Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Ceri Jones’s talk, taken from my tweets.

The talk is about the gap that coursebook writers try to bridge and the tension between the two sides. The syllabus is one thing writers need to consider, especially if it’s connected to an exam. Spanish uni SS need B1 English. The other side is learning, which is individual and dynamic, compared to the convergent, static syllabus. So the question is, can coursebooks bridge the gap between the syllabus and learning?
The coursebook can be seen as a ball and chain or a lifesaver. But hopefully we’ve moved on from this dichotomy, towards more of a middle ground. How can the coursebook include our student’s lives? Why not use the coursebook as a starting point? It can make the route to syllabus easier.
Imagine your friend asks you to housesit one of these (from a high impact image). Decide which one, then describe to a partner.

Some great language coming out of the activity in our groups.
You’re housesitting, You’ve just arrived from the airport. Open the door. What do you see? Can I come and visit your house? Can you show me around? Great for rooms/prepositions/more…

Look at this mosaic. Can you think of a verb + noun collocation for each image?

These images are great for core vocabulary, which students have to learn. They can build on this later. The photos in the mosaic are all in unusual places. We teach the core, expand to personal lexicon, make the familiar unfamiliar.

The news is everywhere. Not just in a newspaper, but on the side of buildings! Makes it more current.


Traditional shopping vocab is types of shop. Learners often don’t do this. Malls are now places of entertainment not shopping.


This image is from Big Picture Elementary. SS describe a stay in a hotel, then write a TripAdvisor review.

Student text is then compared with the one in the coursebook. The student’s text comes first.

In a unit on humour, this meme-type image can help introduce ‘would’.

Students listen to two people talking about humour. The book shows examples of use of ‘would’. Non-traditional. ‘would’ is demonstrated as not just being second conditional, but covering a range of uses.


Here is Ceri’s summary of the five strategies coursebook writers can use to bridge the gap.

The Big Picture series is written in a way to try to train teachers how to use images effectively.

and some links to help you find out more:


Other ideas:
Set the students image homework – they have to take a photo between one class and the next.

Here is Ceri’s post with the slides.
Neil McMahon includes some comments on Ceri’s talk in his post about day 2 of the conference.


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