I’ve been using the Cambridge Learner Corpus for twenty years now to research learner language (read a bit about my research here) and some of my most recent work has involved researching some of the issues and errors that are most common among Spanish-speaking learners of English to feed into exam preparation books for the Spanish market. I researched and wrote substantial ‘English for Spanish Speakers’ sections for the Complete series of books preparing students for the Cambridge Key, Preliminary and First exams. The first two titles have just recently been published and the third is forthcoming.
So, I’m really looking forward to travelling to Oviedo in Northern Spain at the end of next week to talk about the research and writing process at the annual TESOL Spain convention. Sadly, getting from Bristol to Oviedo has proved less simple than I’d expected, so I won’t make it in time to attend a lot of the conference, but I will be there in time for my talk on Sunday morning (9.55-10.55).
Last year, I was involved in working on a new grammar book for the Italian secondary school market and a copy arrived in the post this week.
As well as grammar reference and practice, it includes a substantial vocabulary practice section at the back, grouped around familar themes and with activities aimed at A1, A2, B1 and B2 students. I helped to compile the initial outline and wordlists for the vocabulary section as well as writing a chunk of the units.
Flicking through the finished book, it’s nice to see the material in its final design. I’m also reminded of some of the bits I was particularly proud of, including language for talking about disability, chronic health conditions and mental health issues. Oh yes, and I snuck in a text about a forensic scientist 😉
My latest guest post on the OUP Global blog introduces the newly-revised Oxford word lists; an updated version of the Oxford 3000, plus the new Oxford 5000 and the Oxford Phrase List. I’ll be talking about the new lists in a webinar on Tues 26 February, explaining how they’ve been revised, what they aim to do and how they can be used in the classroom. There’s a link to register for the webinar, along with the times at the end of the blog.
2019 has got off to a busy start already with a couple of writing projects on my desk to juggle over the next few weeks. So, I’m looking forward to my first outing of the year at the English UK academic conference in London on 19 January.
I’ll be talking about the challenges students face in moving beyond the basic core vocabulary they typically build up to by around intermediate level. I’ll be looking at the reasons why they seem to hit a bit of a wall and exploring some of the ways that teachers can help students continue to build their vocabulary at higher levels. I’ll be mentioning:
- the differences between active and passive vocabulary
- ways of encouraging a passive to active shift
- the importance of having a clear rationale for vocab activities
- how to select target vocab from a text
- the difference between teaching vocabulary items and vocabulary features
Remember, for my latest thoughts on language, corpus research, teaching and life as a freelancer, you can visit my blog: lexicoblog
Next week, I’m really looking forward to talking to students in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London about building a career based on language and linguistics as part of the Goldsmiths Linguistics Seminars series. It’ll be a bit of a departure from my usual sessions, but I’m hoping I’ve got plenty to pass on about teaching English, teacher training, lexicography, materials writing and corpus research from a really varied 25 years of getting paid to play with words! Find out more about the seminar here: https://www.gold.ac.uk/calendar/?id=11963
A couple of weeks ago, I had a really interesting couple of days at a joint MaWSIG/Oxford Brookes event. There were lots of fascinating sessions looking at materials writing from various different angles – among others, Fiona Mauchline talked about the development of the teenage brain and its implications for teaching and teaching materials (not just for teens, but up to mid-20s), Johanna Stirling explored the blurry line between practice and testing, and Jon Hird spoke about how authentic we can make texts adapted for the classroom (and how authentic they need to be). Each session provided lots of opportunities for discussion with colleagues and I certainly came away with lots of food for thought.
I also presented one of the sessions, talking about the four key principles I apply when writing vocab materials and some of the challenges I face in sticking to those principles within a tight writing brief. There’s a summary of my session on my blog here.