Oxford Grammar 360°

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.

Ox Grammar 360

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 😉

Introducing the new Oxford word lists

OUP vocab graphic

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.

English UK conference, London

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.

english uk jan 19

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

A career in language: Goldsmiths, University of London

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

MaWSIG/Oxford Brookes

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.


I recently had a fascinating and inspiring few days at the Inter-Varietal Corpus Studies (IVACS) conference in beautiful Valletta, Malta, mingling with corpus linguists of various stripes and stretching my grey matter, trying to relate all kinds of corpus research findings to my own contexts.


I’ve written up a summary of my own talk here and put together some reflections on the other sessions here.