Posts Tagged ‘books’

opportunity for authors

June 13, 2014

PRESS RELEASE Opportunity for authors.
Malcolm Henson of North Staffordshire Press presents a one-day Conference: Writing and Writers in Birmingham Central Library (UK) on Saturday 18th of October 2014, 10 am to 5 pm.
If you have a book that you have written or are in the process of writing or if you are interested in writing, language and/or (language) communication and have ideas to share, you are invited to send an outline of a 20-minute presentation to give in a one-day conference at Birmingham Central Library on Saturday 18th October 2014.
Your submission should contain your full name, address (including post code), phone number(s) and email address(es). It should be no more than 500 words and should summarize the content of the whole of your presentation.
Entrance to the conference will be free and you will be welcome to bring your books to sell and flyers and cards to distribute. There should be plenty of time for discussion and networking or viewing this impressive library.
You should send you submission within the body of an email to rjwestwell@hotmail.com The deadline for receiving entries is the 14th July 2014 and successful entrants will be notified by the 14th of August 2014.
I hope to present an update on ‘John, Dementia and Me’
Dr Rosemary Westwell (PhD, MA Ed, MA TESOL, BMus, BA Hons)
On behalf of:
Malcolm Henson, Managing Director, Editorial Services, North Staffordshire Press, Business Village, Staffordshire University, 72 Leek Rd., Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2AR Tel: 01782 442831
http://www.northstaffordshirepress.com

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Mini Book review: ‘The Ghost’ by Robert Harris published by Arrow Books 2007

May 14, 2012

The ‘ghost writer’ weaves a fascinating tale of him at work, ‘ghosting’ the memoirs of a charismatic but enigmatic ex prime minister. He is taking over from another ghost writer, Mike McAra, who had been found dead – one of the many strands of mystery that keeps you hooked as you enjoy this fine author’s friendly and relaxed style of writing. I thoroughly recommend this book for a great read – one that is hard to put down once you start involving yourself in this web of intrigue.

How can you avoid being misunderstood?

August 25, 2011

After completing my book ‘Teaching Language Learners’ I have been asking people to review it. Expecting everyone to rave about it, and maybe a few people to point out some errors – no matter how careful I am, there always seem to be errors — I was somewhat surprised to receive my most recent reviews.

Before I comment I should add that most reviews of the book have been very helpful and positive – e.g. from an experienced teacher of EFL, English as a Foreign Language’:

‘I think the book’s USP [ultimate selling point] is your reflection on your personal experience of being a language learner and how this has influenced the methodology you employ in the book. I don’t know of any other teacher training manual where this has been the approach. The focus on the experiential aspects of language learning is valuable, and something we should more actively bear in mind when preparing lessons and teaching.

I found the sections on developing listening, spoken communication, reading and writing interesting and useful. I like the way in which the teacher is constantly asked to reflect and develop ideas, but support and feedback can be found usually on the next page – no need to turn to the back of the book. Also, the book is very well supplied with teaching resources …’

this reviewer understood my ideas. However, not everyone saw the value of the book in this way. My response to my recent reviewers:

I am grateful for your comments and for those of your friend who is Head of Modern Languages at a public school in the UK. Having other people respond to my material is really helpful. One can never assume that everyone will understand the messages intended or be of the same mind when teaching or learning a language. I am not sure if you and your professional friend want me to respond or not, but just in case you are interested in having a dialogue, I shall respond to the comments.

The book was written as a book of ideas for teachers and learners of languages. It was not designed as a book to read from cover to cover. Other than the first few chapters, it was more of a book to dip into when looking for ideas or of applying different approaches to teaching/learning a language. Thus is may well have been difficult to ‘read’.

‘Tasks’ and ‘Answers’ were not placed together immediately, because the whole teaching and learning technique it presented was based on the reader/learner/teacher ‘noticing’ or at least thinking about the topic first before being given solutions. In the classroom, I found that it was always worth the time and effort getting students to focus on the target language in ways that directly related to them so that the language became memorable and was thus more effectively retained.

I loved your comments about the quotations which were put in as light relief, diversions to lighten the load of concentrated learning.

The pictures and accompanying exercises were added, as you say, to suggest how students can be encouraged to remember vocabulary. There is a particularly effective way of remembering vocabulary which involves imagining interactive pictures related to the target language. I have also found using pictures as prompts for remembering previously acquired language can extend students’ short term memories very effectively.

I was interested to note that learning French by the Direct Method was successful for you. I had the same experience in secondary school which sparked my initial interest in language learning, although I find learning languages difficult.

As to your professional friend’s comments, I do not know whether you want to pass on my responses but here goes:

1. He notices I do not define who the ‘language learners’ are. The ‘language learners’ are those who are learning or those you are teaching. Language learners are individuals with unique characteristics, needs, and abilities. All language learners go through the process of language acquisition to acquire new language. Using our understanding of this acquisition process is the basis of the book. The book is a book of ideas to dip into. The teacher or learners adapt the ideas to suit their specific situation.  If a student is a beginner, single syllabled nouns would be more appropriate than teaching collocation, for example. Modern languages and English all have nouns and particular words that collocate well with these nouns.

2. He comments that there is a lack of progressive structure to the book. This is correct. When you have a class of students to teach, invariably a new comer arrives who has no knowledge of previous lesson materials taught. The methods suggested by this book make it possible to engage these students immediately.

3. I find it interesting that he comments that ‘the activities do not (for the most part) follow a structured period of learning. The basic principles of ‘introduction’, ‘practice’ and ‘performance’ which are used in any form of learning/teaching, seem to have been forgotten.’ This is where I have much to learn about other people’s interpretation of my ideas. I believed I was not only advocating these principles, but I was advocating them in a more concentrated and effective form — one that is directly related to how we acquire languages.  The ‘introduction’ is the period of time encouraging students to focus on the target language, to relate it to their own experiences and to retain it by using techniques that suit their individual preferences. Students are not simply ‘introduced’ to new forms; they are fully engaged with the language being taught/learnt.  The tasks that follow offer different ways of encouraging students to practice and perform the acquired forms so that they will be retained more effectively.

He suggests the book be targeted to interested amateurs who have small groups of adult learners wanting to improve their English. He is quite right; there has been a demand for the book from such people.

He also says it would be of little use to professional teaching of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) and certainly of no use at all to teachers of children (7-18) who are learning a Modern foreign language. (!!!) I am amazed at this reaction. Most of the material relates specifically to teaching EFL – the ideas developed from my 20+ years of teaching EFL (including the teaching of children 10 – 18). Again and again I have had to teach the tenses in ways that clarified for the students exactly when and how they should be used.  My experience as a Spanish learner indicates to me that the tenses also have to be taught/learnt when learning Modern Languages. My book offers methods for doing this. Even more fascinating, is the way the professional teacher/ reviewer dismisses the ideas in the book as being of no use at all the teachers of children (7 – 18) who are learning a modern foreign language. I would be interested to know how he improves his students’ grammar. One idea in the book developed from the perennial problem that no matter how carefully I introduced a point of grammar to students of this age range, or corrected written work, the students continued to make the same mistakes. Only after I devised my ‘Editing Guide’ that made the students understand why their errors had occurred, what the correct usage should be, and made them write in their own corrections, did students fully take notice and refrain from repeating their mistakes.

I await with interest any further comments…

 

Book review ‘Tender is the Night’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald

August 11, 2011

This is an elusive book that has many different levels and many different faces so that one is never really sure one understands the point. The jet set – gatherings  of rich people who seem to know no better than to have a good time indulging themselves — move in and out of focus in the plot that presents a tapestry of society and the high spots of Europe.

The marriage of central character Dick to his patient, Nicole, the gradual decline of their relationship and of him, the superficial interpersonal communications and ‘affairs’ between members of their society never seem to be real – rather carbon copies of stereotyped people moving about their world’s stage as if nothing really mattered.

Before dismissing the artificiality of the book, I was struck with moments of sheer genius when the author caught exactly that elusive quality of a relationship that never fully came to fruition, he caught those fleeting moments that seem insignificant at the time but have tremendous impact on the psyche and are never forgotten.

His quick character descriptions, his colourful descriptions and his slight-of-hand manner that evokes exactly what it was like certainly caught the imagination. The reader is also constantly informed of historical and cultural facts and descriptions that leave one in awe of such an informed author and the tantalizing use of French and of exotic locations and events take the reader into a forgotten affluent world as a relatively uninvolved observer.

This book was a fascinating read, introducing me to a world quite different to any that I have or ever will experience. It was not a book that I could ever say I could relax with. As a reader I had to work hard to follow the characters’ trains of thought, or to appreciate their feelings and actions but while reading it, I was constantly aware that much deeper issues underpinned the writing, ones that matter a great deal and although these were never brought right out into the open, I was aware that it was these issues that made this book worthy of its place in the greatest of literature.

good reasons for having your book reviewed

May 18, 2011

As part of my marketing plan for my newly published book: Teaching Language Learners, after presenting the book at the IATEFL Conference  (IATEFL = International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) I asked people that I thought knew something about the subject and who showed interest in the book to write a review for me.

Having someone else comment on your book, even if it is negatively, is much more helpful than I realized. Not only do you have plenty of scope for improving the book, you get advice on how to approach your next project and you are given greater insight into something you may have thought you knew well already. It is a very humbling, educative experience. I found that several people have expressed completely different ideas.

This review was written recently and I have included it to share with you how interesting someone else’s view can be and how new ideas can be generated from their different perspective.

Review of  the book by Rosemary Westwell: ‘Teaching language Learners’ by Jane Hayter (included with permission from Jane Hayter)

Dear Rosemary,

Thank you so much for sending me your book. I don’t think I am at all qualified to review it, but I enjoyed it very much indeed.

I never trained as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, but I had English up to degree level, but could not take up my place at university. I was given a whole box of text books for the course for TEFL by a friend in France. I spent over six months going through them in great detail before I had French children wanting to learn English. Over six years I taught about 20 from ages 7 – 16.

I have to say that I think your book is so good. It is the first book I have read of an account by the author, an English specialist, learning another language. I have read many books on English Grammar. Pinker’s ‘The Language Instinct’, several of Chomsky’s and others. I have always been very interested in how we learn our own language as very young children but your book goes further by drawing on your persona; experience of how you learn and the methods you used at different stages of your ability. Your book is very clear about these methods and how to make teaching interesting and enjoyable for both teachers and students. I thought the suggested tasks were excellent, as was the general layout. You gave plenty of scope for teachers to come up with examples of their own and perhaps, most importantly, to recognize what is needed at different stages. When I was learning French I never heard spoken English and so was immersed in the sounds of the language — its rhythms and pauses. This helped me a lot when I took lessons from a 75-year-old ex-Grammar teacher who spoke no English. Unlike some books, the author gave great importance to listening before conjugating verbs and dictations etc.

I’m afraid I don’t really have any negative things to say about the book. I thought it was well set out, with excellent content. I wish I had had it when I was in France! I liked very much your pronunciation conundrums. When I had my French students, I made 5 foolscap-size cards of them. They dreaded them and groaned each week. We did 10 old words and 10 new ones each lesson and always 5 sentences for homework along with other stuff!

I hope this has been useful. It is not very academic I afraid – just a personal view. Good luck with this excellent book Rosemary.

Best wishes      Jane Hayter

For further information about the book contact rjwestwell@hotmail.com

timely advice from editors

September 9, 2010

I should like to pay a special tribute to Nik Morton and the Torreviejan Writer’s Circle. I am writing my next book about my husbands dementia. I had been advised that this is the kind of book that is needed. I had written 22 thousand words describing life with my husband and his slow decline into the conditions. I concentrated on trying to make my writing clear and easy to read. I was getting there. Well I thought I was.

Then Nik kindly sent some advice from an editor – what an editor is looking for. It was nothing like the prose that I had been churning out. How could I have forgotten?

I now have a little paragraph at the top of my script: a paragraph that I read again and again before I ever try to write anything.

It is:
“Is there conflict?

Is there a pressing story question?

Does the pace keep the reader turning the page?

Are the character defined through dialogue and action not narrative?

Are the characters’ feelings shown not described?

Does each scene have a location in time and space, is there action and dialogue and tension?”

Many times I have to admit the answer is “No.” so I re-write…. again and again …

The web works!

July 13, 2010

Putting your thesis on the web free to view by all and sundry pays.

I finished my thesis on “The Development of Language Acquisition in a Mature Learner” a couple of years ago. I had kept a diary while I tried to learn Spanish as a beginner. The analysis of the diary was the basis of the thesis. I thought it would be something that a lot of people would be interested in. I made a few attempts to interest publishers in the diary of my learning experiences and the thesis but only received messages that they might be interested and would get back to me. They did not get back to me.

In the meantime, I wrote my own informal description of my language learning experiences in a self-published book: Out of a Learner’s Mouth (available at Burrows in Ely if you are interested).

Then, suddenly, after 2 years, a legitimate publisher approached me by email. They had been scouring the internet for possible theses to publish and had come across mine. They were interested in publishing! I had been told that the thesis was a good one and even though they may have been flattering me, I had worked jolly hard for over 9 years to get it completed. So it seems that getting you work published is more a matter of timing than anything. To my mind, it obviously pays to concentrate on getting you book right rather than getting a publisher interested with an incomplete work. When a publisher is looking for new work  – then and only then, will they show interest. Common sense, I suppose – but then, who has an abundance of that? (obviously not me.)

Go ahead, publish your book, you won’t regret it!

June 21, 2010

If you are thinking of publishing you own book – one that you think you would like to read yourself – go for it I say! It opens up a new world. You might not become a millionaire over night, but the rewards from positive feedback you get are well worth giving it a go.

At first you feel you are out on your own, indulging in a bit of vanity, being a self-indulgent eccentric. Your friends and family show mild kind interest because they know you, not necessarily because they are equally enthused.

Then someone insists on buying the book. It is just what they are looking for they say. Finally, they write to you to say how much they enjoyed it. You are not alone anymore. All your efforts have been worth it. Someone out there thinks the same way as you and really appreciates your efforts.

I received such an email today and I hope the author does not mind my sharing some of her comments. She was writing about “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” (available at Burrows Bookshop in Ely tel: 01353 669 759).

 Her comments: “I can not find the words to describe how I feel about your book, it is the best read I have had in ages. It is such fun, whilst at the same time a lot can be learnt from it.

 I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it, every word, although I will never get to GCE, C grade! I relate so much to the way in which you, go and have an early coffee! Any excuse to stop studying, we were on parallel lines almost all the way through, even down to reading Joanna Trollops’ A Spanish Lover, except you are two years and ten grades ahead of me! And I have not bought an apartment in Spain.

 I have just returned from a short Spanish course in Palma, Majorca, which was great fun but debatable as to how much Spanish I can speak, I can order a coffee and a glass of red wine so all is not lost! I am going to return next year for an intensive two week course, but in the mean time keep listening to my CDs and re-reading my book, that is when I can get it back from my friends, I should have made them buy their own!

 Thank you so much for writing and having the book published, it is an absolute joy.”

Talking helps when promoting your book

June 16, 2010

Yesterday I gave a talk about my book “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” written as an amusing series of diary entries describing my trials and tribulations of learning Spanish as a mature learner. I gave the talk at the Institute of Education in London – where I completed by PhD. I thought it would be good practice for me, a chance to flog a couple of copies of the book but  little more. However, with Anita Pincas in the chair, her people management skills made it much more than that. She had encouraged a fascinating group of people to attend. I asked them to interrupt if they wished and I am glad that I did for as I chatted my way through a number of these learned people interrupted, supporting my stories with what they knew about how we think and learn from their study and research. I certainly found what they had to say fascinating.

A writer in the Ely area?

May 8, 2010

If you are a writer and you live in the Ely area, you might like to try Burrow’s Bookshop – address: Burrows Bookshop, 9 High Street Passage, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4NB tel: 01353 669 759

They are holding my book at the moment:  “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” – an amusing description of the difficulties of trying to integrate in a different culture in Spain and learn the language.

There is no harm in asking eh?