This is the first of several previews of talks to be given at the upcoming ELTAM−MaWSIG conference in Skopje, Macedonia, on 30 September, 2017. Here, MaWSIG Publications Coordinator James Styring talks to author John Hughes talks about his presentation. For more details about the event, click here.

Like many teachers, John learned to write classroom materials through trial and error. On his CELTA course (then known as CTEFLA) 25 years ago, trainee teachers were expected to create virtually all of their own material. He’d done a bit of journalism, but other than that he was thrown in at the deep end. Luckily, it turned out John could swim.

Soon after, he found himself at a business English school in Poland in 1993 writing a presentation skills course. Using his own experience of giving presentations and an old library of books on the subject donated by the American Peace Corps, he managed to create his first coursebook. From this, he developed a writing process that he still advocates today: 1) draft the material 2) pilot the material 3) redraft the material.

To his credit, he managed to create some very decent classroom materials for a nine-week course in presentation skills. John taught the course successfully for some time. Then a colleague wanted to teach it. Unfortunately, the colleague found John’s files of photocopiable materials unusable. John knew how the material was intended to be used but no one else did. So John taught himself another important lesson in materials writing: creating lesson notes to accompany his material.

John went on to write for the popular Guardian weekly which had a regular TEFL feature with interviews and lesson suggestions. Then, around 15 years ago, he set out on the well-trodden path of writing teacher’s books for the major publishers as a stepping stone to being given coursebooks of his own. John has always regarded the writing of teaching notes as in integral part of creating the core classroom material.

John was self-taught, but looking back, life would have been a whole lot easier if someone had told him the basic principles of writing materials. In his Skype-based workshop, John will share some of his ‘shortcuts’ by taking some classroom material from first draft to second draft.

 John Hughes has been an author on over 30 ELT titles including the course series Life (National Geographic Learning) and Business Result (Oxford). He is series editor of the ETpedia resource books and co-wrote ETpedia Materials Writing (