Nature's Technology: A Case Study in Materials Modification

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Richard Watson Todd


Materials modification involves modifying an extant set of language teaching materials to improve their quality and suitability, and is probably the most frequent activity concerning materials undertaken by teachers. It has, however, been underreported in the literature. This paper presents a case study of materials modification by examining attempts to produce a suitable set of materials to accompany a video in an EAP course. Four sets of materials were produced, each attempting to improve on the previous set. The thinking behind the sets of materials and their effects on the learners are described. A model of the process of materials modification is proposed which highlights the need to evaluate both strengths and weaknesses in materials and to identify the heuristics behind materials modification.


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Watson Todd, R. (1999). Nature’s Technology: A Case Study in Materials Modification. REFLections, 1, 17–28. Retrieved from
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