Hello,
What questions would you ask when facing some representative trying to attract you with ELT Books/ Seminars offer? Here's list of some I've noted during online session with one of the English teachers (private language school):
What's special about your book?
What extras does it have (CD Rom, tests, posters, photocopiable materials)
Who is it aimed at (teens, children, state school or private language school, adults)
Is it Country's specific?
I think teachers want something that gives them clear instructions (reduce lesson planning time) and ideas without too many extra resources (some people will have to pay for photocopies etc)
Choice of Cd or tape
Cost of book (very important)
What freebies does it have!!
So, if you are (would be) an English teacher - what questions You would ask? (methods used? layout/ material organisation? what else?)..

Do you have any comments regarding publications of the following publisher (pricing, quality, methods, support, etc..):
- Longman
- Oxford University Press
- Macmillan
- Cambridge University Press
- Langenscheidt
- Others..
Regards, thnx,
Artur
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Hello, What questions would you ask when facing some representative trying to attract you with ELT Books/ Seminars offer? Here's ... you are (would be) an English teacher - what questions You would ask? (methods used? layout/ material organisation? what else?)..

All the above Artur, plus:
Who are the authors?
Have I heard of them and/or used one of their previous books? Is it a reputable publisher such as the ones below? How many free copies can I blag?
Are parts of it allowed to be photocopied?
Is it so ubiquitous (Headway) that my students will have done it all in their previous schools?
Does the guy who runs the language school down the street use it? Is the language set UK, US, or International?
Are there sufficient activities in the modules for my teachers to structure classes round, or is it a load of description that doesn't actually provide anthing for students to do in class? Are the activities interesting and varied, and most imporatantly DO THEY WORK?, or are there lots of lazy "in groups talk about Globalisation" type tasks?
Is there enough material for the amount of class time it will be used over?
Does it focus on the needs of my students (say ,Business English, or specific exams)?
Do I agree with the language description (ie grammar) sections, or are they sometimes bollocks (Sue O'Connell)?
Do you have any comments regarding publications of the following publisher (pricing, quality, methods, support, etc..): - Longman - Oxford University Press - Macmillan - Cambridge University Press - Langenscheidt

I'm aware of Langenscheidt as a German publisher of Dictionaries, but not seen any ELT material by them. The others are among the reputable UK publishers, though even they manage to publish the odd stinker. Lots of good material also comes out of the US, but because it's aimed at the ESL side of things, and/or students intending to study in the US, it tends to be far more culturally loaded than UK-publised EFL materials.
- Others..

I like Cutting Edge, and I've been recently impressed by Landmark http://www.oup.com/elt/catalogue/isbn/3670?cc=global , which I think meets most of the criteria we've discussed.
DC
Huh...generally speaking, I have found that publisher representatives do a great deal to push freebies and offer up "value statements" regarding their product when there isn't much to it...or they don't know much about it.
There is a way of dealing with such representatives. Open the book in front of them to a unit at random and ask about it. They should know the book well enough to give you some inside information about the book (as in, teaching ideas when dealing with different skills (Listening/Reading/Writing/Speaking) subskills (Grammar/Vocabulary) that are carried throughout the book). They should also know about possible pitfalls, perhaps not about the unit, but about the teaching ideas mentioned above.
The special information that I'm talking about is usually written in the introduction to the teacher's book...knowledge regarding pitfalls comes from talking to the users of the product (teachers who have used it) or being a former user oneself.
If a rep doesn't know enough about a book to answer questions like this, or doesn't know someone who is able to answer questions like this in their organization...AND is able to put you in touch with that person, the product is always second-rate the rep hasn't read the intro and also hasn't talked to someone who liked the book well enough to offer them some constructive criticism.
In such cases, the rep's real job title should be "book-pimp." Show them the door and go take a shower to wash the filth off.

The cost of the book/CD/whatever is absolutely secondary to the quality of the product. Considering what students pay for lessons here in Greece, the fact that one book/package may be fifty euros and another may cost a hundred and fifty, when a year-long course averages 1200 euros...well, it just doesn't make sense to scrimp, for the teacher or language school. Then again, if the book/package runs for much more, there would be a good reason to choose a cheaper packet. Some of the publishers here, with special emphasis on the local ones, have begun to produce packages for exam-prep courses that total 200 euros.

Generally speaking, these improved, Improved! IMPROVED!!! packages are junk (grammar exercises book/workbook/extra practice workbook/test book) arranged around a good, but not a great, product.
Regarding specific publishers, well...why not?
Oxford University Press serious work, decent product...but often not attuned to the needs of the marketplace...OUP excels in putting out general purpose materials but stinks at hiring people for country-specific or exam-specific work who are actually competent.

Towards Proficiency might well be the worst test-prep book I've ever worked with.
The Clockwise series is wonderful in the hands of someone with experience and time to properly prep it, for example, but it's terrible if you don't know what you're doing.
Macmillan often brilliant ideas, a remarkable talent for miserable execution. Intermediate Language Practice, an adapted idea from another book, Advanced Language Practice, is a case in point. Lots of big-picture thinkers seem to work with Macmillan, and the money spent on them would be better spent employing a few decent worker-bees.
Longman superficiality galore, with a few quality products hidden behind the universally sweet-sounding hype. Unfortunately, some of the most cynical books ever produced have been put out by Longman.

A prime example of this is Grammar and Vocabulary for First Certificate. There is no salvation for the soul of the author and the people who marketed it.
Cambridge very little in the way of superficiality, generally quality products aimed to expedite language teaching for experienced teachers. There is an educational MISSION behind CUP products that is often lacking in other language publishers. However, the fact that this educational mission exists means that the press cannot afford to spend money on country-specific products.
English Grammar in Use is an example of both phenomena.

I hope this helps.
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Hello credoquaabsurdum!
You were talking over some books, and will you forgive me my opinion? As of a person who has come through some of these books.
The Clockwise series is wonderful in the hands of someone with experience and time to properly prep it, for example, but it's terrible if you don't know what you're doing.

There's hardly enough vocabulary to satisfy our needs to talk on those topics. Well, and the book itself seems to suppress any mental work. It's really superficial!
Longman superficiality galore, with a few quality products hidden behind the universally sweet-sounding hype. Unfortunately, some of the most cynical books ever produced have been put out by Longman.

Student A, B, C - and some time later you are ready to commit suicide. Trivial and monotonous exercises.
Cambridge very little in the way of superficiality, generally quality products aimed to expedite language teaching for experienced teachers. ... However, the fact that this educational mission exists means that the press cannot afford to spend money on country-specific products.

The time when we were studying some of their books like ENTERPRISE or MISSION I was thinking that I was going insane! I had no words for the authors - they should be punished for this hack-work. However, UPSTREAM - wow! I like it Emotion: smile))
So this is it from the viewpoint of a student Emotion: smile
Yours, Catherine
Hello credoquaabsurdum! You were talking over some books, and will you forgive me my opinion? As of a person who has come through some of these books.

Catherine??? Your comments regarding Enterprise and Mission, as well as Upstream, seem to be related to a company that exists here in Greece called Express Publishing, not Cambridge University Press. Are you in Greece?
Express Publishing puts out books by a certain Virginia Evans...are those the books you're talking about? Because as far as I know, C.U.P. does not publish Enterprise, Mission, or Upstream.
Hello credoquaabsurdum! You were talking over some books, and will ... it from the viewpoint of a student Emotion: smile Yours, Catherine

Catherine??? Your comments regarding Enterprise and Mission, as well as Upstream, seem to be related to a company that exists ... those the books you're talking about? Because as far as I know, C.U.P. does not publish Enterprise, Mission, or Upstream.

Is Grievous Grammar still about Credo? Source of the sample sentence 'This should be done by anyone', which I'm still puzzled about 20 years later.
DC
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Catherine??? Your comments regarding Enterprise and Mission, as well as Upstream, seem to be related to a company that exists ... those the books you're talking about? Because as far as I know, C.U.P. does not publish Enterprise, Mission, or Upstream.

Well, no, I'm not from Greece Emotion: smile
Actually, I was talking not only about Express Publishing, but other publishing houses. These were my impressions.
Is Grievous Grammar still about Credo? Source of the sample sentence 'This should be done by anyone', which I'm still puzzled about 20 years later. DC

DC,
To the best of my knowledge, Grivas Grammar is no longer published in its original form. Grivas Publishing has expanded and moved on to greener pastures. However, many, many teachers brought up on it still keep it around to bang off photocopies. I used to work for a language school that pirated the same 1987-vintage copy every year for all of its intermediate-level students.
Some more stories related to Grivas...I once shared a taxi from Glyfada (beachside-Athens) to Piraeus with a poor *** that used to work for the man. Apparently, Grivas keeps cameras in the break rooms to keep his contract writers from smuggling out the material they write for him in their lunchboxes. Moreover, Grivas shreds all his excess copies of work-in-progress. Apparently, he once found people from Express Publishing going through the trash.My favorite Grivas product of all time is his Cambridge Proficiency Use of English series. DC, as you know, preparing students for CPE in Greece is usually a two-year affair that begins after they pass the Cambridge First Certificate exam. Grivas's work deals with that market reality by, of course, having two Use of English books, one for the first year of preparation, and another for the second. Instead of filling the first book with easier expressions and polishing off the students in the second year with a really demanding book, Grivas makes sure that schools that adopt his work do so for both years, in the following manner: in his first year book, he presents likely expressions that run from the letters A to M.

Only in the second year are students exposed to expressions that begin with N to Z.

I have only attended one of his seminars. After regaling us with the knowledge that the British have almost completely given up on using "will" to express the future (in Grivas's mind, "going to" is slowly moving toward supreme domination of all future forms in English), he presented us with a very special copy of the new National Certificate examination sample paper cassette, Apparently unaware that anyone in Athens (or Timbucktu, for that matter) can download the mp3, he told us that he had gone to great lengths to obtain this cassette for us and that it was a special gift for all his firm friends that had come to his talk.
What made the biggest impression on me is what I didn't hear during his talk, which would be more than three words of English out of his mouth: "going," "to," and "will." Clearly, a man as learned as Grivas doesn't feel the need to showcase his knowledge of the language that is his bread and butter.
I left the seminar with a nasty taste in my mouth, which was only heightened by the next seminar I attended...one led by a wonderful lady named Virginia Pagoulatou-Vlachou.
Well, no, I'm not from Greece Emotion: smile Actually, I was talking not only about Express Publishing, but other publishing houses. These were my impressions.

Bergina Pagoulatou-Vlachou runs Express Publishing. Of course, you have mostly likely never heard that name before, since all of her books come out under the name "Virginia Evans," while her daughter, whom I believe carries around a passport issued to a certain Giannoula Dominitheopapalakou, is usually given credit as "Jenny Dooley."

Pag-Vlax, as she is referred to by the language teaching community here ("vlachos," of which "vlachou" is the feminine form, means "hillbilly" in Greek, "vlax" is an adjective that means "idiot") is one of the grande olde dames of Greek ELT. The hair on this woman is unbelievable, improbably blonde and stacked on her misshapen head in a manner that brings to mind a half-melted butterscotch sundae. It isn't just Pag-Vlax's improbable hairdo, though, that gives us pause.

A friend of mine once applied for a job with this woman. Apparently, she hires writers on a 20/20 arrangement...they work in one of her four language schools for twenty teaching hours and write exercises for another twenty. No one, of course, knows this because, well, Pag-Vlax slaps her own name ("Virginia Evans," I mean) on every book that comes out of Express Publishing.
There is also the previous story of scrounging for exercises in Grivas's trash as related above...
I'm glad to hear that Upstream worked out for you, though. As you can probably guess by now, I do not use any materials put out by either Grivas or Express.
A third publisher whose work I do not trust all that much is Akis Davanellos, who likes to walk around at the publishers conventions in a rather odiferous pair of leather pants and a freshly-bleached skin-tight T-shirt, proudly displaying an array of gold chains Mr. T would be proud of, and complemented by gray-streaked Brylcreemed hair that hangs down to his leather-encased tushie...
My buddies and I call him Akis Davatzis ("Akis the Pimp") or alternately, "Akis Da Sleaze."
Then there's Burlington Books, run by a certain Linetta de Castle who does her promotional seminars in little black cocktail dresses with plunging necklines. Given that she's speaking to large groups of young women, and there are only a few horn-dog boyos out in the cheap seats, I'm not sure exactly what she hopes to accomplish. Since she's never been caught in the hotel ballroom bathrooms with Akis, who dogs her every swaying moves around the book exhibition floor like a Doberman, we do harbor certain suspicions.
Burlington's address is formally somewhere in the UK, yet I'm damned sure all the work gets done up the street from me at Artakis Street in Nea Smyrni, and if you read the small print on the credits page of their books, you'll see that Burlington, is, well, owned by a Cypriot company called Danos Books Ltd.
We haven't even begun on Addie Kostakou ("Use my books and I'll send you on vacation to my ***-ass little island with no indoor plumbing, where THE FOOD IS FREE but you have to pay a euro per bottle of water!") or Marissa Constantinidou ("I've brought a video of myself to this promotional seminar! Just watch it while I stand here.")

All in all, Catherine, if you're ever in Greece, you should meet some of these people. Convention season is freak-show-central.
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