Implementation of the Principles of CLT for the Teaching of English in the Algerian Middle School: Textbooks Evaluation

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university Mouloud Mammeri of Tizi-Ouzou
Textbook evaluation, in the last three decades, has received much interest among applied linguists. In Algeria also textbook evaluation is witnessing a growing interest, especially after the general educational reform launched by the Algerian educational authorities, starting from 2001. The present study is an attempt to investigate the implementation of the CLT principles in the Algerian Middle School textbooks of English. The analysis is meant to investigate the implementation of communication principle (communicative methodology), tasks, the four language skills, culture and authenticity principles. To achieve this goal, we have employed the following theoretical frameworks: Littlewoods’s (1981) model for the weak version of CLT, Brumfit’s (1980) framework for the strong version of CLT, Nunan’s (1989) framework for communicative tasks, methodological steps for developing listening and reading skills adapted from Harmer (2003), activities to develop speaking skills adapted from Harmer (2001), and stages for teaching writing adapted from Sarosdy (2006). In order to evaluate the implementation of the cultural component, we have borrowed a model proposed by Mairitsch (2003) adapted from Byram (2000). Finally, the authenticity evaluation checklist is adapted from Widdowson (1983) and Kramsch (1993). The analysis of the methodology used in the textbooks to achieve communicative competence revealed that the approach is similar to that proposed by Littlewood (1981). The tasks are varied; while some of them meet the requirements of communicative tasks proposed by Nunan (1989) others do not. The analysis of the four skills displayed divergences in the methodology used for the teaching of the four skills in the four, mainly, listening and reading. Culture components proposed by Mairitsch (2003) are all included in the textbooks; however, Spotlight on English One and Two lack sociocultural skills component. Most of the texts included in the textbooks do not contain the characteristics of authentic texts and proposed by Widdowson (1983) and Kramsch (1993), mostly they are either non-authentic or simplified. It was argued that textbook designers need to take into account the shortcomings that might hinder achieving the aim of teaching English in the Algerian Middle School, which is communicative competence. More consideration, we think, should be given to develop communicative skills in reading and writing in Book 1 and 2 and the integration of more authentic and genuine texts. Key words: communicative syllabus, textbook evaluation, communicative competence, CLT, communicative methodology, tasks, the four skills, culture, authenticity. x