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.

Leo Selivan webinar

I missed the Leo Selivan webinar this week. I was all geared up to watch it, then I decided to watch the second half of Spurs vs Leicester instead. It sounded like it would be a good one. I read a review/critique of Selivan’s work on Geoff Jordan’s blog the other month. In all honesty it was pretty damning, which made me want to watch the webinar to learn what all the fuss was about (I’m not familiar with Selivan’s approach tbh). IATEFL MaWSIG say they’ll be a link posted up this week to the recording, so watch this space.

Speaking of IATEFL webinars, there’s another materials-related one coming up:

Carol Lopes – ‘Diversity and inclusion in materials and / or the classroom’ (2nd March, 2pm GMT).

Dorothy Zemach

I watched this IATEFL 2018 plenary from Dorothy Zemach recently. If you missed it first time (like me), it’s really worth a watch.

Steve Brown plenary

Speaking of plenaries, Steve Brown’s plenary at #BBELT2019 was trending on Twitter the other day. This type of ‘break the status quo’, ‘those damn global publishers’ stuff always seems popular – I’d say most of us TEFL/TESOL teachers are a willing audience. Tyson Seburn’s summary tweet on a Steve Brown slide was interesting:

Fair points, although as I mentioned in a recent post, I’m not sure PARNSIP in coursebooks is actually as big an issue as people often make out.

Having said that, I’ve had some funny ‘no, because of PARSNIP’ feedback in the past. Once, when writing content on British pastimes, I wasn’t allowed to mention that pub quizzes actually took place in a pub. I also couldn’t mention that a fry-up included bacon, sausages or black pudding. That was a particularly PARSNIP-less project.

Peachey Publications

I’m sure most of you clocked this, but Nik Peachey is starting his own publishing company. You can read about it here. He says that over 400 writers have shown an interest in the project, which sounds promising.

Publishers Jobwatch

There were 3 Development Editor jobs advertised in the UK this month. One for Cambridge (Primary ELT, closed), one for Macmillan (closed) and the other is at Cengage (still open, click here).

My recent writing

I had some work writing Academic and Exam Skills booklets on the go before xmas. All finished, back from the designers and being piloted. They look pretty slick actually – good for the portfolio. I was going to continue this work as it’s fun to write, but I’m maxed out hours-wise. So much going on!

I’m working on various digital projects at the moment. Here’s an EDI-related resource I wrote before xmas too.

Topics not to include in your materials…

Parkour. Matt Noble was having a good old rant about it yesterday.

Marc Jones chimed in on the topic with ‘shoehorning edginess is just the pits’ which is a shame because shoehorning edginess pretty much sums up my writing career to date.

Peter Pun: shoehorning edginess since 2015

Check out the thread if you can – it gets pretty funny.

Language Fuel

I reviewed this new teacher development platform from Language Fuel recently. I just read that their new ELT Content Editor is Jill Hadfield (I know the name from Communication Games). I’ll keep my eye on how that platform develops.

ELI Publishing

Finally, a quick mention of ELI Publishing. They sent me a big box of stuff to review recently – it does look like their range of graded readers is good. Review of some content in general can be found here.

If you only check out one materials development-related thing this month…


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…)