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Remembering Kathy Gude, ELT Author

Kathy GudeWe were saddened to learn recently that Kathy Gude, one our most prolific authors of English language teaching materials and a great friend of OUP, passed away in early August, following a brave battle with a long illness.

Kathy made an enormous contribution to our English language publishing, working with us for more than 35 years as author/co-author of the Matrix series and other successful titles, including Success at First Certificate, Proficiency Masterclass, Fast Class, Kickstart, Countdown, Aspire, Advanced Masterclass CAE, Advanced Result, CAE Advanced Listening and Speaking, and Venture into First, which many thousands of teachers and students have enjoyed using over the years. Everyone at OUP who was fortunate enough to work with Kathy held her in the highest regard and loved working alongside her.

Across all her numerous projects with OUP, Kathy brought extensive teaching, teacher training, and assessment experience and expertise. She was a very creative author and a master at crafting engaging and valuable content which has stood the test of time in ELT classrooms all around the world. Her extensive assessment expertise, which she developed as an item writer and paper chair for UCLES/Cambridge ESOL exams (now Cambridge Assessment English), meant that students using her books could – and still can – be confident of being well prepared for their exams. Kathy loved new challenges too, and one of those was authoring OUP’s first online workbook in 2009 – a project she took on with great enthusiasm, and which paved the way for the ELT online learning products that followed.

Kathy always worked hard, including on the promotion of her OUP courses – travelling to give her popular author talks in towns and cities around Italy, Greece and Eastern Europe. She loved talking to teachers that she met at these and other ELT events, and it was clear that she was widely respected by many for her professionalism and wisdom, and loved for her warmth of character. Many teachers and colleagues will also fondly remember Kathy for her beautifully coordinated, colourful outfits.

Kathy was immensely caring, generous, supportive and thoughtful. She was also full of fun and found joy in life – even at times when life was not easy. Kathy was a great listener and took a keen interest in the lives of everyone she met, always making time for them however much else she had going on. She was devoted to her husband, Peter, their three sons, and their grandchildren – our thoughts are with them.

Kathy touched so many lives here at OUP and in the world of ELT, and she will be sorely missed by everyone that had the honour of knowing her. Her legacy will live on at OUP and in the ELT community for many years to come.


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Preparing for those “Umm….” moments in a Speaking test

Woman looking confusedKathy Gude, author of New Fast Class, tackles the challenge of making Speaking exams that little bit easier for students.

For many students, the Speaking Paper can be a stressful ordeal. Our role as teachers is to prepare and encourage them as best we can. In my experience as an exams teacher and exams course book author, I’ve developed some strategies for making students more comfortable with the whole process. I’ve listed a few of them here. I hope you find them useful.

Practice

Because of their perceived unpredictability, tests of speaking and listening put tremendous pressure on the taker, so the more preparation students have, the more they will know what to expect and the more confident they will become. Giving students full-length practice tests under exam conditions before the exam is excellent preparation and will prevent them wasting time during the test checking what they have to do or asking the examiner for clarification. In addition, students will be more aware of how long they need to speak for in each part of the test and what types of tasks they will need to be able to cope with.

Teach them to listen

Students are often unaware that to be a good speaker, you need to be a good listener. Listening carefully to what they have to do, to questions they are required to answer, or to their partner in a paired test, will help students give a coherent and appropriate response to the task in question.

‘Umm…’ moments

Students often find speaking tests unnerving because they worry about not having anything to say. One useful way of dealing with this problem is to give students a range of fillers to use while they formulate their response. This enables them to begin speaking immediately while, at the same time, giving themselves an opportunity to come up with a suitable response. Depending on the students’ level of English, phrases like ‘Well, that’s a very interesting question…’, Let me see…’, ‘I’ve often wondered…’, ‘It’s difficult to say exactly but…’, etc. will prove extremely useful if they can’t immediately think of a reply.

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