EFL Teachers Should Publish Their Own CD ROM: How I Became a Cambridge University Press Writer
Stephen Murrell, Italy
Stephen Murrell is Director of Studies at the English Conversation Club in Italy. He is a creative consultant for the Training Company and a Maritime English Teacher His CD ‘Safe Sailing the SMCP phrases’ co authored with Peter Nagliati has just been published by Cambridge University Press. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
With a computer all EFL teachers can publish their own materials. This can revolutionise your teaching and have a positive effect on your earnings – an aspect of EFL work not discussed enough in this magazine (or any other). I have just sold my own home grown CD to Cambridge University Press for world wide distribution but small groups of students, even one student can benefit if their teachers produce a CD for them.
Individual students have particular problems and it can be worthwhile burning a disc just for one of them. One of my students was the Financial Director of a medium sized Italian multi national. His problems Ire particular. He needed comprehension on the telephone, and a huge amount of specialist vocabulary. One analysis I did pinpointed vocabulary as diverse as ‘pull your figure out, company secretary, refinancing,’ He had a few very particular pronunciation problems. I added a pronunciation exercise written and recorded by me and an explanation.
The web is full of current up to date articles about almost every problem facing business people (and about companies where many of our students are working) Downloading takes a few takes seconds. Articles can be adapted to lessons for vocabulary and grammar. Of course permission should be obtained. Photos, songs, radio broadcasts and any particular lessons the teachers have can be burnt on a disc. Mario was happy to pay me for the time I lost cutting his. I archived the material and used it to cut discs for other students.
Groups often have particular problems and I can now put our solutions on a disc. Good for the student , satisfying for the authors and excellent publicity for the school. We are based in Italy where all students of all levels have problems with ‘th’, ‘h’ and stress timed languages I are producing our own CD and charging the students enough to pay the teachers for their time.
The Sun newspaper publishes ‘Dear Deidre’ a photo problem page which is guaranteed to interest most students. A few episodes can teach all sorts of skills in an unusual way. Students send their homework via e mail it can be burnt on a CD and distributing for peer correction. Teachers can record their own more exciting (and more relevant) dialogues cheaply and quickly with a computer.
The activities listed above can be performed by anyone who is not completely computer illiterate.
My friend Peter Nagliati and I have just sold a CD to the Cambridge University Press for world wide distribution. I didn’t start saving lessons on CDs to sell them to CUP I did it to help our students. In the process I discovered that a computer gives all teachers the power to by pass the publishing houses and circulate their materials.
Most of teachers face problems not covered in the standard texts. Ours was very particular. I had to train mariners to comply with the regulations on English speaking
International law says:
‘the ability to use and understand the IMO SCMP is required for the certification of officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or more’
IMO is the International Maritime Organisation, (the United Nations) and the SCMP Standard Communication Maritime Phrases is 140 pages of palette shattering, tongue rupturing vocabulary that maritime English teachers have to:
- Pass on to groups of beginner and false beginner mariners.
The SMCP is long, it is boring and it is incomprehensible. Shipping companies want their officers to learn it because they are anxious to avoid court cases- In the event of an accident an insurance company could refuse to pay on the grounds that the deck officers are not trained in the SCMP). Shipping academies want their cadets to learn the SMCP.
The grammar is straightforward (Simple Present, ten or so examples of the simple past and the Present Continuous). In fact the SCMP prohibits the use of could and may and other traditional bugbears of the EFL teacher because they can confuse. However, the vocabulary is tedious and irksome. The seven terms for air currents (willy willy, typhoon, hurricane , gale etc) seem like so much wind . The teacher’s brain is anaesthetized by the banality of an international law that demands mariners know the difference between
`Rat’s have damaged the cargo`
`Vermin have damaged the cargo`
Think how the student feels. The limited material on the market taught students to read and write some of the SMCP. The SMCP are radio orders that students hear and speak so I had to create listening and speaking exercises. The students are at sea and with no access to a teacher for ninety day periods. Finally I wanted to pump some oasis of excitement in to the brain numbing dessert of the SMCP.
I started by recording mock radio conversations. Chinese sailors sinking, Peruvians reporting non operational buoys and Ukrainians discussing several of the seven winds the SMCP specifies that mariners should know. I began including the beeps buzzes the whoops that characterise real radio communication. This wasn’t very difficult. A microphone, a computer and some friends with foreign accent Ire all I required. But I was armed with brand new teaching material. The boys at the Italian shipping academy wanted to practice at sea so I began making CDs for them to take on board. It was still boring. I add quizzes games and Jazz chants
This type of material can be put onto computer for use in the classroom and a disc for use by students at home. I had already got an original course on CD with limited teacher computer literacy. I started throwing in original documents and picture of ships at sea etc that required that the knowledge to use a scanner or a friend who could use one.
I approached a shipping company and suggested they might like a CD to allow their crews to study at sea. They company agreed but said they wanted an interactive bi lingual dictionary. I put the entire SMCP into alphabetical order and made an interactive glossary. The students could click any word in an exercise and see the Italian translation. They could click one button and see all the words in English and write the Italian translation and click another and see all the words in Italian and write the English (not very communicative but and effective way to practice at sea) I am told that any computer literate person can programme this into a home computer and I pass this information onto my more intelligent colleagues, I paid a programmer and charged the client who didn’t complain.
Finally, I added interactive diagrams of ships (The student fills in the names and the computer wags a finger or rings a bell to tell them if they are right or wrong) quizzes, word squares etc.
All EFL teachers write our own material, copy colleagues ideas etc. I put our ideas onto a CD it to a shipping company. Then came the big break. Cambridge University Press, the US navy seals of EFL publishing. The ivory tour we all wish to climb all agreed to buy the material.
Peter and I used our PCs, the invaluable tool for down loading songs e mailing and face book to by pass traditional publishing strategies it is a great way to improve your teaching.
Please check the What’s New in Language Teaching course at Pilgrims website.