If you teach English Language A Level, I’d recommend the following online resources:
- Dan Clayton’s blogs – on English language and on teaching grammar
- The Linguistic Research Digest blog, which was set up by Sue Fox and Jenny Cheshire to share recent linguistics research with A Level teachers
- The relatively new site The Grammar Teacher, maintained by Dick Hudson and Geoff Dean has lots of helpful (and recent and positive) material about grammar.
- Subscription to Emagazine and EMC Extra. Emag is a fantastic magazine for sixth form students of English (all varieties!) and EMC extra is an online resource which is growing all the time. I particularly appreciate the video clips with academics on specific (and often tricky) details.
- Membership of Teachit
- Membership of English Edusites
- Membership of the English Language List (take a personal subscription on this site). This email list is where teachers of A Level Language share resources and discuss aspects of the course. It’s a great community and we all learn a lot from each other.
As for books:
- David Crystal’s Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language is great to have in the department.
- Deborah Cameron’s ‘Teachers’ Guide to Teaching Grammar’ is excellent if you’re less confident on word classes and syntax.
- The new Cambridge Topics in English Language series, edited by Dan Clayton, including ‘Language Diversity and World Englishes’, ‘Language and Gender’ and ‘The Language of Literature’ are essential NEA-reference material for the department.
- For the AQA spec, the OUP textbook (by authors of the old Nelson Thornes ones) is also particularly good 🙂
General Writing Resources
- If you are looking for help with getting published, The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook is essential. As well as many useful articles on the business of writing, it lists publishers, agents and other relevant companies/persons.
- I’ve been reading the Story Fix blog for years. The posts on Story Engineering became a book published by Writer’s Digest and are well worth your time for a thorough – and clear –explanation of story structure.
- For women writers in all genres and disciplines, a Mslexia subscription is invaluable. The magazine features interviews with and features on well-known women writers and lots of pieces on forms and outlets you may not have considered.
- The podcast Writing Excuses offers a wealth of advice to remove excuses and get you writing. It’s fifteen minutes a week and has a huge archive. Season 10 is a good place to start, as they ran that as a year-long masterclass in writing craft.
- Another great podcast for writers is The Bestseller Experiment, now (in late 2018) about to enter its third year of weekly broadcasting. They interview authors and publishing industry experts regularly with great advice to offer on both traditional and self-publishing.
- Some good writer blogs to read include: Sarah Duncan’s; live write thrive; Joanna Penn; Go Teen Writers!
- This Tumblr of writing prompts has lots to offer, if you’re short on wacky inspiration…
Resources for Writing for Children and Young Adults
- Getting involved in Twitterchats can be really useful to talk to other writers, like #MGchat (for writers and readers of middle grade fiction, or books for 9-12 year olds).
- Anyone writing for children or teens – from picture books up to gritty YA – should consider joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It’s a worldwide organisation with an active British Isles chapter.
- There are several well-organised blogs featuring groups of children’s/YA authors which are worth visiting for insight into writing and publishing: Author Allsorts; An Awfully Big Blog Adventure; Picture Book Den; Girls Heart Books.
- There is also a specific Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, with relevant content for children’s and YA publishing.
- Two books that I would also recommend on writing for the children’s/YA market are both written by well-known literary agents:
I thought it would be good in this umpteenth version of the site to add in a bit more for teachers, so I’ve tried to cluster together some of the stuff that you might not have seen from elsewhere that I hope is helpful.
You may find some of the GCSE or A-Level posts useful – they are addressed to students, but of course, you may wish to check them out before directing you students towards them. My writing posts, and those on my book blog, are written for a broader audience (which may also include students, of course).
I also share useful stuff for Language that I’ve found online on Twitter, but then I do everything on Twitter, so you also get a lot of book chat, dogs and writing stuff, as well as personal/political comments (although I’m not that frequent a poster). Don’t say you weren’t warned!
Those of you who used to enjoy my recommended reading slides might appreciate this:
I’m establishing a monthly newsletter for teachers, and I’m offering a pack of 36 recommended reading slides (pretty much 1 a week) as a gift in exchange for signing up. The slides will be in ppt format, so you can edit them (add your school logo/swap some texts), and are all themed. If you’ve used/seen my slides before, some might be familiar, but most are new or at least updated. Themes are either topical (e.g. mental health), English-based (e.g. multiple narrator), seasonal (e.g. horror for Halloween) or themed around a media product (e.g. for Love Island fans). The books recommended are suitable for years 9-13. For an example and my standard blurb about how I use the slides, see this blog post.
The newsletter will include the following content:
- info about that month’s blog posts for students (GCSE and A Level)
- brief details of book blog posts/writing posts for the month
- my top Language links for the month, with classroom/learning suggestions
- news about any upcoming publications/conferences/workshops (but I promise it won’t be too salesy!)
Watch this space/my Twitter for more details.