Upcoming events

Our current series of webinars is called “MaWSIG meets…” and each webinar is being co-hosted with one of our sister SIGs. The webinars will explore Kath Bilsborough’s “five wishes” for the future of ELT materials, which she presented at IATEFL 2019, and provide ideas, inspiration and practical tips on the various areas of materials creation. All of our webinars are free to join here.

There is no need to register.


MaWSIG meets YLT SIG, 15th November 2019, 3 pm UK time

Moving away from exams dominance in YL materials

By Shelagh Rixon and Wendy Arnold

The ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of Assessment

Teaching towards some test or exam, e.g. Standardised Attainment Tests (SATs) or using classroom assessment, e.g. designed by teacher’s, to further children’s learning and improve mindsets? These seem to be the two extremes of teachers’  possible activity regarding assessment. In this webinar we will critically explore the influence that external examinations have in many contexts and try to highlight the advances in teaching and materials that a good examination may promote against the background of the harm that a bad one can do.  However, our main emphasis will be on the positive effects that integrating teaching and assessment in class will have. We will discuss Assessment for Learning (AfL), as opposed to Assessment of Learning (AoL), and show practical examples of how this very practical approach can be implemented in class.

Wendy Arnold holds an MA in Teaching English to Young Learners from the University of York, UK. She was a primary teacher of English for 15 years in a Hong Kong state school. She has taught from grade 1 to 6, as well as Secondary Form 1 to 3. During her time as a teacher she experienced designing Assessment of Learning (AoL) tests three times a year, as well as Assessment for Learning (AfL) continual assessments. Results from both types of assessments were reported to parents. She has also authored and co-authored primary course books  which include both AoL and AfL, as well as designed teacher training programmes which include both these components.

Shelagh Rixon’s first degree was in Classics but, having taught English in Rome for 3 years in the 1970s, she then trained as a teacher of TESOL to primary and secondary school children.  She spent 16 years in the British Council in various roles before joining the University of Warwick as a lecturer in 1991. There she set up and co-ordinated the MA in Teaching English to Young Learners. She holds an MSc in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh and in 2012 obtained a doctorate in the area of early literacy teaching to Young Learners of English. She retired from Warwick University in 2009 and is now an Associate Tutor at the University of Leicester. She acts as a school governor and volunteer in two primary schools. She is co-editor, with Danijela Prošić-Santovac, of Integrating assessment into early language learning and teaching, published by Multilingual Matters in 2019.


MaWSIG meets BESIG, 6th December 2019, 2 pm UK time

Making Materials that reflect learner realities 

By John Hughes

When it comes to making materials which reflect learner realities, we Business English teachers and writers tend to think we’re better at it that most other strands of ELT. After all, it’s what we do! We carry out needs analysis, we tailor make the materials, and we adjust the courses to suit changing needs. But can Business English really be so complacent? In fact, are we just as guilty at making materials which – as Kath Bilsborough suggests (IATEFL, 2019) – are far removed from our learners’ realities?

In this webinar, I’d like to explore this question by taking a historical look at Business English materials and consider when – in the past – materials writers have got it right (and reflected learner realities) and when they have got it very wrong. We’ll begin back in the fifteenth century and travel through materials from the last five hundred years arriving at the present day. We’ll also take a look at the evolving definition of Business English and how this has shaped the materials we use today and consider how future materials might do a better job at reflecting learner realities.

At the end of this historical tour, I’ll conclude by suggesting that the fundamental skills of the Business English teacher and materials writers are really quite timeless. And that if we truly want to reflect learner realities, we need to view materials writing as three-way co-creative process between the materials writer, the teacher and the learner.

John Hughes has written well over 50 titles including course books and teacher resources. He has been involved as an author on a variety of Business English books including the six-level series Business Result (Oxford), the exam course Success with BEC (National Geographic Learning) and the resource book ETpedia Business English which received BESIG’s David Riley Award for Innovation in Business English and ESP. He specializes in training teachers in materials writing and has lectured on the subject at Oxford University. His website is http://www.johnhugheselt.com

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