April 2019
MWIS Newsletter




Kenneth Chyi, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan.


MWIS editor Kenneth Chyi introduces articles appearing in this issue.

Welcome to this issue of the MWIS Newsletter, also the pre-conference issue. I am so excited to be part of this group. Interestingly, the former newsletter editor Alex D. Monceaux and I happen to be best friends, and he invited me to be the editor. To many of you I am new here, but actually I have been connected with MWIS for quite some time. MWIS and VDMIS used to have joint receptions and sessions at the annual conference, so I have been a friend since a long time ago.

In this issue, we have two articles. First, we have Lisa Horvath, an ELT Writer & teacher from Hungary, reviews her favorite supplemental course workbook, Compelling Conversations. Then we have the summary of the MWIS academic session at TESOL 2018. For those who missed the session, this is a great opportunity for you to make up.

May all our members have a wonderful time at TESOL!

If you are interested in developing ELT materials or becoming a material writer, you are more than welcome to share your experience with us. You can find me at kennethchyi@gmail.com or anyone in our leadership list.


Kenneth has been teaching English as a foreign language for 20 years. He teaches EFL in the undergraduate English programs as well as intensive English language programs. He is the author, co-author of over ten ELT books. Mr. Chi served in TESOL (the international association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) as a member of the Conferences Professional Council (CPC) 2016-2018, Chair of the Video and Digital Media Interest Section (VDMIS) 2012-2013, Editor of Video News, Newsletter of VDMIS, 2004-2018. His interests are incorporating movies into language lessons, and developing ELT materials.



Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP Teacher to Teacherpreneur, Canada.

Hello to the MWIS Community,

Warm greetings from Canada. I hope everyone had a restful summer and the opportunity to rejuvenate for the Fall.

The Materials Writers Interest Section (MWIS) continues to have a strong online presence. The IS Community page at myTESOL has links to our Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress accounts, and we would like to thank Lisa Horvath for maintaining the MWIS Facebook page, Walton Burns (former Chair) for our Twitter feed @TESOLMWIS, and for the Wordpress blog. The myTESOL listserv, with more than 1,000 members, remains the most immediate go-to place for MWIS communication. All of the resources are designed to serve the community, so please feel free to connect with MWIS on social media and consider writing for our blog.

We welcome our new Newsletter Editor Kenneth Kuo-Pin Chi who replaces Cerise Santoro. Kenneth has been teaching English as a foreign language for 20 years, and has been editing newsletter for VDMIS for years. He also publishes and develops quite a few ELT materials.

For the past few months, the leadership team has been busy coordinating our Academic and Intersection panels for TESOL19. Our two proposals are as follows and have been submitted to TESOL:

Developing Materials for Social Responsibility, Equity and Social Justice

The development of teaching and learning materials cannot be separated from issues of power, representation, context or content. This panel of materials writers share global perspectives on the development and contextualization of English teaching materials for equity and social justice with a lens on social responsibility, reconciliation, and representation.

Materials Writers Are Entrepreneurs

This panel has been designed to meet the needs of TESOL professionals at all stages of their career paths. Teachers, teacher trainers, materials writers, administrators and other educational experts have numerous skills that can be utilized in and outside of the classroom to assure career growth and satisfaction. Learn from a panel of successful TESOL materials writers as they discuss how to develop and use professional skills to maximize excellence in materials and diversify professional activities.

Our First Webinar

On August 2, Hugh Dellar hosted our first webinar this year entitled Taboo or Not Taboo: It's All in the Question. It was a fascinating look at the role of teachers and publishers when it comes to teaching or publishing taboo topics. Hugh's main message was that 'taboos' are not taboo when teachers' primary focus is on language (not issues) and when teachers help students express their own ideas.

We had a great discussion at the end of the webinar based on excellent questions posed by the participants. Thank you to all who participated. If you missed the live event, TESOL members can use the link below and watch for free. http://www.tesol.org/connect/tesol-resource-center/search-details/virtual-seminars/2018/08/02/taboo-or-not-taboo-it's-all-in-the-question

If you have an idea for a webinar and would be willing to present, please let anyone on the MWIS leadership know. TESOL will provide an honorarium.

Before I close, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to MWIS, shared ideas, and made suggestions. Looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta (one of my favourite cities) in March 2019.

Best regards, Patrice Palmer


Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP has more than 20 years' experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. She spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong and has taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. Patrice now works as a teacherpreneur doing the things that she loves such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; coaching teacherpreneurs, travelling at any time of the year and applying the science of positive psychology to her work.



Compelling American Conversations: Questions and Quotations for Intermediate American English Language Learners, by Eric Roth and Toni Aberson with Hal Bogotch is part of the Compelling Conversations series that also includes books written specifically for Vietnamese and Japanese language learners. Compelling American Conversations: Questions and Quotations for Intermediate American English Language Learners is ideal for students preparing for life in the USA or for older students already living in the USA.

The book consists of 15 chapters that feature pronunciation tips, expanded vocabulary lists, grammar notes, quotes, idioms, and phrases. Its workbook style provides students with space to take notes, develop their own opinions, and share personal experiences about important topics. Students are encouraged to think critically, ask questions, conduct research, and find answers. Through this process students become self-directed learners that contribute to classroom learning as they add to the knowledge base of their learning community.

With this book students develop essential listening skills and the ability to converse about relevant topics such as handling stress, breaking habits, and maintaining friendships while conversing naturally with classmates. These skills are naturally transferred to workplace environments and social interactions outside the classroom.

Teachers of intermediate adult learners who want to ignite classroom conversation would do well to have this book as an essential element of their language course.

Compelling American Conversations: Questions and Quotations for Intermediate American English Language Learners by Eric H Roth and Toni Aberson with Hal Bogotch published by Chimayo Press is available on Amazon.com as an ebook for 7.49 or in paperback for $22.50.

Lisa Horvath
Freelance ELT Writer
EFL teacher
Győr, Hungary



Jane Petring, MWIS 2017-2018 Chair, Moshi, Tanzania. U.S. State Department Fellow at the College of African Wildlife Management

For the InterSection Panel at the TESOL 2018 International Convention, the Materials Writers Interest Section (MWIS) teamed up with the EFL and Intercultural Communication Interest Sections to explore how content and culture are presented in EFL courses around the world and whether the focus tends to be on the culture of the target language or the local environment. Four speakers shared their experience in Japan and Vietnam, Colombia, Iran, and China to present a fascinating portrait of diverse approaches.

Eric H. Roth: Cultural Challenges and "Good Mistakes" in Creating Intercultural EFL Materials for Japanese and Vietnamese ELLs

"Publishers obviously aim to produce excellent books which will satisfy the needs of their users but their need to maximize profits makes them cautious and conservative and any compromise with the authors tends to still be biased towards the perceived market needs rather than the actual needs and wants of the learners." (Tomlinson, 2014)

Eric Roth spoke of the default dependencies of using textbooks published in London or New York and said that creating localized intercultural materials remains an alternative to one size fits almost all global textbooks. Using personal experiences and 2018 online TEFL survey results, this presentation examined some barriers to implementing intercultural materials in Vietnam and Japan. Some good mistakes in coauthoring books for English language learners (ELLs) in both countries were also reviewed.

As in most industries, the largest customers in ELT have the loudest voices. China, home to an estimated 1.4 billion citizens, remains a very attractive, lucrative market. However, the Chinese government as well as the government of Saudi Arabia and other restrictive countries ban a number of topics. PARSNIP is the acronym often used to describe seven taboo topics: politics, alcohol, religion, sexuality, nudity, isms, and pork. Consequently, many major EFL publishers have chosen to create EFL textbooks stripped of any controversial topic. The result is sanitized EFL textbooks used by ELLs across the globe that promote passive skills, demotivate students, and discourage creative inquiry. Neglecting local national cultures is, unfortunately, the status quo in far too many EFL and ESL classrooms.

Two online TEFL surveys were created to collect and analyze data from English teachers in Vietnam and Japan to learn about the teachers' background, their perspectives on local student needs, their frustrations and pleasures in teaching in their respective country, and their thoughts on creating and using supplemental materials and speaking activities in class. Results showed that teachers perceived considerable gaps between English textbooks and the needs of EFL students, emphasizing the importance of motivation and the effects of its absence in many EFL classes in both countries. Respondents also noted the need to use specific cultural knowledge to effectively meet their students' needs.

Tentative conclusions included:

  • Considerable gaps still exist between EFL textbooks and the perceived needs of EFL teachers and English students.
  • Motivation matters for ELLs in Japan and Vietnam.
  • Teachers need to use background knowledge specific to their English students' needs.
  • EFL teachers often create intercultural, communicative, and pronunciation activities.

    It seems likely that the gap(s) can be used as an opportunity by small ELT publishers and/or entrepreneur teachers to create intercultural materials for EFL students in both Japan and Vietnam.

    Tomlinson, B. (Ed.). (2014). Developing materials for language teaching (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic.

    Negin H. Goodrich: Cultural Representations in Iranian EFL Textbooks

    Negin Goodrich shared her research on cultural representations in Iranian English textbooks. This investigation shows that texts mainly represent Iran and the Iranian-Islamic cultural components: most of the names, places, food, events, and traditions, within both texts and illustrations, reflect the Iranian-Islamic culture, whereas the English-speaking countries, especially the United States and United Kingdom, are not presented. In other words, the countries located in the inner circle of the World Englishes model (Kachru, 1992) are intentionally neglected in the Iranian English textbooks; however, only Iran and some of the non-English-speaking countries in the outer and expanding circles of World Englishes are represented.

    According to this study, there are ideological and political reasons behind this policy, which are rooted in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The revolution affected all aspects of the Iranians' lives, including education and textbooks, and redefined the relations of Iran with the Western countries whose first language is English. The English language was considered the language of imperialism, and anything related to the Western culture had to be avoided, because it could be a threat to the Islamic Revolution's identity. During the postrevolution years, English textbooks were revised and redeveloped in the country to reflect the Islamic values and revolutionary ideas.

    The study findings show the differences between textbooks' localization and politization. It will help language textbook developers to be aware of the influence of politics and ideology on the quality of English textbooks and language learning. Results are also helpful in understanding the cultural issues of language learners and how to appropriately respond to them in and out of language classrooms.


    Kachru, B. (1992). World Englishes: Approaches, issues and resources. Language Teaching, 25, 1-14. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

    Mauricio Arango: EFL Content to Enrich Intercultural Awareness in Colombia

    Mauricio Arango shared insights about Colombia Bilingue, the current bilingual program in his country. Emphasis was on the suggested program textbooks and the way public school teachers are fostering learners' intercultural awareness by planning and delivering lessons as well as designing and implementing their own materials focused on the Colombia Bilingue four proposed themes: Democracy and Peace, Sustainability, Health, and Globalization.

    It is worth mentioning that those textbooks, workbooks, and audios are available online:

    Way to go! (6th-8th grades)

    English, please! (9th-11th grades)

    Additionally, Arango stressed the importance of going beyond the use of suggested materials and encouraging teachers to create and keep their own resources. Undoubtedly, among the multiple aspects to be considered, learning contexts are paramount to provide learners with cultural experiences through the use of classroom materials. While taking part in several socioacademic projects in Colombian provincial towns, he has provided teachers with ideas to promote cultural aspects by including, for example, their hometown touristic places, festivals, local food, and traditions as main topics in classroom materials. He showed some of those materials and explained how they were created and have been used in Colombian classrooms.

    Another point to consider when designing materials is that learners' linguistic level, large class size, or lack of resources should not be a limitation, and learners' involvement is definitely worthwhile. By drawing or taking the pictures for vocabulary and information gap activities or recording their voices to create listening comprehension exercises, learners become a fundamental part of our classroom materials development. Their support contributes positively in nurturing a more dynamic materials design process that along with the systematization of all resources created benefit the English language teaching and learning in both EFL and ESL contexts.

    Jane Hoelker: Materials Promote Ease in Speaking: English for Fun and Fluency

    Jane Hoelker shared materials developed by The English Department at Wenzhou-Kean University in China (an overseas campus of Kean University in New Jersey, USA) that incorporate aspects of Chinese and Western cultures to help students practice English for fun and fluency in the English Summer Immersion Program. The program draws on the theories of the direct method, the communicative language teaching method (CLT), and task-based learning (TBL) as it re-creates real-life social and functional situations in using English with peers, faculty, and staff. Guidelines from the two university partners suggested that the curriculum focus on five categories of activities.

    Facilitating the adjustment of the freshmen to an English-medium atmosphere, the initial steps in the program draw on the Chinese context. For instance, in the Celebrity Name Game, a student holds in his or her mind the name of a famous Chinese personality, like Fan Bing-Bing or Dehua Liu. The other students question the student about identifying qualities and then guess who it is.

    The second type of materials supported students as they worked with English language challenges such as vocabulary, fluency, and the present perfect tense (which does not exist in Chinese). For instance, in the activity The History of Sneakers, three students sit back to back so they cannot read each other's lips. Each of the three is missing 10 different words in a 120-word story. As each reads his or her version, the other two fill in the missing words.

    Next, students practice activities about school context language and situations, such as the New York Language School Role-Play. After setting up the schema with a photo and brainstorming examples of polite language, students sit in pairs. One student phones the school to inquire about directions to the school and completes a handout of a map upon receiving directions from the school official (the other student). Then, the partner, as the school official, asks questions to complete the student registration form on a handout.

    Fourth, activities from the arts free up creative expression, such as songs, short films on YouTube, drama, stories adapted from the classics, and a poetry salon. A song-cloze, "China on My Mind," is adapted from "Georgia on My Mind." Also, in small groups, students view short films on YouTube, like "The Most Beautiful Thing," about two ordinary high school students who overcome emotional or physical limitations and fall in love. The small group then retells the story to the class before watching the film together.

    The activity What I Like About You provides closure to the program. Students sit in a big circle and write their name at the top of a piece of paper. They pass the paper to the student on their right. Each student writes a sentence about one personal quality of the student whose name is at the top of the paperuntil every student has written a sentence about every student in the class. The students are then absorbed in reading the positive comments from their peers, generating a very positive atmosphere in the class.

     Jane Petring (Moderator)recently retired as a permanent faculty member at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit in Longueuil, Quebec where she was the 2017 laureate for the AQPC (Association Qubécoise de Pédagogie Collégiale) Teaching Award. She is now serving as a U.S. State Department Fellow in Moshi, Tanzania. She is a frequent presenter at TESOL and other conferences, the author of 12 ESL/EFL textbooks, and the 2017-2018 MWIS chair.

     Eric H. Roth teaches international graduate students the pleasures and perils of academic writing and public speaking in English at the University of Southern California. From 2015-2017, he served on the Fulbright National Selection Committee for the English Teacher Assistants (Southeast Asia). Roth has also coauthored the Compelling Conversations series.

     Negin H. Goodrich is a PhD candidate in second language studies at Purdue University. Her dissertation is about English in Iran, with focus on the cultural representations in Iranian English textbooks. She has a background in communication studies (ABD) and has been a journalist for more than 17 years in Iran.

     Mauricio Arango is an EFL teacher pursuing his Master's in English didactics at the University of Caldas in Manizales, Colombia. His teaching experience includes language centers, colleges and social-academic projects held in Colombian provincial towns. He has been a teacher trainer in the implementation of the English curriculum proposed by the Ministry of Education of Colombia through the current Colombian Bilingual Program.

     Jane Hoelker coordinated the summer Pre-University Intensive English Program (PIEP) and supervised its more than 600 freshmen, 40 Mentors, and 40 English instructors. She also coordinated the Curriculum Committee, which designed the PIEP Handbook of 60 hours of communicative and task-based activities. She is an English lecturer in the English Department of Wenzhou-Kean University in China. She wrote curriculum as a U.S. State Department specialist and English Language Fellow, and has taught in India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Korea, Rwanda, and Mali. She has served on the TESOL Board of Directors, as chair of the EFLIS, and president of TESOL Arabia.



MWIS Team Leaders, (2018–2019)

Outgoing Chair: Jane Petring

Chair: Patrice Palmer

Chair-Elect: Lisa Horvath

Newsletter Editor: Kenneth Kuo-Pin Chi


TESOL’s Materials Writers Interest Section (MWIS) provides a forum to discuss the development, use, and publication of EFL/ESL materials in books and other media. MWIS members develop materials for their classrooms, for other teachers in their schools, and for publication. MWIS also involves editors, developers, designers, programmers, and others involved in materials development.


1. Sponsor academic sessions at TESOL's annual convention.

2. Sponsor refereed presentations, such as papers and workshops, on matters of interest to materials developers.

3. Sponsor discussion groups and other gatherings for the discussion of materials development.

4. Conduct an annual business meeting with elections.

5. Maintain a directory of MWIS members, their areas of expertise, and their willingness to help other materials developers.



Hello MWIS members,

You are warmly invited to submit an article to MWIS newsletter. You are encouraged to share with us your experience in developing language teaching materials, or report on ways of using materials that you have had success with in the classroom, or if you still haven’t done so, summarize your TESOL presentation into a conference report (around 1,000 words). You may also submit announcements about topics such as new materials and resources, events, book reviews, websites, etc.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submissions for featured articles should be 1 to 2 pages long (around 1,000 words). Other types of submissions may be shorter.
  • Have the title in ALL CAPS.
  • Use American Psychological Association (APA), 6th Edition, guidelines for referencing outside sources.
  • Send your file in Word format (.doc or .docx) as an e-mail attachment to the editor.
  • Include your head photo (format .jpg) in a separate file. We really want to know you.
  • include a 1- to 2-sentence teaser for the newsletter homepage to entice the reader to go on to find your article and enjoy it. Essentially, this is your abstract–please keep it to under 50 words. (no more than 50 words).
  • Include a 50-word biography of each contributor/presenter with your submission.

Submission Process

Please send articles or reports as attachments to the editor, Kenneth Chyi, atkennethchyi@gmail.com.

When your submission is received, if it is accepted, the editor will review it and possibly revise it for clarity and formatting.

If changes are necessary, it will be sent back to the author for revision.

Finalized submissions will then be prepared for publishing in the e-newsletter.