materials writing

Blogging tips for new ELT writers

I recently shared a tip on LinkedIn for materials writers who blog:

Here are a few more suggestions for using your blog to good effect as a newbie materials writer. 

Note: these tips are mostly about finding work, interacting with publishers, and adding value to ‘your brand’. I’ve chosen to focus on these things because lots of us teachers aren’t good at self-promo, don’t feel comfortable doing it, and don’t feel comfortable even talking about it sometimes! There are also a few tips on how to help other writers, which I think is really important.

So… using your blog as a writer, part 1.1

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Materials writing news and views, July 2021

Euros over. Wimbledon over. Olympics coming up!

New releases

  • Some more Primary teacher books from Michelle Worgan:
  • Emily Bryson is running a course on engaging learners with simple drawings. See here.
  • This digital storytelling project from Vicky Saumell. See here.

New graded reader from Wayzgooze, click here.

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New ebook! 100+ Professional Development Tips for Post-CELTA Teachers

So, here it is, my first self-published ebook! Here’s the blurb:

This book is aimed at new teachers such as those who have recently completed a CELTA or Cert TESOL course. It offers a range of development tips and ideas to help teachers gain confidence in various areas of their practice. These areas include lesson planning, reviewing vocabulary, teaching pronunciation, classroom organization, and getting teens to talk.

This book is a result of my participation in Self-Publishing for ELT Professionals – a course run by iTDi.pro and hosted by Dorothy Zemach. I’ve just posted a bit about the course here.

Why did I write this book?

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Self-Publishing for ELT Professionals course (so far)

I’m taking this training course on self-publishing through ITDI.pro. It’s four weeks long, and we’re going into the final week of input. It’s not necessarily close to the end though. I’d imagine they’ll be plenty to discuss in the forum over the coming month at least.

In Week 1, our trainer Dorothy Zemach shared a good overview of publishing in ELT. She explained how/where self-publishing fits in and why we might choose to self-publish. To join this course you must have an idea for a self-published book in mind, and preferably have some content that is ‘ready’ to edit and play around with. Our homework for this week was to share an overview of our project, discussing target audience, purpose, progress and so on.

In Week 2 we learnt loads about the different tools you can use to create epubs, and where you might upload your book for sale. Dorothy did a live demo of some tools. One particular tool called Draft2Digital looked really cool! I opted to use that to make my own content into an ebook. We spoke a bit about formatting too. The homework was to share our work for commenting (which was pretty scary). Lots of useful comments from participants!

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Materials Writing: Samples

Question from a reader: Can you give me some advice on how to write a sample?

Ummm…

The free ‘No Nonsense Guide to Writing’ from ELT Writers Connected includes a good overview on this topic (see page 27, written by Damian Williams). That covers the basics tbh – it’s well worth a read.

 I’m not sure what more I can add really, apart from just what works / has worked for me.

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Text analysis, level checks, profiling, etc

A new subscriber, Gemma Archer, just asked about text profilers. I’ve shared this response as a comment but thought I’d paste here as might crowdsource some more ideas??? Help please 🙂

(Response)

I use, or have used, text inspector (free version 250 words). My go-to for a while.

https://textinspector.com

This is the link for longer texts (thanks Silvina/Teresa)

http://www.englishprofile.org/wordlists/text-inspector

The text analyzer from Road to Grammar:

http://www.roadtogrammar.com/textanalysis/

Lextutor.ca, which I used during my MSc and was a bit more (too!) technical:

https://www.lextutor.ca/vp/

It’s not something I’ve used recently and now it looks pretty aaaaargh but useful for checking word frequency I think.

EDIA Papyrus – I used this more when it was in beta but was good.

https://papyrus.edia.nl

There’s one from Duolingo now but won’t work on my phone for some reason. Haven’t used it yet but an option maybe (?)

https://cefr.duolingo.com

Vocab kitchen, used a few times, basic but ok

https://www.vocabkitchen.com/profile

There are also some sites that make it easy to grade their texts, which I like! NewsELA being one, but it’s not a profiler as such so bit of a tangent there.

Might be worth asking Julie Moore the same question, I think this might be her area of expertise…

*Update* Julie has responded with this AWESOME post!

(End)

WAIT! I’ve remembered another one!!! The NILE Members area (free to join) has a text analysis tool!

Another here, the Oxford text checker, shared by Gordon Dobie via Facebook.

Dan Shepherd (via LinkedIn) just shared this one for Pearson Global Scale of English

Jane Wescombe (via LinkedIn) shared this tool from Lexicool.

Gemma said she’s had mixed success with text analysis tools. Me too. Main difficulty for me has been how some tools seem to analyze words individually, so things like phrasal verbs get missed. Anyhow, they can be a useful starting point or general kinda marker for writers. I think these are the only ones I know but if another one comes to me I’ll add it in the comments/do an update 🙂 please share others and your experience of using them if you’ve time. Cheers.

Review: Eduland Writing Project

Eduland is a short story project for the China ELT market. You write short fiction texts for young learners, add a few comprehension questions (guidance given), do one round of edits (typically), and get paid!

Currently, the short stories are part of a series involving a fictional family called the Jollys. Full road maps and character profiles are provided along with writing templates, topics to avoid, and plenty of other guidance.

Stories should be between 400-2500 words. Submissions are paid at 7 US cents per word.

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Materials writing news and views, March 2021

Mostly new releases, plus references to Premier League sticker albums…

New releases

  • English Code – Mary Roulston. Dinosaur on the front cover, win.
  • Cambridge Primary World English teacher’s guides – saw on Melissa Bryant’s Linkedin. Hodder Education.
  • Language Fuel have another new course and some kinda revamp coming up. Teaching EAP, Tania Pattison. Incidentally, the Language Fuel ‘Who’s who’ of authors is a bit like a Merlin/Panini sticker album of ELT Writers. They only need Rachael Roberts for complete coverage. If you ever collected EPL stickers then you’ll know all about ‘the shiny’, which in this case I guess is Jill Hadfield. I wonder who would be ‘Peter Fear’. I swear, this guy was in EVERY pack I ever bought.
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Materials Development Task 11: Future-proofing

Think…

  • Have you ever created a resource that aged quickly?
  • What aspects/features of a published resource might make it more susceptible to ‘ageing’?
  • How could you, as a writer, minimize the chance of a resource becoming dated?
  • Do you think that resources aimed at certain markets are more likely to date quickly? Why/Why not?

It’s time to play… DATE THAT RESOURCE!

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