Working with ELT Materials – Peter Beech
About the author: Peter Beech is Director of Anglo-Hellenic Teacher Training
Part one – finding what’s available
One question that new teachers often ask is how they can find course books. These days, it’s easier than ever to find all the information we need. It’s just a question of knowing where to start.
Conferences, publishers’ exhibitions and seminars
One of the best ways to be informed about the available publications is to attend a conference which is accompanied by an exhibition. The TESOL Greece (www.tesolgreece.org) annual convention, which is held in March every year, is a great opportunity to meet colleagues, attend professional development talks and also browse the exhibition. Other TESOL Greece events throughout the year are also often accompanied by small exhibitions of the latest books from the publishers that sponsor the events.
Apart from the exhibitions accompanying conferences, there are also larger exhibitions such as the Foreign Languages Forum (www.eltnews.gr/about-the-forum) and the International Publishers Exhibition (www.ip-exhibitions.eu). The talks at these are mainly commercial rather than professional, with publishers’ representatives promoting their new publications. The main focus is the exhibition rather than the talks, and you can browse through the latest publications, join the publishers’ mailing lists, and in some cases request free sample copies.
Individual publishers often organize their own events to promote their new publications. Once you have joined their mailing lists, you will receive details of these, or you can find them advertised in publications like ELT News (www.eltnews.gr). Similarly, the large examining boards organize seminars to inform teachers about changes to the format of their exams. Exhibitions are also held for their members by EUROPALSO in Attiki (www.europalso.gr) and local PALSO associations throughout Greece (www.palso.gr).
Specialist and online bookshops
Most bookshops stock some ELT coursebooks, and will be happy to order any title you request, but in order to see a large selection of the available publications, you need to go to a shop specializing in ELT publications, like Floras (www.florasfun.gr). If you already know what books you want, you can simply order them online, but visiting the shop and seeing the books will give you a much clearer idea of the range of what’s available.
Most of the Greek and International ELT publishers also sell their own books through their websites, usually offering discount prices for schools, and you can find books from all publishers to order online at www.books24.gr.
Publishers’ websites and catalogues
The easiest way to get basic information about the range of publications available is to browse the publishers’ websites. Like the international publishers, Greek publishers of ELT materials generally have coursebooks for all ages and levels. Some of the Greek publishers, like Express (www.expresspublishing.gr) produce a very wide range of materials, while some are more specialized – for example Betsis (www.andrewbetsiselt.gr) mainly produce materials for exam practice.
Most publishers still produce printed catalogues every year, and you can receive these simply by joining their mailing list when you see them at an exhibition or by phoning their offices. Some publish regular periodicals which contain informative articles as well as details of the latest publications – for example News & Views from Hillside Press (www.elthillside.com). Some of the publishers, such as Grivas (www.grivas.gr) produce sample sections of their new books so you can get a good idea of what they’re like without actually seeing the whole book.
Although it’s less common these days for publishers to send out large numbers of sample copies, if you are an established school most publishers will send you free copies of any books that you intend to adopt.
The market has contracted in recent years, and many of the international publishers are reducing their operations in Greece but even so there are many companies producing excellent course books, and it’s now easier than ever to find information about these. The next step is knowing how to make the right choice from amongst all the available materials, and that’s the topic of our next article.