Emily Bryson is an ELT materials writer, teacher trainer and ESOL Lecturer. She has written digital and print materials for a number of organizations, including Macmillan Education, The British Council, ELTJam and Language Fuel. She has been teaching ESOL at City of Glasgow College since 2007 and in that time has taught all levels and developed a wide range of ESOL for Vocational Purposes courses. She has written two books so far, the A-Z of ESOL and 50 Ways to Teach Life Skills.
When did you first know that you wanted to be an ELT writer?
That was probably when the ESOL for Vocational Purposes courses that I wrote for City of Glasgow College got selected as an example of ‘Effective Practice in ESOL’ by the Scottish Government way back some time around 2009. That made me realize that I was pretty good at writing and motivated me to do it more.
How did you start writing ELT materials?
I was asked to create ESOL for Social Care materials for the college where I work. I got to visit care homes around Glasgow with tech support taking photos and videos of all the manual handling equipment. We made a video of me being hoisted into an accessible bathtub. I learned a lot about social care and its specific language. We also created an interactive Scottish Dictionary with all the local phrases for personal care. It was good fun and I got great feedback from the students and other teachers about what I’d created.
I loved the process of writing and editing these materials, so when I saw an advert for the British Council looking for authors, I applied, and then wrote for their Anniversaries project.
What was the first thing that you ever had published?
My lessons for the British Council Anniversaries project. These commemorated 100 years since the end of the First World War and the 400 years since the signing of the Magna Carta. My lesson about King John’s promises was included in their promotional spiral bound resource book and my other lessons are still accessible on their website or via my blog. They are a great way to get students thinking about global issues and equality.
When was the first time you thought of yourself as an ‘author’?
Probably when I published my first book, The A-Z of ESOL. Although by then I’d been writing supplementary print and digital materials for years, it wasn’t until I had published a book that I thought of myself as an author.
What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Coming up with ideas and creating the perfect context. It can feel like a bit of a puzzle creating reading or listening texts using natural examples of the target language, but it’s really satisfying when it’s finished and I have something that works. I can get quite focused at this stage and it can be quite therapeutic… Until I need to rework it all when I notice something that doesn’t quite fit!
What advice would you give to aspiring ELT writers?
Get yourself out there. Attend conferences, speak at conferences and network. I met the publishers of both my books at IATEFL. Also, be visible on social media. Update your LinkedIn profile regularly and send out regular updates. If you’re visible on social media, people will notice you and be able to contact you easily with opportunities. Oh, and write for ELT magazines, journals and blogs. I’ve been asked to speak at conferences because someone saw an article I wrote.
If you could have any other job, what would it be?
A round the world cyclist. If that counts as a job!? I sometimes toy with becoming a triathlon coach for my local club, but that might take all the fun out of it – and there’s just not enough hours in the day.