Four things I’ve learnt from working with chronic pain | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Four things I’ve learnt from working with chronic pain | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

The last day of February every year is International RSI Awareness day. And this year, for me, marks 20 years since I was first diagnosed with RSI. So, it seemed like a good point at which to look back on how chronic pain has affected the way I live and work over the past two decades.
To quickly recap, I started suffering the classic symptoms of RSI, shooting pains in my right hand and wrist, not long after I’d switched from a career as a classroom EFL teacher to one working all day every day at a computer in ELT publishing. Over the period that followed, I learnt a lot about repetitive…

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2018: Themes of the year | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

2018: Themes of the year | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

It’s that time when you find yourself looking back on the past 12 months and ahead to the coming year. To be honest, 2018 wasn’t the easiest year for me workwise. Through the first half of the year, I struggled with work as my chronic pain condition went through a particularly bad patch. This led to me taking two months off through the summer to rest and recover. It really helped from a health perspective, but meant a big financial hit. Then over the last few months of the year, I had the frustration of projects being delayed and cancelled, with more lost income and my cash-flow at less than…

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Corpus insider #4: The problem with polysemy | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Corpus insider #4: The problem with polysemy | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

It’s a bit of a standing joke that every talk I give includes the word polysemy, but it’s such an important concept to bear in mind when you’re looking at language in any context and especially for any corpus research. Recently, I gave a talk to students at Goldsmiths, University of London, about careers in linguistics. I wanted to give them a taste of both corpus research and lexicography, so I put together a small set of corpus lines for them to look at to tease out the different senses of a word and organize them into a dictionary entry.
Whilst it’s possible to do a corpus search for a…

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Corpus insider #3: Corpus quirks | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Corpus insider #3: Corpus quirks | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

I love using corpus tools to research language. They throw up some fascinating results to feed into ELT materials in all kinds of ways. They can, however, also be infuriating at times! In this post, I thought I’d look at a couple of the quirks that it might help to be aware of when you’re using corpus tools.
Apostrophes, contractions and negativesCorpus tools are great when you’re just searching for strings of letters, but throw an apostrophe into the mix and all kinds of confusion seems to ensue! That’s particularly problematic when you want to start researching anything grammatical….

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Not working | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Not working | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Today is my first proper day back at my desk after roughly seven weeks of not working. That might sound like a fabulous long holiday, but it was actually an extended break to try and get my health back on track.
As some of you will know, I suffer from a chronic pain condition which makes managing work a bit of a juggling act at the best of times. My condition fluctuates enormously. I have good patches and bad patches, some long, some short, some which coincide with busy patches of work, some which don’t. At the start of this year, things were particularly bad. I put it down to a combination…

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My working life in stats | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

My working life in stats | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Recently, I’ve been following a series of blog posts by ALCS, My Writing Living, about writers’ sources of income (following on from their survey of authors’ earnings). It prompted me to think about my own income and after creating my first pie chart, I kind of got carried away with the stats …

Working hours
Before I start talking about income, I need to get clear how much I work. As some of you will know, I originally went freelance back in 2000 to try and manage my health. I suffer from a combination of RSI mixed up with a more general chronic pain condition which means that I need to…

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Word Booster update | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Word Booster update | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Last year, I wrote a review of Word Booster, an online tool that allows you to create an ELT lesson from an online text. It creates a (fully credited) pdf of the text that you can print out for students, along with definitions for key words and a follow-up vocab quiz. At the time, I was disappointed that an idea which seemed so promising fell short on a number of important details.
As soon as I’d posted the blog, the creator of Word Booster got in touch. He was really positive about my feedback and keen to improve the tool as quickly as time, manpower and finances would allow. I was really…

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Sticking to your lexical guns: 4 principles for writing vocabulary materials | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Sticking to your lexical guns: 4 principles for writing vocabulary materials | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

I was inspired to put together a talk for the recent MaWSIG/Oxford Brookes event by a number of posts by Katherine Bilsborough about materials writers’ principles. It’s a topic I’ve been pondering for a while and one I decided to give a vocabulary slant. After lots of thought, I came up with four broad principles. And with the title of the event being about challenges and opportunities, I combined my four principles with some of the challenges I face in sticking to them when they seem to conflict with the brief I’m working to.
Principle 1: Have a clear aim in mind for every activityThis may…

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#IVACS2018: new corpora and new collaborations | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

#IVACS2018: new corpora and new collaborations | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

I came away from the IVACS conference in Malta a couple of weeks ago with my head buzzing with ideas which still haven’t quite settled themselves down into a coherent order for a blog post, but here goes anyway …
Lots of corpora:Almost every speaker seemed to start off by describing the new corpus they’d compiled for their research. To the outsider, this might seem slightly pointless, constantly reinventing the wheel … why not just use an existing corpus? I guess the answer is that the English language isn’t a single homogeneous whole and if you want to study a particular area of usage or…

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#IVACS2018: learner corpus research & ELT materials for Spanish learners | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

#IVACS2018: learner corpus research & ELT materials for Spanish learners | noreply@blogger.com (The Toblerone Twins)

Last week, I spoke at the IVACS (Inter-Varietal Applied Corpus Studies) conference in Malta about my work using the Cambridge Learner Corpus (CLC) to help develop ELT materials targeted at Spanish learners of English. So, following on from my last post about my work generally using the learner corpus, here’s a brief summary of my talk.

Photo from Naill Curry via TwitterELT: a global market
From the perspective of a large ELT publisher, if they’re to invest in producing a major coursebook series – over several levels each with multiple components – it makes economic sense to sell it to the…

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