Thursday, 9 December 2010

Cambridge English for Marketing - Book of the Month

I know I only use this blog these days either to apologise or to blow my own trumpet, but I can't resist feeling a bit smug. I've just got my latest copy of the EL Gazette and the newest book in my series, Cambridge English for Marketing, is Book of the Month. Excellent.

Here's the review:

Saturday, 27 November 2010

New English360 video

Some time ago, when I got my new job at English360, I promised to explain what it is and how it works. Predictably, I've been far too busy to blog (still am, but I'm hoping to be a lot less busy in the new year), so I never had the time. Fortunately, though, this nice new video has just been released which sums it up pretty neatly.



I'll be back in the new year with solid evidence of the work I've been doing - ten new books, at last count, mostly due out in 2011 - to prove I'm not just a lazy blogger!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

All change ...

Well, so much for 'Good to be back!'.

No sooner had I promised to be a good blogger from now on than I found myself even deeper in deadlines than before. So sorry especially to thise of you who commented during my latest absence. I promise I will respond ... as soon as I get through my latest deadlines.

Actually, my current deadline is a bit artificial - I'm off to Ireland for a week in the middle of nowhere tomorrow, with no internet access, no TV, no nothing. It's going to be great - enforced absence from all my online commitments. But it means I've got to get everything done tonight!!!!!

Anyway, I've called this post 'All change', because I've gone and got myself a new job. I'm now an editor for English 360, which is very exciting (I mean the fact that I got the job - editing itself isn't all that exciting, although I do find it strangely relaxing).

I'll post properly about my new job soon, I promise. (Although, judging by recent performance,'soon' might be a bit of a stretch). In the meantime, you can read my interview with Cleve Miller, the man behind English 360, which I did last year. It's strange how things work out, isn't it!

My other commitments haven't changed. I'm still very much Series Editor of Cambridge English for .... Book six in the series, Cambridge English for Marketing, is out this week, which really is exciting. To find out more, check out Nick Robinson's new blog, English4Marketing. Nick is the author of Cambridge English for Marketing. Again, I'll blog about it properly soon, but I did actually mention it here back in February.

On the subject of new blogs, another great ESP writer, Virginia Allum, has set up a blog called English for Nursing and Health, which should be really useful for teachers of medical English.

Anyway, now Cambridge English for Marketing is out there, it means I'm officially only working on four books at the moment, although there are a few more in the pipeline. Easy life ...

Right, better get on with some work. Thanks for your patience, and hopefully I really will be a more conscientious and reliable blogger one day ... if I can just get these books finished!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Good to be back!

After a month away from the blogosphere, it's good to be back.

 
I've spent the past month (well, longer, to tell the truth) deep in deadline hell. For clarity, let me define deadline hell as 'being badly behind schedule with at least two major projects, such that any time spent on one project inevitably leads to the other one slipping ever further into long-overdueland. And all the time you have to keep ressuring both parties that their deadline is your absolute number one priority. Nasty.

 
The worst thing is that I can't even hint on this blog as to the projects I'm working on. I suppose it wouldn't be giving too much away to say that there are exciting new titles for my series, Cambridge English for ..., on the way. But all I can say about the others is that they're big, exciting (for me at least) and top secret.

 
So, taking my inspiration from Karenne 'n' Maslow's Pyramid of Needs, here's my own set of needs (inverted, so my top priorities are first).

 
1. Mortgage stuff - teaching and other work that pays the mortgage while I'm waiting for the exciting stuff to bear fruit.
2. Deadline stuff - big exciting projects that might make me rich one day, but which probably won't, knowing my luck.
3. Spending a bit of time with my wife and kids, at least so that they remember who I am, but it'd also be nice to spend enough time with them so my kids could at least speak English.
4. Blogging obligations (blogligations?) like writing a post from time to time, responding to the people who've heroically commented on my recent posts and waited ages for a sign of acknowledgement from me, venturing out into the blogosphere to see what other people are up to ...
5. Relax. Watch TV. Go jogging!

 
I've been meeting needs 1, 2 and 3 recently, and I'm almost ready to move to need 4. Need 5 will  have to wait for the summer.

 
So ... last week I met two of my biggest, most overduest deadlines ever (if you can 'meet' such deadlines). Huge relief. And I allowed myself three days with the kids. Very nice. There's still a scary amount of work to do, but it's a lot more under control than it was a week ago.

 
A few highlights from the past month:

 
1. The wonderful IATEFL conference in Harrogate. I was only there for about 48 hours, so not much time to do things. I had two big meetings related to my exciting projects. I gave my joint presentation with Virginia Allum on Results Focused ESP (covering some of the same points as my recent post on English for Nursing). I met up (albeit briefly) with some of my favourite people from the blogosphere/discussion groups. I made some new useful contacts. And I even made it to a couple of sessions (5 in total).

 
My joint session went well. It was my first experience as a joint presenter, but Virginia (nurse, writer and all-round expert on English for Nursing) was very professional and knowledgeable.

 
The nice thing about our session was that it was tweeted live by Karenne, so our audience of around 30 was boosted by about 2000 of Karenne's followers, hanging on her every tweet, no doubt, and all rushing out to buy the books. Possibly. But anyway, much much much appreciated, Karenne.

 
This was my favourite tweet:

 

 
It's true - I felt uneasy last year at the idea of having a unit in English for Nursing Pre-intermediate on dealing with terminally ill patients. You can't include stuff like that in coursebooks ... but then I realised that we absolutely had to include it.

 
The issue of roleplays on difficult subjects also came up in Natasha Jovanovich's great presentation on ESP course design. It was a really thought-provoking session, centred around Natasha's experiences creating a course on English for Human Rights. She'd included some incredibly powerful materials in her course, including a very emotional video about infant mortality and a case study / role-play on abortion rights.

 
As with my nursing course, my first reaction was 'wow - this is a bit too heavy for an ESP course', but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that Natasha was right to include them in this particular course. Human rights advocates and lawyers and specialists need the language to discuss and work with highly emotive issues like these.

 
I might come back to this idea of different people's reactions to roleplays in a later post.

 
The lowlight of the conference for me was losing my bag on the way there, so that I arrived in Harrogate with only my suit on a hanger and the scruffy clothes I'd travelled in. No laptop, no presentation, no shirt, no toothbrush, no memory stick, no phone recharger, no clicker, no printouts of urgent work I was planning to be getting on with, no socks, no shoes ...

 
Fortunately my wife pointed out that I could buy most of those things in shops. Sometimes it takes someone else to point out the obvious - I suppose that's why guys like me need wives. My colleagues from Cambridge provided a copy of my presentation and a laptop, so the only thing that was missing was my shoes (which I couldn't bring myself to buy just for one presentation), so I wore trainers with my suit. Hope no-one noticed. At least Karenne didn't tweet about it:
Of course when I got back to the hotel after the presentation, my bag had arrived, rushed there by courier and now completely unnecessary (apart from my laptop and memory stick, of course).
#specificenglish #iatefl OMG jeremy's trying to be cool in a suit and trainers. LOL!


 
2. (Yes ... this started out as a list of highlights of the past month, remember) The second highlight of the past month was a visit to my business English upper int class from Vernon Ellis, the brand new chair of the British Council, i.e. the new global big big big boss. Vernon Ellis used to be Chairman of Accenture and is also Chairman of the English National Opera. In other words, a very experienced and knowledgeable businessman. And on his first visit to a foreign country on taking over from our previous chair, Neil Kinnock, he came to Poland to see me teaching. Well, that wasn't the main reason for his visit, I suppose. But it was great for my BE students to interview him about his business experience. I might blog about that one of these days too - it was a nice way of spending a class.

 
Anyway, I'm sure there were more than 2 highlights of the past month, but that'll do for now. If I don't finish this post tonight, it'll be the end of April before I get round to it.

 
Right ... I promise to be a good blogger from now on. I'll start working back through the comments and replying. And I'll post a lot more regularly next month. Honest ...

 
Related posts:

Monday, 29 March 2010

English for nursing

I was sitting in the staffroom between lessons this evening and one of the teachers asked the room, 'What's the name of that thing nurses wear on their heads?' No-one seemed to know, and then someone suggested, "Ask Jeremy - he's got two books on English for Nursing".

Well, yes. But there weren't any hats in either book, as far as I remember. Not a priority. As far as I'm concerned, the thing nurses wear on their heads is called a nurse hat. Perhaps a kind reader could fill me in on the proper name, although I'll admit now that I'm not really that worried about not knowing.

The point is this: what do nurses (or any other sets of ESP learners, for that matter) need English for? To explain the various parts of their uniform? Or to deal professionally and symathetically with patients in crises or high-emotion situations and with other medical professionals in situations where accuracy may make the difference between life and death?

In our new book, Cambridge English for Nursing Pre-Intermediate, we teach nurses and nurse trainees how to speak with patients who have suffered embarrassing situations (like incontinence). Just stop for a second and think how you would help someone maintain their dignity in that situation ... and then try doing that in a foreign language ... at pre-int level.

We also teach them how to reassure patients who are about to undergo unpleasant operations, such as having a tube inserted through their nose into their stomach. Again, stop and think for a second how you'd deal with that.

We've got a unit on communicating with terminally ill patients.

Last week I had a phone meeting with Virginia Allum, one of the authors of our nursing books (together with Patricia McGarr). Virginia's a hugely experienced nurse and nurse educator (as well as being a great English teacher and writer). She told me that every single dialogue in both books was based on real situations she'd been through as a nurse. Incontinence, tubes up noses, dying patients, everything. It was quite moving hearing her talking about her experiences, and how absolutely important language skills are - for native speakers as much as for foreign language speakers.

Sometimes they were great experiences where she'd done everything right. Others were based on failures, where she'd later analysed what went wrong and what she should have done.
It's easy to lose sight of the fact that we're talking about real-life situations here. This isn't just about teaching people to talk about their holiday palns or to use future perfect instead of future continuous or whatever. It's about making a real difference to the lives of our students and, in turn, to the lives of the people they'll deal with in English.

As I've said before, the most important person in the classroom may not actually be in the classroom. It may be a patient with a tube up their nose or worse.

I hope users of the books go on to use the language and techniques from them. If, as a result of this book, a patient is treated with extra dignity and tact, is reassured when scared, is listened to when they need to talk ... well, for me, that's what it's all about.


Related posts:

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Financial English ... if such a thing exists

I'll explain my strange title in a minute. This post will be a bit of a mish-mash of my thoughts on financial English. First some background.

 
This time last week I finished a series of presentations around Poland on Financial English. One week, 4 cities, 8 presentations (and I still managed to do two days' teaching too).

 
Why me? Well, a few years ago I was asked by my colleagues at the British Council to prepare 3-hour presentations for the two new Cambridge ESOL exams, ILEC (International Legal English Certificate) and ICFE (International Certificate in Financial English). So I went a bit wild with the Powerpoint and created the presentations - basically talking teachers through the exams, with guidance on how to prepare students for each task in each paper.

 
Then last year I did a tour to promote ILEC around Poland, using a whittled down version of my monster presentation. This year it was ICFE's turn. I had to squeeze my 150-slide masterpiece into 45 minutes. Not an easy task. I actually quite liked the big presentation, so it was quite distressing to have to delete so many slides.

 
The point about the ICFE is that it's an English exam, not a finance exam. It's designed to provide an accurate assessment of a candidate's skills and level of English in a financial context. It doesn't test their knowledge and skills of finance itself. With that important proviso, I think it's a pretty good exam. Maybe one day I'll offer deeper thoughts on ICFE and ILEC.

 
For the ICFE tour, I was also asked to do a second presentation in each city (Wroclaw, Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk), this time on behalf of my other main 'employer', Cambridge University Press. (I should point out that I'm not actually employed by either the BC or CUP, but almost all my work is for one or the other).

 
I was promoting the new CUP Financial English course, called, er, Cambridge Financial English. It's designed as a blended learning course, based on the idea that many finance professionals are busy and stressed and in need of a flexible learning solution.

 
I've never used the materials to teach, but they look excellent. What I like best is the bank of 40 short video clips - a mixture of functional/situational dialogues (i.e. finance people doing their jobs, interacting with colleagues or clients in English) and informational listenings (e.g. news reports, interviews, etc.). The course looks very thorough, professional and useful.

 
I won't explain the whole course now - there's a nice demo video on the website. And I won't try to sell it to you!

 
But I did spot a great business opportunity, which I was very tempted to keep to myself and make a fortune ... if only I had time to exploit it. So here's the lowdown (don't tell anyone).

 
I think the site, http://www.financialenglish.org/, must get a lot of traffic (since it's also the site for the exam, and plenty of finance pros and students are likely to visit). Interested clients go to the site and want to register for the course, so they check the 'list of tuition providers'. And here's what they see:

 

 
Yes ... that's the complete list as of today. One in London and one in Kiev. So my idea was this: I could put the name of my language school here at no cost to myself and wait for the customers to come to me, knocking on the door and desperate to give me their money. No cost, no risk. The only problem is that I don't have my own school, and I don't really have the stomach to set one up and manage one. I prefer writing.

 
Anyway, I promised I wouldn't try to sell you anything (and I swear I'm not being paid to promote the course now), but if you've got a language school or you want to attract customers for financial English, I think this is too good an opportunity to miss.

 
Right ... I promised I'd explain my strange title. You see, I've always felt a bit uneasy about Financial English, and I'm not 100% sure it actually exists. My own main ESP area, legal English, has many grammatical and stylistic features that make it different from all other Englishes, as well as all the specialised vocabulary. The same could be said of Technical English (especially technical writing, i guess), Aviation English, Shipping English, Marketing English (especially the language of advertising). The same goes for Medical English: the skill of speaking with patients in delicate situations is probably unique to that set of professions. (My talk at the IATEFL conference in a couple of weeks is focused on the language nurses use - a fascinating topic that I'll blog about soon).

 
But financial English? Of course there's plenty of jargon. In fact, my main contact with financial English is the Jargonbusters I write twice a month for Professional English Online. (In case you're not familiar with them, they're lesson ideas based around a hot new vocab item, mainly from the world of finance.) So I know all about CoCo bonds, Clawback provisions, Legacy loans, Moral hazard and Quantitative easing, for example.

 
But I also know that finance people don't spend all day discussing terms like these, and that, interesting as they are, they're only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what finance pros need.

 
So what exactly do they need? Hmmm ... here's where I get to my strange title. My gut feeling (based on no evidence whatsoever) is that finance people need lots of generic business skills (speaking, writing, negotiating, reports, meetings, etc.), plus a bit of finance vocab. Of course specific branches of finance, like banking or accounting or insurance or whatever, may have other exciting needs, but I'm thinking about needs that unite the whole spectrum of finance people. And all I can come up with is ... business English in a finance context.

 
Even within a sub-field like banking, surely the front-office staff have radically different language needs from the back-office staff. And those back-office staff in turn will have different needs depending on which particular back office they work in. Retail banking is different from investment banking, which in turn is different from the world of national banks.

 
So my question to you: am I missing something? Does financial English exist or not?

 
Perhaps it doesn't matter to you: of course you can create great courses for your own individual students and groups, and you'll find plenty of language needs so you can prepare great courses. My own crisis comes from my job as an ESP editor: I have to find common threads for each of the ESP fields that are taught in my books, beyond easy things like jargon and generic business skills.

 
Anyway, I'll leave it there. I'd be very interested to hear your opinions, espcially if you have more expereince in financial English than me (not difficult, as I have next to none).

 
Related posts:

Friday, 12 March 2010

A lesson in the psychology of learning languages (part 2)

A week or so ago, I posted the background to a problem that I think all teachers, including ESP materials writers, need to address, namely the psychological barriers that prevent people from using English in real-life situations and that prevent them from admitting they don’t understand.

In this posting, I’ll work through a lesson plan to tackle that problem. I won’t say solve the problem – I wish I had a magic wand, but this is actually one problem we can’t solve for our students – they have to overcome it themselves.

There’s a related linguistic problem which is perhaps easier to solve. They may not actually have the language they need in order to interrupt effectively and check information in English. Let me demonstrate that these aren’t as easy as they sound with another example using me as a case study in how not to do it.

I have two sources of paranoia when I’m in a large group of people speaking Polish and I sit quietly rather than getting involved in the conversation. Firstly, by the time I’ve thought of the right words to say, the conversation has moved on and it’s too late. What I need is the Polish equivalent of “Shut up for a second while I think of what I’m going to say”, which is normally expressed more politely in English as “Could I just say something here?

My second source of paranoia is the panic that even though I understand 90% of what I hear, that 10% might make the difference between success and humiliation. At an integration day at my company several years ago, we had a nice session where we all got musical instruments and the trainer got us to create group music. At one stage, he asked (in Polish) for volunteers to be bell-ringers, so I thought that’d be fine for me and went forward … only to realise, to sniggers from around the room, that he’d put the feminine ending on the word for volunteers … so I made a fool of myself in front of 120 people.

Now, no amount of language could have helped me there, but in smaller gatherings, it’s important to be able to pinpoint misunderstandings. Rather than simply blurt out “I don’t understand”, our students need to be able to ask “Sorry, what exactly do you mean when you say ‘volunteer’?” or “Sorry, you said you’d liked what exactly?

So … so far I’ve got two aims, a psychological one (learner training) about understanding that we all have crises like these and we need to get through them, and a linguistic one of teaching useful phrases.

Before we go any further with the lesson plan, it’s important to note that the aims come first. Very often, we find a good text or video clip, plan some exercises around it, and only then think about aims (to give reading practice, to give speaking practice, to teach some nice vocabulary). Don’t get me wrong, those are all very important aims, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. But as I’ve said elsewhere, they’re not enough. The difference between a course and a series of lessons comes down to the aims you start with.

Once you’ve got aims, the next thing you need is a context. Now, because I’m doing this not actually as part of a course, I have the advantage – or disadvantage – of having the whole range of ESP topics to choose from. I’ll make an arbitrary decision to focus on English for Marketing, since that’s a field I have some knowledge of, and also because our new book, Cambridge English for Marketing, is out in the coming weeks. (Look out for it – it’s great!) And within that field, I’ll go for the marketing budget, simply because I remember there was some tricky vocab there.

OK, so now we can start planning stages. Since we’re actually teaching something in this lesson, I think we need an input stage, an analysis stage and an output stage. You could call that presentation-practice-production if you like, but I prefer my own names for the stages, which I think are better descriptors.

What could we do about input? Well, we really need to see or hear some characters doing things badly and/or well, in order to provoke some good discussion and also to model the language for later. I’m going to use Xtranormal for this. I’ve never used it before, but I’ve been very impressed when I’ve seen others use it. I hope it works for me.

Anyway, here’s a dialogue to illustrate how not to do it. I’ll show you the second part in a moment.



Remember, my aim here isn’t to give listening practice, so I think this is a very valid way of presenting a script. For more ideas on this sort of listening activity, see this posting.

I’d better point out at this stage that I’m building a toy lesson. If this were a real lesson with real students in mind, I’d check my facts more carefully and probably make the dialogues longer. But I just want to talk you through the stages in the process here.

So … we’ve got some dialogues. Time to start lesson-building. Three rules are worth remembering at this point. Firstly, personalise. So start with a discussion lead-in based on your students’ experiences … of what, though?

The second rule is: content before language. The language focus (as well as the learner training) will come after the listening. At the beginning, we need to focus on the story – what they’re discussing in the dialogue, in this case, marketing budgets.

The third rule: contextualise. Before we listen, we need to have a good idea of what we’re listening to and why.

So let’s start with a lead-in discussion:
- Have you ever been involved in planning a marketing budget?
- What did you do?
- If you haven’t, what stages do you think it involves?
- What different approaches might there be?
- How difficult would it be to get the relevant information?

And so on.

It’d be good here to do some work on the theory of marketing budgets, such as matching six popular approaches with explanations. This is actually a task in our Marketing book, so I’ll leave you read up on it here.

Now we need a first listening task. We’ve already personalised and contextualised to some extent, so we can focus on the actual interaction here. Perhaps first get students to predict who the two people might be, at what stage in the development plan they should discuss the budget, which approach they should choose and what sort of data they’d need to collect. Then watch the clip to compare it with their ideas. I nearly said ‘watch to check’, but that would imply that my answers are somehow more valid than theirs, which is unlikely given that they’re probably marketing pros and I’m an English teacher who’s making it up as he goes along.

Lead-in, predict answers, watch to compare.

Now we’re ready for the meat. At the end of the clip, the woman asks ‘What’s the problem?’, so let’s turn that into a class discussion. This is where all my psychology comes in (see my previous article). Get them to tell anecdotes about times they sat in silence instead of admitting a lack of understanding, or share your own stories of foreign language paranoia (or you could tell them some of mine). I won’t go too deeply into the discussion for two reasons. Firstly, this kind of open-ended discussion can’t really be planned too deeply – as long as you know the key points you want to cover (see my article), you’ll be fine. Secondly, I’ve got another lesson on exactly this topic, which I wrote some time ago for Professional English Online. It’s not been published yet, so I don’t wan to pre-empt it, and in the meantime I don’t see much point in reinventing the wheel.

OK, now we’re ready for language work, so we’d better watch the second clip. But … remembering the rule about content before language, we need comprehension questions first.

How about these:

1. When the woman talked about competitive parity, what did the man think she was saying?

2. Why did the woman start talking about golf?

3. Why did the woman talk about the standard of his work?

4. What exactly is competitive parity?



Right. Now we really are ready for the language work. An old favourite here is a gapfill. Students predict what could go in each space and then watch again to check. Here are the gapped sentences.

I’m sorry. I don’t know _____ _____ _____ _____ the word ‘party’ in this context.

I’m sorry. I don’t know _____ _____ _____ _____. I don’t play golf.

_____ _____ _____ there’s something wrong with my work?

I’m afraid I still _____ _____ _____.


Now we can elicit some more ways of checking information, of pinpointing the exact word that’s causing problems. Perhaps we could also focus on the language the woman uses to explain the concepts. Also, I haven’t done anything on interrupting and all those other functions I mentioned at the beginning – let’s save those for next time and do them properly.

Perhaps there’s room here too for another discussion: in both parts, the man looked a bit stupid. But in which part did he look more stupid? In which part did he overcome the problem?

Then we just need a role-play to bring it all together. You could follow my procedure for instant role-plays (here), but make sure you elicit before you start some really tricky vocab that can serve as the focus of the role-play. (But remember my lesson when this policy went wrong). Tell students they have to use the techniques and language from this lesson (including phrases that they generated themselves).

So students do the role-plays in pairs. Perhaps they could swap roles and do it again. A nice bit of feedback and discussion. Homework: use the techniques and language at work some time before the next lesson and be ready to tell us how you got on.

The end. Simple as that. Try it out, let me know if it works or falls flat, or if you improve my rough ideas into a polished lesson. Good luck.

Related posts:
A lesson in the psychology of learning languages (part 1)
Listening: What’s the aim? (part 2)
Instant role-pays

Saturday, 27 February 2010

A lesson in the psychology of learning languages (part 1)

This post is in response to a blog carnival hosted by Kalinago English. The theme of the carnival is LESSONS, but I thought rather than providing a lesson plan here, I’d tell you a lesson I learnt while observing a lesson. Actually, I’m not sure that’s allowed – the rules of the carnival say it has to be a lesson plan (bah!), so I’ll have to follow this up with part 2, a lesson plan based on the lesson I learnt during that lesson I observed, if that makes any sense.

The lesson was a bit unusual. I was at the European Patent Academy (EPA) in Munich to learn about patents – how to apply for one and how to fight for or against one in the event of a dispute. The idea was that I’d then use this knowledge while writing a new course for the British Council, English for European Patent Attorneys, sponsored by the European Patent Office (EPO). For more on my experiences with that course, see my article on needs, wants and lacks here.

Anyway, the lesson. I was watching a group of trainee patent attorneys preparing for their EPA exams. The trainees were French, but the lesson was in English. The lesson involved a letter from a client, of which the following is a fragment:
Two weeks before mention of grant in the bulletin we filed third party observations in view of annex 5. Our remarks were ignored. Should we argue that the first examiner will be biased against us?
The discussion went something like this:
Professor: Any thoughts?
Class: [Silence]
Prof: Come on … it’s not difficult. What do you know about third party observations?
Clever student 1: They’re not binding, sir. According to protocol XYZ dated blah blah blah … [OK, so I don’t remember the details, but you get the idea]
Prof: Excellent. So … was the examiner biased or not?
Class: [silence]
Prof (getting exasperated): Look … the third party observation isn’t binding … is the examiner biased or not?
Class: [silence]
Prof: OK, here’s an easy question. Why were the remarks ignored?
Clever student 2: Because everything’s frozen. It’s frozen 7 weeks before mention of a grant.
Prof: (relieved) Absolutely. So there’s the answer. Third party observations aren’t binding, so the examiner doesn’t have to act on them. Everything is frozen anyway, so it won’t make any difference. There’s nothing the examiner can do. So is he biased?
Class: [silence]





Sheepish student 3: Sorry, sir. Could explain what ‘biased’ means?
What did I learn? A few things, actually.

Firstly, and least interestingly, we must teach vocab, vocab, vocab.

Secondly, never assume. Never assume they understand, even if they are nodding their heads and pretending to understand.

Thirdly, and most importantly, a significant part of teaching and learning English has nothing to do with language. It’s about psychology. I’ll give you a couple more examples and then explain more.

I used to teach a successful Polish businesswoman, deputy head of accounts in a large factory (owned by Germans). Her English was fine in class – strong upper intermediate. But she was afraid of speaking English at work, so she always had a translator or relied on her boss in important meetings. She was terrified of making mistakes and looking stupid, but the irony was that her solution made her look much less competent (both in English and in business) than she actually was.

Her boss had no idea how good her English was, because he never heard it. As far as he knew, all the money and time that was going into her English lessons was being wasted because she still couldn’t string a sentence together. Except, of course, that she could.

So the focus of my lessons ended up being on psychology – trying to break down the barrier that was stopping her from speaking English in public.

Another situation: another Polish student in another factory complained that he was embarrassed by his English and intimidated by the wonderful English spoken by his boss, an Argentinean. Well, it’s hardly surprising his boss sounded impressive – about half of English’s sophisticated vocabulary is the same in Spanish. And the Spanish tense system and rules for articles are far more similar to Spanish than they are to Polish.

And you know what … I also taught the Argentinean boss. And he too was intimidated by his own boss’s English. His boss, a German-speaker, used wonderful phrasal verbs and really sophisticated grammar all the time. Again, no surprise there, since there are really close parallels there between English and German.

Now, I didn’t teach the boss’s boss, unfortunately, so the last part of the triangle is pure speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the German speaker had also been intimidated by the wonderful English intonation of some of the Poles in the factory. Again, nothing odd there – speakers of different first languages all have different strengths and weaknesses in English.

But human nature is such that we tend to focus on things that others can do and we can’t. My Polish students once told me they were impressed that the German speaking big boss seemed to use present perfect all the time. But that was actually his problem – he really did use it all the time, and was probably impressed that the Poles used past simple all the time.

One last example. Many years ago, I was part of a team of half a dozen native-speaker English teachers based in a cigarette factory. We were all around post-beginner level with our Polish, so we clubbed together to get ourselves a teacher. (There were no organised lessons in that place at that time. Courses in Polish for foreigners are still a bit of a rarity, and were much more so back in those days).

I remember sitting in our training room (a pub) with all the other teachers, listening to the teacher speaking much too fast, and barely understanding more than half the words in each sentence. It kind of made some sense at the word-level, but I had no idea what he was talking about at the sentence-level. Word soup. But all the other teachers on either side of me were nodding confidently and smiling and laughing at his jokes. I felt a bit foolish and … intimidated. So I did what everyone else was doing, in the hope no-one would notice I was bluffing.

But then the word soup stopped suddenly and I realised he had asked me a question. I was completely destroyed, and had to admit it had all been a bluff. The teacher was a bit taken aback, and asked the next teacher … who, it turned out, had also been bluffing. And so on round the whole group. We’d all been doing it. A group of professional teachers who really should have known better, all pretending to understand.

Soooo … What I’m trying to say is this: the most important lesson many (but not all) of our students will ever learn is how to break down the barrier that stops them from speaking in English in public, and stops them asking for clarification or help when they don’t understand something.

That’s what I mean about psychology. If we understand what causes that barrier, we can help our students to understand it. Four important things we can teach our students:

(1) Most people suffer from this barrier but most people hide it – all those nodding heads may just be bluffs.

(2) If you try to avoid looking stupid by avoiding speaking, you end up looking far more stupid. And failing to do your job properly. (And making your English teacher look incompetent, I might add.

(3) We’re all intimidated by what other can do that we can’t, but we must remember that other people are probably intimidated by us! It might even be the same people! We tend not to notice the things that we can do (that others can’t) – again, because most people are so good at hiding their weaknesses and insecurities.

(4) As a bilingual speaker of English, it is absolutely ridiculous to feel intimidated by monolingual native speakers. If you’ve made the effort to learn and use their language, the least they can do in return is to use non-idiomatic vocabulary and to pronounce things properly. If they fail to communicate successfully, that’s their failure, not yours. No need to feel ashamed.

So, yes, we need to be a counsellor, a therapist, a life coach, a shrink, to persuade our students to go for it, to take risks. And of course we also need to teach them some language strategies and useful phrases for interrupting, for clarifying, for pinpointing specific problems (and not just saying ‘I don’t undertsand’) and for managing the conversation (including getting the other person to speak more slowly or clearly).

And when I get time, I’ll turn all of that into a lesson and post it here …


Related posts:
First steps in course design 
Thoughts on blogging 
Needs, lacks and wants

Sunday, 21 February 2010

My first and worst legal English lesson

We all have bad lessons from time to time, and I've certainly had my share of truly dreadful ones. My top five would definitely include my first lesson on the CTEFLA course (shaking like a leaf) and the last one (when I was told it would have to be perfect or else I'd fail the course ... and it was even worse than the first one).

I'd also have to include my first lesson with teenagers, having taught adults confidently for seven years, I was totally unprepared for their lack of interest in my lesson). And my first - and last - lesson with little kiddies. That's one I've blanked completely from my memory. Never again. Ooooh no.

And then there was my first lesson with lawyers. (Apologies if you've heard my story before - I guess I'm a bit hung up on it).

I'd been asked to write a legal English course for the British Council to prepare students for a new exam, TOLES Advanced. For lesson 1, I'd created a Starter Unit, a kind of get-to-know-you, get-to-know-the-exam lesson.

So there I was, facing a pack of 12 highly intelligent and demanding students who had paid a lot of money to learn from me ... A recipe for disaster.

One of my exercises involved students working in pairs to come up with examples of legal English vocabulary - the idea being that they could share their expertise with each other and I'd facilitate it and it'd all be nice and collaborative. A five-minute throwaway activity.

Problem was, my round-up activity generated more questions than answers, and I was totally out of my depth. For exmple, the students wanted me to explain the difference - the legal difference - between renting, letting and leasing. They wanted me to tell them how to pronounce pupillage (rhyming with village or camauflage?). Is it HARRassment or haRASSment? And so on and so on.

All I could do was write the problem words up on the board and bleat that I'd deal with them all in the next lesson. But every word that went onto the board seemed to generate another half dozen. It was awful. My students could see me for what I was, a clueless fraud, and I just wanted the floor to swallow me up.

Here's a selection of the words I was expected to explain or to pronounce and couldn't (or rather, not to a group of professionals):


Somehow I made it to the end of the lesson.

Anyway, before the next lesson I spent a few hours crashing round the internet, finding the answers to all those questions. In case you aren't familiar with OneLook.com, I heartily recommend it for tasks like this. It has links to all the online dictionaries, so you can be sure to find a specialist or generalist explanation of just about any word, plus pronunciation, etymology, everything. Usually.

As an example, I searched for "escrow" (any guesses how to pronounce that one?) and was offered 58 dictionaries, including one from law.com's great dictionary. And Encarta, where I heard it pronounced. (I know I could also subscribe to TransLegal's new dictionary, which has all the information I could possibly want on legal English vocab. But I'm too mean.)


Then I turned it all into a worksheet, or rather two worksheets, one for each of the next two lessons - there was too much to cover in one lesson. Here's the first one - sorry it's too small to read, and also my IPA has become Greek for some reason. But you get the idea.


And somehow I got away with it. I started my second lesson with a warmer to match the words with the definitions - using my old cut-up-slips-of-paper trick. And it was good fun. I was able to explain the subtle differences, with help from other students. And the students learnt something that they didn't know before. And the rest of the course went fine. Phew!

But ... I learnt never to expose myself to such a situation again. As an ESP teacher, take control of what's going to come up in lessons and what your students are likely to ask you to explain. Open-ended vocab generation exercises are bound to end in tears, unless you really know most of the vocab already. Open-ended discussions are great, though - if you're left with four or five tricky items to come back to next lesson, I'd say that's healthy. Any more than that, and you're in trouble.

Anyway, the point of this post, if there is one, is to reassure teachers who are considering going into ESP (like my new friend Neil, for example), that although it can be scary, with a bit of common sense - and learning from others' mistakes - it's actually not too bad. Lesson 1 may be a disaster, but as long as lessons 2 and 3 are better, you're on your way to becoming a great ESP teacher.

Related posts:

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Free online teacher's notes

This is a post I wrote back in early December, in a hotel room in Klagenfurt, Austria. I didn't have an internet connection there, so this post has been sitting on my computer since then, waiting for me to have time to tidy it up. Well, I still don't have time, but ... here's the post.

If you’re wondering why I’ve been a bit quiet recently on the old blog (don’t say you didn’t even notice!), it’s because I’ve been working flat out writing a teacher’s book for our new course book, Cambridge English for Marketing. I finally got my teacher’s notes finished and sent on Monday this week, which was a huge relief. Now I can start dealing with all the other urgent jobs that I’d had to ignore while I was trying to stay focused on the big job.

The student’s book itself is due out in early 2010, and, as you can see, the author is Nick Robinson, who also has the honour of being the first follower of this blog. I’ll write more about the new book soon, but I wanted to talk here about teacher’s books, specifically the free online ones that we’ve made available for the Cambridge English for … series.

I’ve always been a bit dismissive of teacher’s books. So many of them just provide obvious instructions and not much more. Like many teachers, I gave up using them years ago. So when I was asked to write the teacher’s book for International Legal English, I wanted to do it properly, and create a resource that would really make a difference to the teacher’s experience in the classroom (and, by extension, the student’s experience).

Since then, I’ve been a bit less dismissive of teacher’s books (especially ones I’ve written myself), but I know many other teachers still don’t bother with them. I think in ESP that’s something you can’t afford to do, especially if you’re fairly new to either the ESP topic or to teaching. I’m not saying all teacher’s books for ESP courses are excellent, but in general I think this is one area where teacher’s notes come into their own.

I’m writing this from a hotel in Klagenfurt, Austria, where I’ve just been doing some teacher training on two of the original books in my series. This morning I was showing a group of teachers Cambridge English for Engineering, and then after a break I moved on to Cambridge English for Nursing.

My brief for today’s training sessions was to explain a bit of background to the series and these two books in particular, and then walk the audience through a unit of each, making full use of the materials in the online teacher’s notes.

When I checked those notes, which are available for free download here and here, I was a little bit blown away by how good they are. That’s not just me blowing my own trumpet. Even though I’m series editor, I was involved only peripherally in the teacher’s notes for those two titles – most of the editing work was done by my friend Sara Harden (who I’m delighted to see is one of the newest followers of this blog).

And of course the writing work was done by the course book writers themselves. I only wrote one of the original sets of teacher’s notes, for Cambridge English for the Media. The other three were written by the same people who wrote the student’s books.

Anyway, as I was saying, there’s some great stuff available online, and it’s all free to download and use. Here’s a screenshot from the Cambridge English for Nursing site.


As you can see, in the top left-hand corner there’s a complete glossary (with audio recordings of every word), a list of abbreviations, a text on medical technology for every unit and vocabulary games for every unit. The teacher’s notes themselves contain instructions for teachers, answers, suggestions for extra activities and background information. Actually, I think the background information is the best part of the teacher’s notes – if you read them carefully and follow the links, you’ll be much much better prepared for teaching nurses.

The notes for Cambridge English for Engineering are also really excellent.

The screenshot shows only two things in the top left-hand corner, the teacher’s notes themselves and a series of case studies, but that doesn’t mean there’s less content. It’s just that more of the content is integrated into the teacher’s notes. So we have around three or four extra worksheets per unit, plus lists of useful vocabulary and background notes with web links. Plus of course all the ideas for little extra activities.

I could go on … I’ll tell you more about what I wrote for the teacher’s notes for Cambridge English for the Media and Cambridge English for Marketing another time, but suffice to say I put a lot of thought and effort into both of them. And of course Colm Downe’s teacher’s notes for Cambridge English for Jobhunting are also excellent.

So … what are you waiting for? Did I mention that they’re free? Check them out, and I hope you find them as useful as I do.

PS I think all that work on the teacher’s notes for Cambridge English for Marketing must have had a bad effect on me. One of the sections was on SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing), and I’ve also spent weeks crashing round tons of marketing websites from Google searches, where the sites that come top of the search are the ones that use these techniques best. And now I’m doing it … look how many times I mentioned my series above. Not healthy …

Related posts:

Friday, 5 February 2010

Listening: What's the aim? (part 2)

In a posting last year, I listed what I consider to be five valid aims for listening tasks in ESP courses. To recap, these are:  
  1. To provide listening practice.
  2. To teach listening skills.
  3. To provide an interesting topic for discussion.
  4. To present useful language in context.
  5. To serve as a model for speaking activities (and, by extension, for real-life situations).
In that posting, I tried to deal with aims 1 and 2, and I promised I'd come back to the meatier ones later. So here goes with aim 5.

What about 3 and 4, I hear you cry? Well, aim 5 happens to be the one that was very prominent in my ESP Consultancy in Cyprus last week, so I thought I'd deal with it while it's fresh in my mind.

So ... listening as a model for speaking activities. It's a bit of an odd aim, since it's not really a listening aim at all. But here's why I think it's important:
  • I believe a key part of ESP is situational, i.e. training learners to cope with real-life situations that they are likely to encounter and that are likely to cause them problems in their professional lives.
  • If we're going to train them for those situations, we need to provide functional language input and opportunities to practise in controlled and less controlled activities.
  • Rather than providing that functional language input in isolation and out of context, I believe we need to provide good models of successful communication in those situations. The models should include not just useful language, but also communication strategies (e.g. the importance of interrupting or clarifying) and professional skills (e.g. active listening or empathy skills).
  • The models can be presented as a written script, but it's far more satisfying to hear people actually acting out that script, or even watch them on video or live.
Before I go any further, I need to say that of course there's far far more to ESP than that, and that teaching functional language is not the be all and end all. It's a messy business, as I'll explain in another post soon.

Anyway, if you're with me so far, we need scripts and we need them to be performed. Tricky. There are three potential sources.

Firstly and ideally, we'd find a ready-made script tailored to our students' needs somewhere in a coursebook. That's actually one of the big reasons my own books are so full of listenings and situational dialogues - because I think they're important and because I think they're hard for ESP teachers to find or create by themselves.

Secondly, we'd find some useful clips online. This is actually quite tough, even in these days of YouTube. It seems most of the videos you can find online seem to be non-situational, i.e. they don't represent the sorts of situations our learners are likely to find themselves in. There are plenty of interviews with experts, plenty of talking-head monologues, plenty of clips with not much useful language at all ...

But you can find them if you try. A year or so ago I set myself the challenge of finding something on YouTube for each of the first four books in my series. This was a bit superfluous, since I already had all the scripts I could want for those four areas in the books themselves, but it seemed like a reasonable challenge. Here are the results.

For Nursing, I found a clip from a BBC drama series, Casualty, which is about doctors and nurses in a hospital. I can't say I've watched the programme (I'm not one for TV dramas, I'm afraid), but it's worth remembering that there are plenty of dramas around. Of course, you might not find a drama series relevant to your ESP learners, but it's worth a try.

For Engineering, I searched YouTube for "cool engineering demonstration", and found this one, which indeed is really cool. The point is, the presenter is using the same type of language that real life engineers need to use when explaining their gadgets. There seem to be plenty of light entertainment programmes with engineers explaining things too, like Robot Wars and Brainiac (search YouTube if you haven't seem them - they're nerdy but excellent).

For Jobhunting, I searched for "funny job interview", and found all sorts of examples, including one from Monty Python, but the one I chose was a brilliant interview for a job with a box manufacturer ... which has been removed from YouTube. Shame. Anyway, here's another one. Comedy series in general are great for how-not-to-do-it, and often contain some great functional language, although the really funny ones always seem to contain some strong language (which I'll leave you to discover).

To help me get over my disappointment at finding my favourite Jobhunting video missing and the other good ones full of swearing, here's another great ESP/HR video from Big Train, this time about losing a job.

Finally, for English for the Media, I wanted to find an example of a debriefing meeting at a TV company, and came across this clip from a fly-on-the-wall documentary. Again, documentaries can be a great source of authentic situational language.

So ... there's stuff there if you look hard enough for it, but ... it's a bit hit and miss. There's no guarantee the clips you find will match your course aims in terms of content and target functional language. And of course there's the next problem: transcribing the useful language and making exercises out of it. I've tried that a few times recently, such as this lesson on recycling televisions - useful for engineers explaining what's happening in different parts of a factory, etc. But it's hard work.

So I'm coming to the conclusion that it's better to write and record your own scripts ... which is the long-awaited "thirdly" in my list of three sources. But that creates its own problems. And since it's now very nearly midnight, I'll have to save that for another post.

Related posts:

Friday, 29 January 2010

ESP Consultancy, Cyprus

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Nicosia in northern Cyprus, where I've just finished a week's consultancy on ESP course design. It's been a fantastic experience, and hopefully useful for the teachers I've been working with. ESP course design is usually a solitary job that I do by myself on the computer. Even my editing work is almost all done via email, so it's been amazing to actually manage a team creating a course out of nothing. 

On Monday, we worked through a very impressive needs analysis that one of the participants, Serif, had done with the potential students - middle managers from two ministries. In case any of you are unfamiliar with the situation in northern Cyprus, the taxi driver put it well when I arrived: "It's complicated". The island has been divided into a Greek-speaking south and a Turkish-speaking north since 1974, as has the capital city, Nicosia. The northern part of the island has been very isolated from the outside world, and the border has only been open for a couple of years, after the two sides came fairly close to reaching an agreement on reunification.

The reason I'm talking about this is not to get involved in the political rights and wrongs of the situation - it's far too complicated for me to have an opinion. But what's interesting is that the two sides mainly have to use English to communicate with each other - Greek/Turkish bilingualism is much less common than it was before the split. So in order to negotiate and make progress on settling this issue, the governments have to speak to each other. In English. And the Turkish-speaking side is taught English by the teachers I've been working with this week. Which is why those teachers need to know how to write ESP courses.

So although my work this week is insignificant on the grand scale of things, it's nice to think it's at least making a tiny contribution to getting people talking to each other.

Or am I getting carried away?

Anyway, over the course of the week, we got an incredible amount of work done - it was like being the manager of an ESP factory. There was a real sense of energy and teamwork. The courses are still a long way from being finished - even an ESP factory can't work that fast, but it was still enormously satisfying.

So I'm feeling tired but happy. The people I've met here have been incredibly kind and enthusiastic.

Now I've got to go back to the Polish winter tonight. I took this photo on my phone in the taxi on the way to Warsaw airport on Sunday night, to prove that the temperature really was minus 18. (It actually got even colder while I was away).

And here's a photo I took a couple of days later in Nicosia. 21 degrees in January. Lovely. Ah, it's hard work being a consultant!

Related posts:

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Wordlists in ESP

I spent most of yesterday creating a wordlist for one of the books in my series, Cambridge English for the Media. I should be working on the wordlist right now too, but I needed a break. Creating a wordlist isn't exactly exciting. But it's important, I think.

Just to clarify, a wordlist is simply a list of words that apear in a course. There's one at the back of International Legal English, for example, with all the key terms defined in alphabetical order. (OK, so it's called a Glossary there, but you could equally call it a mini-dictionary). My students use it all the time, especially when they want to check my dodgy explanation of a tricky word. Here in Poland, we're lucky to have a bilingual version, which you can download for free from the Cambridge website (which also has plenty of other great wordlists).

There's another wordlist in the workbook for Business Benchmark. Yesterday, one of my students used it to demonstrate that my explanation or agent and distributor had things the wrong way round.

A different approach is to put the wordlist online, as we're doing with my series. For example, there's a unit-by-unit set of wordlists for Cambridge English for Nursing. The advantage here is that space is less of an issue. Even more importantly, you can listen to all the pronunciations by clicking on the icon on the pdf. (Before you print it out, I mean - technology's still not ready for that to work with the printouts). That's a huge benefit with all that hard-to-pronounce medical terminology. If you've ever wondered how to pronounce dyspnoea, apnoeoa and tachypnoea, check out the wordlist for unit 2. Again, there's a bilingual version on the Polish website ... perhaps your local Cambridge website also has a blingual version.

So what can you do with all these wordlists? Well, most obviously, you can use them as a reference, as my business student did last night. Students can also use them to manage their vocab learning. A student preparing for the ILEC exam (International Legal English Certificate) could learn 10 words a day from the wordlist and thereby (sorry) master the whole list in around a month ... and then use these words in his/her exam. Or in real life, of course.

As a teaching tool, they're also really useful. I've already mentioned my cut-up-bits-of-paper game on this blog. That's so easy to do with a printed out wordlist.

I mainly use wordlists to play "blockbusters", a teaching classic that I'm sure many teachers already use. For those of you who don't know it, you have a honeycomb grid, with a letter in each block.





There are two teams, reds and blues. Choose a letter to start with, and read the definition for a word starting with that letter. If students know the answer, they put up their hands (no shouting out, please!). If it's correct, it goes their colour and they can choose the next letter. The aim is for the reds to make a connection from top to bottom and the blues to connect side to side. They can go any route they choose, as long as they end up making the connection. Of course, they end up blocking each other, which is why it's called blockbusters. Good fun ... and of course it's just a vocab test in disguise.

(By the way, I have wonderful interactive whtieboards to make it look great, but I played it for years on ordinary whiteboards and flipcharts - just draw a grid and away you go.)

There's a shorter version of the game too, which doesn't involve a grid. Again, teams (not necessarily two teams) ask for letters to get definitions of words starting with that letter. If they get it right, write that letter on the board in that team's column, and they can choose the next letter. The aim now is to collect enough letters to make a word ... probably best if it's more than 3 letters long. Ideally, the word should be connected, however tenuously, to their ESP field, but that's up to you to decide.

One complication: some letters might not have many words starting with them. My legal English students soon work out that Q always leads to quorum, so they don't wait to hear the question. In that case (and also with Z and X), tell them you're going to ask for a word starting with, say, S, but if they get it right, they still get the letter they asked for. This allows you to focus on words you want to test, rather than the same words over and over again.

Anyway, I could go on all day - I'm really into vocab revision, but this wordlist isn't going to write itself ... I'll let you know when it appears on the site.

Related posts:
Vocabulary revision with a table and a guillotine
Fun with contracts
What do words actually mean?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Two approaches to ESP course design

Another brief posting ...

There are basically two types of ESP courses, which we might call English-through and English-for

English-through means teaching English through the lens of an ESP field. The aim of the course is to bump your students up to a higher level of global language proficiency (e.g. from CEF level B2 to C1). That means teaching all the grammar, vocab and pronunciation that all other language learners have to study. And making sure your students understand the language structures at that level and can use them as well as others of the same level. It also means working on the four skills - to improve reading speed and listening comprehension, spoken confidence and written style. All that sort of thing.

In other words, it's just like any other English course. The only difference is that everything is done in the context of the ESP field. So you teach present perfect through examples from that field and practise it with a field-relevant role-play, or whatever. You work on their reading skills by giving them increasingly challenging things to do with texts about their field. The ESP field exists in the the course primarily as a means of keeping the course interesting and relevant. If you work in finance, for example, you might get more out of a report-writing task on the causes of the credit crunch than on the pros and cons of fox hunting. Or whatever.

English-for is different. This type of course focuses specifically on the language and skills that are directly relevant to your students' present and future work situations. It's all needs-based. Crucially, it ignores the non-essential language or skills and focuses exclusively on the target language. So if Nurse X never has to write reports for work in English, it doesn't need to be in his/her course. If Engineer Y only ever has to read and write technical English, and never needs to speak, why worry about his/her fluency or pronunciation?

In many ways, English-for is more short-term. It's about giving the students the language they need right now to do their job. Longer-term things, like what they'll need English for in 5 years, is not a priority.

Now, of course in real life, we tend to mix and match - I can't imagine many courses fit the extremes as I've portrayed them. But I think it's important to plan, right from the start, what sort of ESP course you're creating, (mainly) English-through or (mainly) English-for. Which would be more useful for your students right now and in the long run?

English-through courses are quite easy to create. You basically get your syllabus - created by you, the language expert - and find materials to fit it. OK, that's not exactly a piece of cake, but it's doable.

English-for courses are much more challenging for the course designer. You need to get a really deep knowledge of your students' field and somehow find out what language and skills they will need in their jobs. You can find out a lot by asking them, but very often they themselves don't know what they need until it's too late. Very tricky.

(That's one of the big reasons, by the way, why the books in my series, Cambridge English for ..., focus much more on this tricky side - to save teachers the hellish job (or at least reduce it) of finding out for themselves what language people need in particular professions. But I didn't plan this post as an advert for the series, so I'll stop going on about it!)

Anyway, I've got my terminology now, so I'll probably use those labels in other posts too. I'm sure I'm not the first person to come up with the distinction, but I wonder if anyone's used the labels before ...

Related posts: