Dear MW-SIG members,
Welcome to 2016! I hope that everyone is having a relaxing break, I know that I am making the most of it. In order to keep the MW-SIG members more informed in the activities of your SIG, I have decided to send regular messages to you. If you have information that you think that other members would be interested in, please don’t hesitate to share it with me. For example, if you have just published something or have an upcoming presentation, it would be great to share it with everyone! I hope that everyone has a successful and prosperous 2016.

Yours in Service,
Adam Murray

Contents of this message:
1. Sojo University Teaching and Learning Forum 2016: Engaging Learners with Materials.
2. Calls for papers (Reminder)
3. Articles of interest

Sojo University (Kumamoto) and the NanKyu JALT chapter are co-hosting a one-day event that I think will be relevant for all of us. It is the Sojo University Teaching and Learning Forum 2016: Engaging Learners with Materials. The program has not yet been finalized, but the plenary speakers have been announced. One of our SIG members, Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto, will be giving a plenary talk “Designing Materials that Work.” Also, Curtis Kelly, the co-ordinator of the Brain SIG, will be giving the other plenary talk, “The Neuroscience of Lesson Design.” The deadline for poster presentations has been extended to Friday, January 15th. More details can be found at the NanKyu JALT homepage.

Before we know it, the deadlines for the upcoming PanSIG and JALT International Conference will be upon us. The deadline for PanSIG is February 7 and the deadline for JALT International is February 15.

From TESOL’s English Language Bulletin, here is an article that may be of interest: Modifying traditional ESL materials for classroom use.

From John Hughes’ blog, Writing ELT Materials: Level, context and flow

The No-Nonsense Guide to Writing
A free e-Book for “for all of you who want to become (or continue to be) writers of ELT material, this collection of articles provides a one-stop resource of information about what you need to be able to do, what to be careful about, and how to enjoy it”

Finally, looking for ways to increase interest in your books?
Growth hacking your book sales

Hello everyone. Welcome to the final issue of Between the Keys in 2015. Temporarily, I’m taking over the editor chair for this special issue on gender bias in EFL materials. James Essex will be back next year with our regular line up. In the meantime, if you have an idea for an article, please feel free to contact James via our website and discuss your ideas with him.

The JALT International Conference just past focussed on the learner. This provided a very useful framework for materials writers to consider how the learner develops their voice in the second language through the materials we create. No voice can exist without models: just as the baby copies the parent, the student utilises the language of the textbook. If that language contains bias, writers consciously or unconsciously promote that bias in the output of students, even if that is bias that the students don’t accept in their own native speaker voice.

Such biases are often subtle and some are blatant. Simply being aware of the issues will go a long way to rectifying the amount of gender bias in EFL textbooks, but some issues may be missed by the casual reader. I urge close reading of the articles in this special issue.

In this issue, Melodie Cook describes a longitudinal change between the textbooks by the same author separated by a decade. Cook finds that gender bias is still prevalent in EFL materials even though the situation is ameliorated to some extent. She concludes her paper with some useful recommendations for writers about how to prepare more bias-free texts.

Brien Datzman presents an analysis of a commonly-used textbook in Japan. He uses Lakoff’s 10-item framework as the base for the analysis in which he concludes that the work is relatively bias free. Although Datzman’s article will be of use as a case study in authoring modern texts, he does point out some more subtle examples of bias. The wider question regarding the role that EFL materials have in mimicking native speaker discourse or as instruments of critical change becomes an important one for writers.

Jim Smiley applies the Bechdel Test to EFL materials. He uses this test to present a short overview of the main themes in gender studies in EFL.

The final ‘piece’ is a paid-for infomerical from an independent publishing house offering its wares to our members.