2018 ELT Freelancers’ Awayday

I’m really looking forward to my first event of the year, meeting up with lots of other ELT freelancers in Oxford at the ELT Freelancers’ Awayday for a day of catching up and sharing ideas. It’s a great opportunity to see old friends and to meet new people too.

This year, I’m going to be presenting, with a 10-minute talk introducing some simple ways that ELT editors can use corpus tools to answer tricky language questions that might not be answered in their usual go-to reference sources:Awayday18



Teacher training in Moscow

In November, I was invited to run a day-long teacher training workshop for English teachers in Moscow. I’d last visited Russia on a school trip in 1986, so it was a fantastic opportunity to go back and explore a fascinating – and much-changed – city.

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The workshop focused on Teaching Advanced Writing Skills and I spent the day with 27 teachers exploring:
– Why? Thinking about the aims and rationales behind writing lessons
– What? Looking at the types of skills we can teach
– How? Evaluating a range of activity types that can be used to teach writing skills
– What next? Considering the important editing, feedback and review stages

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day, working with a group of really engaged and motivated teachers who’d given up there day off, and the feedback was really positive. I hope I can arrange more similar workshops in 2018.

You can read more about the trip on my blog.

How to Write EAP: A New Print Version

It was very exciting last week to see my ebook How to Write EAP Materials in a new print version as part of a collection of similar titles all focused around how to write materials for teaching English in specific contexts (ESP, Business English, Corporate training materials and ESOL).

How to Write ESP series
This new version contains the full text of the original ebook, but was also a chance for me to add a few updates, especially drawing on my experiences over the past couple of years working on the Oxford Academic Vocabulary Practice books and including insights from recent research into academic vocabulary.

Both the new collection and the original ebook are available via Amazon:
How to Write Excellent ELT Materials: The ESP Series (print)
How to Write EAP Materials (ebook)

Blogging about grammar

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.collins-cobuild-pack-shotMy 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.

Timesaver IELTS Reading

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.

Timesaver IELTS Vocabulary

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.

A talk to start 2017

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!