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Jay Bidal

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Principled Design in Locally-Produced E-Textbooks for Language Learning


With the advent of free authoring tools like iBooks Author and Inkling Habitat, the creation of digital learning materials for use on tablet devices is easily within the reach of any institution or individual. However, the temptation to package traditional paper-based materials and activities within a shiny new digital cover should be avoided. In fact, the features of locally-produced e-textbooks for language learning, such as targeted input and interactivity, make them ideal for following principles for material writing suggested by subsequent language acquisition-based research. This article will show how in-house course and book design, matched with the capabilities of e-textbooks on tablets, can better match research-based principles for materials development than traditional paper-based global textbooks and thus further subsequent language acquisition for learners. These principles include affective impact, relevance, confidence building, use of authentic texts, and purposeful communication. Thanks to the absence of many of the constraints faced by commercial publishing, locally-produced e-textbooks can incorporate design features that advance these principles within the technologically-integrated environment of tablet devices. In particular, such e-textbooks are well suited to the implementation of Project-Based Language Learning approaches in which learners collaborate in the target language to achieve concrete outcomes that they share in some manner with their peers and instructors. It is hoped that more individual instructors and institutions will be inspired to produce their own e-textbooks targeted for specific contexts and thus enhance the language learning experience for their students.