General

Review: Ready to Run

This review was first published in the Winter 2019 edition of the ETAS Journal. Many thanks to ETAS for allowing the review to appear on this blog.

Ready to Run, from Digital Learning Associates (DLA), is a platform providing video-based lesson resources for ELT classrooms. Its resources are marketed as ‘engaging and authentic video experiences’ which cover a range of real-world topics. Ready to Run is a subscription-based service – each video lesson includes printable materials for students, teacher notes and video transcripts. The platform recently won a British Council ELTon for Innovation in Learner Resources.

The resource catalogue for Ready to Run is generally easy to navigate, although better tagging might make searching for relevant resources more efficient. There are currently about 10 videos available at each CEFR-aligned level (A1-B2). The digital content itself is certainly varied, and likely to be engaging for a wide range of learners. Videos are high quality, a suitable length (most around three minutes) and have been well-edited. The videos are initially sourced from vlogs, TV programmes, and other authentic broadcasts, and then are adapted for classroom use. The selection of topics is inclusive and relevant – it is good to see that the platform offers resources that address issues such as immigration, refugee crises, climate change, and minority groups. Topics are dealt with sensitively, and follow-up project-based tasks on the video content encourage learners to explore these topics in greater detail. The willingness of Ready to Run to deal with some topics that tend to be avoided in global coursebooks is certainly a strength. (more…)

Why ELT coursebooks are great!

Late last year I read the Jordan and Gray/Hughes exchange on ELT coursebooks, which appeared in ELT Journal. It’s an interesting discussion if you haven’t read it yet. I generally agreed more with Hughes, but that’s to be expected; I write coursebook materials for publishers, I use coursebooks and generally value them as a classroom resource. I also tend to find more radical stances against coursebooks polarising and distant from classroom practice. A bit repetitive too. I’d like to see more research into learner perceptions of coursebooks, and direct engagement with publishers to explore the theoretical and pedagogical underpinning of these resources in more detail.

Anyhow, the exchange prompted me to consider my views on the use of coursebooks, I’m keen to write a few of these down so I can see how they evolve over time. There have been a few posts I’ve revisited on this blog that I felt were a good snapshot of my thinking at one moment in my career – thoughts that have since changed, developed, etc. There is only one post I’ve come to completely refute over time, my views on multiple intelligences. So much so that I deleted it! Nooooo! Never do that, it misses the point of a learning journey!

So, some of my current (10/01/2019) views on coursebooks. (more…)

Research in brief: reading disruption of a textbook

The research

Winter, C. (2018). Disrupting colonial discourses in the geography curriculum during the introduction of British Values policy in schools. Journal of Curriculum Studies50(4), 456-475.

Open access, click here.

Summary

The aim of the study was ‘to expose and disrupt discourses dominating global development in an English school geography textbook chapter.’ (2018:456)

Winter analyzed one chapter of an English Curriculum Geography textbook using a disruptive approach, a technique proposed by Jacques Derrida.   (more…)

How to annoy commissioning editors (and find work)

Another ‘how to become a materials writer’ article has popped up – Kirsten Holt’s article for ETPro  offers some more good advice for budding writers. Every time I read one of these posts I’m itching to chip in. I really want to help others get into materials writing. My advice is always the same:

  • It’s easier than you think.
  • As with most things, it requires effort at first (unless you’re lucky!).
  • There is something missing from lots of the advice already out there.

Read on, I’ll tell you what that is. (more…)

ELT materials writing – my year in review

It’s been quite a good year on the writing front. Balancing writing with full-time teaching is tough, but the rewards are great! It’s only three weeks until our xmas holidays so I’m calling this the end of my writing year. Here were my highs and lows.

My stats…

Contracts offered to me this year: 17

Contracts offered directly through LinkedIn: 6

Total contracts taken: 8 (more…)

Learning to read the world through other eyes

I’ve just come across this booklet as part of the reading on the PGCEi at the University of Nottingham. It’s a brilliant open access resource for exploring global citizenship. It offers a series of cross-cultural exercises, which help learners to…

  • develop understanding of different belief systems and values
  • explore how these values may impact of development agendas
  • examine western and indigenous interpretations of notions such as equality, education and poverty
  • consider ways to improve dialogue and mutual learning.

(more…)

Dialogue in ELT

I received some really interesting responses to my post on good working conditions in ELT – thanks for all the comments on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

One of the many comments that are worth exploring in a bit more depth was a tweet from paulw. He asked me three questions:

  • What is it that enables me as a white European person to have “good working conditions in ELT” in Thailand?
  • Is it the case that Thai people can expect such conditions if they go to the UK? (Answer: No.)
  • How many Thai ELT teachers do you have?

(more…)