A brand new blog
– Welcome to the first post on our brand new A to Z blog for ELT materials writers. It might seem a bit strange to have chosen ‘W’ to begin the series, but as we’ll be populating the blog with posts about the other 25 letters of the alphabet, it’s only a temporary oddity.
The writing process
As I started writing, it also occurred to me that it’s apt to begin with a random letter as it mirrors the actual process of materials writing, which is never a linear process and can start at any point. Sometimes we come across an inspiring text or we have an idea for an audio script to recycle some recent language we’ve taught. Both examples then lead to inevitable to’ing and fro’ing as we think of skills and sub-skills, warmers and practice activities, deciding again and again what to add in or what to leave out.
An umbrella term
The second thing that occurred to me is how broad the umbrella term ‘ELT materials’ really is. It covers such a wide range of contexts and focuses, from very young children in Early Years to Adults, from traditional EFL or ESL classroom English to other kinds of contexts such as CLIL, EMI, IGCSE, Academic English, Business English, ESOL, and English for Special Purposes. It includes exam and assessment materials as well as materials for teachers such as lesson plans, Teacher Guides and ‘How to’ articles and videos. That really is a large umbrella.
All teachers are materials writers
As for the people who write and create materials, I’ve never met a teacher who hasn’t made their own at some point. It might be a simple worksheet to cover a trending topic that isn’t in the coursebook or a digital resource like a quiz or a poll to liven up an online lesson. As teachers we are well placed to create tailor-made materials for our very particular contexts.
Strange but true
Given that materials writing is such an important part of what teachers do, it’s also strange how rarely (or never) we receive instruction in how to do it. Most of us use existing materials as models to follow. Up to a point this is fine, but we don’t always notice important features which make published materials work well. When this happens, we are left with materials that work, but materials which could almost always be even better.
This blog series will address many of these features such as how to use numbering effectively or design matters to make your materials look the best they can. We aim to help teachers who create resources for their students but also writers who already publish their work, either for themselves, their institutions, or for publishers.
I have been working as an ELT writer for decades and things are always changing so I’ve been constantly learning and evolving. I’ll be drawing on my experiences to write posts about the nuts and bolts of our craft but also about new trends and considerations. The plan is to create a valuable resource for anyone with an interest in writing ELT materials.
Over to you
What were the very first materials that you created? Can you remember? We’d love to hear. Feel free to comment on the blog or under the social media post where we share the blog link.
Welcome to the A to Z of Writing ELT Materials.
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