Motivation, authenticity and challenge in German textbooks for Key Stage 3

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16 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter we critically analyse textbooks used in secondary schools in the UK to teach German at Key Stage 3 (KS3), the three-year period from age 11-14 when language learning is compulsory for pupils in the English secondary system. The analysis was driven by the widespread concern over the steep decline in language learning in the UK, and the perception that this decline can be partly attributed to teaching materials and methods that fail to engage pupils at KS3. The concept guiding the analysis is that of ‘authenticity’. In the first part of the chapter, we consider the various definitions of authenticity, and argue for the need to create, ‘personal authenticity’ (van Lier 1996, Lehtonen 2008), i.e. opportunities for self-expression as well as relevance to the learners’ lives (Dörnyei 2001).
In the second part, we examine the themes, topics and tasks presented in the textbooks for their potential to (1) relate to pupils’ identities, personal worlds and interests, and (2) open up opportunities for personally meaningful communication and self-expression.
In the third part, we report on findings from a small-scale case study on German lessons in the three year groups of KS3 in a secondary school. We carried out classroom observations and interviews with pupils and teachers, and collected pupils’ written work produced in the lessons and for homework. This data was analysed to shed light on the way pupils react to and interact with the textbooks, as well as pupils and teachers’ perceptions of the materials.
The findings provide different perspectives on the value of themes, topics and tasks typically appearing in textbooks. These insights are useful for teachers as well as for textbook writers and publishers. The recommendations derived from this research may, in the long run, contribute to more pupil-oriented teaching and learning materials which may in turn contribute to enhanced motivation for language learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Perspectives on Language Teaching Materials
EditorsJohn Gray
Place of PublicationHoundmills, Basingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780230362857
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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