Phil Wade Interviews: Jorge Sette
Jorge Sette has been involved in Language Teaching for over 20 years. He started off as a teacher, then worked as an ELT consultant, field editor and marketing manager for international publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Macmillan and Pearson. Jorge has an MA in Applied Linguistics (PUC – Sao Paulo) and an MBA (ESPM – Sao Paulo).
He is known in the ELT world for his popular blog, LINGUAGEM (www.jorgesette.com) where he blogs about languages, ebooks, marketing, education and art. He is probably better known though as the author of the innovative self-published ELT ebook series titled TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART, currently consisting of 7 ebooks. It is available from the KINDLE STORE.
I am a great fan of Jorge’s as he consistently blogs and publishes about subjects connected to ELT and he has managed to create engaging ebooks on artists that appeal to English language trainers and school subject teachers.
What is your opinion of the current ELT ebook market?
Like all the other markets, the ELT book market is undergoing a radical transformation. It’s becoming digital. However, there is still a lot of resistance to this new reality. Teachers and parents of course, because of their age, tend to be more conservative, and therefore will prefer the use of print materials as a rule. It feels more tangible to them. On the other hand, even more forward-thinking or younger teachers, and also students, are not used to paying for anything they get from the internet, which makes it difficult for ELT publishers and writers to go fully digital, as the business model has not been fully established yet. However, I firmly believe there’s no going back, and in the very near future we will all be reading and studying from tablets, smartphones and other devices. I myself have been reading mainly ebooks, emagazines and enewspapers for the past 5 years or so. And paying for them too (laugh).
How do you write your ebooks?
Well, I love art and I love English teaching, so it was only natural for me to combine both passions. I uploaded some free presentations involving teaching English in the context of art on SlideShare a couple of years ago and found out lots of other teachers liked the idea too. I realized then there was a market for these materials, as they were not common in the ELT world. So I decided to write a series of supplementary ebooks on vocabulary, speaking and writing which would tap into famous works of art as a springboard for exercises to be done in the language classroom. My writing process is the following: I tend to choose artists who are famous to start with. Then I go through their works on the internet or print books I have at home to decide if their paintings lend themselves easily to the creation of classroom activities. Then I read a couple of well-known biographies on the painter and watch videos about his works on YouTube, so I understand their life, style and motivations better. Even if very little of thishomework is reflected directly in the books themselves, I know I will write better if I have this background knowledge and information about the artist stored in my head when I start developing the tasks.
What feedback have you received?
I have run some campaigns on Amazon.com where some of my ebooks have been given away for free, as it’s important to get the word out, and have key teachers get to know and talk about them. These campaigns function in the same way as publishers give free samples to teachers aiming at getting an adoption for their print materials. There have been hundreds of downloads throughout the world during these campaigns. However, not everybody who downloads the materials gives us feedback. Many teachers, though, have written to me directly saying they loved the books and that their students have been benefitting from the activities. Of course most people who care to write to us are the ones who have a positive opinion, so I still need to investigate more on how the books can be improved, as I haven’t received much negative feedback to help me in this direction.
Why does Art appeal to so many different kinds of teachers?
Well, teaching English with art is a powerful tool. I summarized all the advantages of using art in the language class in a post I wrote for my blog LINGUAGEM, which your readers can access by clicking here: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1jO .
As a summary, though, I would say that teachers like it because it makes the lesson more fun and, therefore, more motivating. It allows the inclusion, in the English class, of other subjects studied in the curriculum, such as a history, geography, mythology, psychology and literature. In addition to that, art involves emotion, which makes language more relevant and memorable. And, finally, its flexibility makes it easy for teachers to personalize exercises and allows for open answers and freer practice, which is an important phase in the language acquisition process: if the students use the language to express their own reality, dreams, experiences and aspirations, chances are their development as language learners will improve.
Which is your favourite activity from your ebooks and why?
I myself love the storytelling activities, both oral and written. Everyone loves a good story, and if you can create your own version of a story based on a painting, you will certainly enjoy the process. I encourage the use of process writing in the ebooks, which shifts the focus to drafting rather than coming up with a final product immediately. The more drafts a student produces the better writer she will become. Having said that, I suspect different students will enjoy different kinds of activities, so we provide a huge variety of exercises to cater for different tastes and learning styles.
Thanks again Jorge 🙂
This post originally appeared in two parts on Phil’s blog. It is reposted here with kind permission of both Phil Wade and Jorge Sette.