Archive for category Materials

JALT 2015 Featured Speaker Lecture: Towards Systematic Materials Design with ADDIE

Researchers have suggested that ELT materials should be created in a more systematic way. This presentation proposed a systematic creation process by introducing an Instructional Design model called ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) and how it can be applied to the creation of ELT materials.

References can be downloaded HERE.

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JALT 2015 Featured Speaker Workshop: Harnessing the Power of Visual Design

Making great teaching materials is not only about the content but also how it is presented. Research has shown that visual design influences both student comprehension and motivation. This workshop offered some visual design best practices to improve student learning, and demonstrated how they can be applied to materials using word processing software.

References can be downloaded HERE

The handout can be downloaded HERE

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Nara JALT: Creating supplements that increase spoke interaction


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TESOL 2015: Getting the most out of your handouts with QR Codes

Thanks everyone for coming. Some people were having trouble downloading the poster from the conference app, so I’ve posted it here too.

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Paperless? How about less paper with QR Codes

Here are the slides from my presentation at the 2014 Paperless: Innovation & technology in education conference at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan.

I showcased some examples of materials that I have been making that use QR codes. Mostly I use the text feature to add additional information to handouts, for example answers for homework exercises, and the URL feature to link to information on the wider Internet.

I’ve blogged about this before, and you can read about it HERE.

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New typeface recommendation: Cambridge

lowercase l and uppercase I in Arial.

lowercase l and uppercase I in Arial.

Those of you who have seen me speak, or gone through one of my presentations on this site, know that I am very interested in typefaces (fonts), especially how L2 learners cope with different typefaces and I have recommended a number of typefaces in the past. These recommendations are based on a number of criteria, specifically a number of difficult letter combinations/contrasts that L2 learners struggle with, for example, the lower case l and the uppercase I. I strongly argue that only typefaces with good legibility, that is to say letter shapes that are sufficiently different, should be used. Because of this all of my recommendations have been for serif typefaces, like New Century Schoolbook or Bembo Infant. I have yet to come across a good sans-serif typeface that had the legibility required for L2 learners, until today.

Taking a step back for a moment, my recommendation, for supplemental materials that is based on a number of studies which report that the typeface easiest for readers is the typeface they are most familiar with (see Felici, 2003: 67-8 for example), is to use the typeface found in the textbook you are using in class. For me this year, that has been Myriad Pro, the typeface used in the English Firsthand series (Smiley, 2012). It’s a very nice typeface and as an L1 reader I enjoy it a lot, but I have been quite frustrated with it for my students. It has a number of the problems that I have identified for L2 users: indistinguishable I l, insufficient contrast between dbpq, double-story minuscule a, etc. I have been thinking for the better part of the year, that I would like to find something different and for whatever reason, this morning I decided to have a look.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to recommend Cambridge, by Nicholas Garner of Aviation Partners as a sans-serif typeface for teaching materials for second language learners.

If you take a look at the glyphs page on you can see that

  1. The uppercase I is actually serifed, and the lowercase l has a slight bend to the right
  2. The lowercase d, b, q and p are unique letter shapes, not just mirror images turned around or flipped over.
  3. The lowercase i and j have sufficient contrast.
  4. The lowercase f and t have sufficient contrast.
  5. The lowercase c and o have sufficient contrast.
  6. Both the lowercase a and g are single-story.

Cambridge Glyphs

In other words, it’s the perfect sans-serif typeface for L2 learners. And it should be because it was designed to be used in educational materials. Here’s the blurb from Aviation Partners website:


I am happy to recommend it. Now I just have to get some funding together from my university so I can buy it.


Felici, J. (2003). The Complete Manual of Typography. Berkley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Smiley, J. (2012). The Anatomy of a Page in a Single Typeface. Between the Keys, 20 (1) 31-35.

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I just found out about the Simple English Wikipedia

Last weekend I went to Osaka JALT’s Tech Day at Hannan University and one of the coolest things that one of the presenters showed me was the Simple English Wikipedia. To quote the entry about it, “Simple English Wikipedia is a Wikipedia encyclopedia, written in basic English. Articles in the Simple English Wikipedia use fewer words and easier grammar than the English Wikipedia.”

The Simple English Wikipedia has been around since 2003 (why am I always the last to find out about these things) and has over 70,000 articles most of them are adaptations from articles on the main Wikipedia site. I’ve done a few searches and so far everything I’ve looked for is there.

This is great! So many of my students have told me that they have a hard time with the language in Wikipedia; it is too difficult for them. So, they often use a machine translator to make sense of it. I’m hoping that with SEW (can I call it that?) the students will have an easier time and will be less like to have it translated.

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