Skip to main content

Selling is fine... so is sharing

I sometimes come across language teachers who object to buying teacher-produced resources on platforms such as TES. They believe that teachers should be freely sharing their work, not profiting from it. TES for a number of years was a place where you could share resources for nothing, but a while ago they decided to make some money for themselves and for teachers by giving the option to sell worksheets, PowerPoints and so on. TES continues to share free resources. Is selling resources something teachers should welcome or disparage?

To my mind making and selling resources, whether you are a practising teacher or a retired one like me, is just one form of publishing. If you write a textbook, you get a percentage from the publisher. No one finds this odd (apart perhaps from the low percentage you get - about 10% - you don’t get rich on writing language teaching books or textbooks). If you write a resource for TES or Teachers Pay Teachers (popular in the USA) you also get your percentage, but it’s far more generous - up to 70% on TES.

Now, if you work in a school, you need to check out who owns anything you write before you publish via TES (TES doesn’t own it, by the way). Notwithstanding that and other copyright issues, it’s entirely up to you if you want to reap some financial benefit from your work. No teacher should feel guilty about doing that. And yet teachers are often reluctant to sell because they are frequently not the entrepreneurial type and believe they should be freely helping their colleagues. That’s good too. It’s what I did before I retired from the classroom.

Let’s not forget too that teachers are not highly paid compared to many. They may actually need to supplement their income. They do so by giving private tuition, why not by marketing their resources?

Then of course you have those like myself who no longer teach in classrooms but who enjoy writing and helping teachers. Frankly I would be a bit bonkers to do it for nothing!

If I have an issue with TES it’s that you get a good enough preview to judge the quality of a resource (and purchaser reviews are not that numerous). There is clearly some overpriced material on there of dubious quality, not to mention examples of resources copied from elsewhere then uploaded as if they had been written by the uploader. It seems hard to believe people would do that, but they do. I would also imagine there is some blatant infringing of copyright with regard to picture use.

As regards the publishing of books, I can tell you that self-publishing, e.g. via Createspace (Amazon) which we used for The Language Teacher Toolkit is more lucrative than going through a publisher (40% versus about 7-10%). If you are well established on social media, self-publishing is easy to recommend - not only does it mean you are better rewarded, but also you can get the job done more quickly. You are the best publicist for what you write. You lose the services of editors and proof-readers, but this is not a problem if you can get help with this anyway.

In sum I see no reason to be judgmental about teachers who gain financial reward for their work. When there are so many freely shared resources out there, generally speaking, writers need to ensure their resources are of high quality and teachers who purchase need to be fussy, rejecting anything which is of poor value or doubtful quality.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Popular posts from this blog

The latest research on teaching vocabulary

I've been dipping into The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (2017) edited by Loewen and Sato. This blog is a succinct summary of Chapter 16 by Beatriz González-Fernández and Norbert Schmitt on the topic of teaching vocabulary. I hope you find it useful.

1.  Background

The authors begin by outlining the clear importance of vocabulary knowledge in language acquisition, stating that it's a key predictor of overall language proficiency (e.g. Alderson, 2007). Students often say that their lack of vocabulary is the main reason for their difficulty understanding and using the language (e.g. Nation, 2012). Historically vocabulary has been neglected when compared to grammar, notably in the grammar-translation and audio-lingual traditions as well as  communicative language teaching.

(My note: this is also true, to an extent, of the oral-situational approach which I was trained in where most vocabulary is learned incidentally as part of question-answer sequence…

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:

Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…

Designing a plan to improve listening skills

Read many books and articles about listening and you’ll see it described as the forgotten skill. It certainly seems to be the one which causes anxiety for both teachers and students. The reasons are clear: you only get a very few chances to hear the material, exercises feel like tests and listening is, well, hard. Just think of the complex processes involved: segmenting the sound stream, knowing lots of words and phrases, using grammatical knowledge to make meaning, coping with a new sound system and more. Add to this the fact that in England they have recently decided to make listening tests harder (too hard) and many teachers are wondering what else they can do to help their classes.

For students to become good listeners takes lots of time and practice, so there are no quick fixes. However, I’m going to suggest, very concisely, what principles could be the basis of an overall plan of action. These could be the basis of a useful departmental discussion or day-to-day chats about meth…

Delayed dictation

What is “delayed dictation”?

Instead of getting students to transcribe immediately what you say, or what a partner says, you can enforce a 10 second delay so that students have to keep running over in their heads what they have heard. Some teachers have even used the delay time to try to distract students with music.

It’s an added challenge for students but has significant value, I think. It reminds me of a phenomenon in music called audiation. I use it frequently as a singer and I bet you do too.

Audiation is thought to be the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. You can audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music. When we have a song going round in our mind we are audiating. When we are deliberately learning a song we are audiating.

In our language teaching case, though, the earworm is a word, chunk of l…

GCSE and IGCSE revision links 2018

It's coming up to that time of year again. In England and Wales. Here is a handy list of some good interactive revision links for this level. These links are also good for intermediate exams in Scotland, Ireland and other English-speaking countries. You could copy and paste this to print off for students.

Don't forget the GCSE revision material on of course! How could you?

As far as apps for students are concerned, I would suggest the Cramit one, Memrise and Learn French which is pretty good for vocabulary. For Android devices try the Learn French Vocabulary Free. For listening, you could suggest Coffee Break French from Radio Lingua Network (iTunes podcasts).

Listening (Foundation/Higher) (Foundation/Higher) (Foundation/Higher)