Welcome to MWIS Blog

MWIS is setting up its first blog. This is a space for members so let us know what you’d like to see on this blog and feel free to contribute a post or article.

Contact: mwis dot tesol dot gmail dot come for more information!


TESOL18 Presentations: Four Conditions for Building Classroom Community

Here’s another session at the TESOL Convention in Chicago from one of our distinguished members, Walton Burns (full disclosure: I’m the one writing this blog). I did a presentation on ways to increase rapport and classroom community including some of the key principles for creating a warm community in class.

Want to share your slides or an article on your presentation? Maybe you saw someone else present and want to share a brief summary? Please do so, lest it appear I am abusing my role as Social Media manager to promote only my own stuff.

It’s also great exposure and invites others to continue the conversation with you. You can email with any submissions, questions, or queries.

TESOL18 Presentations: Teaching Teamwork Skills for Successful Group Work

Following up on the TESOL Convention in Chicago, this is the first of what I hope will be many sessions shared here. Patrice Palmer, our current chair, did a presentation on teaching teamwork skills for successful group work, and she’s kindly shared the slides here. In the presentation, she talks about the challenges of doing group work and shares some activities that alleviate those challenges by giving students teamwork skills they need to succeed!

Want to share your slides or an article on your presentation?

It’s great exposure and invites others to continue the conversation with you. You can email with any submissions, questions, or queries.


MWIS Sessions at TESOL

Download the list of MWIS sessions at TESOL 18 in Chicago.

MWIS has a lot of great sessions at TESOL ’18 in Chicago. There’s sessions covering learner experience, designing local curriculum to replace textbooks, how to be an entrepreneur, and designing better tasks for a variety of goals.

Our chair, Jane Petring, has made a nice printable list with all the sessions that you can download: MWIS Sessions and Meetings at TESOL 2018.

Also note the business meeting at 5pm on Wednesday night. If you’re a member, it’s a great chance to meet the leadership, ask questions about the direction MWIS is taking, and get involved in something new. If you’re not a member, it’s a chance to come say hi, meet some real materials writers in the flesh, and then join us at a social event at a nearby restaurant!

And if you have time to kill before the meeting, there’s a networking session led by yours truly in the Networking Area on various ways to self-publish materials. I hope we get a nice mix of experience, interest, and expertise on profiting from resource-making!

Congratulations to our incoming leadership team!

The results of the election are in and Alex Monceaux and Lisa Horvath won as co-chairs.
Cerise Santoro, who had been our mailing list/forum manager, will be our new newsletter editor in place of Alex Monceaux!

So, at TESOL 2018, our current chair, Jane Petring will become the Outgoing Chair, Patrice Palmer will officially become the MWIS Chair and Alex and Lisa the new Incoming Co-Chair. And Cerise will take over the newsletter.

Thanks to everyone who has been doing such an awesome job leading the IS. I think this is going to be a great team of people.

Call for Submissions: MWIS Newsletter

This is from our fearless newsletter editor (soon-to-be Incoming Co-Chair), Alex Monceaux. Please consider contributing. It really helps other people in the Interest Section and it’s a great way to add a publishing credit to your resumé.


We ask that you consider contributing an article for the MWIS Newsletter. Below are several options.

Submission Ideas

  1. Write an article on your area of interest and expertise in materials writing/publishing.
  2. Write up a convention session as a full article, report, summary (300–500 words)
  3. Write a book review (see below for details).
  4. Write an article on setting up a publishing business, finding publishing or materials writing work, self-promoting, self-publishing, designing digital documents, dealing with taxes, and or negotiating contracts.
  5. Paper on tenacity and doggedness in the face of brutal revisions, edits, and rejections.
  6. Papers on how challenges caused one to alter career choices, making all the difference in his or her profession.
  7. Papers on how the MWIS professional community helps to bridge gaps and foster networking in a challenging

Deadlines: Submissions are due 5 February 2018 for the March (pre-conference) newsletter.

Submission Guidelines

  • Articles and Snapshots should
    • have the title in ALL CAPS;
    • list a byline (author’s name with embedded email, affiliation, city, country, and an author photo);
    • include a 50-word teaser for the newsletter homepage;
    • be no longer than 1,750 words (including teasers, tables, and bios);
    • contain no more than five citations;
    • include a 2-to 3-sentence author biography;
    • follow the style guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition (APA style);
    • be in .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt format; and
    • have all figures, graphs, and other images labeled and sent as separate jpg files.
  • Book reviews should be 650–1,000 words in length and
    • include a 50-word teaser for the newsletter homepage;
    • include a 2- to 3-sentence reviewer biography and reviewer photo;
    • follow the style guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (APA Style);
    • be in .doc or .docx, .rtf, or .txt format; and
    • have all figures, graphs, and other images labeled and sent as separate jpg files.

Also, please let us know if you have specific interests as readers; this way we can seek out articles that are helpful for you, including surveys or other items.

Please send all submissions to Alex Monceaux and Cerise Santora at alex.monceaux@lamar.edu

Book Marketing for ELT

As a small publisher/self-publisher, I am exposed constantly to ads and articles about how to market books. Many of the associations I belong to, such as the IBPA and the TAA, are constantly advertising services about book marketing. Most blogs I read have a post every week on some aspect of marketing whether it be how to write a catchy Twitter post, how to tweak your Amazon ads, or creating an author brand. The problem is that little of this advice seems to be specifically aimed at ELT books.

A lot of the tips and tricks out there that work great for fiction writers (run a contest to name a character after the winner or create a Twitter feed written by one of your characters) don’t really apply. And most of the advice for non-fiction writers seems to assume you’ve written a general, self-help, hack your life, book with a title like, ‘How to Work 10 Minutes a Day and Make 10 Million Dollars’. Actually a surprising number of authors in the webinars I’ve attended are writing books on how to be an author, a bizarre circuitous loop.

There are definitely some methods of marketing that apply to all forms of writing like getting book reviews and advertising in groups that are related to your genre.  But it would be nice to have some marketing ideas targeted to ELT, particularly ones that are uniquely suited to reaching teachers.

There is at least one exception that I know of, Nik Peachy of Peachy Publications is the only ELT author I know out there who is sharing ways to do marketing. He recently did a great webinar on Becoming Your Own Publisher (Here are the slides; the recording is free for IATEFL members) and I’ve tried to apply some of his advice. In fact, here’s a little video ad I made for a book I’m currently publishing. I never would have attempted this if I hadn’t seen some of the videos Nik has done:

So How Do You Promote Your Books?

I’d very much like to add to the number of ELT publishers out there sharing marketing ideas. I’d like to list some of the things I’ve done and some ideas on how I did it or how it went. I hope others will follow my lead and share some things that have worked for them. This would also be a nice place to call for collaboration or float innovative ideas. And of course feel free to ask questions or offer up better alternatives to some of the things I’ve shared here.

Ways to Market ELT books, particularly as a self-publisher

  1. Book Reviews – This may go without saying. So far, I’ve found that most ELT magazines and journals are open to doing book reviews. Some will be happy to find you a reviewer and others prefer that you find a reviewer yo submit the review for you. Note that it can take time to get your book reviewed so it’s best to start sending out copies anywhere from 1 year* to 3 months in advance. I don’t know whether mainstream book review publications (Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, etc…) are helpful in selling ELT books or not because they require you send them advance copies at least 4 months in advance of publication and frankly, I haven’t been organized enough to do that yet!
  2. Blog Reviews – I’ve also been trying to target teacher bloggers and get them to review the books. Hopefully that will get the word out to teachers who do not read the journals. I’m always happy to review a book and if anyone else is interested in doing reviews, perhaps you could leave a comment here.
  3. Mailing List – Another standard method of promoting books. Get people to sign up on your mailing list and then send out periodic posts, discounts, and news. If anyone has tips on building mailing lists or what kinds of things teachers want to see from a mailing list, I’m sure that would be of great interest.
  4. Postcards or Business Cards to hand out at conferences and talks. I rather like this idea from this post. Put the cover on one side and then some tips or a brief useful excerpt on the other. I added a QR code as well as the URL for the landing page. But I love the understatedness of the footer, “published by St. Martin’s Press”
  5. Online Quiz – another idea from Nik Peachy. Here’s a little quiz I made about doing group work. It could be fun to do a personality test as well: What kind of teacher are you? Quizzes are ridiculously popular so hopefully you can leverage that.

So these are some of the things I’ve been doing. What have you been doing to promote your books? How can we do ELT book marketing better? Please share in the comments so we can help each other.

TESOL 2017 Presentation: Materials Development & Language Learning Theory

Here are the slides and handouts from my presentation, Materials Development & Language Learning Theory: A literature review, of sorts. This presentation was part of the panel discussion on Academic Theory and Classroom Materials: What’s the Connection?, presented at TESOL 2017 in Seattle. I discuss some of the ways the literature suggests research can play a role in materials development.


Here are Eric Roth’s slides as well:

He argues that research is not the only concern a teacher has when developing or selecting materials. He also puts forth some reasons to question the applicability of research to the classroom.

Video of my presentation:

I also prepared some discussion questions along with a list of references, which you can read here or download: References and Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

1) Which of the following four quotes best reflects your view of the role of research in materials development and academic theory?

“If teachers are the mediators between materials and learners, then materials writers … are the mediators between ‘theorists’ and teachers/learners”
(McGrath 2016 citing Fraida Dubin)

“My contention is then that Materials Writing is more of an art than a science.”
– Alan Maley (Hidalgo et al, 1995)

“Anyone who sets out to write instructional materials for language teaching will start out with some implicit or better still, explicit … theory of language and of language learning”
– Jack C. Richards (Richards, 2005)

“It is true that we should not expect definitive answers from SLA…But this should not stop us from applying what we do know…”
– Brian Tomlinson (Tomlinson, 1998)

2) What is one principle which you feel strongly about and which underpins the materials that you write? Do you feel it is supported by research, teacher experience, or both?
3) How often do you reflect on your view of language and language learning as you create or evaluate materials?
4) When you start creating materials, do you begin with a list of principles, a list of features, the process of creation, or the logistics of writing?
5) What is one feature you would love to see in a textbook that would be difficult to apply in the current situation of publishing and classroom logistics?
6) What is one feature of your classroom that makes using most materials difficult?

Examples of Principled Frameworks

• Brian Tomlinson, Introduction (Tomlinson 2010)
• Jack C. Richards (Richards 2005)
• Jolly and Bolitho (Tomlinson 1998)
• Chris Mares (Tomlinson 2003)
• Bell and Gower (Tomlinson 2010)
• Jill Hadfield
• Flores (Hidalgo et al 1995)
• Penaflorida (Hidalgo et al 1995)
• Richards (Hidalgo et al 1995)
• Hutchinson and Waters (in McGrath 2016)
• IAFTEL MaWSIG day: Katherine Bilsborough, ‘ELT Materials Writing: Emerging Principles’


Bilsborough, K. (5 October 2016) Emerging principles for ELT materials writers [Blog post] Retrieved from http://mawsig.iatefl.org/emerging-principles-for-elt-materials-writers/
Block, D. (1991). Some thoughts on DIY materials design. ELT journal, 45(3), 211-217.
Harwood, N. (2010). English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice. Cambridge University Press.
Hidalgo, A. C., Hall, D., & Jacobs, G. M. (Eds.). (1995). Getting started: Materials writers on materials writing. SEAMEO Regional Language Centre.
Littlejohn, A. (1992). Why are English Language Teaching materials the way they are? (Doctoral dissertation, University of Lancaster). Retrieved from: http://www.andrewlittlejohn.net/website/books/phd.html
Kanda, M., & Beglar, D. (2004). Applying pedagogical principles to grammar instruction. RELC Journal, 35(1), 105-119.
Maley, A. (2016). ‘More Research is Needed’–A Mantra Too Far?. Humanising Language Teaching, 18(3). Retrieved from: http://www.hltmag.co.uk/jun16/mart.htm
McGrath, I. (2002). Materials evaluation and design for language teaching. (2nd ed.) Edinburgh University Press.
Millin, Sandy (27 April 2015) IATEFL Manchester 2015: Materials writing [Blog post] Retrieved https://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/iatefl-manchester-2015-materials-writing/
Richards, J. C. Materials Development and Research-Making the Connection. Retrieved from: http://www.professorjackrichards.com/wp-content/uploads/materials-development-making-connection.pdf
Scrivener J., Cardoso W., Medgyes P., Saraceni M., Bao D., Farrell T. (2016). Responses to the Chapter: ‘More Research is Needed’ – A Mantra Too Far?. Humanising Language Teaching, 18(3). Retrieved from: http://www.hltmag.co.uk/jun16/mart.htm
Tomlinson, B. (Ed.) (1998). Materials development in language teaching. Cambridge University Press.
Tomlinson, B. (Ed.) (2003). Developing materials for language teaching. Bloomsbury Academic.
Tomlinson, B. (2009). Principles and procedures of materials development for language learning. Metodologias e Materiais para o ensino do Português como Língua Não Materna, 45-54.
Tomlinson, B. (Ed.) (2011). Materials development in language teaching. (2nd ed.) Cambridge University Press.
Tomlinson, B. (2012). Materials development for language learning and teaching. Language Teaching, 45(02), 143-179.
Tomlinson, B. (Ed.) (2013). Applied linguistics and materials development. Bloomsbury Academic
Tomlinson, B., & Masuhara, H. (Eds.). (2013). Research for materials development in language learning. Bloomsbury Academic.