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November 07, 2013

UK

What we can learn from teaching English abroad

guardian-tefl.jpgThe Guardian asks whether the successful TEFL model of teaching English could be applied to the teaching of foreign languages in the UK.

Ellie Colegate spent five years studying French at school in Kent, but opted not to continue beyond Year 9. "Learning a new language was never something my teachers made appealing or entertaining. My experience was purely an academic one. My French teacher just made us copy and complete exercises from books. And this is a top set French class."

Colegate, 15, has taken some of her GCSEs early and is already looking ahead to a bright future at university, but it's clear that the British approach to language education has failed to engage her. "During lessons, my teacher spent little time speaking the language herself and she would only ever get a handful of the best students to speak in class."

After three years or more studying a foreign language at secondary school, the majority of British school leavers are unable to read, write, speak or understand more than a few phrases, pre-learnt and repeated until they can be said on command, parrot-fashion.

At the same time, the industry around Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is exploding with activity and seeing increasing success across the globe. TEFL teachers teach English abroad to people whose first language is not English. There are TEFL courses – sometimes also referred to as TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) – across the globe, offered by a number of accredited course providers. The British Council estimates there are 1.55 billion English learners around the world, and at least 10.2 million English teachers. There are more than 100,000 native English speakers teaching in China alone.

How is it that the TEFL industry is booming while the British language learning system is in a state of crisis?

Read the full article from The Guardian.

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