Although TESOL teachers are often required to use textbooks in the course of their instruction, many find the general, globalized material inadequate to meet the specific needs of their students. Sometimes a particular subject needs further explanation or a topic demands more extensive practice. In such situations, enterprising teachers may undertake the burden of crafting their own worksheets, units and even books for the benefit of their pupils.
Such is the work of materials writers, who are responsible for creating instructional material for English language students. These material developers work with a variety of mediums, including textbooks, workbooks, magazine articles, websites and exams. They are expected to keep abreast of developments in TESOL methodology to ensure that the content they create is as up-to-date as possible. Because standardized testing is often an integral part of an English student’s educational career, materials writers must often analyze tests like the TOEIC, GEPT, TOEFL, GRE and IELTS, and model their own work in a way that ensures students acquire the skills necessary to pass these exams. A good materials writer will balance his or her content in a way that gives students the knowledge to pass these tests, but also equips them with the practical knowledge they will need in the real world.
Many material writers are former English teachers who began creating lessons for use in their own classrooms. From this point, he or she either approached a publisher or was solicited by one. Despite the existence of both national markets and an international one, the chances of a TESOL teacher’s material being picked up by a publishing house are very slim; materials writer is a prized position due to its high compensation vis-a-vis that of a TESOL teacher, and the publishing industry is a finicky field.
Another route to becoming a materials writer is to pursue job listings for the position. Requirements for such a post often include prior educational material writing experience, and a degree in English, communication, education or a similar field.