Meet the MEC Author (Part one)

01-Jun-2007

An interview with Russell Whitehead:

Russell Whitehead 

1)     What do you do when you’re not being a MEC author?

‘I write other stuff – books, CD-ROMs, etc – and do consultancy work.’

2)     What do you do for fun?

‘What?’

3)     When and how did you become involved with MEC?

‘I think it was 2002, and another MEC author, and friend, Mark Harrison, recommended me. (He, I think, was involved because he’d written the excellent Proficiency Testbuilder for Macmillan.) We were both taken on to write Cambridge test material for the site.’

4)     How has MEC changed since you started working there?

‘I don’t know because I don’t work there; I work in my own place. But I know it’s got bigger, and moved from Oxford to London. They have offices near King’s Cross station, which is handy for me if I go for a meeting. Or, if you mean the website, it’s just got bigger, brighter, better. As a client, they are very optimistic, which is refreshing.’

5)     What kind of MEC content do you work on?

‘The Cambridge tests stuff, the general and the business exercises, teacher support material, advising other writers, some investigative efforts to explore potential future developments …’

6)     How would you compare MEC with other VLEs you know or have worked on?

‘What I can call on to make comparisons with is a bit limited. But I’ve been involved a little with the interesting work that Cambridge University Language Centre have done in this area. I’ve done things for the Cambridge ESOL website. (I also did some research in the area of writing tests and computer-based testing.) I’ve done stuff for my friend (and OSE author) Nigel Haines’ good new website IELTSuccess

I suppose what MEC has that’s special is the combination of enormousness and tailorability. There’s a level of investment and commitment in it that seems pretty much unmatched. So then it’s down to what you make of it.’

7)     Do you think that ICT training should be a bigger part of CELTA training and teacher development?

‘This is hard to answer. On the one hand, yes, of course, and it’s head-in-the-sand recalcitrance to suggest otherwise. Newly certificated teachers shouldn’t be going out there not knowing how to exploit the newer resources. And if you don’t have a proper understanding of the principles involved, you can’t really make the most of technology.

On the other hand, the CELTA (and similar course/certificates) are very small in relation to the world. Think of the differences among countries/economies/educational philosophies/realities/technology levels/ideologies that anyone called a language teacher may be situated in. So, how much can be sensibly included in such courses?’

Part two of Russell’s interview will be posted next week.

Do you think ICT training is necessary for English teachers? Did you have any on your CELTA? Leave a comment.

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