Editorial on ELTNEWS.com
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Editorial

It was with great enthusiasm that I took over the reins for the second time at ELT News in the spring of last year. The plan was to take the site from one focused on English teaching in Japan to one with global reach, of interest and use to English teachers worldwide. And indeed a look back at the news stories and articles of 2013 will take you to places as varied as Costa Rica and Kazakhstan, London and Liberia, Brazil and Bulgaria; we've met some of the leading lights in ELT; English schools and related companies have been bought and sold; edtech has progressed apace and the major publishers have announced bold moves away from print to digital; teachers have used their ELT platforms to launch life- and world-changing movements; and sadly we've lost some good friends along the way.

But during that time, I have also been busy with other projects outside of ELT News. Working on several projects at once has meant that my time has often been stretched very thin and made it difficult to give ELT News the full attention it deserves. So I've decided to move on and leave this site in other, more capable hands. I hope you will continue to tune in regularly and contribute news stories, articles and opinions.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful ELT News contributors, who have been a joy to work with, an editor's dream! I wish you all the very best in your future teaching and writing endeavours.

Until we meet again.

Mark McBennett

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Our ongoing series of articles from Patrick Jackson, "A Pat on the Back" continues to draw the biggest reaction from our readers, regularly getting more social media buzz than anything else on the site. The articles look at people in ELT who are helping make the world a better place, usually in small but meaningful ways. So if you know of anyone who is deserving of a pat on the back, please let us know.

A Pat on the Back

I recently managed to catch the attention of globe-trotting ELT celebrity Jeremy Harmer long enough to persuade him to do a quick interview. So if you haven't been one of the lucky ones who have studied with him this year in New York, or seen him in person in Malta or Uruguay, check out the interview.

Interview with Jeremy Harmer

I just did a quick check and counted 67 ELT-related news stories that have been posted on the site since my last editorial in mid-August. Some stories are obviously bigger than others, butI think you'll find something of interest in our archives.

ELT News archives for September 2013

Busuu is massive. With more than 35 million members, it can claim to be the largest social network for language learning. Members can learn one or more of the 12 languages currently supported (Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and English). The site is free, with premium content available for a monthly fee. Rather than try to write an article about all the aspects that make Busuu such a great resource for language learners, I'll recommend that you check out the 2-part review article over on eltjam.

busuu.com: The State of Language Learning: Part 1 | Part 2

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Sentences like the one above have been the most common tongue-in-cheek reaction to this news reported yesterday by CNN:

This is going to give grammarians a headache, literalists a migraine and language nerds a nervous breakdown.

The definition of literally is no longer the literal definition of literally.

Gizmodo has discovered Google's definition for literally includes this: "Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling."

Language is of course constantly in flux, forever evolving and being reinvented, we all know this. But sometimes the changes are annoying in the extreme to the above-mentioned grammarians, literalists, and language nerds. And editors. Oh, and parents.

Of my pet peeves, words or phrases that when uttered bring to mind fingernails on a blackboard (remember those?), the one that offends my ears the most is "like."

As in, like, when my daughter can't put a complete, like, sentence together without, like...well, you get the idea.

Rightly or wrongly, I've always associated this verbal tic with California. My pre-teen daughter may have picked it up from watching too much Disney Channel, or from American friends at school, or maybe it's now universal among her peers. I hope not.

Habitual use of words such as "like" can, I think, be blamed on laziness. Now that's a personal trait I admit I'm all too familiar with - I would have called it "lack of intellectual rigour", but that would have taken too long to type. But in the spirit of meaning what you say and saying what you mean, I try to make my daughter aware of any verbal laziness she becomes susceptible to (an earlier one was reacting to any and every situation with "Oh, my God!).

In my role as an editor, I'm not fanatical about these things. And this being a site for English teachers, comments are not strewn with non-words (irregardless, supposably) and the misuse of words (literally, totally).

But some things I can't just ignore. Like, you know?


I'd love to hear what words and phrases get under your skin. So head on over to our Facebook page and share your pet peeves.

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Today I had the pleasure of meeting a chap by the name of Ian Butler, CEO of startup Lingle Online, a company that has created a very versatile online tool for creating English teaching lesson plans from authentic text and video. Selected by Silicon Republic (Ireland's technology news service) as a startup to watch, Lingle's technology allows English language teachers to create exercises, lesson and resource materials quickly and easily from current news articles. Ian kindly agreed to submit himself to an ELT News interrogation and the results of that will appear on the site in interview format in the near future.

Here's a quick video peek at Ian and what Lingle Online does.

On a different note, I just heard that Jonah Glick has recently left Compass Publishing Japan, where he was the Managing Director. The Seoul-based company also has offices in Japan and the U.S. I got to know Jonah a little over a decade ago during my previous stint at ELT News when he was with Pearson Longman. He has also spent time working with McGraw Hill Education and Lexxica. Jonah hasn't yet announced what his next venture will be but we at ELT News wish him all the best.

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Eltjam is a website that I check in on regularly these days. The site focuses on edtech, the interface between education and technology, with an emphasis on the implications and possibilities for ELT. Articles strike a nice balance between a light touch and plenty of insight.

One of the most recent articles looks at the current state, and possible future, of ELT publishing. The former, despite announcements by major publishers about going digital, remains very much a long and laborious process of planning, writing, re-writing, editing, and publishing physical copies of textbooks that are only really "tested" after a print run of many thousands of copies. But the article looks at how the future of ELT publishing, not just in digital but also in traditional print, might be one based on the principles of agile software development.

Will we soon be seeing new ELT course material being mass produced for the classroom in a matter of weeks rather than years? How will it change the way in which the "team" behind a course (authors, editors, illustrators, etc) work together? What are the implications for tele-commuting authors?

Read the article from eltjam.

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