Tips for English teachers with a textbook that is too difficult for the students

a textbook with problems floating around it
20 Aug Shelley Vernon No Comments

It's often the case that students lag behind the level they are supposed to have acquired. You may have a textbook that is too difficult for your students. When a textbook is too tough students can become demotivated and unhappy.




Focus on the essential elements of a unit. Simplify and aim to teach the key vocabulary and grammar.


Before opening the textbook prepare students with supplementary activities such as vocabulary games and grammar games. Present and drill the key grammar and vocabulary topics from the unit first.


Break down the difficulty


When students open the book ask them to search for five vocabulary words, or look for every occurrence of a grammatical structure. Consider putting weaker students in pairs for this. Or play in teams. As students find a word or phrase they might write it on the board and give their team a point.

Use Jigsaw reading with parts, but not all of the text.

Ask students to each write a question about the text. Tell students they have one more minute to read the text. Now all books are CLOSED. Students form teams and attempt to answer each other's questions from memory. Go through all the questions. The teacher may write these on the board and leave them visible. All those answered correctly are taken out of the game. Those unanswered remain on the board. Now give students one minute to look at the text again. Go through the questions left unanswered. See which team has the most points. It's much more interesting for students to write their own questions. And it's much more challenging to play a memory game than just read boring facts from a text.


Be selective

Don't feel you have to teach everything in the unit - usually these units are dense, and only the best students, who study on their own, will learn it all!


If you have some motivated students who really want to get on, give them these tips for their private study, and be there to help them, guide them, even mark extra work if they want to do it.


Games and activities


My book of teen/adult games has plenty of ideas to help with difficult textbooks. If you have beginners, start by using all the games in steps one, two and three. Those are the drill-type games for beginners, and to drill new vocabulary or grammar for all levels. Steps 4,5 and 6 are fluency activities, many of those are for intermediates and up, but that said, if you look in the detailed index, each game has a level: B, I, A. (Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced). So that will allow you to easily pick games from the other steps too.


Email me again once you get into class if you have questions - I'm here to help - no probs!


Kind regards


Shelley Ann Vernon


Teaching English Games



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