On 6th November 2020, Gillian Lazar presented to the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck University on the topic ‘Uncovering Creative Intuitions’.
What happens when we write materials for language learning, whether professionally for publication or for use with a particular group of learners we are teaching? This seminar will begin by providing some background to the field of materials writing in ELT with a brief summary of key themes. We will then explore the process of the writing from the material writer’s point of view, a perspective which has been described as surprisingly under-investigated (Tomlinson and Masuhara 2017). Previous research endorses the view that writers appear to rely heavily on their own intuitions during a highly recursive writing process, in which they balance spontaneous creativity against the constraints of a syllabus and a ‘tacit’ framework of principles (Prowse 2011; Hadfield 2014). But what kinds of intuitions inform our creativity while we write, and how do these shape our final product?
This talk will reflect on a single piece of material, designed in a specific publishing context, in order to critically analyse the intuitive processes shaping its design. This analysis is intended to identify some of the more tacit aspects which inform the work of the materials writer, including the impact of context, writing practices and sense of audience. By doing so, I hope to provide some insights into the inevitable conflicts and tensions experienced during writing, and to suggest some useful pointers for those wishing to work further in this area.
Dr Gillian Lazar is a Senior Lecturer in the Education Department at Middlesex University, where she is joint programme leader for the Post-graduate Certificate in Higher Education (PG Cert HE). As an applied linguist, she has worked as a teacher of EFL, teacher educator, lexicographer and lecturer in EAP/Academic Literacies. She has published widely on the use of literature in language teaching, figurative language and academic literacies. She is the author of Literature and Language Teaching, A Window on Literature and Meanings and Metaphors, all published by Cambridge University Press.