Before choosing a resource for primary languages
teaching and learning, you should try to evaluate it critically.
Selecting resources depends on many factors...
From the quality and usefulness of the product to
the needs of your particular setting and purpose, thinking about
the questions below will help you to address some of these
Who has produced it?
- Who is the author or publisher?
- Are they trustworthy or well-known?
- If downloaded from an online resource bank, is the website
Who else has used it?
- Who, if anyone, has recommended it?
- Has it been trialled with learners and/or teachers?
- What do resource reviews
2. Overall features...
What kind of resource is
- Type – e.g. progressive course, scheme of work, readers,
authentic materials, game
- Media – print, audio, visual, software, online, mixed
- Language format – monolingual, dual-language
- Additional components or functions – e.g. teachers’ guide,
photocopy masters, CDs, links to a website, interactive whiteboard
enabled, voice recording facilities
What is design and quality like?
- Clear and consistent layout
- Adequate clarity of text and images
- Quality audio recordings and video footage
- Compatibility – e.g. with hardware or school network
What is the intended context for use?
- Learning environment – e.g. the primary classroom, after school
club, home learning, self-study
- Number of users – e.g. individuals, groups, whole-class
Who is the intended user?
- Child(ren), teacher, teaching assistant, parent etc? A
- Age – e.g. education phase, Key Stage, age range, year
- Language level expected of the learner – e.g. new
beginner, n years learning primary languages,
- Language level expected of the teacher – e.g. non-specialist,
languages specialist, native speaker
What is the general approach?
- Based on a particular language teaching method – e.g.
communicative, total physical response, integrated?
- Responding to inclusion or differentiation – e.g. mixed-age
classes, learning styles, English as an additional language,
Special Educational Needs, gifted and talented?
- Does it promote cross-curricular work?
- Suitability to the child’s age and stage of psychological
- Think about wording, images, concepts, approach and overall
Is there cultural content?
- Are there references to countries or places?
- Does the approach contribute to enhancing intercultural
- Think about Byram’s components of ‘intercultural competence’ –
does it develop appropriate attitudes, knowledge, skills of
interpreting and skills of discovery and interaction?
- Read: Developing
the intercultural dimension in language teaching: a practical
introduction for teachers - Byram, Gribkova and
Starkey, focusing on pages 18-20: 'What materials do I need to
promote the intercultural dimension?'
What are the learning
- Relevant links – e.g. Key Stage 2 Framework, QCDA schemes of
work, Languages Ladder, primary curriculum, Common European
Framework of Reference for Languages?
- Which skills – e.g. speaking, listening, reading, writing,
- Receptive or productive skills?
- Is the rationale clear to teachers and learners?
- Are there clear instructions?
- Does the practice match the objectives?
How does it deal with performance
- Are there tools to monitor performance? – e.g. recording
scores, tracking progress
- Opportunities for assessment for learning or informal teacher
- Is there built-in progression? – e.g. graded readers,
4. Costs and benefits...
Does it respond
to particular needs?
- How does it meet local needs?
- What about the needs of individual classes? And teaching
- Does it complement other classroom resources?
- Flexibility – could it be adapted for different
Is it cost effective?
- How much is it - a one-off payment or an ongoing licensing
or subscription fee?
- How long is it likely to last?
- How much time investment – e.g. necessary training,
- How could it benefit teaching and learning more widely –
e.g. enhancing continuity between educational phases, raising
achievement, motivation or learner confidence?