"Speak out" - issues in participatory materials development

23 Nov 2011

This article outlines the development of a beginner English course called 'Speak Out' for adults in Adult Basic Education and Training classes in the early 1990s. The course uses an innovative roleplay methodology which builds on the experiences and language knowledge of the adult learners. It was conceptualised and developed within a participatory approach to adult learning and materials development. The article explores the tension between the ideals of the participatory approach and the constraints exerted by contextual and other factors. The article begins with an introduction of the context within which the materials were conceptualised, then offers a brief overview' of the participatory approach, and then considers the following aspects of the 'Speak Out' course; the language learning methodology, issues of teacher competence and development, and lastly, the materials development process itself.