Given what we know, it is possible to make some predictions about what the next generation of adult ELT materials will be like when they emerge a few years from now. Making predictions is always a hazardous game, but there are a number of reasonable certainties that can be identified, based on the statements and claims of the major publishers and software providers.
1 Major publishers will move gradually away from traditional coursebooks (whether in print or ebook format) towards the delivery of learning content on learning platforms. At its most limited, this will be in the form of workbook-style material with an adaptive element. At its most developed, this will be in the form of courses that can be delivered entirely without traditional coursebooks. These will allow teachers or institutions to decide the extent to which they wish to blend online and face-to-face instruction.
2 The adaptive elements of these courses will focus primarily or exclusively on discrete item grammar, vocabulary, functional language and phonology, since these lend themselves most readily to the software. These courses will be targeted mainly at lower level (B1 and below) learners.
3 The methodological approach of these courses will be significantly influenced by the expectations of the markets where they are predicted to be most popular and most profitable: South and Central America, the Arabian Gulf and Asia.
4 These courses will permit multiple modifications to suit local requirements. They will also allow additional content to be uploaded.
5 Assessment will play an important role in the design of all these courses. Things like discrete item grammar, vocabulary, functional language and phonology, which lend themselves most readily to assessment, will be prioritized over language skills, which are harder to assess.
6 The discrete items of language that are presented will be tagged to level descriptors, using scales like the Common European Framework or English Profile.
7 Language skills work will be included, but only in the more sophisticated (and better-funded) projects will these components be closely tied to the adaptive software.
8 Because of technological differences between different parts of the world, adaptive courses will co-exist with closely related, more traditional print (or ebook) courses.
9 Training for teachers (especially concerning blended learning) will become an increasingly important part of the package sold by the major publishers.
10 These courses will be more than ever driven by the publishers’ perceptions of what the market wants. There will be a concomitant decrease in the extent to which individual authors, or author teams, influence the material.