Still making the same mistakes … Common Mistakes 15 years on

Back in the early 2000s, I was working primarily as a freelance lexicographer on learner’s dictionaries. I loved the work, but I was starting to think about branching out more into other ELT materials.  One of my first breaks came when I was asked to do some learner corpus research for a new series of books for CUP, Common Mistakes at … and how to avoid them.

I carried out much of the research for the new series looking at the most frequent errors made by learners in different Cambridge exams, starting with First Certificate, PET, CAE and Proficiency, then in a second batch, KET and IELTS.

As I was doing the research, it occurred to me that I’d quite like to take the next step and write the material, so I approached the commissioning editor and asked if they had authors lined up for all the books. It turned out that they were still looking for someone for the Proficiency title, so after producing a sample, I got the gig and my first book as an author was published in 2005. I then went on to author the IELTS Advanced book published in 2007.

Since then, the books have proved popular with students as a simple revision aid to help them tidy up some of those common errors and with luck, nudge up their exam marks. The books have gone on to be published in a number of versions, translated into Japanese and Chinese editions, and more recently bundled together with practice tests.

Earlier this year, CUP came back to me to update the IELTS Adv book for a second edition. When we reviewed the material, it turned out that the language errors that students make really haven’t changed much in 15 years. We did though need to go through and update many of the examples to get rid of references CDs and phone boxes and the like. And of course with lots of examples of data in the IELTS exams, there was a bit of research needed to update some of the stats and dates that got mentioned, as well as a few minor tweaks to account for changes in exam formats.

Cover image of IELTS Common Mistakes

The resulting new edition has just been published, with a very slight name change, as IELTS Common Mistakes for bands 6.0-7.0, available here.

2 thoughts on “Still making the same mistakes … Common Mistakes 15 years on

  1. lexicojules Post author

    Lucy, We were only looking at the most frequent errors, so perhaps not surprising that they come down to the same things that students find fundmentally tricky about English – those don’t change much over time.


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