Tag Archives: coursebooks

IATEFL Harrogate and MaWSIG PCE: Jeremy Day’s “Experiments in self-publishing”

Here’s the second in the series of IATEFL 2014 sketchnotes. This set comes from Jeremy Day’s high informative talk on self-publishing. I especially like the idea of creating your own materials that can be sold directly to the students 😉

Again, do let me know if some text explanations are desired!



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ELT Teacher2Writer webinar notes: How to become an ELT materials writer

Last week (March 5, 2014 to be precise), Sue Kay and Karen Spiller of ELT Teacher2Writer led an hour-long webinar titled “How to Become an ELT Materials Writer.” The event was full of useful insider info on how the whole publishing industry works, the knowledge good writers need, and tips for aspiring authors from both publishers and accomplished writers.

Rather than just write up classic verbal notes with their outlines, bullet points, and line after line of text-text-text like I usually do (which usually ends up stuffed on a shelf somewhere, sadly to rarely be read again), I decided to try something different: sketchnoting. While not all ideas are captured, I tried to get the essentials, sketch them up into something visual and memorable, all the while hoping they would make some sense to someone who didn’t attended the webinar.

I’ll let you decide…

p. 1-2

How Publishing Works1

p. 3-4

How Publishing Works2

 p. 5-6 (end)

How Publishing Works2 1

Something I didn’t manage to capture here though and that will be appreciated by aspiring ELT writers is the ELT Teacher 2 Writer database. It’s free for writers to add their details to the database and it’s free for publishers to use the database, so it’s a great way for (presently) little-known or new writers to come into contact with publishers. It’s simple to add your name to the database: you fill in the registration form, which includes all the basics plus information about countries you’ve taught in, age groups or levels you’ve taught, and the type of materials you’re interested in writing. That way, when publishers are looking for someone with your profile, they’ll have all your contact information right there!

Hopefully the notes are helpful (and pretty to look at)! If my notes aren’t enough or you just want to watch Kay and Karen in action, you can watch the full webinar here. You’ll also be able to catch the ELT Teacher2Writer team at IATEFL Harrogate 2014. On Friday April 4, 2014 (time TBA), they’ll host a practical workshop demonstrating practical materials from their training modules.

Either way, the webinar helped add a bit of clarity to the whole mysterious process and also made it seem like something accessible to experienced teachers looking to expand their teaching careers beyond the classroom.


Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Webinar notes


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Where have all the non-native (and even native) authentic recordings gone?

old coursebook by Gabriela Sellart

Photo by Gabriela Sellart

If you’re my friend on Facebook (or in real life) and/or you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably already seen this message, my cry for help in putting together a collection of semi-authentic audio resources that include lots of non-native English speakers as well as natives talking the way they really do about a given topic.

Here’s the reason for the SOS: Recently, lots of business learners have been making specific requests for listening work with non-native accents. Some have even specifically requested to work on a specific accent in as many lessons as possible over the course of their program. For example, I recently worked with one group on presenting your company. They then asked to work on understanding people presenting their companies. Let me be more specific. They asked to work on understanding Greek, Slovenian, Chinese, and Indian people presenting their companies because this is part of their job.

So the greater part of my afternoon was spent trawling YouTube and course books for this elusive listening grail. And I’m still looking.

In fact, it seems very few of my learners have much contact at all with NS (native speakers). While it’s easy to fire away with “Coursebooks just don’t include NNS (non-native speakers)!” that’s not so true anymore. Although I couldn’t find evidence of exactly which course book first included NNS, just flip through some of the more recent copies in your staff room. International Express has’em. Market Leader has’em. Regrettably, they’ve often been made a bit sterile–scripted and scrubbed clean of many of the fascinating features of natural speech.

Fortunately, some truly enjoyable coursebooks like Lindsay Clandfield’s Global series and Ian Badger’s English for Business Listening have raised the bar mighty high in terms of authentic (or at least semi-authentic) discourse and variety of accents in our English-as-a-Lingua-Franca world. And of course the internet puts the world’s accents at our fingertips. If you can find what you’re looking for that is.

And so here’s what I’m thinking–would it be possible to create a bank of authentic and semi-authentic recordings of speakers with all sorts of accents? Could we categorize them by accent and function? And why not get voluntary learners involved? Wouldn’t this boost their confidence, knowing that other learners will be listening to them to learn English?

And in the end, wouldn’t we be doing our learners a great service by helping them practice the kind of Englishes they work with in the real world?

Any takers?


Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Random reflections


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Me: “Here are your booklets.” Them: (groan)


A few past booklets

I am not anti-course book. I have nothing against course book writers. In fact, some of my wider-world colleagues are course book writers. It’s starting a lesson with “Open your books to page 7 and look at exercise A” that bugs me.

This reflection came up after the first month of a new academic year. During this first month, the new classes begin, we discuss how the students like to learn, what they liked and disliked about past English classes, and the students’/teachers’ roles in a class where content is co-constructed–not dictated and transmitted.

Also, the students receive their course booklets for the semester. Each time “I’m going to hand out your booklets for this year” was met with “(groans and sarcasm) Oh yay, THE booklet.” Two students in two different groups actually asked “Is it for burning?”

For context clarification: Each semester, the students get a new booklet. Most of my groups are in their 3rd semester and as such are used to the booklet system.

Content-wise these booklets are not half-bad. They’re produced in-house by a dedicated head teacher (not me, just for the record), incorporate authentic materials, and are updated every year to improve on last year’s model. Sure they lack the glossy cover and full-color illustrations of publishing house course books, but don’t we have a popular idiom in English…something about not judging a book by its cover?

After witnessing the same less-then-enthusiastic reaction with several groups, I wanted to try something. With one lower level group, the first module in their book was spelling practice. Instead of handing out the books and asking them to do the exercises, I asked the students to spell their last names so I could note them in my records. As usual, there was confusion with the pronunciation of I vs E vs A, J vs G, Y, and H. After getting names, I suggested we do a little letter pronunciation practice and asked how they’d like to do so.

The students had lots of ideas—hangman, crossword puzzles, scrabble, etc. For these last two, I suggested that the person would have to spell the word they wanted to place while their partner actually wrote in the word to add an actual pronunciation element. Some students wanted to do this in plenary, others wanted to work in small groups to be able to have more speaking time (yes, one student actually said that’s why she preferred to work in a small group).

We put two groups off to the side while I led a round of scrabble with about half the class, drawing a grid on the white board and having students spell the words they wanted to add. They all paid close attention as words were being added, probably trying to plot where they could place a word come their turn.

This activity wrapped up and I gave out their booklets. As expected, students let out little groans. Then I opened the book and pointed out that the week’s lesson was supposed to be…spelling practice. I think at that point they saw through my little tactic of starting off with a task that would lead to work on the programmed target language. Needless to say there were no “Oh, so the booklet isn’t so bad after all” jumps for joy!

But they had been engaged in the work we had done. They had looked like they were enjoying it. When we wrapped up the lesson with a review of those problematic letters—A, E, I, G, J, Y, H–there was noticeably less confusion.

So what made the difference? After all, the content of the book unit and the content of the actual lesson were the same.

I’ll share my reflections on that in the next post. In the meantime, what do YOU think changed the way the students reacted to the activity?



Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Dogme


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