We’re very happy to welcome the newest member of the ELTjam team to the blog. George started on Monday, and we managed to catch her before she’s too slammed with work to chat – even if she uses her Pomodoro breaks.
Welcome to ELTjam, George! What’s your story and how did you end up in the ELT industry?
I focused on linguistics and TEFL as part of my undergrad degree in English (okay, I also studied Classical Civilisation, but let’s not worry about that for now …) and a couple of years after graduating I decided to embark on my CELTA at IH London. I then went off to Torun in Poland for six months with IH, then to Burma (Myanmar) for two years with the British Council.
I joined Macmillan Education in 2009 and stayed with them until 2012, when I went back to Burma and did some more teaching! I’ve been very busy for the past year doing an MSc – just for ‘fun’ – in something completely unrelated to ELT (Politics and International Relations) and that brings me up to today – my first day at ELTjam 🙂
Can you tell us about your personal teaching methodology? How does it influence your work in editing?
I suppose, for me, teaching is about being responsive, flexible, listening to the students but also being prepared to change things that aren’t working. When students are motivated and energised, it’s one of the best feelings for a teacher. Likewise, if they’re bored or feeling a bit lacklustre, we sense that too.
So … it’s in everyone’s interests to remain flexible and to refuse to settle for the humdrum – especially when we live in a much more demanding world than just 10 years ago. This impacts my approach to editing because I always imagine my students tackling the material and imagine them rolling their eyes or laughing their heads off at a topic, and that helps me to recognise when something works or doesn’t.
I also employed the very effective ‘punitive dancing’ technique … Haven’t done your homework? Time for Gangnam Style.
Describe the industry in two sentences.
At the moment, ELT is a two-fingered Kit-Kat of ‘Tradition’ and ‘Curiosity about the future’, but things are changing!
What brings you to ELTjam?
I’ve arrived at the door of ELTjam because of the company’s innovative energy and creative vision. I think about my students over the last few years, and it’s so easy to imagine their excitement at the prospect of a technology-led approach to learning English.
What are you most looking forward to about working at ELTjam?
I’m most looking forward to seeing how we can revolutionise ELT and transform it into something much sexier, sparklier and ‘wow’. It has to happen and has the potential to be very exciting. I’ve been blown away but everyone’s creativity and drive, and I think the next year is going to be fantastic. I’m also looking forward to forcing Christmas onto everybody in the office. Secret Santa! Woooo!
The ELT industry is obviously changing. What do you think are the main challenges it will face?
There are lots of challenges for ELT at the moment. For teaching centres on a budget, it’s harder to embrace technological developments, as these are often still out of reach. I think there has been a tendency in the past by digital development teams to forget about, or ignore, these institutions, creating products for the Big Language Centres who have an IWB on every wall and super-mega-high-speed-wifi, even in the toilets.
This is great news for publishing houses who produce print books, as they can continue to churn them out. Unfortunately, it also means that the big bucks are being spent on digital development rather than reinventing print (because it’s already been done to death), thereby benefiting those huge institutions and leaving the little ones behind.
I’d really like to see some more modest but ingeniously designed products come onto the market which will enable those students at small schools to get involved in, and contribute to, the digital ELT revolution.
What are you up to this weekend?
This weekend, I am … heading out on Friday with friends to celebrate a birthday, then looking for a great place to move to in London!
Custard or ice cream?
Ice cream … obviously!
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