NATE 2019 review

Well, this is the first working day after NATE, and I am looking back at the week in St. Petersburg. Apart from the logistical nightmare that involved last-minute visa applications, an adventure holiday for two children and their two friends, travel and accommodation for the trip to Russia and travelling around 4 hours in each direction to the children’s holiday location, it was quite amazing! Everything went so smoothly, it was a little surreal.

My wife has visited the National Association of Teachers of English in Russia conference for the last 6 years I think, so I have heard lots about it and about the people there. It was everything I expected: a range of talks and workshops and some really nice people in a very nice city. What particularly impressed me though was the way that the leaders of NATE clearly view their job as one of a professional association and are thinking about how they can promote their profession to all stakeholders. I don’t always find this to be the case in other associations.

All in all, a very positive experience. Had some great food, the weather was beautiful and I met some wonderful people who I hope to get the opportunity to meet again soon.

Evaluating Digital Materials

Do you have to choose a suitable vocabulary app for your students? Select digital materials? Recommend a learning platform for your school? Formally or informally, many teachers and academic managers select and evaluate digital learning materials. On what basis? On what criteria do we base our assessments of learning material, whether created by the teacher, ELT publisher or a tech company? This course provides a systematic approach to ‘evaluating digital materials’, taking participants through the What? Why? Who? and How? of evaluation. Participants assess material relevant to them and finish the course with a set of tools for future evaluations.

Week 1 

We start with a look at definitions. Firstly: “What is evaluation? And secondly, “What do we mean by digital materials?” Next, we will look at a history of digital materials, from the earliest days of CALL (computer-assisted language learning) through the multimedia age of CD-ROMs and interactive whiteboard software to the current mobile age of tablet and Smartphone apps. Participants will choose which set of materials they will evaluate during the course.

Week 2 

We will look at a range of theories of language learning (behaviourism, cognitivism, Second Language Acquisition) and explore to what extent these theories inform the design of digital materials. We will look at the concerns of research – what have CALL researchers focussed on? Evaluation can be done from a number of perspectives and we will explore the following three approaches: the instructional designer, the language teacher and finally, the student who uses the material.

Week 3 

This session will look systematically at the What? Who? Why? and How? of evaluating digital materials. Under ‘How’, we will explore four useful frameworks as follows: Hubbard / Chapelle / Leakey and Reinders & Pegrum. We will see how each framework fits best with evaluating certain types of materials. The session will also present the many, various methods (or instruments) available to the evaluator, such as: questionnaires, focus groups and observations, considering the pros and cons of each method.  

Week 4

This practical session will bring together the content of the earlier sessions in a list of recommendations: “10 practical tips on evaluating digital materials.” As materials are changing so rapidly, we will focus on the future and examine many exciting (yet scary) developments, including: adaptive learning, voice recognition, Virtual and Augmented reality. We will see how language teachers need to take an informed view on many controversial developments, and stay up to date with the pedagogy in order to continue to evaluate the new types of digital materials our learners will be using in the imminent future.

For all PSA blog readers and clients, a 20% discount is available on this course. Please contact me directly at:

Course details at:


Recycling text books

My wife and I have a whole load of individual text books for EFL, EAP, business English, ESP, you name it. As our careers have evolved, we have little use for the majority of them, and now they are taking up space that we need for other books, etc. I’m sure this is familiar to many of you. I would say we have around 60 books that we no longer need, all in good or brand-new condition. As a result, I spent some time today searching online to see if any organisations recycle such things to developing countries, for example. To be honest, I found nothing that clearly told me they could handle such things.

So, does anybody out there know of any way of productively giving these books another use? I would be grateful to hear on Thanks.

Review of Best Practices for Blended Learning

HUGE thanks to Wayne Trotman, reviewer extraordinaire’ for his recent review just published in the EL Gazette

Blending in
Wayne Trotman reviews a book outlining a sensible approach to blended or ‘flipped’ learning


“Implementing a BL course requires a framework and a platform, and the two chapters covering this area are perhaps the most enlightening in the whole book.”

“The authors have done superbly well to reduce what might appear to be a complicated area to one that even IT dunderheads such as myself could appreciate with ease.”

For the complete review, visit the EL Gazette:

‘Best Practices for Blended Learning’ launched at IATEFL, Brighton

Best practices for Blended Learning Delighted to say that Barney and I presented our latest book in Brighton at the IATEFL conference earlier this month.

If you would like a .pdf version of the PPT presentation, click here:

IATEFL presentation_lite

To download the Handout, click here:

IATEFL Handout

To download a one-page list of the References:

IATEFL – References

If you wish to buy a copy, you can do so here:

The book has a lot of online resources on the ETp website. You can download these free resources here:



Augmented reality and Virtual Reality: Pre-conference event in Brighton

The IATEFL LT-SIG pre-conference event is full!

I’m really delighted to join Shaun Wilden in opening (and closing) the day.

Focussing on Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), it promises to be a fantastic event!

Here’s the line-up:

The potential for VR and AR in the language classroom – Sarah Rogerson

Gaining a new perspective: the future of VR in Teacher Training and Materials Development – Paul Driver

AR for language training – Tushar Sharma (Blippar)

Back to the future: From Virtual worlds to Virtual Reality – Heike Philp

The reality of VR – Johnathan Dykes

Integrating VR to EFL teaching – Raquel Ribeiro

Wow! I cannot wait….

For more information – visit: