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BREAKING NEWS: Fiction in Action: Whodunit  has won the 2011 ELTons Cambridge ESOL International Award for Innovation!

Last November, Whodunit was awarded The Duke of Edinburgh's English-Speaking Union English Language Award 2010 in an awards ceremony held at Buckingham Palace. Congratulations Adam! Congratulations Marcos!

An eText through Creative Commons!

Fiction in Action: Whodunit. The world's first ELT eText available through Creative Commons. Click on the cover to find out more.



Working backwards

To the left is a preliminary sketch of Chessa, the dragon who appears in Fiction in Action: Spellbound, Adam Gray's book due out for this autumn. In the case of this book, the text is written first, then drawings are commissioned from the description. But above all the drawing has to work as a drawing. It may be the drawing has to move away from the textual description's non-essential elements in order to work in terms of angles, in terms of look or feeling, in terms of color. As it turns out this preliminary sketch differs from the text in a number of ways. The decision now is how to proceed. Do you stay with the sketch and change the text or vice-versa or do something in-between?  

In the case of a drawing like this, you're working forward from the text and then potentially working backwards to tweak the text. But there are many cases where it's easier to begin by working backwards. Maps are an example that come immediately to mind. Decide the elements/points you need included and draw the map first. Then make your exercise or text based on the map. You can then do some forward tweaking, backward tweaking, until you've got it as you want. But if you start with the text, you can end up with a situation where it's almost impossible to depict a map faithful to the description without substantial change in the text (and as a corollary to this, whatever you do, don't ever, ever go to recording before you're sure that the map needed for the exercise can indeed be drawn!) 


Navel-Gazing Sentences

Clearing up some space behind my desk in the office, discovered some notes I made a few years back... I was playing around and trying to come up with sentences that in addition to having an out-of-sentence reference (the sense in which the sentence would normally be used), could also been seen to have an internal reference to the sentence or some element of it. For better or worse, here is my list of self-referring sentences: 


• When is a question of time.

• It's been contracted.

• He is not objective.

• This does not mean that.

• There is an existential there.

• It's not personal.

• This is a four-letter word.

• You should place some stress on this. 

• This is apt as a simile.

• What is a pronoun?


Anything to add?


Best Kept Secret (from Teaching in Pursuit of Wow!)

Later this year ABAX will be publishing Teaching in Pursuit of Wow! by Tim Murphey. Here's an excerpt:

4 Best Kept Secret 

A teacher I know works enormous hours, with difficult students, large classes, poor materials, and grouchy administrators. Yet, she still has huge amounts of energy. Why? 

Well she does tell people in passing part of her secret, “I love my classes.” But people interpret “classes” as “your subject” when what she actually means is, she’s in love with her students. 

This isn’t romantic love. It’s like the love of a mother for her baby, or of Spielberg for E.T.— a marveling at the wonder of another life grappling with foreign matter, literature, math, or the ABCs. Such teachers have the ability to stand back in class and look at the troublemaker, or the dunce of the class, and fall in love with him or her because they’re trying, or maybe revolting. And when a teacher feels this awe, this respect, it can’t help but be communicated. It comes out of a teacher’s pores, it’s in their energy. And students feel it. Feel that somebody knows they exist, that maybe the subject isn’t the most important thing in the classroom – they are. And then they want to work. The energy multiplies. 

I know it sounds kind of simple, but try it. Whadaya got to lose?  You wanna love your classes? Fall in love with your students. Marvel with  wonder, respect in awe. 

(originally published in the English Teachers Association Switzerland Newsletter; reprinted with permission)



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