Language trends

Recently over on my blog, I’ve been looking into a number of language trends, some related to the current coronavirus pandemic, some more general.

Hibernation: I looked at the way people have started talking about hibernating businesses: pausing operations during the current crisis. It’s one of the few hopeful metaphors around that suggests a temporary and even natural suspension of normal life. Although I wrote the post a month ago and the process of the global economy stretching itself and waking up again is now looking like being more gradual and hesitant than it might have seemed then.

hedgehog

Photo by George Kendall on Unsplash

New ways of teaching and learning: In my second post, I looked at the terms we’re using to describe the new ways in which the world of education has been trying to adapt to the lack of classroom teaching. Are you talking about online teaching, remote learning or distance learning? And what about the new words (retronyms) we’ve had to adopt to distinguish those approaches from face-to-face or in-person teaching and learning or even Zoom classes?

Watching TV: Then in my most recent post, I looked into a longer term trend in the way we talk about what we watch. With more people watching content on their phones or other devices rather than sitting down in front of a conventional TV, I investigated the kind of language we might need to be teaching students to describe their contemporary lives and viewing habits.

A position paper on the Oxford 3000

Last year, OUP asked me to write a position paper about the revised Oxford 3000 and 5000 word lists, how they were compiled and their relevance to vocabulary teaching. It was a challenging task with input and feedback from a whole range of people to take into account, but fascinating nonetheless, especially as it involved bringing together academic research and classroom practice. It was great to work with such an engaged group of experts, including Paul Nation, James Milton and Marlise Horst, and to test both my grey cells and my mediation skills pulling everything together into a readable final draft.

Ox 3000 paper

The paper has now been published and is available to download via the OUP website here.

Writing for an audience of EAP teachers

The e-book I wrote some time ago – How to Write EAP Materials – has recently come out as a paperback with this lush shocking pink cover 💗

Pink paperbacks

It seemed to coincide perfectly with an EAP conference in St Andrews this weekend with the theme: “Anybody out there: addressing audiences in academic discourse”. It’s a great little conference that I’ve been to before and what better match than a session about writing EAP materials for an audience of other teachers? …

Unfortunately, for practical reasons, I couldn’t make it up to Scotland this year. Undeterred though, I’ve put together the session I would have delivered as a series of four short (6-7 min) videos. They’re divided into four ‘top tips’ about what you might need to take into account if you’re writing EAP materials (or to be honest, any classroom materials) to be used by colleagues. You can (hopefully!) access all four videos on my YouTube channel via this link.

Title slide

You can find out more about the book on the ELT Teacher 2 Writer website or just search for it on Amazon.

ETpedia Vocabulary: book of the month

When you’re working on a book, you end up so caught up in the details, especially towards the end of the editing and rewriting process, that it can be difficult to step back and ‘see the wood for the trees’.  I often find that even when a book’s published and I’m holding a copy in my hands, I’m not the best judge of whether it’s come out well because I’m still wondering whether the illustration on page 68 was the best choice or not!

So it’s really nice when you get some independent feedback. ETpedia Vocabulary has just appeared as the Book of the Month with a glowing review in the January edition of EL Gazette (free to read online).

ETpedia review (2)

Thanks to my co-authors Fiona Mauchline and Stacey H Hughes along with the rest of Pavilion team for helping to create such a great resource. #glowingwithpride

2019 in numbers

As we come to the end of 2019, I’ve inevitably been reflecting on the past 12 months. From a work perspective, the year got off to a bit of a slow start, but then picked up and turned out to be incredibly busy with a fabulous mix of different types of work, meeting new people, tackling new challenges and also just having lots of fun playing with words! Rather than an end-of-year blog post, this year I’ve put together an infographic of my working year in numbers:

2019 infographic

COBUILD English Usage: #languagetrends FYI

At the end of last year, I had the fascinating task of being involved in researching recent trends in language usage for the new edition of Collins COBUILD English Usage which has just been published.

CEU4 cover

For those not familiar with the book, it’s neither a grammar book nor a dictionary, but instead takes a wider look at language usage. Aimed at upper-int/advanced learners and teachers, it lists words alphabetically and explores how they are typically used.

For this new edition, I explored several areas where language usage has changed since the last edition (in 2012). Some of the areas I looked into included new coinages, social media, identity, gender, mental health and disability, drawing on data from the ‘New Monitor’ corpus (part of the Collins Corpus containing recent data from news and social media) and a whole variety of other sources. The research turned up some fascinating shifts in usage, as well as leading me down some odd, and sometimes disturbingly dark, linguistic alleys!

Find out more about the project on the Collins Dictionary website (note: if you’re not reading this in Oct 2019, this link may have changed!) and scroll down to read two blog posts I wrote about ‘identity and gender‘ and ‘mental health and disability‘ (these links shouldn’t change).

St Petersburg: talking writing

At the weekend, I was lucky enough to visit St Petersburg – a city I last visited on a school trip way back in 1986! Unsurprisingly, it’s very much changed and is now a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with a wonderfully friendly, buzzy feel.

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I was there to deliver a day of workshops on the topic of Teaching Advanced Writing Skills to a group of local teachers. They were a very knowledgeable, receptive audience who were both open to new ideas and eager to share their own thoughts and experiences. Thanks to the organizers and to the participants for making it such an enjoyable day.

eng-003

I’ve written up a few thoughts on how running training workshops for teachers is so valuable to me professionally and how it feeds into my materials development work – over on my blog here.