Personal Best | Authors

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Personal Best has been developed in collaboration with Jim Scrivener, the internationally renowned writer, teacher trainer and educational speaker. In his role as Series Editor, Jim has been joined by a highly creative team of professional authors, all with years of personal experience in the ELT classroom. Read on to discover their personal stories and their own top tips for using Personal Best.

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Jim Scrivener, Series Editor

My top tip for using Personal Best is……

When you are checking answers to a grammar exercise, once you get a correct answer from a learner, try adding a little “challenge” for the person who gave it to you. For example, “Good. Now tell me the sentence again from memory without reading it from the page!” or “Good! Now say it much faster with no pauses or hesitation!” or “Good! Make a new sentence by changing the last two words!” Keep this light-hearted and game-like (not test-like!)

Remember – when you are learning to use the language well, the correct answer is only the beginning, not the end.

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Bess Bradfield, B1 Student’s Book

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My favourite thing about Personal Best is……

There are many great features of Personal Best – from the innovative Personal Best challenges, to the engaging, motivating topics – but the skills syllabus is a particular highlight for me. Reading, writing, listening and speaking are taught independently from language work, equipping students in essential micro and macro skills, and boosting confidence and fluency. I hope the lessons are as enjoyable to use as they were to write!

Graham Burton, B1+ Student’s Book

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My top tip for using Personal Best is……

Give students a text and ask them to read it. Set a time limit which is achievable but will force them to read reasonably quickly. Then take the text away and ask them to work in pairs and talk about what they read. They might summarise the whole text, give a personal reaction to it or talk about the parts that most interest them. It’s a great way of getting them to reuse the grammar and vocabulary.

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Sheila Dignen, B1 Teacher’s Book

sheila dignan

After graduating with an MA in French and Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh, I had a brief spell of teaching English in France before returning to the UK and taking up a job as a trainee lexicographer. I worked with dictionaries as a writer and editor for around twenty years, specialising in ELT and children's dictionaries. I am also co-author of the Oxford Dictionary of Reference and Allusion, an area of language that has always fascinated me. After so many years of focusing on the intricacies of lexis and grammar, I decided to branch out into writing more general ELT materials. With this in mind, I retrained as an ELT teacher and spent five years working in a language school in the UK to gain some up-to-date classroom experience. I now write a range of ELT materials, including teachers' books, grammar reference and practice, workbooks and tests.

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My top tip for using Personal Best is……

The Vocabulary Practice sections at the back of the book are a great resource. Go back and work through them again from time to time, to help you remember the new vocabulary you've learned. Remember, when you learn a new word, it's important to learn its grammar and use, as well as the meaning. Is a noun countable or uncountable? Is a verb transitive or intransitive? How is the word typically used?

Alastair Lane, B1 and B1+

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My top tip for using Personal Best is……

A good way of learning vocabulary is to watch English-speaking films with the subtitles in English, not your own language. That way you can pause the screen to see the word in context (and hear the correct pronunciation too). You can watch the Learning Curve videos from Personal Best again with the subtitles on screen while you do the Extra Practice Activities online.

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Louis Rogers, A2 Student’s Book



My favourite thing about Personal Best is……

The communicative nature of the course. There are loads of engaging, heads up speaking activities to practise the language they have just learned.

Elizabeth Walter, B1 Workbook

With my friend and colleague Kate Woodford, I’ve written a wide range of ELT materials including books on collocations and phrasal verbs, grammar courses, a guide to common errors, phrase books, and of course workbooks such as these two for Personal Best. We are also the authors of Richmond Vocabulary Builder B1 and B2.  And you won’t be able to tell, but if you use Richmond’s interactive online exercises, many of them have been written by us too. We’re both really interested in grammar and especially words – in fact, we started out as dictionary writers, and we still love keeping up to date with new words and phrases coming into the language.

I live in Cambridge, UK, which is a small city with a large number of language schools. Doing supply teaching keeps me in touch with students from all over the world, and it is their faces I see in front of me as I’m writing. When I’m not in front of my computer, you might find me tending vegetables at our allotment, bending into improbable positions in a yoga class or travelling somewhere (rather slowly!) in our trusty old camper van.

elizabeth walter
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My top tip for using Personal Best is……

Focus on words and phrases that are relevant to you – that ‘personal’ language is the language you’re most likely to use outside the classroom.

jim scrivener

Hello! I’m Jim and I work as an ELT writer, consultant, teacher and trainer. I guess my main interest has always been on finding usable, engaging, practical classroom teaching techniques that encourage more learning to happen more often for more students.

I live on the cold, windy south-east coast of England in a rather beautiful, sleepy town called Bexhill. I’m married to Noémi and I’ve got two grown-up sons - Alex and Ben - a young daughter, Maisie and an even smaller son, Orlando. I’ve worked in many different countries, including two years in Kenya, three in the USSR and seven in Hungary. I’m a frequent conference presenter and course leader around the world.

I’ve written lots of ELT books, articles and activities over the years, including Learning Teaching (ARELS Frank Bell Prize 1995), Teaching English Grammar (HRH Duke of Edinburgh English Speaking Union 2010 “Best Entry for Teachers”), Classroom Management Techniques (HRH Duke of Edinburgh English Speaking Union 2012 “Overall Winner”) and Visual Grammar (Richmond 2013).

Why not say hello to me on Twitter? I’m @jimscriv .

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bess bradfield

I’m a writer who’s been lucky enough to develop a wide range of materials for over 20 ELT titles, including Richmond’s Target FCE, The Big Picture, and now the exciting new Personal Best course.

In addition to over 15 years writing, editing and teaching in ELT, I was formerly a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary, where I helped to define the British idioms ‘who ate all the pies?’ and ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. Sorry about that! I’ve always been passionate about language, literature and learning, and I also have a first-class BA in English Literature from Cambridge University. I currently live in Yorkshire, which happily provides many great reasons to get away from the desk and explore a landscape which inspired the Brontë sisters, David Hockney … and Downtown Abbey!

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graham burton

I've been working in English Language Teaching since 2000, when a notice board labelled 'TEFL' outside a seminar room at university caught my eye (I was a linguistics undergraduate at the time). Once I'd found out what the acronym meant, I knew it was something I wanted to become involved with. Within six months I'd done the Cambridge CELTA during the university summer vacation and I haven't looked back since.

I've worked in a number of different roles, including teacher, teacher trainer, lecturer, materials writer and editor. I currently live in northern Italy, and teach at the University of Bozen-Bolzano. I have undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics and I'm currently carrying out PhD research into the teaching of grammar.

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alistair lane

I’ve been working in ELT since 1996. In the beginning, I was a teacher working in Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. I then worked as an editor for OUP from 2003 to 2006, before starting my freelance career. Since 2006, I have been based in Barcelona, where I now work developing materials for a range of different publishers. Like many people, I started teaching English abroad because I wanted to travel and to live in different countries, with all the challenges and excitement that that brings. Since then, I have really enjoyed meeting people from all around the world, and learning about their life experience. One of the joys of ELT for me is that as teachers, we’re always learning, and that means that every lesson is a new experience.

I’ve worked on a whole variety of different courses, from schoolbooks through to adult materials and I’m a regular contributor of articles to Modern English Teacher magazine. In addition to the books, I’ve also written lots of exercises for CD-ROMs and websites over the years. So, when your students are doing a quick online exercise, it’s possible that the anonymous author of it was me! I’m a big fan of the early ELT course books like Access to English and the Peter Viney courses Streamline and Grapevine. I would love to work on a colourful, heavily illustrated course like that.

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louis rogers

TEFL has provided me with so many opportunities in life and allowed me to meet a wide range of people from all sorts of backgrounds. Even today this is still what I enjoy most about TEFL; the diversity of colleagues and students to work with. I have been lucky enough to have lived and worked in various countries around the world including the UK, Germany, Portugal and Italy. Much of this teaching has been to adults or young adults who were learning English for work, to enter their degree or just for fun. I have been lucky enough to have been involved in various EFL titles, including Richmond's @ Work Business English series. Some of the series have also won awards including Collins Academic Skills Series (ELTons 2014 winner of Innovations in Learner Resources) and Oxford EAP B1+ (HRH Duke of Edinburgh English Speaking Union, 2013, Runner up).

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Graham Fruen

Graham Fruen, A1 and B1 Student’s Books

Hi, I’m Graham. I graduated from the University of St Andrews with an MA in French and German, and have worked in ELT for more than 25 years. I taught children, teenagers and adults in Spain and the UK, before embarking on a career in ELT publishing. I published many successful primary, secondary and adult courses for markets around the world, working with some great authors. More recently I decided to move into writing myself, in order to further my passion for creating dynamic teaching and learning materials. I’m married with two children, and I live in Oxford.

 


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 My favourite thing about Personal Best is…

Vocabulary is key to communicating in a foreign language. One of the things I like most about Personal Best is that it has a really strong vocabulary syllabus, with plenty of opportunities throughout the course for students to use and consolidate new words and phrases. Recently I've been trying out the Personal Best app, which is a fantastically motivating resource for students to practise their vocabulary and grammar. But be warned – it's very addictive!

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