What keeps an author inspired and motivated to continue writing? Which was the inspiration behind writing #English? How does the #English series combine English language learning with general knowledge acquisition?
Jenny Dooley, President of Express Publishing, answers these questions and many more in the following interview. She shares her thoughts and feelings about the creative process of writing as well as her recently published work, #English.
What is the step that you enjoy most when editing a book?
The step I enjoy the most is finding the activities that engage the students, to have to get in the mindset of the student. An example of these activities is thinking skills, creative tasks and discussion topics.
Writing books seems a never-ending occupation for you! What keeps you motivated? What inspires you to continue writing?
The new methodological trends. Language teaching methodologies are like a living body; it keeps changing, shifting, developing and evolving. Sometimes it also goes in circles. Since I do a lot of research on my day-to-day work, when I discover a new trend or new methodology, I get inspired and sparks of new ideas fly up to create engaging and original content that will benefit the learners. Let’s not also forget the needs of the EFL market; students’ needs today are very different to what they were 20 years ago. In fact, we see different requirements arising every 4-5 years.
#English is a book full of adventures and interesting brain teasers. What was your inspiration behind the book?
My children. I am a very observant person and I tend to observe all the details in my social environments. I also kept making mental notes of what students’ interests are these days and worked around the observations to create suitable content for today’s students. Additionally, we created a few focus groups, where we got feedback from experienced colleagues about what they felt would improve their teaching experience.
#English offers learners the opportunity to cover a wide range of topics such as environment, geography, history, culture and many more. How important it is for you to combine English language learning with acquiring general knowledge?
If I am 100% honest, we cannot isolate language learning from general education. Since I cannot perceive of myself as a mere language teacher, I am an Educator. Language is the means of communicating concepts, ideas, facts and figures, thus you cannot teach the language in isolation without general knowledge content. More than 50 years ago, language learning consisted of vocabulary and grammar, and it could have been perceived of as adequate for the time, but this is no longer the case. Now it is very important to combine language learning with topics such as environmental awareness, travel safety, scientific and technological developments and more, as it is both interesting and valuable for the learners.
Express Publishing incorporates diversity and inclusivity in the books. How is diversity depicted in #English?
Yes, of course, the most obvious example for #English is through the CodeCracker characters. Liv, Suki, Nick and Leo come from different cultural backgrounds and have different character traits. In today’s world, it is important to teach students that everyone should be accepted, no matter what they are like in appearance, character or ability. This is depicted clearly through the plotline of the CodeCracker adventures.
Why would you recommend #English to teachers this school year?
Because #English is fresh, age-appropriate, engaging and very relevant to the latest teaching methodologies. It is designed bearing in mind the time limitations in language learning and provides blended learning and flipped learning options.
What was the most challenging step when writing #English?
The most challenging step is not the actual creation and content for the book, but the extra components that go along with it. The digital components, for example, take a long time to create and require a lot of resources. However, it is a winning combination and achieves the desired results.
We know that #English is addressed to Levels A1-B1. Do you plan on expanding the series in the future, so as to addressed higher levels?
I am not planning to continue the #English series as is, but it always depends on the market’s needs. What I am definitely sure about is that I have already started preparing a new series that will be for upper levels, which will be the perfect continuation of the #English series. Stay tuned to find out more about this in the near future!
A few words about #English:
#English is a three-level course for learners at Levels A1-B1, which offers an effective combination of print and digital resources, allowing in-class blended and flipped learning. The book is full of projects and creative tasks and is enriched with fun elements, like memes and riddles to enhance students’ engagement.
Learners follow the journey of four young characters, the CodeCrackers that are in search of Mr Watt, their archaeology teacher who has suddenly gone missing!
While the CodeCrackers, Liv, Leo, Nick and Suki, are searching for their teacher, learners explore a wide range of topics about the environment, geography, history, culture and more. #English focuses not only on English language learning but also on the acquisition of valuable life skills.