Friday, October 16, 2009

Open Source Textbooks...

File this under random thoughts...

So, we've been talking about textbooks in my linguistics classes for the last couple of semesters and how most of them suck when it comes to language learning. My classmates who do teach languages for their day jobs constantly find creative ways of working through the deficiencies of the texts that they are saddled with. On the other side of the fence, in instructional design, we do talk about materials selection, and if there is material that will fit your needs, appropriate it, otherwise make your own (if time and money are not an issue).

I happened to read a blog post recently with language learning resources on the web and I was reminded again of wikibooks. This lead me down the path of open source textbooks such as wikibooks and Flat World.

The big question here is why don't we do it? Why don't we subject matter experts get together and create language textbooks that don't suck? Get some linguists, some language experts and some instructional designers together and create a revamped curriculum (one that is licensed under creative commons preferably) for French, Italian, Greek, German or whatever other language you teach.

Heck, this might go a long way toward creating some sort of unified curriculum for language learning that could be adopted across the land. One of the reasons that textbooks stink is that they either subscribe heavily to one notion of language learning (like the audiolingual method for instance) and that methodology (or even content that is in the book) does not jive with the teacher's methodology, the current second language acquisition knowledge and research, and the curriculum of the school that you teach in. Create free books (and in essence create a curriculum), you may get converts.

(or you may not, but it's worth the try)
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