New support forum for ELT editors

By Denise Cowle

Last week I attended an awayday for editors who work specifically on ELT (English Language Teaching) materials. Organised by Karen White of White Ink Ltd and Helen Holwill, it was a really useful day, with workshops, presentations, and lots of networking time.

What was very obvious was just how few of the editors I spoke to were SfEP members, which got me thinking – why not?

Several of those I spoke to said that, as ELT editing is specialised, they didn’t think the SfEP had anything to offer them.

The same could be said of many areas – think of specialist science and medical editors, for example – but the SfEP has much to offer every editor, especially those who are freelance, and here’s why.

  • Forums provide much-needed support and information, on topics ranging from the finer points of grammar to negotiating contracts and rates of pay. For me, they are the highest-value benefit of membership.
  • Discounts on editorial training covering a variety of skills and levels, both workshop based and online (distance learning).
  • Local groups where you can meet up regularly with other editors. There are 39, plus an international group and a Skype club for those who are based overseas or in remote locations. If you’re freelance then feeling isolated can be an issue, so local groups are a lifeline, providing peer support and a space for discussion (and venting, if necessary!). And who doesn’t love a chat over coffee/cake/wine?
  • A searchable online directory for Professional and Advanced Professional Members to advertise their services.
  • A 24-hour legal helpline, again for Professional and Advanced Professional Members.

A colleague was at the awayday as an official representative of the SfEP, specifically to raise awareness, and there was definitely interest in joining once the benefits and services were explained.

The SfEP aims, among other things, to promote high editorial standards and uphold the professional status of all editors, in all specialisms and from all backgrounds – whether freelance or in-house. The variety of its members is what makes it such an enriching community. It’s a bonus that many are also generous with their expertise.

So if you’re a member, the next time you’re chatting to a colleague who isn’t, why not remind them of the advantages of joining?

And if you’re not a member, have a think about it. You can go to a local group meeting up to three times before joining. Why not come along and say hello? The cake is really good.

Denise CowleDenise Cowle ( and @dinnydaethat) is an Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP and is also the coordinator of the SfEP local Glasgow group (@SfEPGlasgow). She specialises in English Language Teaching materials but also works on non-fiction books. Denise lives in Glasgow, and before seeing the light and retraining as an editor she was a physiotherapist in the NHS.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

9 thoughts on “New support forum for ELT editors

  1. Nancy Duin

    It might be of interest that the SfEP directory search engine comes up with 62 results for ‘ELT’ and 26 results for ‘English language teaching’. So there certainly area fair number of ELT specialists in the Society.

  2. Karen White

    Thanks, Denise, for this post, and for coming to the Awayday. And to the SfEP for all their input to the day, in particular Sarah Patey. I’m going to give some more serious thought to joining, and I hope you get a good response to the ELT forum. It’s interesting to see Nancy’s comment above – there are certainly plenty of ELT specialists out there. Might need to organise more Awaydays at this rate!

  3. Lyn Strutt

    I’ve been exclusively an ELT editor from the beginning and also an SfEP member since then (now Advanced Professional). I know a lot of ELT editors, but I don’t see many names I know in the Directory. I do see people there who offer ELT alongside other specialisms, but the ELT editors I know tend to work only in that field and many have a teaching background. They also tend to get their work from contacts within publishers. Is that perhaps why the ‘ELT only’ editors are less aware of the potential benefits?

  4. Denise Cowle

    It’s great to see so many people interested! As John said, the ELT forum is now up and running, so if you’re a SfEP member, pop on and say hello, where you are and what you do. Sarah and I are co-moderators, and we hope it can be a supportive environment for anyone to ask ELT-related questions (no matter how basic or complex) and share useful tips and information.
    I look forward to seeing you all there!


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