand, textbooks will help inexperienced teachers develop skills in teaching. As we know that many teacher’s manuals are not only guides on how to use the book but also serve with detailed advice on such things as how to use small group teaching, approaches to grammar teaching in a communicative class, strategies for error correction, and the information that goes well beyond the context of a particular text. Let us take an example of “Practice and Progress for Intermediate Students” textbook.

However, others see that textbooks as a hindrance to development. The danger with the ready-made textbooks is that they can seem to release teachers of responsibility. The teachers tend to be consumeristic. They avoid thinking about the future of their teaching content and performance. They tend to present a casual (low standard) performance. They will never think to be innovative. They just wait to be informed what to teach and how to teach it. It will be easier to just sit back and operate the system approved by the textbooks. They think that the wise and virtuous people who produced the textbook knew what was good for them. Unfortunately, this happens anywhere in our country, includes in YBHK schools till now.

Another potentially negative consequence of the use of textbooks is that they can lead to unidentified quality of the textbooks. They can lead the teachers to diffuse attribution qualities of excellence, authority, and validity to published textbooks. This is caused by promotional efforts of the publishers fantastically handled to convince to the teachers that their textbooks represent the theories of experts or the most recent scientific research. Moreover, in the teachers mind there has been a strong image that the textbooks have been carefully developed through consultation with teachers from reputable schools or institutions, and specialists and through field testing, and they fully believe that theTayangan » exercises and activities provided in the textbooks will be guaranteed to be applied in their schools. Some teachers assume that any item included in the textbooks must be important learning item for students. All information inserted in the textbooks is true and should not be questioned.

A more consequence of the use of the textbooks by teachers is that it may lead to a reduction of the level of cognitive skills involved in teaching if teaching is largely based on the textbooks and the teacher’s manual. If so, the job of the teachers is to study the teacher’s manual and follow the procedures provided in the textbooks. In such situation the teachers have little control over the goals or the method of instruction, and more and more class activity is fulfilled with students doing workbook tasks or working from the textbook under the teacher’s direction.

Based on the experiences described above, we can conclude that the existence of the textbook cannot be separated from the activities of the teachers at school. Textbooks cannot be a part of the teaching and learning process. Without the handouts the teachers will walk as a plane without a compass. The handouts or the textbooks should be seen as guidance to develop the teaching materials made by the teachers. The textbooks should not be the major source in learning. The teachers should be innovative in creating a more attractive materials and methods that can lead their students to enjoy the lesson and willing to be innovative.

The following is some criterias that can be considered in evaluating the textbooks content.



Evaluation can take the form of a group activity in which teachers identify criteria that would use in assessing a textbook, a unit of material, or an exercise. In examining a textbook, it can be classified into the factors; teacher factor, learner factor, and task factor.

1.     The teacher factor:

It can be analyzed by the following criterias;

         Is the textbook has a good teacher’s manual?

         Is it relatively easy to use?

         Can it be easily adapted to fit the class needs?

         Is it culturally appropriate for the learners?

         Is it not dependent on the use of equipment?

         Can it be used with classes of mixed ability?

If those criterias can be fulfilled, the textbook is acceptable to be used in the classroom activity.

2.     The learner factor:

A good textbook should meet the following criterias;

         The content interests the students.

         The level is appropriate.

         The cost is acceptable.

         It is motivating and challenging.

         The format is attractive and colorful.

If a textbook can adjust to the above requirements, the textbook can be advisable to be used by the teachers.

3.     The task factor:

A good textbook should provide the tasks with the following aspects;

         The tasks achieve their objectives.

         The tasks are self-explanatory.

         The tasks provide an element of challenge.

         The tasks are engaging and interesting.

         The task progress in difficulty throughout the course.

For the English language teachers, there are some criterias in evaluating a conversation text;

1.     The conversation text should motivate students to speak and provide a purpose of speaking.

2.     It works on three essential skills of accuracy, fluency, and intelligibility.

3.     It promotes interaction and generates plenty of speaking practice.

4.     It develops awareness of cultural norms.

5.     It develops practical, usable skills; it has transfer value.

6.     It is practical in classroom terms.

7.     It involves information and opinion sharing.

8.     It reflects students’ needs and experience.

9.     It practices relevant conversational functions.

10.It provides all the support needed for completing tasks.        

11.It moves from controlled practice to fluency.

12.It practices conversational strategies.

13.It reflects authentic language use.

 Hopingly, this  article will be useful for the readers, especially for the teachers in their activities.                           






















4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. valvine
    Oct 21, 2007 @ 23:37:29

    Thanks Kaka, it’s a nice writing and it will be helpful for me as an english teacher. Thanks for the opinion and suggestion.


  2. verykaka
    Oct 22, 2007 @ 23:24:10

    You’re wellcome Valvine, Let’s hope that this paper will be useful for the teachers especially. Thanks for the comment.


  3. music
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