How to write award-winning ELT materials
Our academic team is no stranger to innovation – and now, our course book Fast Track 5 has been nominated for an ELTon award. When creating materials our team works like a talented team of chefs: blending measures of different components, genres, and teaching techniques; and trying out recipes until the results look and taste just right. Finally, we serve it up to hungry students and teachers. This is how we created Fast Track 5, a course book that innovates in methodology, format (book + microblended mobile-first online component), design (looking and feeling like a teen books, not textbook), and content (topics teens want). Here is our recipe for success:
Start with a great team
Our core team is more than just academics: unusually for a language school we have our own publishing team. Ours is run by the amazing Stefanie Smith, who, along with our lead designer Virginia Haenni, put together a specialist team of editors, writers, and designers to bring Fast Track 5 to life both on the page and online.
Get feedback from teachers and students
One of our unique strengths when making materials is that we actively test them where they matter most: in the classroom. We obtain regular feedback, complete surveys about the tasks and topics students most enjoyed, and live test sample units. How do you know your content is great? When students produce English with a smile on their face, and when language is repeated and expressed beyond the classroom.
Research, research, research
Because we wanted a book that our teenage learners could identify with, we researched the look and feel of the media and magazines that teenagers like. We also sought out true stories of heroes and role models that inspire our young learners, bringing authentic media and apps into the classroom for language work.
We wanted to make a truly task-based course where students do something before focus language is highlighted. The units in Fast Track 5 focus on reflection and improving the language students produce – rather than forcing them to use specific language, as is often seen in older teaching approaches. A must-remember tip: while creating, don’t be afraid to consider changing materials or genres. For example, something you conceived as a written text might work better as audio media. Similarly, don’t force something to fit if it just doesn’t – scrap it and continue innovating new ideas.
Our innovative pedagogy encourages microblending, where teachers select from our mobile first digital layer to combine fresh internet media and online group work with more traditional classroom activities.
Work on the details
These go beyond quality proofreading. Important details include aims of each activity, a cross referenced online grammar, differentiation_,_ and homework advice throughout.