From ELT teacher to writer
I started teaching at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, in the third year of a Theatre Studies degree at Kent University. I returned to England and finished my degree before scurrying off to London in search of bright lights or something of that nature.
I decided upon a CELTA course and before I knew it I was teaching at a school called Internexus in the heart of Regents Park. In the few years I taught there I learnt a great deal through the wonderful people I had around me. It was here in this comfortable and creative environment I discovered the process of writing materials.
I soon realised that my favourite part of being a teacher was the scheming and the thinking up of new and creative ways to explore the language. I also, quite naturally, began to deconstruct the materials available to me, finding material I loved and loathed and learning that a lot of the material I desired didn't actually exist or, in some cases as I discovered later, was out of print.
I couldn't find much material on London as a resource and I certainly couldn't find interesting listening material. This is how the idea of London Language Experience was born, but before going any further, I strode off gallantly to do a DELTA course which although rigorous and often exhausting, did help to give me the theoretical backbone and confidence to believe in what it was I was aiming to create.
London Language Experience began as set of four courses marketed to Language providers in London. Each course is based on a cinematic audio tour of a well-known location, a coursebook of associated classroom lessons and an on-location teaching training session. They come available to schools on subscription and were produced alongside my brother, James - a sound designer, scriptwriter, and the co-author of all the original literary content I write.
From the design of these courses, to setting up a company and the process involved in marketing on a zero budget, I discovered that the part I was truly passionate about was the writing of the materials and the cinematic audio production. In early 2012 myself and James relaunched LLE as an educational audio production and course design company. We've since written materials for onestopenglish and are in talks with Macmillan about a number of exciting projects for the future. I've also spoken on behalf of onestopenglish at the IATEFL 2013 Conference in Liverpool to present a workshop on the 'Use of Sound' in EFL.
My advice for aspiring material writers:
Keep exploring until you find your own voice, know exactly what you want to achieve, be creative and always think about the teachers and learners you're writing for. Also remember writing is no quick route to a lucrative career, it takes stamina, hard work and determination and even then you still need to be able to deliver.