Self-publish English-language Teaching Materials Online

If you are like me, you probably have a creative drive to self-publish your own language teaching materials online. Plus, you probably want to make a little extra income.self-publish

For over 30 years, I've been an English-language educational writer and classroom teacher. I written nine commercial textbooks with major publishers. I've also used commercial textbooks in my own teaching, like most teachers.

Now, I self-publish online my own English-language teaching (ELT) materials at my newly created online school: English School Courses.com.

Here are five reasons why I am now a teacherpreneur and self-publish online. You too can self-publish online!

1. Serve Your Learners Better

If you have taught for several years, you know from trial and error what students want to learn. However, you probably fall back on a commercial textbook to save time and effort. Let's face it. You are already overwhelmed with the task of teaching as it is.

But in many cases you probably use only 50% of the textbook. To make matters worse, your learners are probably bored with some of the material or don't see the point of a particular unit.

When you self-publish, you can design materials for your particular students. For example, if you have dyslexic learners, you can take advantage of multi-sensory activities. It is a strong feature of my online courses (see Teaching English Second Language Learners with Dyslexia). My Introduction to Academic Writing provides both auditory and visual channels to help these learners.

2. Create a personalized, interactive, multimedia experience

Recently, I did a review of a manuscript for a new college-level textbook from a major publisher.

Frankly, I was turned off by its blatantly traditional approach. The material lacked novel and effective activities. It was deja-vu. This is so typical of major publishers whose books look attractive and new, even when the pedagogy isn't.

Over the last decade, online learning has become immensely popular. Online courses ranging from business to technology to language learning are appearing almost daily . Popular learning sites include Udemy, Coursera, and Curious. Even traditional publishers are jumping on the bandwagon with web companions.

Although online learning is not a perfect solution to all learners, it offers distinct advantages over traditional print-based learning.

Online teaching:

  • can make learning visually attractive,
  • can respond to different learning styles,
  • can help dyslexic leaners through a multi-sensory approach,
  • can create a community of learners,
  • is available 24/7,
  • is mobile friendly,
  • provides a self-paced approach to learning,
  • is an effective tool when combined with classroom teaching—in what is now called the flipped classroom,
  • allows for relatively easy updating of materials—something you won't find in traditional textbooks, and
  • saves paper!

3. Become a Better Teacher

You need to abandon theme-buffet textbooks for more focussed, integrated, student-focused materials that you create yourself. Your teaching will improve leaps and bounds.

By publishing, especially by publishing online, you will gain insights and confidence that you didn't think possible. How? By pushing your limits.

You constantly learn when you self-publish. There are some excellent platforms for online learning, such as Moodle—which claims to be the most widely used learning platform.

It has some great features, such as self-corrected quizzes and online response to student writing. But I find it is a static storehouse of information. Using Moodle, I often get lost in a sea of materials and activities that lack a clear focus. You probably know the feeling if you have taught writing.

With the right teaching/learning platform, you can draw on the best practices in online learning in order to:

  • integrate high-quality design,
  • provide a multimedia experience to address different learning styles,
  • be user-friendly,
  • design the course with the end in mind—see Pollock's Designing and Teaching Online Courses,
  • make it clear to students what they need to learn, and
  • provide frequent formative feedback and practice activities.

4. Learn from and work with digital pros


I consider myself a team player—it's one of the reasons I still excel at playing basketball.

Creating your own ELT materials requires collaboration with other online writers and editors as well as tech and marketing people.

In the process, you will increase your digital literacy. You don't want to be left behind by your students.

You also get to interact with other teacherpreneurs. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to work with and learn from Chris Rush in the creation of Introduction to Academic Writing.

5. Make Money and Be Proud of YourselfSelf-publish

If you have ever received a royalty cheque, I don't need to tell you what an exciting feeling it is.

Nick Walker is an experienced self-published author of the Actively-Engaged Series at Bokomaru Publications.

He has created textbooks that maximize writing practice. Learners receive corrective feedback learners on writing by using his online grammar checker, integrated into his materials.

He once said to me: "The students pay for materials anyway, so they might as well pay [self-published authors] directly . . . "

If you use your materials with your own students year after year, you can make modest ongoing revenues. It's like giving yourself a performance bonus. You deserve it!