New plans for a new year

I wasn’t planning on doing a post to mark the new year, but I’ve read a few really motivating and inspiring ones (such as this one from Karen White) and thought I’d write something briefly. It’s also high time I reignited this blog!

2016 was an interesting year for me in many ways. It was full of some serious highs, like one of my best friends getting engaged, two other friends getting married and successfully completing the Inca Trail with Alex. However, that phenomenal trip to Peru (which I will never regret) also made me really quite poorly, which eventually culminated in a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. P1000743.JPG

Luckily, thanks to a combination of modern medicine, a strict diet and grim determination, I am over the worst of the illness and hope to stay in remission for a long, long time. Far from wanting a pity party, this is why I am resolving to be as healthy and happy as possible in 2017.

This involves the following things – call them resolutions, goals, call them what you will, but this is what I would like to aim for this year:

  • be more mindful: sounds horrendously clichéd but I think this is really important for me. So often I try to do too many things at once, which has recently led to almost getting a parking ticket, almost bumping into cars when reversing in car parks and dropping my new phone and breaking it on Christmas Day. Being more aware of my surroundings will hopefully not only reduce these clumsy occurrences but also mean I appreciate them more.
  • stay in one evening a week at least: related to the above, I frequently book myself up far too far in advance and never have a chance to just sit down with a cup of tea and binge-watch something on Netflix. To be able to be more mindful, I need to stop rushing around so I am going to try and calm down the plans, particularly during the week. (I am also hoping this will become significantly easier once we finally complete on our house and move in!)
  • read more: I have over fifty books on my to-do list, but have been too busy mourning finishing the Millennium series lately to get into something new. I vow to stop sleeping so much on my trains to and from work and use that valuable ‘me’ time to enjoy some non-screen-based prose.
  • finish any projects I start: I have a terrible tendency to have ideas that at least I deem to be good, get excited about them, start them, and then don’t ever quite finish them. A recent example is my attempt to set up a website/blog/eBook for people trying to buy their first property. I really think this could be a great resource so would love to work on it more this year. I also have started to learn Arabic in classes at work, which I am determined to continue, and I would love to continue practising the modern calligraphy I have just taken up for long enough to be able to make (legible and attractive!) cards with it.
  • eat less processed sugar: this will hopefully aid my illness recovery, boost my energy levels and perhaps even slim me down a little…we shall see.

And, as chance would have it, one of my friends from Routledge, who is also a qualified Yoga Health Coach, has invited me to take part in a pilot she’s running of a course she has named ‘Vibrant Living.‘ The plan is that successfully adopting at least some of these 10 habits will help achieve the aims I mentioned above.

There, I’ve said it now. So like Karen suggested, I can come back to this list in December and see how I got on.

Here’s wishing you all health, happiness and lots of success in 2017! Feel free to share your resolutions and goals for the coming year and the very best of luck with them!



Five tips for first-time presenters

I gave my first ever ELT presentation this weekend at the Business English Special Interest Group conference, commonly known as BESIG. I was asked to fill in for someone who dropped out just when the programme was about to be printed so it all happened very quickly, but I would never have applied myself so I tried to make the most of the opportunity. The slot I inherited was (thankfully!) a 30-minute at the end of the day on Saturday. The girl who dropped out was due to talk about something to do with writing in the digital age, so I decided to keep a similar theme and talk about the transition from print to digital in ELT publishing. My title was almost exactly that: ‘Print to digital: the publisher’s perspective.’ I was incredibly nervous beforehand, but was very grateful that lots of friends from my time in Berlin came along to support me, as well as the lovely MaWSIG Committee members, as that made it considerably less overwhelming. The room was almost full and I got a nice round of applause at the end, so I’d like to think it was a success.

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Arabic for beginners

It’s funny how life works sometimes. A few weeks ago, I agonised over the decision about which language course to take at Oxford University’s Language Centre. As an employee of Oxford University Press, we are considered ‘staff’ of the university and are therefore eligible to attend these courses and get a heavy discount on them. I toyed between Advanced Spanish, because I have really neglected my Spanish since graduation; intermediate Italian, because I learnt a lot very quickly at university and have since forgotten even more, and Beginners’ Arabic, because I’ve always been curious to give a completely different language a go.

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My first ever conference presentation

As you may know, I am one of three Events Coordinators for the Special Interest Group for Materials Writers, MaWSIG. We have a ‘strand’ running at the upcoming Business English Special Interest Group (BESIG) conference in Munich this November. One of my Events Coordinator colleagues, Karen Richardson, is based in Germany, so she has been taking the lead on organising everything. However, there was recently a small issue when one of our MaWSIG strand speakers dropped out, leaving a hole in the programme. After some to-ing and fro-ing with our BESIG Committee counterparts as to how best to replace her, I have ended up being offered that slot. So I am now facing the prospect of delivering my first ever conference presentation! My name is on the schedule and there’s no going back. 

As was recommended to me, I took some inspiration from the title of the person’s talk I’m replacing, and came up with the below as my title and blurb:

From print to digital: the publisher’s perspective
How is writing for digital different from writing for print? What kind of differences are often overlooked by materials writers, designers and even publishers? In this talk, I will try to give an insight into what publishers look for in good digital materials, as well as shedding some light on exactly what working in digital publishing means. I will also include a few tips for authors wanting to get more involved in working on digital projects.

I have deliberately kept it quite vague, but time is ticking on now and I need to get cracking!

So, whether you’re a teacher or an ELT writer or just interested in the industry in general, I’d like to ask for any suggestions of material I could cover that may be useful to you. I can’t promise I’ll be able to cover it all, but it’d be interesting to hear what people would like to know. And of course, any tips about presenting for the first time at a conference would be much appreciated!

Why you should get involved with your local teaching association

I started this post months ago and, given that I’m currently off work preparing for a minor little hospital procedure, I thought I might as well finish it! It’s also the kind of blog post that really belongs on my old blog, Berlingo, since it’s directed more at teachers, but since I finished my teaching blog with a farewell post, I’m posting this here instead!

I recently attended two out of the five days of the IATEFL Annual Conference, where I learnt that there are over 100 IATEFL affiliate organisations around the world. On a recent reminisce about my time in Berlin (as it was around this time last year I finished my CELTA and started teaching) I ended up thinking about ELTABB, the IATEFL Associate organisation in Berlin, and reflecting on all the opportunities I got out of that. I thought that listing them here might encourage more teachers to get involved with their equivalent of ELTABB, to really enrich their teaching experience and develop themselves professionally.

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Joining the MaWSIG Committee

I am very excited to share the fact that I was recently elected to be one of three Events Coordinators for the IATEFL Materials Writing Special Interest Group (MaWSIG for short.) This is a volunteer position alongside my day job but one which I’m incredibly excited to get stuck into.

As stated on the website, MaWSIG ‘shares and promotes best practice among authors and materials writers, encourages new authors and disseminates information regarding professional writing opportunities among members’. It’s a professional organisation for teachers, ELT authors and editors alike, and therefore one with links very nicely with my current job in digital ELT publishing.

I first became aware of MaWSIG last year when I was teaching English in Berlin. Through some lucky accidental contacts, I got involved with ELTABB, the Berlin associate of IATEFL. I then became ELTABB’s Social Media Coordinator which led to me getting involved with the Association’s events for the year.  Continue reading

IATEFL Impressions: the 2016 Annual Conference

Where to start?

I attended IATEFL for the first time this year, and although I was only able to attend two out of the five days, I feel like I’m still digesting the experience a week later! I am obviously very new to the world of ELT, and followed the conference avidly online last year. It’s only now that I have witnessed it for myself that I understand why most people in the ELT world love it so much, why people save up for it all year, and why Twitter explodes for the week of the conference.

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The eve of IATEFL

‘Twas the night before IATEFL, and all through the house…

Don’t worry, I’ll stop there!

As I write this, I am sat at the dining room table of my Air BnB host in Birmingham, Edgars. I got up at 4.30 this morning to be able to Park & Ride to work (in Oxford) to enable me to leave at 3.30pm to try and beat the Oxford and Birmingham traffic. I think it largely worked out, because I was outside the hotel where Edgars works just before 6pm, after some fairly traumatic city driving through Birmingham in the heaving rain. All good driving experience though!

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To IATEFL or not to IATEFL?


[Writing this post began in late March 2016]

Thanks to reminiscing apps like TimeHop and Facebook’s ‘memory’ feature, I know that it was about this time last year that I was really finding my feet in the wonderful online world of ELT. I was coming to the end of just over a year working as a Digital Product Manager at Routledge/Taylor & Francis (an academic publishing company) and was therefore tying up lots of loose ends with projects and handover documentation for my successor. I was spending a lot of my free time reading books about ELT in preparation for my CELTA, as well as working through the pre-course material I’d been sent from the Berlin School of English. (Posts about which can be found on my Berlingo blog here.) I had also discovered #ELTchat and was trying to participate every week in these fascinating Twitter chats about topics I often barely understood at the beginning. I was even brave enough to suggest my own topic once, and we ended up talking about how newbie teachers can best prepare themselves for life in the ELT classroom.

Needless to say, I was learning an awful lot about this brave new world I was about to enter.

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New ways of working for new ways of learning – MaWSIG conference, 20th February 2016

On a drizzly Saturday 20th February, I hopped on a rather painfully early train to London to attend the IATEFL Materials Writing Special Interest Group (MaWSIG) conference entitled ‘New ways of working for new ways of learning’. Some friends and colleagues teased me for undertaking work-related activities voluntarily on a Saturday, but I had booked and paid for the conference back when I was still a teacher in Berlin hoping to land a job back in publishing. Now I (somehow!) have said job in publishing, it’s even more relevant so I was really looking forward to a day of interesting talks about English Language Teaching (ELT) and publishing, as well as to meeting some of the many lovely people I have met online over the past year.

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