My last three books are about telling and making stories in the language classroom
Storytelling with Children. Oxford University Press. Second Edition 2008
Creating Stories with Children. Oxford University Press. 1997
Writing Stories (co-author David A.Hill). Helbling Languages. 2008
Here are a few notes about my work as: a teacher, author, illustrator, storyteller and teacher trainer and liver of life…just in case you are interested
I have worked in the world of language teaching for many years as a teacher, as an author, as a storyteller and storymaker and as a teacher trainer. My books are published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Pearson Longman and Helbling Languages. These publishers have then licenced the publication of the books to many publishers in the world and so they can be found under different imprints and often translated into other languages……….
All my work has been of a practical nature. I first worked on the topic approach, the ancestor of CLIL, in the late 1960s and early 1970s and then I focussed on the use of pictures and then on the use of games in the 1970s and 1980s. About 1990 I decided to focus on stories in language teaching. This topic is enough for me to be getting on with!
I don’t really distinguish between my work and my life. Language teaching can be about life! Amazingly! I love both!
From Art School to writing and illustrating for television
I began my life as an artist and I studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. I studied painting because it was the only subject at school which invited me to be creative. But my head has always been full of ideas expressed in words and I soon found myself writing as well as painting and this lead me to writing and illustrating stories for television (West Deutscher Rundfunk, BBC, ITV) in the 1960s and 1970s. I wrote story boards and did all the graphics.
Working as a writer and illustrator of publications for language teachers
I joined the Nuffield/Schools Council Project for producing an audio visual course for teaching French in primary schools in the 1960s. I joined as an artist who knew France and could speak in French. I was lucky enough to do that job for nearly ten years. It was, at the time, the leading edge institution for language teaching methodology. Then I got a really wonderful job, at the University of York. I was asked to write a course for teaching English to children aged 8 to 12. The audio visual course we had published was based on trivial stories and a few games. During the 1960s I felt more and more the need to make language teaching about something more than just langauge. How can we separate language from life. Is a dead butterfly a butterfly?
Together with David Betteridge and Nicolas Hawkes I wrote the first topic based course (essentially CLIL) for teaching English as a foreign language and we published it with Macmillan. Looking back I think this was a point when I can fairly claim to have done something which was significantly ahead of its times.
Working as teacher in higher education
After that, in the mid 1970s I got a really wonderful job as Principal Lecturer at Manchester Polytechnic (they call it a university now). I was director of a course for media people who wanted to work in education. That was such a refreshing change and yet still related to my work in language teaching.
During this time at the Polytechnic (fifteen years) I continued to work in language teaching, publishing books for: Longman, Collins, Cambridge University Press and later Oxford University Press. I also began to get more and more invitations to work with teachers in other countries. What a priviledge! I learned so much! I earned less than I learned! Ho! Ho!
Moving to Hungary…working as a storyteller
In the early 1990s I came to live in Hungary to marry Julia. Professionally I carried on writing and illustrating my books and articles and travelling as a teacher trainer and a storyteller.
And here I am still working away and now hugely lucky to have some health and to have the internet as well. And the internet allows me to continue to work with teachers without always having to travel.
I began my work as a professional storyteller in the late 1980s but most of my big tours were between 1993 and 2007…since 2007 I have not done extended tours but still love doing the storytelling I am asked to do…as I write…my next tour is in Turkey working in schools in Istandbul for Oxford University Press.
In March 2011 I did my first Webinar for BESIG of IATEFL on Stories in Business. 64 people came from over 20 countries! I feel so priviledged to be invited to do such a thing.
Here are the books of mine still in print, just in case someone is interested.
Five Minute Activites (with Penny Ur) 1992. Cambridge University Press
This is probably the most successful book interms of the number sold. The title and the brief activity descriptions probably seem to belong to our ‘microwave’ and ‘sound byte’ age. Teachers tell us that it is very useful to have a small book with so many useful games and game like acttivities in it.
Pictures for Language Learning 1989. Cambridge University Press
This book is still selling after all these years. It has 315 activities in it for using pictures and given that pictures are available in their millions for free on the internet or on calenders, postcards and in magazines it is a bit of a must for those teachers who like making their own materials.
Games for Language Learning (with David Betteridge and Michael Buckby) Third Edition 2006 Cambridge University Press
We have done a third edition of this book and I think it is more easily usable by the classroom teacher. It remains the most comprehensive collection of games for helping language learning.
Storytelling with Children 2008. Oxford University Press
Please make sure you get the second edition of this book! The new edition contains more games but, more importantly, contains serious guidelines on extending the use of stories far beyond the usual ideas.
Creating Stories with Children 1997. Oxford University Press
The above Storytelling with Children is about using stories and this book, Creating Stories with Children is exactly that. The children make the stories. I try to show how this can be done with very few words. It is SO satisfying and encouraging for children to be able to make a story even when they have only completed a few months of English!
Arts and Crafts with Children 2001. (Oxford University Press)
I have put together a collection of practical art and craft activities which involve language use and thus provide a real and enjoyable experience of English and not just an opportunity to study English.
1000+ Pictures for Teachers to Copy 1996 (Longman Pearson)
This book is still selling all over the world in spite of the free pictures available on the Internet. I think it is because the drawings are SO simple that even unsure teachers can try to do them and then they are rewarded by the delighted response of the children. There are more than 1000 pictures in the book…500 nouns…500 verbs…hundreds of adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and so on.
Writing Stories 2008. (with David A. Hill) Helbling Languages
I am proud of this book! I really think it is supportive of the learning of the craft of writing stories. Storywriting is extended writing! And very useful, indeed. Particularly when the student actually cares about what he or she is writing!