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English File author Christina Latham-Koenig answers your questions!




English File third editionCo-author of English File third edition, Christina Latham-Koenig will be answering your questions in a live webinar on 27 May. You can register and send in your question now.

We are often asked where the idea for English File first came from. The truth is we felt that none of the coursebooks that we had used up to that point really provided what we needed as teachers. It seemed that these books were designed to work in a teaching environment that was very different from ours, and while there was a lot of imaginative, well-planned, and well-organised material to choose from, there was little to help us address the main challenges that we faced day-to-day.

How do you keep students motivated when they are fitting their class into the middle, or at the end, of a busy day at work? How do you maintain students’ attention when they have so many other things going on in their lives? And, what was always most important for us, how can you get students to talk to each other in English if they all speak the same first language, live in the same town, and have often shared many of the same experiences?

And so we needed to spend a huge amount of our preparation time adapting and supplementing the books we were using to make them more appropriate for our classes. We felt that we needed a greater variety of material to help change the focus and the pace of the lessons, we needed activities that helped to get the students’ heads out of their books, and we needed topics where students really would have something to say. The ideas that shaped the original English File series came directly from our own teaching experience and from talking to our friends and colleagues in the staff room about what worked and what didn’t work in the classroom.

Over the last twenty years in the course of researching and presenting English File, we have had the opportunity to go beyond the confines of our own staffroom and have met thousands of teachers from around the world (and had contact with thousands more via emails and questionnaires) and it has been truly enlightening to have been able to share experiences and to hear about the wide variety of challenges they face teaching English to their students as well as hearing their inspiring stories of success.

They have always been very honest in their feedback, telling us about English File lessons that they and their students have enjoyed, but also suggesting changes and improvements, anything from a text that never seemed to work with their group of students to an activity type that they find difficult to set up because of the arrangement of their desks or the acoustics of their classroom. They have shared their views on perennially divisive topics such as celebrities, sport, and fashion, pointed out why particular areas of grammar or pronunciation are especially difficult for their students, and given us a wide range of cultural insights from their countries.

This exchange of information has helped us to grow as writers and has been the inspiration for the second and third editions of English File. We are extremely grateful for the time teachers have taken to speak to us.

On Tuesday 27 May 2014, I will be hosting an English File Question and Answer webinar. If you would like to participate in this event, please visit the Registration Page. I will try to answer as many questions as I can in the time available – and I really look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Christina Latham-Koenig


  1. Hello, Christina,
    I really liked the new edition of English File. I use the Pre Intermediate and the Intermediate with my students, who will soon become English teachers. The iTutor was a great idea for those students who have lots of difficulties in understand natives speaking. All in all I use everything that is suggested and when I have time I still use the resourse link that comes to my e-mail from time to time.
    I anxious to participate in the webseminar.
    Best wishes
    Ely Mara

  2. Hello,
    I have spent a day searching an audio file in New English File Elementary Third Edition in all given disks #5.58 (irregular verbs) as it is printed on the page 165. My life consists of about 23 000 days. It is a great pity that 1 day was wasted… I will be grateful if could be helped.

  3. The department I work for in Colombia has been using your books for a few years. I have a few observations regarding the teaching of culture through the Intermediate English File book. The African continent is presented in a file on charity and philanthropy, which is very interesting for students in Colombia as they have little exposure to the continent and for that matter other parts of the developing world. As teacher, originally from Africa, I notice that student’s interest in the continent goes beyond the issue of philanthropy and they are often interested in aspects such as culture and society. Existing stereotypes of the continent being uniformly poor and dependent on outsiders is perpetuated through the file. While not fully embarking upon a CLIL approach, the file could actually have a dual approach to learning and teach students a whole lot more about Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa” and addressed issues such as its historical role in the global economy and society. Positive aspects of gratitude on the part Ugandans is clearly shown through the listening tasks, which is quite positive, but it only goes to show the African as the recipient of help and not a contributor to global society through its human and natural resources. It would be interesting for students to learn about the continents products and even individuals such as John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu of the House of Lords who is of Ugandan origin.
    In terms of teaching values, the File could also promote prudency as there is nothing wrong with promoting the notion of the “left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”. Furthermore, many recipients of assistance prefer their identity to be maintained and not publicized as it could be humiliating.
    Hopefully, these observations are taken as being constructive as they are based on several years of observation and the desire of an instructor to broaden the learning scope of university students who are need to further their global knowledge.

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