The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Week in the Life …

After a busy summer of teaching and teacher training,  followed by a well-earned break, this week I’m back at my desk finally and trying to settle back down into a routine. So when I spotted Karen White’s freelancer challenge on her White Ink Facebook page to keep a log of how you spend your working time for a week, it seemed apt …

Dealing with email – 2.5 hours
Having finished off several things before I went off on my hols, most of this morning was spent in sorting out what I’m going to do for the next few months. Luckily, I came back to several tempting offers of work in my inbox to mull over and respond to, some enthusiastically, some more tentatively. I also sent off a few emails to chase up things I’d had pencilled in for ‘the autumn’. Now, as the replies start coming back with start dates, deadlines, briefs, etc., I just have to work out what I can reasonably fit in.

Social media – 30+ mins
A bit of catching up on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and a quick request sent out to help with my next task …

Preparing a talk –   4 hours
At the weekend, I’m off to Munich for an event for EAP teachers organized byMELTA. I’m giving two talks, one on EAP vocabulary, the other on EAP grammar. I managed to put my vocab talk together before I went away, but today I sat down to prepare my grammar talk. I sort of had in mind what I want to talk about, so it was mostly a case of preparing my PowerPoint slides.  I wanted to include a few student examples from my summer teaching, so that involved a certain amount of rummaging back through paperwork. I also got rather distracted rewatching a great video of apresentation by Steven Pinker that I reference in the talk.
I think I’m more-or-less happy with the slides now, but I’ll probably run through both talks again before I go at the end of the week.

Rather a bitty, uninspired day after my initial spurt of enthusiasm yesterday, mostly waiting for responses to the emails I’d sent out and a bit unsure what to get on with.

Email/admin/social media – 2 hours

Blog post – 1 hour
I got round to typing up a guest blog post for the OUP blog about the new Oxford EAP Advanced coursebook (which I worked on). I’d actually sketched out the post a few weeks back when I was invigilating an exam at the end of my summer EAP teaching. The post was mostly inspired by my class who were pretty much target audience for the book and happily, confirmed a lot of the ideas about advanced EAP students that we’d tried to incorporate in the writing. I’ll reread it tomorrow before I send it off … and let you know when it’s posted.

Aimless corpus research – 1 hour
A response from a colleague about specific issues for German EAP students to incorporate into my talks  prompted a bit of browsing on the BAWE corpus. It’s a corpus of academic writing by UK university students (and available for free) and although a lot of it is native speaker writing, as it reflects the whole student body at a UK university, it does include work from international students too. So I was able to search for writing by German students to test out a few thoughts. I’m very aware that the EAP students I’m used to teaching, largely Asian, have quite different issues from the German speakers my audience will be dealing with.  I didn’t find any specific examples to use in my talk, but it helped confirm a lot of what I’d thought. Any guesses from the example below about what I might focus on in my grammar talk?!

Hence, positioning is about placing the product on the market from a customers' point of view and not the management's one. It has to be developed an image, the client's advantage needs to be shown and the product must differentiate itself from competitive products.

Reading/research – 1 hour
I finished the day reading through a load of information I’d been sent about a potential new project and mulling it over.

A lovely sunny day and a fabulously long lunch with a friend and colleague … one of the perks of the freelance lifestyle!

Email/social media/admin – 2 hours
I turned down one piece of work and accepted another. It leaves me with rather a quiet October at the moment, but had I said yes to everything, I would have been left overloaded in December and January – always a tricky juggling act.
Editing blog post – 1 hour
I returned to what I’d written yesterday, reread and edited it. I always tell my students to ‘sleep on’ their writing before they hand it in and it’s definitely true that you see something quite differently when you come back to it with a fresh eye – I cut a whole rather rambling, irrelevant first paragraph!

Feedback – 2.5 hours
Although I finished my summer teaching at Bristol University nearly 3 weeks ago, because I went off on holiday right afterwards, I hadn’t yet filled in the tutor feedback form and it was sitting menacingly on my to-do list. The course and materials had been completely overhauled for this year and with quite a lot of thoughts on how it’d all worked out, my feedback turned into something of an essay … sorry guys, but you did ask!!

Email/admin – 2 hours
I think I’ve worked through most of my to-do list for the week and I’m starting to get my schedule for the next few months pinned down now.

Preparing for talks – 4 hours
This afternoon has been spent getting ready for my trip to Munich. I ran through both my talks in full to check for timing. They’re meant to be 45 mins each and they both came out as about 5 mins over, which should be close enough, but I’ve got in mind bits I can skip if needed on the day.

My bag’s packed, taxi’s booked for the morning and I think I’m as ready as I can be.  I’ll let you know how it goes …

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