With my background in lexicography, I generally think of myself as a bit of a ‘words girl’ and I do a lot of work around teaching vocabulary. Recently though, I’ve been straying into the area of grammar and collaborating with Penny Hands and Damian Williams on a series of posts on the Collins ELT blog to mark the launch of the new edition of the COBUILD English Grammar.My first post saw me on familiar ground considering the overlap between grammar and vocabulary. Look out for more posts appearing over the coming weeks exploring different areas of grammar. Each post is accompanied by a downloadable worksheet that may be useful for advanced learners or trainee teachers to think through the issues raised.
Hot on the heels of Timesaver IELTS Vocabulary that was published at the end of last year, I’ve just received copies of another Timesaver title I worked on (together with co-author Norman Whitby), this time focusing on the reading section of the IELTS test.
Timesaver IELTS Starter Reading is another book of photocopiable lessons for classes preparing for the IELTS test. This time though it’s aimed at students whose level is roughly equivalent to a score of 4.0-5.5. The material introduces the style and format of the IELTS test to these lower-level students in a simple, step-by-step format with plenty of support and scaffolding. Each lesson includes a practice reading text and deals with a particular question type and exam skill, walking students through the process of understanding and answering exam-style questions.
This week copies of my new book Timesaver IELTS Vocabulary, published by Scholastic, arrived in the post rather like a surprise early Christmas present!
The book is a collection of photocopiable vocabulary lessons aimed at students preparing for the IELTS exam. The book is designed to be used alongside an IELTS preparation course and it provides extra classroom practice in keys areas of vocabulary which students need to master for the IELTS exam. It’s divided into three sections with lessons on vocabulary for reading, writing and speaking. The lessons focus on typical vocabulary areas, such as making comparisons, describing problems and solutions, and expressing opinions. They also give vocab-oriented exam tips and practice that involves typical exam tasks. Each lesson consists of two photocopiable pages with clear, simple instructions designed to ‘teach-off-the-page’; so busy teachers can easily flick through to find an area where they think their students need extra practice, make some copies and off they go.
As we move towards the end of 2016, I’m looking forward to lots of exciting stuff happening in the New Year, including several new publications – watch this space! But the first thing in my diary is a trip to London to speak about receptive and productive vocabulary at the International House Academic Managers and Trainers conference.
It’s taking place in Greenwich, which is just a couple of miles away from where I was born, so I’m looking forward to a nostalgic wander through the park and up the hill to the Royal Observatory, a place connected with lots of happy childhood memories!
At the weekend, I had a trip to York for the English UK North academic conference at St John’s University. It was a bit of a flying visit, but I managed to see a little bit of the city with an amble along the Shambles, a glimpse of the Minster and a stroll through the Museum Gardens:
At the conference, I sat in on a Mike McCarthy plenary – always a pleasure – and a fascinating session by Emina Tuzovic about teaching Arabic learners which provided lots of food for thought. I was talking about ways of supporting and encouraging learners to develop their vocabulary independently.
It was also an opportunity to mention, for the first time, a project I’ve been working on and have been itching to tell people about … the Oxford Academic Vocabulary Practice titles are two self-study books aimed at EAP students and due for publication in January next year. Look out for more details in the next few months …
It’s always nice when you see material you’ve worked on in print. I’ve recently received copies of two books I worked on – both are advanced/C1 level and both, coincidentally, have purple covers.
Insight is a series of coursebooks aimed at upper secondary school students. I worked on the vocabulary strand of the advanced student’s book, writing Vocabulary Insight pages for the end of each unit which focus on different aspects of vocabulary (verb types, figurative language, using synonyms, etc.) and vocabulary learning. I also wrote a set of Vocabulary Bank pages at the back of the book which provide further practice of the vocabulary sets that crop up through the units. At such a high level, the challenge is to find vocabulary themes which will really get students thinking about how English vocabulary works at a deeper level as well as extending their range.
The other new arrival was the Navigate advanced/C1 workbook, part of the latest OUP series of adult coursebooks.
Writing workbooks involves finding new and engaging ways to practise the language (grammar and vocabulary) and skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) that have been introduced in the main student’s book, but in a way that still feels fresh and engaging. Navigate as a series uses a range of information-rich topics and texts designed to be interesting in their own right, not just as a vehicle to learn the language, and the workbooks are no exception. For the advanced workbook, I found myself researching topics as diverse as biomechanical engineering, solar flares and the history of culinary spices.
I’ve been involved with the IATEFL Materials Writers group, MaWSIG, since it started a few years ago. It’s been a great way to keep up with fellow writers, to meet new colleagues and to share ideas. So I’m quite excited this month to be meeting a whole new group of materials writers from MATSDA, the Materials Development Association. I’ll be talking about how ELT writers can make use of corpus tools as part of their everyday work at the MATSDA conference at the University of Liverpool, 18-19 June.