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Print version ISSN 0120-5927

How vol.26 no.1 Bogotá Jan./June 2019 

Reportes de Investigación

Coursebook Dependency in Secondary and Tertiary-Level EFL Teachers

Dependencia del libro de texto en profesores de inglés, de segundo y tercer nivel, como lengua extranjera

Özlem Özen Tosuna 

Emrah Cinkarab 

aShe has been working as an EFL instructor and conducts academic studies in EFL teacher development.

bHe is an Assistant Professor at the English Language Teaching Department of Gaziantep University (Turkey), and his research interests focus on but not limited to teacher education, professional development, and psycholinguistics features of learners.


Coursebooks are among the most significant components of EFL classes. The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the validity and reliability of a ‘Coursebook Dependency Questionnaire’ developed in the current study. It further aims to study how dependent English language teachers are on coursebooks and whether there are any relationships between teachers’ coursebook dependency levels and their genders, experiences, and academic backgrounds. Data collected from 324 language teachers working in secondary and tertiary-level EFL programs revealed that the scale is a valid and reliable instrument with five sub-scales to measure the dependency construct; the majority of the participants were medium dependent while high and low dependent teachers comprised less than half of the participants in total.

Keywords: coursebook dependency; dogme ELT; dogme teaching.


Los libros de texto se encuentran entre los componentes importantes de la enseñanza del inglés como lengua extranjera (EFL). El propósito principal de este estudio es investigar la validez y fiabilidad de un «cuestionario de dependencia del libro de texto». Además, quiere estudiar cómo los profesores de inglés son dependientes de los libros y las relaciones entre los niveles de dependencia y sus géneros, experiencias y antecedentes académicos. Los datos recopilados de 324 maestros de EFL revelaron que la escala es válida y confiable con cinco subescalas para medir la estructura de dependencia; la mayoría de los participantes eran medio dependientes, mientras que los profesores que eran alto y bajo dependientes constituían menos de la mitad de los participantes en total.

Palabras clave: dependencia del libro de texto; dogma en ELT; enfoque dogma.


Coursebooks are popular teaching and learning materials in almost all language learning environments and this claim seems to be based on the notion that coursebooks are the end products of years of cumulative experience and expertise which help to provide beneficiaries with foolproof lessons as a corollary of this experience (Harmer, 2012). Along with this cogent reason why coursebooks are such popular teaching and learning materials among language teachers, an indisputable fact about coursebooks is the positive contributions they make in the instructional practices, as suggested by Hutchinson and Torres (1994). One of the most important advantages of coursebooks is that these provide a framework for the course as well as a syllabus when followed systematically. Coursebooks also provide ready-made texts and tasks suitable to learners’ levels, along with a clear teacher’s guide which increases the practicality in use (Cunningsworth, 1995; Grant, 1987; Hutchinson & Torres, 1994; Kayapinar, 2009; McGrath, 2013; Ur, 1996).

These advantages lead language teachers to be tied to coursebooks to some extent (Ur, 1996), which necessarily turns into a dependence on coursebooks in most cases i.e. when incorporated into teaching practices without making any critical analysis. When language teachers depend on coursebooks heavily, variety in the learning process decreases. This lack of diversity, as a result of over-reliance on the prescribed activities in coursebooks, becomes detrimental to students’ learning sooner or later; and just because language teachers cannot bring themselves to venture away from coursebooks for some of the aforementioned benefits, students should not have unfavorable learning experiences. Therefore, it is crucial to investigate language teachers’ coursebook dependency levels to have an understanding of the possible effects of this reliance on learning outcomes.

Coursebook dependency, as a notion, was first put forward by Allwright (1981) when he questioned the need for teaching materials in his seminal study by asking the question what we need teaching materials for. He suggested that coursebooks should be complementary in learning and teaching processes for an interaction to take place for learners’ enhanced learning opportunities.

O’Neill (1982), inspired by Allwright’s study (1981), explained how language teachers want to become independent of coursebooks by adapting the activities and exercises in a way which will suit the learners’ needs. This ultimately ends up with preparing or writing their own materials instead of using the coursebooks available for the course. However, one thing that language teachers should be aware of is that the process in which they write their own materials results in forming new coursebooks somehow, though these may not look very professional. For all these reasons, O’Neill supported using coursebooks in teaching practices unlike Allwright’s (1981) suggestion.

Grant (1987) stated that language teachers actually move away from using coursebooks more often as opposed to their belief of how strictly they follow them during their teaching practices. Although they think that they depend on coursebooks heavily, this does not represent their real teaching habits. He discussed that the goals of curriculum as well as reasons why students learn English affect the way language teachers teach and their methods of coursebook use.

Swan (1992) made a simile for coursebooks as building bridges or walls among the elements of the learning environment such as teachers and learners, learners and learners, and learners and language. According to Swan, coursebooks take over easily if language teachers are not careful about the focus of the lesson. Thus, he endorses the idea of being critical about the way coursebooks are used due to the unfavorable misconception by some that any coursebook is an end in itself.

As Cunningsworth (1995) suggests, there are several situations in which a coursebook is strictly followed without making any adaptations to the exercises or activities because of the need to feel secure with the help of a prepared syllabus that coursebooks provide for teachers. The purpose of this close examination of coursebooks, especially by novice teachers, might be to provide learners with a well-devised, perfectly planned course with clear stages. When the road to the goals of the course is only paved with what is in the scope of the book, the drawbacks of this situation are inevitable, as outlined below by Cunningsworth (1995):

  • A lack of diversity in teaching practices

  • A lesser possibility of meeting students’ learning needs

  • The absence of being impromptu

  • Lessened creativity in teaching techniques

Cunningsworth (1995) claims that these disadvantages can be avoided with the help of a balanced interaction between language teachers and coursebooks, especially when the books are selected by language teachers themselves. He also notes that it is possible to prevent unfavorable outcomes of coursebook dependency with this well-balanced relationship. Cunningsworth (1995, p. 10) supports this notion by stating that "heavy dependence is far from ideal as it reduces the importance of individual contributions that good teachers make at all levels in the learning process. It can stifle innovation and it severely limits flexibility."

Tomlinson (2013) suggested that a coursebook-free course could be even more useful for learners as long as language teachers are confident and creative enough (and have the respect of their learners) to design the language course together for a more stimulating and relevant learning experience. Holguín and Morales (2014) also proposed designing materials to meet learners’ multiple needs, learners who come from various backgrounds in Colombia, instead of using regular coursebooks. Moncada (2006) carried out a case study to indicate the limitations experienced in the use of both technical and non-technical materials. She emphasized the need for materials use training to help teachers make proper decisions in their classroom practices because most teachers mainly associate efficient teaching with sticking to materials.

Training teachers to make them autonomous in their educational practices has been one of the main objectives of many educational institutions (Benson, 2006). Benson (2006) defines teacher autonomy as ‘taking charge of’ or ‘taking responsibility for’ their teaching practices. Hoyle and John (1995) explain autonomy as the degree of freedom teachers have in teaching practices. The studies on teacher autonomy carried out by Pearson and Hall (1993) and Sampson (2009) investigated the relationships between teacher autonomy and some demographic factors such as gender, teaching experience and academic backgrounds. These studies on teacher autonomy and coursebook-use training are among the underlying factors to examine language teachers’ coursebook dependency.

At the turn of the 21st century, Scott Thornbury drew attention to the issue of heavy reliance on coursebooks very strikingly by taking a vow of EFL chastity (Thornbury, 2000). Inspired by a group of Danish film-makers who manifested Dogme 951 rules with the intention of cleansing the movies from the excessive use of technical wizardry as well as fantasy, and turning back to the roots of film-making to rescue mainstream film-making from superficiality in 1995, Thornbury discussed the applicability of Dogme 95 instructions to EFL teaching. He believes in the need to purify EFL teaching resources since language learners have been lost and their actual needs have been forgotten among the abundance of coursebooks and many other supplementary materials. He claimed that the precipitance of using these materials without relating them to the learners and their needs mainly results in unsuccessful learning outcomes, so he suggested freeing learning environments from coursebooks.

Soon after Thornbury’s article in 2000, the discussion initiated by Thornbury and a group of language practitioners subsequently turned into a movement which is known as Dogme teaching. This movement suggests a materials light teaching approach to prevent negative effects of heavy dependence on coursebooks. Thornbury and his colleagues emphasized language teachers’ need to liberate themselves from dependency on materials and create more conversation-driven learning opportunities that focused on the language that emerges through interaction. Meddings and Thornbury supported the idea to challenge the heavy use of coursebooks and other teaching aids for the sake of empowering students’ knowledge through a dialogic process by establishing relevance to their localized learning needs (Meddings & Thornbury, 2009).

Dogme ELT, as a term, refers to foreign language teaching in a dialogic way in which language emerges from learners’ conversations, empowered by liberating both learners and teachers from heavy dependence on pre-emptive coursebooks with materials-light teaching principle (Meddings & Thornbury, 2009). Meddings and Thornbury (2009, p. 21) define Dogme teaching as “another way of teaching” and “another way of being a teacher” not as a new approach per se with new prescriptions. Thornbury (Meddings & Thornbury, 2009, p. 3) clarifies the aim of this “rescue action” of teaching from over-reliance on coursebooks and all the superficiality of teaching materials to renovate teaching practices in such a way that “no methodological structures should interfere with, nor inhibit, the free flow of participant-driven input, output, and feedback." (Thornbury, 2000, p. 2)

Xerri (2012) examined the benefits of Dogme teaching through an action research project and the results showed that it is possible to integrate a Dogme approach into a course in which the students are required to take an exam. He prepared at least one Dogme lesson every month for two different classes throughout an academic year and kept a record of strengths and weaknesses of these lessons. He concluded that Dogme lessons empower both teachers and learners in that the materials light teaching approach leaves more room for student interaction in class. He claimed that this brings about more engaging lessons due to emergent language and this indicated that learners can highly benefit from Dogme lessons.

Bryndal (2014) carried out an experimental research project by designing a Dogme lesson to find out the face validity of the Dogme approach, to see if the approach works well with lower level students and to realize if she can deal with the language emerging and make use of it in line with the Dogme principles. Having analyzed the data collected through questionnaires and observations, she found that almost all the learners were content with the lessons developed according to Dogme principles. Nevertheless, she does not find the approach feasible with lower level students due to the deficiency in their speaking skills. The final point about the results is that she felt the freedom over the hegemony of coursebooks by adopting Dogme principles successfully.

Rebuffet-Broadus (2014) also carried out another experimental study aiming to indicate the students’ reactions to Dogme teaching. Rebuffet-Broadus applied the Dogme approach to two groups of monolingual French learners who comprised the same age and shared the same nationality but differed in terms of their language levels and departments. It was found that learners were quite positive about the Dogme lessons. They expressed that the lessons were interactive, lively, and convivial although some drawbacks about the speed of pacing and planning together were stated.

These studies are usually small-scale and experimental, mainly with a focus on language learners’ and teachers’ perceptions; the results are not generalizable due to the nature of the studies. As Akca (2012) suggested in a descriptive research study on the theoretical foundations of Dogme ELT, more academic research is needed to inform about Dogme philosophy to help consolidate the applicability of Dogme principles. It is also important to get rid of the drawbacks of coursebook dependency and, as such, get more effective language learning outcomes.

Having examined the literature, we identified the lack of a specific tool to measure the construct in question, so our current study primarily aims to construct a scale to measure language teachers’ dependency levels on coursebooks and validate the study as significant to raise awareness about the way language teachers use these materials. It is also aimed to determine how dependent language teachers are on coursebooks and if there is a significant difference between language teachers’ genders, their teaching experience, academic backgrounds and their coursebook dependency levels. In order to investigate the levels of language teachers’ coursebook dependency, the following questions were posed:

  1. Is Coursebook Dependency Questionnaire a valid and reliable scale to measure coursebook dependency in language teachers?

  2. How dependent are language teachers on coursebooks?

  3. Is there a relationship between language teachers’ coursebook dependency levels and

  1. Their genders?

  2. Their years of teaching experience?

  3. Their academic backgrounds?

Research Design

This study was conducted with a quantitative and descriptive research design to find out the relationships between teachers’ demographic factors and their coursebook dependency levels. The study can be divided into two parts in terms of statistical analysis. First, the Coursebook Dependency Questionnaire (CDQ) was developed and the data collected to develop the CDQ were analyzed to prove its validity and reliability. After proving that it was a valid and reliable scale, it was given to a new group of participants and the data collected through this questionnaire were analyzed to present the relationship between teachers’ factual data including their gender, experience, and majors, and their coursebook dependency levels in the second part of the study.

Context and sampling. This study was conducted at the School of Foreign Languages at both a state and a private university, also in private elementary and secondary schools in Gaziantep, Turkey. Necessary permissions and consents were obtained in each setting. Participants, at the researchers’ convenience, were requested to respond to the questionnaire. Language teachers with a wide range of teaching experience and academic background participated in the study, which contributed to a representativeness of the whole population. English language teachers working both in secondary and tertiary levels in different educational settings throughout Turkey were delivered online questionnaires or were sent the questionnaire by mail to obtain better psychometric values.

Participants. This study included a total of 324 respondents, 201 females (62.03%) and 123 males (37.96%) in the validation process of the questionnaire. Fifty-eight of these participants took part in the study by filling in the questionnaire which was delivered to them by e-mail while 18 participants filled out an online questionnaire. The remaining 248 participants was requested to fill in the questionnaire at schools in which the study was conducted at the researchers’ convenience. One hundred thirty-three of the participants work at universities in different parts of Turkey while the remaining 191 respondents work in elementary and secondary schools.

All the participants are English language teachers from varied cultural backgrounds and they are mainly graduates of English Language Teaching and English Literature departments while a small percentage of the participants majored in linguistics and other departments related to language teaching. Participants also have a wide range of experience from one month to 37 years, which may provide some valuable data for the analysis of the relationship between language teachers’ coursebook dependency level and their experience.

Data collection instruments. The current study has two dimensions which entail collecting data to develop the scale and to analyze data regarding research questions; therefore, various data collection tools were used in the study. The data to validate the scale were collected through four main instruments, which consist of the CDQ, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and expert opinions. The participants involved via these data collection tools are shown in the table below.

Table 1 Participants in the Data Collection Procedure 

First of all, in the questionnaire development process, semi-structured interviews were carried out with seven participants in the process of composing an item pool. Five of the language teachers who were interviewed have a Ph.D. degree while two of them have a bachelor's degree. Then, focus group discussions were held with six participants, all of whom have a Ph.D. degree as well as the experts who were requested to analyze the questionnaire for item analysis. Later, the CDQ was applied to a new participant group for initial and secondary piloting. Finally, after piloting the CDQ, it was used to obtain data for the analyses of the research questions of the current study.

Developing the Coursebook Dependency Questionnaire2. Among the whole battery of studies on coursebooks, coursebook dependency is an area which needs more elaboration. As it has not been given the value it deserves, a scale to measure the construct has not been developed to the best knowledge of the researchers. Thus, one of the bases of this study was to develop an instrument which aims to measure the desired construct. With this purpose in mind, the researchers commenced with reviewing the literature to define the target construct and specify the content explicitly as the first step (Kayapinar, 2009). In addition to the review of literature for items to be formed, seven semi-structured interviews were conducted to contribute to the item pool. After conducting semi-structured interviews and analyzing them in terms of their content to contribute to the item pool, a focus group interview was also carried out to generate more ideas to assure that the construct entails a wide spectrum of data. To realize this, six experts were consulted for their opinions on the scale. Taking the data obtained from individual interviews and the focus group interview into account, 42 items, which were generated as the first draft after the review of related literature, decreased to 40 items, which were examined by two experts in detail. After the scale was proofread, the researchers resorted to experts' opinions in the formation of the latest version of the items. In this process, two experts were asked to give their opinions on the items both for content and wording as well as categorizing the subscales of thoroughly conceptualized domain ‘coursebook dependency’ for a higher inter-item reliability. Careful attention was paid to item formation and to how appropriately they represented each subcategory at this stage.

After the number of items and the format in the scale were finalized, the 35-item questionnaire was administered to a randomly selected group of English language teachers for field testing. Initial piloting was conducted with five language teachers from a state university. The second step of piloting the questionnaire involved more participants for the analyses of reliability and other descriptive statistics to identify if there were any problems with the distribution of data. Thirty-five participants who were considered to be representing the target sample were requested to fill in the questionnaire for the purpose of reliability analysis. The results of the analyses revealed that Cronbach’s alpha was .88 which was quite good and proved a reliable scale for the actual study (Streiner, 2003).

Data collection procedure. The data were collected through the CDQ, which was primarily developed for this study. First of all, three instruments including semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and interviews for experts' opinions were used to collect data to develop the questionnaire. After the questionnaire was formed and piloted, it was applied at different state and private schools at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Before the questionnaire administration, all the necessary permissions and consents were taken and participants were informed about the importance of being sincere while responding.

Three hundred twenty-four respondents participated in the administration of the scale to collect sufficient data to test the viability of the items. When the initial set of data was collected, the next crucial stage was to carry out a factor analysis which was compatible with the overall approach adopted in the design of the scale. Depending on the result of factor analysis, necessary changes in the items were made for better psychometric qualities (Moser & Kalton, 1971).

The data collected through CDQ were analyzed on the SPSS 22 program for the analysis of descriptive statistics. Having analyzed the Cronbach's alpha value for the reliability of the scale, a high value of reliability, .902, was obtained. The next step was to carry out a principal component analysis to determine the factors underpinning the coursebook dependency levels of teachers. Having carried out factor analysis, more analyses were conducted to answer research questions. First of all, descriptive values were obtained through frequency statistics to answer the research question which asked how dependent teachers were on coursebooks to categorize their dependency levels. Later, an independent samples t-test was conducted in order to find out if there were any relationships between teachers’ genders and their coursebook dependency levels. After that, correlation statistics were carried out to investigate whether there was a relationship between teachers’ experience and their coursebook dependency level. Finally, a one-way ANOVA was applied to reveal how teachers’ academic backgrounds affected their coursebook dependency levels.


Descriptive statistics. The analyses revealed that the mean was 158.48 with a standard deviation 28.26. This standard deviation is indicative of a small deviation from the mean (Field, 2013). Minimum and maximum values were 46 and 221 respectively and the range of these values was 175. The questionnaire was organized in a seven-point Likert type scale, so the maximum value the 35-item pilot questionnaire could get would be 245 while the minimum value could be 35. Skewness value was -.565 while kurtosis was 1.099. Morgan, Leech, Gloeckner and Barrett (2004) indicate that data are normally distributed if the skewness value is lower than either +1 or -1.

After three factor analyses were conducted for the reliability and validation of the scale, the number of items in the scale was reduced to 26 and the descriptive statistics were performed again for the items which remained in the questionnaire. The findings regarding data distribution normality included the values for skewness at -.596 and kurtosis at 1.316. The mean was revealed to be 116.64 with a standard deviation of 21.72 and the total score of participants varied between a minimum of 29 and a maximum of 169 with a range score of 140.

Inferential analyses.

RQ #1: Is Coursebook Dependency Questionnaire a valid and reliable scale to measure coursebook dependency in language teachers? Cronbach’s alpha value was calculated for 35 items and the result showed that the questionnaire had a very high score with a value of .921. Along with these reliability statistics, inter-item correlations were calculated for each item to see the consistency among the items. The item-total statistics revealed that items #2 and #10 had very low correlations which are .130 and .230. Therefore, these items were excluded from the questionnaire.

Having tested the reliability of the questionnaire, we (or I) carried out three factor analyses in sequence to investigate the items which do not function well as a part of the questionnaire. As an extraction method, principal component analysis was conducted throughout these factor analyses. Before the first factor analysis was conducted, great attention was paid to reverse coded items while entering the data set on SPSS so as not to have misleading findings as a result of factor analysis. There were nine items which require reverse-coding to get comparable responses in the analysis process. The results of factor analyses showed that these items load the factors #3 and #4, all of which refer to independence from coursebooks in two different aspects. Of the 35 items in the scale, 33 items were included in the first analysis to test the sample adequacy because two items had been eliminated due to poor inter-item correlations. Therefore, the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) Test of Sampling Adequacy was applied and it was found to be .915. Then, Bartlett's test of sphericity was applied and the significance value was found to be .000, which is a prerequisite to conducting a factor analysis (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007).

The next step was to find out the factors underlying the variables in the scale. As a result of the principal component analysis, the table in which the total variance was explained indicated five factors or components. After the number of factors was revealed, factor loads were examined to check if they had high loadings for more than one factor to the same extent. For this reason, the rotated component matrix was analyzed in detail to detect any items loading more than one factor. These complex items and the factors they load can be closely examined in the table below.

Table 2 Factor Loads of Complex Items Eliminated after Factor Analyses 

Seven items were loading multiple factors, which was a problem for construct validity. Therefore, items #1, #4, #12, #17, #20, #22 and #32 were discarded from the scale. In the third factor analysis, the number of factors stayed the same and 5 factors and 26 variables in the last factor analysis indicated 54.133% of the total variance. Cronbach's alpha value was calculated one more time and the final reliability value was found to be .902 for the 26 items remaining in the questionnaire. One last thing to do in this process was to name the factors. The factors were classified and named in order of the numbers from first to fifth as follows:

  1. Practicality-based dependence

  2. Skill-based dependence

  3. Practicality-based independence

  4. Skill-based independence

  5. Structure-based dependence

RQ #2: How dependent are language teachers on coursebooks? The range of the mean was decided by the researchers so that teachers could be categorized into three groups labeled as high, medium and low. The figure below shows the categories teachers fell into and the number of participants in each group.

Figure 1 Teachers’ coursebook dependency categories 

Teachers with scores which were greater than 129 were considered as highly coursebook dependent while teachers with scores greater than 78 were regarded as medium coursebook dependent. Teachers who scored 78 and less were considered as not very dependent on coursebooks. The number of teachers who are identified as highly dependent on coursebooks is 89 and it constitutes 27.5% of all the participants. The number of teachers who are in the medium dependent category is 223 with 68.8% of all. The last group of teachers who are the least dependent on coursebooks only consists of 12 participants comprising 3.7% of all the teachers in the study.

RQ #3a: Is there a statistically significant relationship between teachers’ coursebook dependency levels and their genders? The results of group statistics showed that males (N = 123) had a slightly bigger mean score (M = 119.52, SD = 20.41) of coursebook dependency than females' mean scores (N = 201, M = 114.88, SD = 22.35). Levene’s test for equality of variances was revealed as an F value .092 and significance value of .762, which means the two groups have nearly the same variance on the dependent variable and this indicates that the dataset meets the assumption that the two groups are independent of each other.

Other values with regard to equality of means include t value which is 1.871 with degrees of freedom at 322. Significance (2-tailed) value is .062 while mean difference between two groups is 4.63475. The t-test (t (322) = 1.9, p>.05) demonstrates that the difference between the means of the two groups is not significant. Therefore, gender is not a factor affecting coursebook dependency levels of the participants.

RQ #3b: Is there a statistically significant relationship between teachers’ coursebook dependency levels and their years of teaching experience? The answer to this research question was obtained through conducting a Pearson product moment correlation. When the relationship between teachers’ coursebook dependency levels and their experience was analyzed, the p value was found to be .069 while the correlation value was found to be .101. As the p value (p = .069) is bigger than .05, the correlation between the two variables is not meaningful and thus not taken into consideration (r = .101). To sum up, the two variables (teachers' coursebook dependency and experience) are not statistically significantly correlated with each other.

RQ #3c: Is there a statistically significant relationship between teachers’ coursebook dependency levels and their academic backgrounds? The assumptions to conduct a one-way ANOVA analysis outlined by Field (2013) were tested and met and the results of the analysis do not indicate a significant difference as the F ratio was found to be bigger than p value (F = 1.112). The effect size was also calculated to find .01 (eta squared = .01), which would indicate a small effect if the results of one-way ANOVA were considered to be significant in the first place (Dörnyei, 2007). In short, the study failed to prove the hypothesis that there is a relationship between teachers’ coursebook dependency levels and their academic backgrounds.


The majority of the participants, making up the largest group in the study, were identified as medium dependent on coursebooks. They constitute more than half of the participants and this parallels with the findings of a survey conducted by the British Council in 2008 as suggested by Tomlinson (2012). This survey indicated that 65% of the teachers often used coursebooks to aid their teaching practices while 6% never used a coursebook, which is twice as many as the percentile that accounts for the number of teachers who rarely depend on their coursebooks in this current study. In the present study, teachers who highly depend on coursebooks comprise slightly more than a quarter of the participants. This is supported by the findings of the same survey by the British Council which revealed 26% of the respondents used coursebooks every day (Arkian, 2008). Arkian (2008) gives some further details about the survey such as the number of participants (N = 310) and the items of the survey; they are all very similar in terms of characteristics of this study yielding very similar results.

Tomlinson (2010) mentioned the findings of another survey conducted at conferences held in some countries in the Far East and the United Kingdom and the results indicated that 92% of the participants used a coursebook on a regular basis. This is much greater than the percent of teachers who are highly dependent on coursebooks in the current study, which may parallel with the frequency of their coursebook implementation. Further, it was revealed that females' mean score of coursebook dependency was slightly less than males’ mean score. The significance (2-tailed) value indicates that there is not a statistically significant difference in the means of the genders. Pearson and Hall (1993) conducted a study on teachers’ autonomy in which they examined if there were any differences between genders in terms of the control they have over their teaching practices. The results indicated that there were not any significant differences between genders, which they stated as not surprising. This finding complies with the results of the current study because it failed to reject the original hypothesis and did not point out meaningful statistics.

There is not a statistically significant correlation between the two variables, teachers' coursebook dependency levels and their years of teaching experience. In this respect, Tomlinson (2012) brought up the idea that the more the teachers are experienced the less they depend on coursebooks. He emphasized the need to support this incident about the relationship between teachers’ coursebook dependency and their experience with some evidence, which is usually anecdotally expressed. As for the relationship between these variables, Tsui (2003) reviewed some essential studies and provided some valuable evidence as to the relationship between teachers’ expertise and their autonomy levels in their teaching practices. The studies indicated that experienced teachers are more independent of coursebooks than the novice teachers are. They vary a lot in that experienced teachers depend more on their repertoire of previous plans which have been tried out several times in real classroom settings and therefore they only need to make changes to meet the needs of their present learners, unlike inexperienced teachers, who are unsure of the possible outcomes of their plans and their abilities to deal with the unexpected situations. For these reasons, they feel forced to plan everything in a very detailed way ahead of time (Tsui, 2003). The thing these studies all have in common is that they emphasize the differences in decisions taken by experienced and novice teachers suggesting better and more efficient implications on the side of experienced teachers rather than novice teachers. These findings contradict the findings of the current study as this study indicates no significant correlations exist between teachers’ experience and their coursebook dependency levels.

One possible reason for this contradiction in the findings may result from the clash between teachers’ perceived autonomy and actual implementations in real classroom settings. Sampson (2009) argued that especially novice teachers’ perceptions about their level of autonomy do not reflect their actual classroom implications. That is, the inconsistency between teachers’ self-perceived dependency levels and real teaching practices may have led to the result of the current study which did not prove any correlations between the variables in question.

The findings of the this study, which revealed no meaningful correlations between experience and teachers’ dependency on coursebooks, are supported by Pearson and Hall (1993) who found no correlations between age and experience and teacher autonomy. It can be concluded that although expertise can be gained through experience, experience does not always guarantee expertise (Sampson, 2009). For this reason, it can be inferred that this study did not reveal results that are in concert with the majority of the findings in the literature.

Finally, there is not a statistically significant relationship between teachers’ academic qualifications and their coursebook dependency levels. Sampson (2009) and Pearson and Hall (1993) also demonstrated no correlations between the degree that teachers hold such as a bachelor’s, a master’s or even higher degrees and teacher autonomy, which is congruent with the findings of the present study as it revealed no correlations between academic background and teachers’ coursebook dependency.


Coursebooks have constituted a major part of the ELT profession for most of us whether we accept it or not. The results in this study showing that most ELT teachers depend on coursebooks are in concert with some other surveys conducted in different parts of the world (Tomlinson, 2010). However, this does not indicate that teachers feel happy about this dependence. Conversely, most of the teachers who reported themselves as being dependent on teaching materials feel negative about the coursebooks which are at their disposal (Tomlinson, 2012). There are many reasons for this massive dissatisfaction with the coursebooks but the main point to focus on is the interaction between teachers and coursebooks as the major components of language teaching.

Teachers are generally inclined to be self-governing and free in their teaching practices regardless of their age and experience or, at least they want to feel autonomous even if they tend to make use of their coursebooks at various dependency levels. In some cases, they may use coursebooks more than they believe they do. This espoused belief on their teaching mainly results from the negative connotation of the word ‘dependence.’ Being independent of global coursebooks is one of the ways to provide students with more localized, personalized and individualized learning. Language teachers are sometimes so passionate about their profession that they may even want to get rid of coursebooks totally as they go in pursuit of the best materials possible created by themselves and their students in tandem to meet students’ specific needs. Although this may sound utopic for most teachers, there are examples of such cases in which teachers are in favor of preparing their own course materials (Meddings & Thornbury, 2009).

Teachers’ dependence on course materials leads to a vicious circle in that teachers get used to depending on coursebooks to such an extent that they cannot prevent this dependency even if they wish to do so. As teachers are used to depending on coursebooks from the first years of their profession, they end up sticking to the coursebooks, which mostly results in deskilling of teachers as Littlejohn (1992) suggests. This also explains the finding suggesting there is no relationship between experience and teachers’ coursebook dependency levels. The most common misconception about this process is that coursebooks become an end in themselves rather than becoming a means for the learners (Swan, 1992). For these reasons, most teachers are dependent on coursebooks, which is supported by the results of the current study.


Considering the unfavorable outcomes of heavy dependence on coursebooks, we (or I) find it is vital to foster teachers’ autonomy since learners will benefit from teachers who know how to take control of their teaching practices. Hence, training teachers on how to make use of their teaching materials can be taken into consideration in order to meet their learners’ needs. For this reason, formal or informal training sessions can be organized as a part of in-service programs inviting both novice and experienced teachers into a collaboration (Moncada, 2006; Núñez & Téllez, 2009; Téllez, Pineda, & Núñez, 2004).

One more implication of this study could be based on the Dogme principles adopted and adapted by Meddings and Thornbury (2009). As far as Dogme principles suggest, the demand for learner-centered and therefore more stimulating and engaging language practices is obvious. In this sense, Dogme principles could be embedded in language teaching curricula to allow space for learner interaction to originate out of their own needs and interests.


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3Dogme 95 is a movie movement set up by a group of Danish filmmakers to refine filmmaking with the purpose of making it more relevant to the audience and rescue cinema from dependency on special effects, technical wizardry, and fantasy.

How to cite this article (APA 6th Edition): Tosun, O. O., & Cinkara, E. (2019). Coursebook dependency in secondary and tertiary-level EFL teachers. HOW, 26(1), 81-105.

4See Appendix A for the final version of the questionnaire

Appendix. Coursebook Dependency Questionnaire

Received: March 31, 2018; Accepted: December 04, 2018

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