materials writing

Materials writing news and views, Feb 2019

Thought I’d start sharing a semi-regular post on materials writing for those (semi-)interested. Just news, views, jobs I see and stuff. Whatever, don’t know yet!

9 ways to get noticed by an ELT publisher

This is a new blog post from Atena Juszko, ELT Editor. It has some really useful ideas and some good links. The ones for publisher blogs might be of interest to some. I do/have done most of the stuff on the list, but I shy away from presenting at conferences. I might do more in the future, who knows. Anyway, useful post. Atena mentioned an old post of mine about writing for ELT magazines – I saw a tweeter share this recent post from Tim Thompson on the same topic, which may be useful for those looking to build their presence in the industry.

Digital Learning Associates

I have an article coming up in ETPro about the benefits of having a LinkedIn account for materials writers. While that won’t sound particularly riveting to most, I had a useful ‘LinkedInteraction’ (see what I did there…?) last week. A new contact had some work with ‘Digital Learning Associates’ listed on their work history. I did some research on these guys and some speculative emailing. Turns out…

  • they are keen to hear from video narrators/editors in the industry, so get in touch if this is your thing
  • they have an online platform of video-based resources, which sounds good. They’re going to let me review it, so watch this space if interested
  • they produce quite a bit of video-based content for big publishers. I wondered where a lot of that came from…

Anyway, they look like a company worth checking out. (more…)

Webinar notes: What about principles for materials development? (Brian Tomlinson)

Here is Brian Tomlinson’s recent webinar in written form: ‘What about principles for materials development?’ The session was delivered as part of the MaWSIG ‘What about…? Webinar series. It was full of take home points so this post is pretty long! (more…)

Developing into a materials writer

Here are a few general tips for skills to develop if you’d like to write for publishers or big teaching organisations.

This is not a ‘How to become….’ post. You can find good tips about how to actually get into materials writing here and here. Also there are more general tips here. (more…)

I clearly love coursebooks

I always feel embarrassed when I speak up for coursebooks. I think I’m supposed to hate them. Everybody else seems to, so I guess that’s the right thing to do. According to Steve Brown’s latest post (well worth a read), even coursebook writers themselves are getting bold enough to criticise the practices of big publishers. Steve reckons that, in the grand scheme of things, such criticism is pointless. I say that the writers should keep doing it. The more they bite the hand that feeds, the more likely that publishers get annoyed and look for writers elsewhere. I’d love to get a message in my LinkedIn mailbox one day that reads: (more…)

The 8 stages of teaching my own materials

I sat down to plan a General English class for our adult learners to the other day. I say plan, more like adapt. We have an in-house set of lessons so there’s already a plan in place, but the lesson needs tweaking to suit the learners. Anyway, I opened up my lesson schedule and there it was – ‘Lesson 93 – English around the World’. Just another lesson for other teachers, but really significant for me. It was the first time ever I’d taught published materials that I’d actually wrote!

I’m teaching my own materials week in, week out. Sometimes a coursebook or other materials are dry so I either just adapt them or scrap them and write something else. Most of my colleagues do the same, it’s standard procedure. I’m happy to share the resources I make with other teachers, if they turn out to be any good that is! But this time it’s different. I was actually paid to write these materials, they are formally published as part of a regional syllabus across 15 countries, and teachers across the region are using them daily.

My first thought – pride. It’s so cool. It’s a real sense of achievement to see something you wrote looking all organised on a handout. It’s funny to read teachers notes with your inner voice and remember the actual voice who wrote it was you…! Sure, it’s also a bit of an ego boost I guess, but that happens.

My second thought – relief. Phew! It’s Lesson 93! It’s one of the 50 or so lessons I wrote that I was fairly pleased with.

Third – confusion. Man, what are all these documents?! There’s like a handout and teachers notes, that’s standard, plus a few cut-ups. Then there’s a sort of jigsaw reading task, a running dictation, some more cut ups or something. Blimey. I went overboard for sure. A lot of this must be optional. I better read my own notes. (more…)

Funny ELT illustrations

I picked up some interesting throw-outs from the British Council library here in Thailand. I’ve been flicking through Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language by Christine Nuttall (1996) this week. It’s clear, well-organised and has lots of practical activities for teachers to help them understand the skills or strategies they are teaching learners. But there’s something else you can’t miss in the book, especially in Chapter 1 – the illustrations.

This is a great illustration of a passive reader (see paragraph below image). For some reason it seems to induce post-nasal drip whenever I see it… (more…)