Scandal, ELT writing and course writing

Writing about investing might seem like a strange tangent for an EFL writer. But, I’ve written across a lot of genres outside EFL: parenting, travel, food, cycling, romance, erotica … guess which one landed me in a scandal reported in El Pais?

A few years ago, despite my protestations I maybe wasn’t the writer best-suited to a Social Science book for 11-year-olds in Spain covering politics and the government, I ended up researching politicians I’d never heard of for various texts. 

Imagine someone who’d never heard of Margaret Thatcher writing a short text about how she did a lot for Britain …… that was me,  inadvertently picking a woman about as hated and making her the focus of a reading comprehension.

After I’d produced the drafts, in-house editors replaced some additional material I’d written with a matching exercise consisting of even more members of this woman’s party. They never altered my original exercise and the book was published in a very fast turnaround that meant there was no feedback from teachers before it appeared in schools.

Just as quickly, it then appeared in a Twitter upset and an El Pais article about the political bias of the book. I was named in the Tweets though not in the newspaper as a Madrid-based PTA-type organisations called for the book to be withdrawn. (I was so glad I wasn’t on royalties!) Years later, I heard that a book around that time had been pulped, and I still don’t know if it was mine but all the ingredients were there to suggest it was.

And that, folks, is why I beta-tested my chilled investor course before releasing it officially and have tweaked it in subsequent iterations during the year it has been running. After 6 cohorts and 30+ students, it’s become a finely-honed, hybrid self-study and live course.

I’ve had consistently positive feedback on my end of course surveys. Here’s the most recent one (she preferred to stay anonymous, but is a teacher and school owner):

“I had previously & wrongly thought that saving/investing is for people with tonnes of money who don’t work in ELT. Thanks to the course I now know better. This course is very doable even if you are busy and think you have no time. The input is nicely  spaced and organised in manageable chunks. You don’t need to be good at maths to do this course. It’s also fine if you’re completely hopeless at maths like me. You do not have to reveal any personal info e.g how much (or little) you earn, or have any embarrassing conversations abt money. If you wanted to get specific though, Nicola is very supportive and discreet.

“Teachers are important & economic security is a fundamental part of our wellbeing [so this is] the best money I’ve ever spent on PD. “

Surprising to me, though in hindsight I should have guessed, is that even people who have already got some sort of pension set up also learn a lot.

Here’s what one UK participant had to say after Week 2:

“I think the course is pitched perfectly for me. I absolutely needed and wanted the starting from scratch approach, with explanations of what things are and how they work. Understanding what index funds are has already been of practical use for me in trying out an index fund as part of my pension.”

Not everything has been a surprise though. A year of running the chilled investor, my other courses and doing podcasts, webinars and one live talk at TESOL Spain have confirmed my main assumption when creating the course: My own starting point before I learned about investing is exactly where the participants are starting from. 

As I guessed, people know very little about what to do with their money which is exactly where I was a couple of years ago when I had savings withering in Premium Bonds. 

It’s not surprising since investing isn’t taught at school, and even financial literacy would be ground-breaking in most schools today. If you don’t learn it from your parents, how else would you know?

That’s not a trick question, by the way. I honestly don’t know how anyone is meant to know this stuff. Especially if your education and career path took an artistic or educational direction. 

All this is what inspired me to create the chilled investor course in the first place so please do get in touch if you want to ask me anything about it as bookings will open soon for October. You can put down a deposit now if you want to secure your place.

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