Saturday, October 20, 2012

They failed to debug the texts.

The new textbooks for the ALTs in the Osaka area schools where I work were not properly debugged. Lots of good ideas, but many are poorly implemented. And lots of gratuitous changes, with no apparent reason.

The elementary school text, Hi Friends!, comes with a DVD. The DVD has chants. The chants and the visuals do not match, resulting in an unusual computer until the visuals catch up. BUT!

Each lesson comes with a demo video. If you watch the demo first, the visuals stay with the chants, and the computer is generally useable.

Except that some of the audios and videos really should have a way to stop them in the middle, and they don't. Others, the controls don't work in obvious ways, meaning you absolutely must play with the lesson material for at least an hour before the stuff in lessons.

And the cursor tends to get lost in the borders all the time, and it lags a bit, meaning you have to fight with the computer to use the digital materials.

The thing really shows a lack of debugging at every level, from design to low-level implementation.

And it's not just the DVD. The textbooks also show a lot of similar stuff, potentially good ideas or not, lack of care in implementation.

An example from the second year JHS text book (latest New Crown, I think) -- the lesson about local sushi, asdddddddddd
... images in the sushi, with vegetables and foods ... .

Should be "... made with vegetables ... ." And there are other places where poor style and outright errors are chosen to shoe-horn the text into the lessons at the ideal level they think is appropriate.

You don't teach the hard grammar by avoiding it. You teach it by letting them see it, a lot, explaining just enough to help the students see the part you are trying to teach, and moving ahead. Then the students have seen examples when they get to the hard part, and you get to mostly skip the hardest battles of trying to convince them they really need to study the really hard principles.

Anyway, the texts and materials this year needed a lot more work before they got dumped on the students.

And there is just too much material, in a country where most of the teachers have never heard that it's part of the teachers' job to choose what to teach out of the text, and it's not part of their job to try to teach the entire book.