On the Road with Gary in… Paris

What if not every student can have a copy of the coursebook?

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I wasn’t traveling in December—except in and around Paris. I was giving workshops to teachers teaching Business English to adult learners in Private Language Schools (PLSs) and universities. I talked about using Business Advantage, a three-level course from B1 to C1 that combines case studies of real companies such as Nokia and Renault with theory from lecturers at leading international business schools such as the Cambridge Judge Business School; it also gives learners practice in all of the necessary business skills.

But I had to do a reality check here in France because the situation is that especially in PLSs adult learners only take courses of 20 to 50 hours; they won’t finish the entire coursebook in that limited amount of time and so won’t necessarily want to buy a copy. So what does a teacher do?

Well, one solution is to photocopy the pages you use—but that, of course, is illegal, as you know. Also, all those loose, messy pages can easily get lost and black and white photocopies aren’t very attractive. And photocopying in colour is probably more expensive than buying the coursebook!

I know that in some teaching situations – in schools in some countries – students buy workbooks to write in and do their homework, but ‘rent’ their student book from the school for a year. The school then re-uses the books, re-renting them to other students the following years.

I remember when I was teaching and running the language program at the American Center here in Paris we often purchased class sets of the coursebooks so that every student would have one during classes. The students would buy the workbook for homework and practice, including listening to the audio CDs in the car. Now of course there are Online Workbooks and listening activities are often downloadable files to listen to on a MP3 player.

Anyway, that was the suggestion I made to the schools here in Paris — class sets of coursebooks… and/or to purchase the Classware DVD-ROM that comes with Business Advantage. Classware is class presentation software to use with an Interactive WhiteBoard or just a computer and a data projector. It includes all the pages of all of the units of the coursebook along with all the audio and video. Teachers can therefore choose the pages and activities they want to focus on to meet the needs of their group(s) of learners. They can even enlarge, write on, and attach files to the pages too. And each individual student can then buy the workbook with audio CD for homework and practice.

‘No problems, only solutions’ as John Lennon sang. What about you? What’s your solution if for whatever reason not every student in your classes can have his or her individual copy of the coursebook? I’m looking forward to seeing your votes in the poll below – and to reading and replying to any comments or information you send about the solutions you’ve found to the problem.

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