Rushed off my feet. No time to put any news and views together in recent months. This one will be more views than news, and a bit loose.
So, what’s going on?
I expected loads more cancelled projects due to COVID-19. There’s been talk of some, but it also seems like there are plenty of contracts around. My usual ‘bug all my connections on LinkedIn until someone caves in and offers me writing’ has reaped the usual rewards. Having said that, I’ve been too busy to take most things on. New teaching role (see here), lots to learn.
There’s understandably a lot of worry at the moment for writers. The question on everyone’s lips seems to be…
Will pay remain this low?
Yeah, probably. Experienced writers love to reminisce about when royalties and other perquisites came as standard. When publishers’ demands were reasonable, when writers really did retire to the Cayman Islands… We’re talking back when Babylon Zoo topped the charts with Spaceman. (more…)
This is a completely imaginary conversation. No characters in the convo are based on real people – I’m just bored and imagining conversations I might have with editors…
Editor: Thanks so much for this work. You’ve clearly put a lot of effort into it.
Editor: There are just a few amendments. The activity where we asked for a Cambridge PET style speaking task… actually, we meant KET. The client has decided that odd number lessons should be KET, not PET, so sorry for telling you that so late…
Editor: And there are the dialogues… Although they previously said that the dialogues could be 300 words, the client has now decided they should be 200 words.
Shout out to Jen Dobson, who has written the course ‘Getting Started with Early Childhood English Teaching’ on Language Fuel.
The new global product for teens from the British Council, Secondary Plus, will be rolled out here in Thailand in May. Project-based approach, academic/exam skills add-ons. Looks pretty polished for a first version. It’s already being used in Europe. I’ve had a sneaky peak. Thumbs up. Info here. Disclaimer – had a bit part to play in these, that’s it. (more…)
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 (10/01/2020) views on coursebooks. (more…)
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.
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.
As Rachael says, comprehension questions have their place but they also have their limitations. Tasks that develop meaning-building skills, which you could use alongside/instead of comprehension questions, encourage learners to engage with a text in a deeper and more personalized way. They also give teachers a better insight into how their learners process information in a text. This can highlight learner strengths or areas for development, hence inform practice.
Part of my remit as the co-author of Startup Level 8 (Pearson) was to create the reading skills lessons for each unit. The publisher had prioritized these meaning-building tasks at higher levels (this was C1+). They still wanted comprehension questions, but meaning-building tasks were the main focus.
I don’t know what the trends are. No facts here. Just my opinion. I’m interested – do you agree/disagree/take offence/think these are pointlessly general statements/etc? Please comment!
Key markets for most publishers seem to be China, Mexico, Turkey and Brazil.
In most cases, print still rules…
… apart from in China, where everyone is obsessed with adapting coursebooks for a ‘virtual market’.
Primary publishers don’t seem to fully trust a CLIL-based approach (to be highly profitable, I mean). They like to cater for more traditional (grammar/typical vocab) approaches in their range too, and the success of CLIL-based resources hinges on teacher training, which may mean more investment for publishers.
Wait. Just thinking more about that last point… (more…)