It is hardly controversial to note that teaching materials are one of the major determinants of what gets taught in language teaching programmes. Indeed, it has been suggested (Hawkes, 1983: 99) that recent communicative programmes assume an even greater role for materials than has traditionally been given to them. It is therefore of considerable importance that appropriate techniques of materials evaluation are developed. Although almost everyone connected with a teaching learning enterprise will have some interest in examining the materials, they will not all be asking the same questions. There is thus no single all-purpose approach to evaluation. If evaluation is not to be time wasting and possibly self-defeating, the evaluator must not only ask relevant questions, but have access to an adequate amount of the sort of information that can help to answer them. As a brief illustration, a teacher planning a course is likely to want to know whether Book X suits the needs and interests of the students concerned. An inspector, on the other hand, might be more interested in the extent to which a course matches an official syllabus and in the ultimate level of language proficiency which learners demonstrate, irrespective of details of how this came about. Both of these viewpoints have generated a number of appropriate evaluation techniques (Low, 1987).
The present paper focuses on the position of the materials designer, who is in a rather different position from the teacher or inspector, being concerned to know how materials appropriate to a range of teaching learning situations might be designed in the first place, and secondly, how small details could best be modified in the light of people's experiences with them.
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