Suzanne Torres
has worked in ELT for 21 years. She has been a teacher and teacher trainer in the UK, Germany, Spain and Ecuador; a Young Learner Coordinator for the British Council, Quito; an advisor and consultant to the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education and Culture; and a senior editor in the Spanish Primary group at Oxford University Press. She is the author of various OUP titles, including Explorers and most recently Ace!

This month, Suzanne Torres shares some of her experiences and ideas with us! Many thanks Suzanne!

How long have you been working as an author?

I’ve been working as a full time author for OUP for about four years, but I’ve done quite a lot of different kinds of writing in the past too. I’ve written lots of readers, and teacher training materials for The British Council, for example.

In your opinion, what’s one of the biggest challenges teachers face when teaching young learners?

I think teachers face LOTS of challenges, but one which interests me in particular is how to get the most out of the students, especially with limited time. I often meet teachers who rise to this challenge really well, because they are able to make every second in the classroom count. I love it when teachers tell me that their children are “like sponges”, because I believe that young learners tend to match their teacher’s expectations of them. High expectations can be very powerful!

And what’s one of the biggest challenges authors face when writing an English course?

The biggest challenge is also the thing which makes it fun – writing an English course involves writing a huge variety of different types of material, e.g. songs, stories, vocabulary and grammar activities, cut-outs and craft activities, CLIL material, phonics lessons, culture material, animation and film scripts, interactive whiteboard materials, exam preparation material and tests, teacher’s notes … (phew!)

Every time we write a new course, it has a few new features or components!

What makes Ace! different to other series on the market?

I think Ace! is different because it has a high level syllabus and plenty of challenge, and at the same time it’s still very accessible and child-friendly. Learning English at a high level should still be lots of fun.

It’s also a true story-based course, which is quite unusual for this level.

How does Ace! cater to different learners?

We all understand that different children are motivated by different things, so by varying the context in which language is presented and practised we can hope to engage lots of different types of learners. Ace! is a very rich and varied course with all kinds of story genres and styles of music, as well as diverse CLIL and culture themes, for example, so there is definitely something for everyone.

Ace! has plenty of provision for mixed ability too, as the course includes optional reinforcement and extension lessons, as well as material for external exam preparation, for example.

What’s one of your favourite classroom anecdotes?

A long time ago I got an electric shock when I was teaching a group of five year olds. (I had a very old tape recorder and I think the plug was faulty.) The children were very impressed when I flew across the classroom. (Obviously I didn’t ever use that tape recorder again …)

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