Archive | July, 2013

Key Concepts in ELT

24 Jul

ELT Journal

The ELT Journal has just released a back catalogue of articles published in their “Key Concepts in ELT” series, available as 48 separate pdf downloads.

Anyone who is thinking about doing, or already in the middle of, a DELTA or a MA ELT will almost certainly want to head over and grab what they can while they can!

Titles include:

  • Learner training (ELT Journal 47:1)
  • Learner strategies (ELT Journal 47:1)
  • Fluency (ELT Journal 47:3)
  • Project work (ELT Journal 47:3)
  • Pragmatics (ELT Journal 48:1)
  • Scaffolding (ELT Journal 48:1)
  • Feedback (ELT Journal 48:3)
  • Register (ELT Journal 48:3)
  • Universal grammar (ELT Journal 49:2)
  • Noticing (ELT Journal 50:3)
  • Schemas (ELT Journal 51:1)
  • Classroom research (ELT Journal 51:2)
  • Anaphora (ELT Journal 51:4)
  • Deductive vs. inductive language learning (ELT Journal 52:1)
  • Task (ELT Journal 52:3)
  • Task-based learning and pedagogy (ELT Journal 53:1)
  • Genre (ELT Journal 53:2)
  • Bottom up and Top-down processing (ELT Journal 53:4)
  • Evaluation (ELT Journal 54:2)
  • Lexical Chunks (ELT Journal 54:4)
  • Teachers’ beliefs (ELT Journal 55:2)
  • Language-related episodes (ELT Journal 55:3)
  • Transfer/cross-linguistic influence (the subject of Chris’ enquiry) (ELT Journal 56:1)
  • Language as skill (ELT Journal 56:2)
  • ‘Focus on form’ vs ‘Focus on forms’ (ELT Journal 56:3)
  • Computer Mediated Communication (ELT Journal 56:4)
  • Language Awareness (ELT Journal 57:1)
  • Observation (ELT Journal 57:2)
  • Loop input (ELT Journal 57:3)
  • Discourse communities (ELT Journal 57:4)
  • Globalization and language teaching (ELT Journal 58:1)
  • The apprenticeship of observation (ELT Journal 58:3)
  • Washback and impact (ELT Journal 59:2)
  • English as a lingua franca (ELT Journal 59:4)
  • The Common European Framework (ELT Journal 60:2)
  • Native-speakerism (ELT Journal 60:4)
  • Processing instruction (ELT Journal 61:2) 
  • Motivation in ELT (ELT Journal 61:4)
  • Learner self-beliefs (ELT Journal 62:2)
  • Learner autonomy (ELT Journal 62:4)
  • Age and the critical period hypothesis (ELT Journal 63:2)
  • Innovation in ELT (ELT Journal 63:4)
  • Expertise in language learning and teaching (ELT Journal 64:2)
  • Blended Learning (ELT Journal 64:4)
  • The non-native speaker teacher (ELT Journal 65:2)
  • Corpus-aided language learning (ELT Journal 65:4)
  • Foreign Language Aptitude (ELT Journal 66:2)
  • Repetition in Tasks (ELT Journal 66:3)

To download, just go on over to the ELT Journal website via this link:

Oxford Journals | Humanities | ELT Journal | Key Concepts in ELT.

Thanks to @OUPELTGlobal on Twitter for the initial spot.

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Has Michael Gove got the right idea?

3 Jul

So much of what Michael Gove comes out with in the guise of policy pronouncements is little more than the inane wittering of a gollumesque lunatic beggar suddenly thrust into power and wielding it with all the panache and finesse of a toddler with a kitchen knife – you feel powerless to intervene lest you make things worse, yet you know that somehow it’s all going to end in tears.

It therefore pains me to say this – but I think Michael Gove might actually be right about something:  the educational year needs rethinking (Guardian: Michael Gove axes six-week summer holidays for schools).  Approximately 45% of total holiday time in the year falls in July and August, the rest being spread out across the year with various half terms and religious holidays.  As Gove points out, this is a historical anachronism based around the agricultural calendar and is not so relevant for the vast majority of pupils in education today.  Is there any reason why we should continue with the system as it is?  There is some evidence from schools, which have already changed their term dates and re-arranged their holidays more evenly throughout the year, to say that such re-arrangement is benefitting students who have less time over the summer to forget what was taught and less time to get bored and into trouble (unfortunately I cannot remember where I saw that – apologies).

As usual with any government announcement that seems as though it might be halfway decent, the implementation seems sure to be shoddy and ill-thought through.  The Guardian article states (and I couldn’t find corroboration on the DfEE website) that the change to axe the six-week summer break is not coming specifically from the DfEE but rather the DfEE is just allowing schools to set their own term dates (bypassing local council oversight) based around a required minimum of 190 schooling per year.  In other words the DfEE is not requiring schools to change anything, it is just saying they can if they want to.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out:  whether very much changes at all, whether schools seize the initiative to make timetables more amenable to parent schedules or whether anyone thinks of what would be best for all the students in all this.  Concerns about co-ordinating schedules of children in different schools, moving holidays away from the summer sunshine and the impact on business are already being expressed.

If it does all change, one area it seems no-one has much thought about is, of course, ELT.  According to a Department for Business Innovation and Skills (DBIS) report, the ELT industry accounted for just under £2 billion worth of the UK economy in 2008/9, this being made up of £879.5 million in tuition fees and £1116.7 million of “non-training fee expenditure”.  (Conlon, Litchfield & Sadlier: 2011).  ELT in the UK is a year-round industry and operates in a range of different areas, but I wonder what the impact would be on the summer school industry?  If UK schools and colleges are open pretty much all the time, where and when will all the summer courses go?

I suspect that the DfEE plan is to let this chaos emerge and sort itself out in the long run.  With schools setting their own dates, no-one will be able to blame the DfEE or Michael Gove for freeing up the marketplace (I take it everyone else realises this is just the initial stages of privatising the education system by other means?) and if and when eventual consensus emerges, the government can say this was the plan all along.

Speaking personally, I would welcome a change in the holiday system.  I don’t get nearly as much time off as the 67 days a year enjoyed by students and teachers in my former London home and I would welcome seeing it spread more evenly across the year.  Maybe a system of 4 weeks on and one week off? With a two week holiday period every six months?  That would work for me.  Could completely destabilise the holiday and tourism industry though.  And cause havoc with exam dates.  And university entrance, terms and organisation.  And parents taking time off work.  And businesses arranging leave / cover for staff.

Well, when you find yourself agreeing, even partially, with a politician who skulks around the corridors of power muttering daft schizophrenic witterings about hobbits and a return to the Victorian Values that made the Shire so great; who bases policy on evidence garnered from a hotel chain’s market research and who clearly has no idea of the difference between correlation and causation – well, then you know the end of the world is surely a strange place indeed.