Six more things to know about Global


At the beginning of the fall season here at Six Things (for some reason I seem to think of my blog as running in seasons, like television shows) I warned you all that I would be sharing information about my new upcoming book Global. The reaction to my first post Six things to know about Global was very positive – more than 3000 visits in its first two days of being live and 45 comments, a record for me on the blog at that time. So, I think I can try and get away with another six things you might find interesting about Global. Here goes…

1. Teaching about English

In addition to using texts and topics that I hoped teachers and learners would find more intellectually satisfying that much of what is on offer I also wanted to include a strand in the book that dealt with our very own subject matter – the English language. How it got to be a world language, different kinds of English, aspects of English etc.. This topic is sometimes given a passing glance in our books (a lesson on Global English, or loan words, or the ubiquitous US/UK  differences) but not really dealt with in depth. Just as we have Global Voices as extra listening practice, I wanted extra reading texts on Global English.

2. A star guest author

Following on from point 1, I began looking for source material for this. I found myself again and again dipping into work by David Crystal. For those who don’t know him, you can see about his work here. He is really one of the world’s top experts on the language and the status it enjoys today. Try as hard as I might, I thought there would be no way I could even come close to what he produced. Finally, in a moment of wild abandon, I suggested to the publisher and editors that we invite him to write the texts himself. We agonized about this for months, then finally screwed up the courage to send him an email. To our delight, he accepted and has written extra reading texts material especially for the course. Again, this is authentic material, slightly more challenging than other texts perhaps in the book and designed to mirror typical reading exam tasks and promote discussion on the issues.

Not only that, but he also agreed to be interviewed on video at his home about some of these things. Here’s a clip from an interview (also up on the Global site now).

And here is another free sample of a Global english reading text and tasks from the Pre Intermediate book.

3. Literature is back

Some people have been arguing a return to more literature in general English courses. This used to be a staple of language learning, which dropped off somewhat I think with the rise of the communicative approach and a more utlilitarian view of language. I can see the sense in this but I think it’s a great shame. I mean, you ask a person in a general language course  ‘Why do you study X language?’ and they may answer a whole variety of things (travel, work etc). Ask someone ‘Why do you love X language?’ and that’s where you’ll hear cultural reasons: its literature, its music, its poetry. I loved learning Spanish for example (another international language) not just so I could order a taco, but so I could read and understand Pablo Neruda’s poetry.

One criticsm of including literature in English course books was that it tended to be merely DWMs (dead white males) from the English literary canon. A Global book cannot restrict itself to that, BUT I didn’t want to ignore these authors either (that would be a kind of reverse-snobbery in my mind). We wanted a range of authors and extracts from the English language world. I could list them, but it’s nicer to show you a beautiful word cloud I made in with the names of the only some of the authors whose work we are using.


4. Teach Global, Think Local

Contrary to popular belief, I think that all coursebook authors realise that their material cannot meet all the needs of all the learners all the time. Teachers often need to adapt the material to suit local needs. A good coursebook will have enough flexibility for teachers to do that. A good teacher’s book (in my opinion) will include suggestions on how to do this. For that reason we included very regular Teach Global Think Local suggestions throughout. You may have seen them in the sample. Oh, and another thing. The authors of the student’s books have had considerable input in the teacher’s book (in my case, I’ve already half written one and contributed to another; I aim on writing for each teacher’s book that I’ve worked on). This is not always the case.

5. Going Global

Localising the material is one part of the equation, but you (or your learners) may wish to in fact bring stuff into class that is from beyond the local experience but that is motivating or links well to the topic of the lesson. With the spread of the internet and good broadband access this is more and  more possible. My own experience with this blog and on twitter has shown me hundreds of great educational sites and tools for teachers to use inside and outside the classroom. I included suggestions and tips for extra web-related work in each unit of the teacher’s book in a section called Go Global.

The advantage of using so much real world material is that there are often loads of websites that you can use to follow up the lesson with. If you have a connected classroom, great, but these suggestions can be done by students at home too (and they are only extra suggestions! before any of you start saying what about my students without internet access etc).

6. Thank you and more.

I could probably go on and on about other things in this course. I haven’t even mentioned the specialist teaching methodology essays (you saw one of them by Scott Thornbury, there are plenty more by others…), the digital component material, the videos and audio and so on but I don’t want to get into trouble with my publisher by giving it all away! In January the course will be out and I’m sure you can get a copy to look at from your local Macmillan rep.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank the more than 10 000 people who have visited the Global site so far and especially to all those who have left encouraging comments and sent me emails or tweets about the course. The positive reaction has really been a great motivation to me and also shows me that people are ready for a change. Thanks a lot.

And now, regular programming at Six Things resumes…

Published in: on November 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm  Comments (9)  
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