The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Global launch party

I've just got back from Oxford and after a rather long, cold, damp journey home which involved two missed trains that I ran for only to see them pulling away from the platform, lots of sitting around waiting for connections and a 45-minute trudge home in the rain, I don't have the energy to settle down to any work this afternoon, so I thought I'd update you on last night's "do" - the launch of Global at the Ashmolean Museum.

First things first, I was quite pleased with the outfit I finally settled on, which bizarrely turned out to match the coursebook colours rather well. Sadly, the few photos I took turned out rather blurry because of the lighting (and a borrowed camera that probably should have been a different setting!), but here's a self-portrait shot taken in my hotel room at about one o'clock this morning ...

The evening itself turned out to be really interesting. After some initial standing about like a bit of a lemon looking for someone I recognised, I ended up meeting lots of new people, some who I knew by name but had never actually met before and catching up with some old friends. It was really good to meet the rest of the Global team and to get a sense of the whole project and where my contributions fit into it. I've realised that putting together a whole new series of coursebooks is definitely a major undertaking and takes a large cast of contributors to create all the "components" now expected as standard. There's not just the actual student's book itself, but the teacher's book and its accompanying teacher's resource CD, a multifaceted eWorkbook with not only the expected practice activities - which I contributed to the pre-intermediate level - but videos, extra audio material, etc and that's before we even get onto the ongoing work involved in the website, its e-lessons, blogs .....

After an evening of listening to all the work everybody has put into it and the buzz and enthusiasm surrounding the launch of the finished product, you do get swept along on quite a wave. My only niggling thought though, which I didn't really formulate properly until my train journey home this morning, was whether all this stuff is ever actually going to get used. Back when I was a full-time teacher on General English courses, I used to struggle just to use all the material in the student's book. I was always getting distracted and sidetracked into discussions and ad-libbed activities, or I was itching to use my own material, usually in those days a badly photocopied article from a newspaper with some handwritten questions on the bottom that would act as a starting point for lessons that could head off in all kinds of different directions. And so, no matter how good the coursebook might be, I was always looking for sections I could skip, not extra material to fill up my time. Perhaps I was unusual (that's why I gave up the teaching in favour of full-time materials development!) and I know that many teachers don't have the inclination, the resources, or perhaps for importantly, the time to write their own stuff, so probably welcome a whole range of reliable, well-written supplementary materials to draw on, but for all the extra work and effort that goes in, I do still wonder how much of that extra material will ever really get a serious airing. I'd be interested to find out ...

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