Inside Writing hits the shelves!

My latest textbook project, Inside Writing from Oxford University Press has just been published. I helped design the pedagogy for this innovative writing textbook series, and I co-authored books 2 and 4 with the fabulous Jenny Bixby. The books look amazing (we love our editors and designers!), and we have exciting plans to launch the series in the fall, so stay tuned. I’ve put up a page with more details, or you can see the whole series on OUP’s website.

Inside Writing takes a genre-based approach to teaching ESL writing, rather than the usual sentence–paragraph—short essay–5-paragraph essay progression, and is full of useful vocabulary and grammar. Each unit teaches a different genre, so students learn to use and manipulate the rhetorical modes (narrative, description, explanation, comparison, argumentation, etc.) in realistic contexts and in multiple formats (essays, letters, web pages, discussion boards, test questions, etc.). We’re really excited to see this series in print — take a look and let me know what you think!

How many tenses do students need to learn?

In my column in this month’s Cambridge Grammar Newsletter, I argue that the magic number is 3.

OK, so I know I’m playing fast and loose with the word tense, and many linguists would argue that there are only two (past and present), possibly three if you allow the future to squeak in. But I’m using tense in the way most teachers and students (and textbooks!) understand it, as time + aspect (so present simple, past simple, present perfect, and … well that’s all you need anyway).

Any suggestions for future columns?

Consortium on Graduate Communication

For the past few years, a growing group of teachers and administrators have gathered at TESOL around sessions presented by Chris Feak and/or me, and we’ve bemoaned the lack of time and space to discuss teaching written and oral communication skills to (post-)graduate students.* This year, we have decided to take the next step and create a new professional community, the Consortium on Graduate Communication. Our group will provide online and face-to-face opportunities to share resources, investigate program models, and collaborate on research into this vital area of higher education.

Membership is free for now. Anyone who works with graduate students is welcome to join by completing this survey. The middle part of the survey doubles as a research project to create a database of graduate support programs around the world, which we will publish and present in the future.

Stay tuned for a website, listserv, Facebook page (maybe!), and details about meetings and a colloquium next March!

 

* Graduate students in North America are post-graduate students in the UK/Europe and some other countries. We mean here support services for students in master’s and doctoral program(me)s. By bi-varietalism comes in handy sometimes.

To grammar and … beyond!

 

I’ve been invited to contribute articles to Cambridge University Press’s Grammar Teaching Newsletter, which is linked to their series Grammar and Beyond. (I had nothing to do with the series, although I rather like the textbooks: good, solid, corpus-informed grammar). You can read my first two posts on teaching count/non-count nouns and parallel forms, or subscribe to the newsletter. Now, the real question is which Toy Story character should I use as my avatar on the site …

Suggestions for future columns would be very much appreciated. So far, I’ve used the last tricky question my students asked me. What questions would you like me to take a shot at?

 

TESOL 2014 Presentations

TESOL 2014 handouts and references are now online here!

  • EAP Support for Graduate Students: Challenges and Successes (discussion group with Chris Feak). Friday 2:00-2:45pm
  • What Graduate Writers Really Need (invited session, with Chris Feak); Saturday 9:30-10:45am
  • Disciplinary Differences, Disciplinary Genres (colloquium, with Silvia Pessoa, Ryan Miller, and Kyung-Hee Bae). Saturday 1:00-2:45pm

Do you teach or advise (post-)graduate students? Join the Graduate Educators Roundtable discussion list!

 

Penn-TESOL East 2013 Presentation

Thanks to everyone who came to my presentation at Penn-TESOL East today. As promised, here is my PowerPoint with all the information and references.You might also be interested in the article I wrote recently on this topic (“From Generic Writing to Writing Genres”) in SLW News.

The textbook series I mentioned will be called Inside Writing and will be available in spring/summer 2014 from Oxford University Press. It takes a genre-based approach to teaching writing, from beginner to advanced (academic preparation) levels. I’ll post more details as production continues!

Conference Presentations

I have an exciting year of conferences and workshops ahead. Here are the highlights and handouts!

  • Penn-TESOL East Fall Conference, Saturday November 9. “From Generic Writing to Writing Genres.” PowerPoint.
  • Maryland English Institute, invited workshop on teaching EAP Writing for MEI faculty, November 15
  • University of Trento, Italy, invited 2-day workshop on effective EAP instruction, February 17-18, 2014
  • Writing Research Across Borders, Feb 19-22, Paris, France. Oh yes, France.
    • Making Thinking Visible: Comparing Genre-Based Pedagogy and Cognitive Strategy Instruction (paper with Dr. Skip MacArthur and Dr. Zoi Philippakos). PowerPoint slides here.
    • Exploring Disciplinary Genres (colloquium, with Ryan Miller and Silvia Pessoa): The Conflicting Case of the MBA Case Study. PowerPoint slides here.
  • TESOL 2014, Portland, Oregon (March 26-29)
    • What Graduate Writers Really Need (invited session, with Chris Feak)
    • Disciplinary Differences, Disciplinary Genres (colloquium, with Gena Bennett, Silvia Pessoa, Ryan Miller, and Kyung-Hee Bae)

Getting serious about genre pedagogy: designing and teaching genre-based units of work

Nigel Caplan:

Here is a wonderful example of the genre-based teaching-learning cycle in action in an English year 10 (10th grade) history classroom. I’m particularly impressed by the way the teacher/blogger, Lee, has integrated “the language of schooling” (in Mary Schleppegrell’s phrase) with the content of his course and the writing demands of the final exam (which has more writing on it than most American equivalents).

Originally posted on What's language doing here?:

It’s been a while, almost 7 months in fact, since my last blog here. My initial enthusiastic rush of blogging frenzy back in March, written in 4 or 5 days at the end of the spring term just before I disappeared to China for two weeks’ holiday, petered out upon my return to school for the summer term when internal changes reduced our leadership team to only 3 people and I suddenly found myself doing at least 2 people’s jobs.

So I thought now was the perfect time to resume regular blogging: my wife is 38 weeks pregnant with our second child and I’m responsible for the imminent opening of our School Direct training programme to applicants for September 2014. I’ve got loads of time on my hands, so why not?

I’ve decided to resume penning my thoughts to any who will listen because I believe what I have to…

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