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July 30, 2004

BBC World Service Tuning Out of English Teaching

The BBC World Service is to cut back on its global short-wave broadcasts of English language lessons. There will also be a shift to working with local FM stations and delivering content via the Internet and mobile phones. Restructuring plans will lead to the creation of a new unit - BBC Learning English - by October and a reduction of staff from 41 to 25. The new service will focus on three key areas: learners in China, the "Islamic world" (mainly Iran and Egypt) and "global learners." Staff are concerned that ELT is being marginalized within the broadcasting network despite a recently announced increase in government funding, from $421 this year to $468m in 2008. The chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown, ended the annual British Council lecture this month with the statement: "Our aim should be that that no one in any continent is prevented by poverty, exclusion or educational disadvantage from learning the English language."

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