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October 15, 2015

Teacher Development

Win an all-expenses-paid trip to Oxford next Summer with Headway and OUP!











To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Headway in 2016, Oxford University Press has launched a competition to win a 2-week teacher training course at an Oxford University college, all expenses paid. To enter the competition, teachers need to describe how Headway has helped them improve their teaching skills and the way it has helped their students learn English. The deadline for entries is 11th January 2016 and the course will be held at Exeter College, Oxford in July next year.

For full details, visit the competition page.
 See also: • Interview with John and Liz Soars from 2001 article • John and Liz Soars receive MBEs for services to English language teaching article • Buy Headway from ELTBOOKS.com

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October 13, 2015

Education

2015 Extensive Reading Foundation Awards Announced

The Extensive Reading Foundation (ERF) has announced the 11th Annual Language Learner Literature Awards (LLL Awards) for books published in 2014. An international jury chose the winning books in six categories, taking into account Internet votes and comments of students and teachers from around the world. To find out more about the ERF and view the winners of the LLL Awards 2015, click here
 In Japan, the finalists and winners can be ordered through ELTBOOKS.com See also: • Extensive Reading; Why do it, how to do it, how not to do it article • Free Guide to Extensive Reading on ELTBOOKS article

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October 10, 2015

Japan | Teacher Development | Secondary Level | Primary Level

This week is Japan Teacher’s Week

To celebrate International Teacher's Day, NPO Teach For Japan, with the support of the Ministry of Education and others, has organised Japan Teacher's Week 2015.

The week started out with a discussion hosted by Yusuke Matsuda, founder of Teach For Japan. Items under discussion included: the life of the typical teachers in Japan; the experience of teachers in Japan vs that of those in other countries; career paths for teachers; and the impact of new initiatives from MEXT.

Other events happening during Japan Teacher's Week include:
- A free exhibition "Teacher's Voices" being held at MEXT in Tokyo until the 9th October and in Ebisu from 5th to 12th October;
- TEDxTokyo on 10th October with the topic "Igniting Curiosity".
All events are in Japanese only.

Also during Japan Teacher's Week, Japanese recruitment website DODA is also featuring education related job posts from 5th until 18th October.

More information on Japan Teacher's Week can be found here.

About Teach For Japan:
Teach For Japan is a non-profit organization founded by Yusuke Matsuda in 2012 with a vision to tackle education inequity in Japan by recruiting, training, and supporting teachers and appointing them in various schools to reach out to underprivileged and troubled children and inspire them.

To learn more about Teach for Japan, click here.

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January 31, 2014

South Africa | Education

British Council and South Africa sign DOI

bc-south-africa-sign-doi.jpgThe British Council has signed a Declaration of Intent to work with the South African government to raise ELT standards, reports the PIE (Professionals in International Education) News.

The British Council has signed a Declaration of Intent (DOI) to work with the South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) to improve the country’s English as a First Additional Language (EFAL) programming and delivery. The signing of the DOI comes following the meeting of UK Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove and South African Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga at last week’s Education World Forum.

A key component of the collaboration centres on improving the quality of teaching of English in schools through implementing two Teacher Training Courses, the Certificates in Primary and Secondary English Language Teaching (CiPELT and CiSELT).

The project will affect all state schools in South Africa and aims to reach 300,000 teachers and 10 million learners, which accounts for approximately 18% of the population.

Caroline Grant, English Language Advisor at British Council South Africa, commented: “As the late Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, so it is fantastic to see this Declaration of Intent formalising an important educative collaboration between the UK and South Africa.”

Read the full article from The PIE News.

Photo: British Council Chief Executive, Martin Davidson and Chief Director of South Africa Department of Basic Education, Carol Nuga-Deliwe sign the DOI. The PIE News.

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January 30, 2014

UK | Primary Level | Pre-school

Able readers damaged by phonics, academic says

english-childrens-books.jpgNot directly about English as a second or foreign language, but the BBC looks at the controversy about teaching pupils at British schools to read using phonics.

The interests of able readers are being threatened by an insistence primary school pupils are taught to read using phonics, an academic has said.

The Department for Education wants English schools to use the reading system, which requires children to blend common sounds into words.

But Durham University researcher Andrew Davis says those already starting to read are likely to be put off.

The DfE insists synthetic phonics is the best way to teach reading.

The teaching method encourages children to sound out words rather than recognising the whole word and reading it for meaning.

The government strongly encourages schools to use reading schemes based on synthetic phonics, and part-funds a range of books approved as meeting its criteria.

Read the full article from the BBC.

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January 29, 2014

Malaysia | Education

Malaysia: Cambridge working with Ministry of Education

Cambridge English Language Assessment is working with the Ministry of Education in Malaysia to carry out an in-depth study of the learning, teaching and assessment of English in Malaysian schools.

The large-scale project will focus on children and teachers in schools from pre-school to pre-university.

Hanan Khalifa, Head of Research and International Development and Martin Robinson, Assistant Director Assessment from Cambridge recently met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in London to brief him on the progress to date of the project, entitled "The Cambridge Baseline Project: measuring English language standards and establishing an evidence-based baseline for Malaysian schools."

The study is part of a programme which aims to ensure every child is proficient in Bahasa Malaysia and English and is endorsed by the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013–2025.

Deputy Director-General of Education (Policy and Development, MOE), Datuk Amin Senin, said Cambridge English was commissioned to undertake the study in May last year. Amin said the study will measure the English language proficiency of students and the teaching abilities and practices in schools.

The study will review the current national curricula, learning materials, examinations and teaching practices, as well as testing the language levels of students and teachers at the end of pre-school, end of primary school (Year 6), end of lower secondary (Form 3), end of upper secondary (Form 5) and end of Form 6.

The findings from the study will provide the Ministry of Education with baseline data that can be used to set realistic and achievable targets for future learning. Recommendations are expected to be submitted to the government in March 2014.

Martin Robinson commented “Malaysia is embarking upon a visionary education reform programme to ensure that every child will be proficient in Bahasa Malaysia as the national language of unity and in English as the international language of communication. We are very impressed by the rigorous approach the Ministry of Education is taking and it is especially commendable that the Ministry is employing such a ground-breaking, evidence-based approach to providing solutions to the challenges it faces. By undertaking such a comprehensive review of the whole English language education system, Cambridge English Language Assessment is helping Malaysia turn the visions and aspirations of the Education Blueprint into realistic and achievable targets. The Cambridge Baseline Project is the first step in helping Malaysia deliver lasting, genuine educational reform”.

Read the original post on Cambridge English Language Assessment.

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January 28, 2014

Saudi Arabia | Education | Business

Pearson wins key Saudi teaching contract

Pearson has been chosen to partner with a local firm to improve and monitor the quality of English language teaching in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s strategic education services company Tatweer has joined hands with top learning company Pearson to develop a new project aimed at developing the standard of English language providers in the kingdom.

The English Partnership Management Project is a flagship programme of the Tatweer Company for Educational Services (T4EDU) in implementing King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s Project for Development of Public Education, and forms part of Saudi’s broader education reform agenda to improve the quality of teaching and learning across the Kingdom.

The project aims to improve the English language proficiency of teachers in order to enhance the quality of English language teaching throughout the Kingdom.

Under the contract, Pearson has been tasked with ensuring that the quality of English language instruction delivered to teachers meets stringent, international standards.

Throughout this project, Pearson will monitor the performance of third party English language training providers who work with the Kingdom’s English language teachers, said the company in its statement.

The Tatweer programme will feature a number of initiatives affecting Saudi Arabia’s English language training providers, including:

Read the full article from Trade Arabia.

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January 24, 2014

Employment | Education | Opinion | Japan

Japan: Teachers tread water in eikaiwa limbo

In the Japan Times, Craig Currie-Robson looks at the often harsh reality of coming to Japan to become an English conversation teacher.

Every year, thousands of young native English-speakers fly to Asia in search of an adventure, financed by working as English teachers. They come from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Britain, Canada and elsewhere.

But it can be risky leaping into another country on the promise of an “easy” job. In Japan’s competitive English teaching market, foreign language instructors are treading water. “Subcontractor” teachers at corporate giant Gaba fight in the courts to be recognized as employees. Berlitz instructors become embroiled in a four-year industrial dispute, complete with strikes and legal action. Known locally as eikaiwa, “conversation schools” across the country have slashed benefits and reduced wages, forcing teachers to work longer hours, split-shifts and multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

Armed with slick websites and flashy recruiting videos, big chains such as Aeon, Gaba and ECC send recruiters to Australasia, North America and Britain to attract fresh graduates. New hires come expecting to spend their weekends and vacations enjoying temples, shrines and exotic locales. Newcomers may also be lured by the prospect of utilizing that ESL (English as a second language) diploma or CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) they’ve worked hard for. Yet from the start, they’ll effectively be customer-service staff, delivering a standardized product. Recruiting campaigns take full advantage of the prospective teacher’s altruistic angels. They look for suckers.

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

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Malaysia | Teacher Development

Malaysia: 1,022 teachers take Cambridge Placement Test

Malaysia's Daily Express reports on the country's latest measure to improve the standards of English language education.

A total of 1,022 English teachers are now undergoing the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT) in their respective districts in Sabah.

Education Director Datuk Jame Alip (pic) said on Wednesday the course is aimed to improve their English skills and teaching pedagogy methods.

"They are being trained by the British Council in their respective districts," he said.

CPT is a course introduced by the Education Ministry with the collaboration with the British Council in a bid to boost the implementation of the Education Blueprint.

Deputy Prime Minister cum Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in June last year announced that 9,000 teachers will be selected for the CPT course nationwide.

A special entity called Education Implementation and Performance unit (Padu) has been set up to monitor and ensure the success of this initiative.

Read the full article from the Daily Express.

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Business | Education

Emerge Education launches first cohort of EdTech startups

emerge-education-logo.gifeltjam takes a look at the first six startups to be selected by Emerge Education, "The Accelerator For Education Startups."

A while ago, we posted about the arrival of Emerge Education – a startup accelerator specifically focussed on education, based at Google Campus in London, and backed by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and David Cameron’s old stomping ground Eton College. This is a big week for them, as they’ve just announced their first cohort of startups.

Here’s what Emerge say about themselves:

Software is eating education, whether in schools, universities or on your kitchen table. In 2013, a mindblowing $452M was invested in education technology in the United States and the trend is infecting the UK and Europe. Much of this activity is driven by startups like Coursera, with over 5.5M students signed up for its online higher education classes in 2013. Despite this trend, the investment market has been slow to back very early stage edtech businesses.

Edtech startups face all the difficulties of any early stage business plus a number of obstacles unique to the education market. Emerge Education (www.emergeventurelab.com), a new edtech accelerator, seeks to help edtech startups overcome these difficulties with access to customers, a large community of specialist business mentors, tech-savvy educational institutions and industry-focussed investors.

Read the full post from eltjam.

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January 21, 2014

UK | Education

UK: Strip benefits from claimants lacking skills - Labour

Unemployed people who lack basic English, maths and computing skills should be stripped of benefits unless they take up training, Labour says.

Under the plans, all new claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance would have to sit a basic skills test within six weeks.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves also said people who have worked and then lose their jobs could get higher initial rates of JSA.

But the Conservatives accused her of copying their policies on skills.

In a speech to the IPPR think tank in London, Ms Reeves said: "We all know that basic skills are essential in today's jobs market, but the shocking levels of English and maths among too many jobseekers are holding them back from getting work.

"This traps too many jobseekers in a vicious cycle between low paid work and benefits.

"Government plans in this area just aren't enough. They're now asking jobseekers who exit the failed Work Programme to take up literacy and numeracy training, three whole years after those people first make a claim for benefits.

Read the full article from the BBC.

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January 15, 2014

Vietnam | Education

Vietnam: schools struggle to employ foreign teachers

vietnam-english-classroom.jpg
Many schools in Ho Chi Minh City are facing difficulties in employing foreign English teachers due to the obstacles of high payment, and a lack of teachers and textbooks.

Several schools are struggling to raise funding to pay USD2,000 per month to English teachers from the Philippines, while the number of recruited teachers is still much less than the demand.

According to a plan drafted by the HCM City municipal Department of Education and Training, there should have been around 100 English teachers from the Philippines teaching at local primary and secondary schools by the end of 2012. To date, they have only recruited 13 who are working and 26 who have agreed to work in early 2014.

Under the plan, the municipal government would subsidise half of the funding and the rest would be covered by contributions by school fees. However, due to the lack of funding, schools now are forced to mobilise all the funding from students’ parents in order to pay a monthly salaries of USD2,000 to Filipino teachers each.

In order to ensure payment for teachers, students are required to pay VND120,000 (USD5,67) per month. However, the mobilised funding is not enough due to the variable number of students at classes, forcing schools to offset costs through other sources.

Read the full article from Vietnam Net.

Photo: April Gravette R. Miralles, an English teacher from the Philippines. (Vietnam Net)

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January 13, 2014

Japan | Opinion | Education

Japan: A course of action for English education

tokyo-classroom.jpg
There is plenty of debate happening in Japan with regard to the government's stated plans to yet again overhaul the English language education system.

Last week’s Learning Curve column, “English fluency hopes rest on an education overhaul,” looked at the persistent mismatch between the education ministry’s stated goals and the actual outcomes of English language education in Japan.

With that in mind, this week’s article features scholars, parents and native English-speaking teachers offering their ideas on how to produce greater numbers of fluent English speakers in the country.

Top of the TEAP

Underlying the low levels of English-speaking ability in Japan is the administration of the university entrance exam — the National Center Test for University Admissions — which does not include speaking or writing. At present, the exam’s English portion consists of an 80-minute reading-based section and a 30-minute listening-based one. After the National Center Test, applicants take university-specific exams of which there are more than 1,000 (with varying levels of English requirements).

Because the Japanese education system is a “degree-ocracy,” in which the path to university acceptance and graduation is believed to determine any success thereafter, teachers teach to these entrance examinations. Absent the presence of speaking and writing sections, the general population of students are unlikely to learn these skills.

Professor Paul Underwood of Toyo Eiwa University hopes that universities will consider offering the Test of English for Academic Purposes (TEAP) exam in addition to their own. Created last year by the Eiken Foundation of Japan in conjunction with Sophia University, it is geared toward native Japanese speakers and includes speaking and writing sections.

Alternatively, Robert Aspinall, a professor at Shiga University and author of the 2012 book “International Education Policy in Japan in an Age of Globalisation and Risk,” believes that, like the A-level examination system in Britain, only advanced students should sit for English exams that test for all four English skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. This will ensure that at least a handful of students are “not just passively studying English like it’s a dead language.”

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

Photo: Yoshiaki Miura, The Japan Times

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January 12, 2014

Japan | Education

Teachers must nurture critical thinking, confidence in English

japan-classroom.jpg
Regular Japan Times columnist Amy Chavez opines about the requirements for the Japanese government to achieve its stated goals in English language education.

Recently, it was revealed that Japanese public schools may start teaching English earlier (from third grade of elementary school), with more classes per week. The new “blueprint” for English education, to be implemented by 2020, even aims to have some junior-high classes taught in the target language. By high school, it is hoped, Japanese will be able to converse in English at a “viable level of proficiency.”

Uh-huh. It’s one thing to set lofty, desirable goals, and another to know how to achieve them.

As a native English speaker, teachers beg me to allow their Japanese students to practice English with me. As a former ESL (English as a second language) teacher, I am also pre-qualified for the task, since foreign language instructors in Japan are known to possess infinite patience along with the ability to speak artificially slowly and clearly. Furthermore, we are unlikely to surprise nescient learners with vocabulary or sentence patterns they haven’t yet studied.

If the students are high school age or below, they will introduce themselves with the predictable “My name is . . .” followed by “Nice to meet you.” Usually these two sentences are strung together and delivered rapid-fire as if they were one long 10-syllable-or-more word. While this method gets the task finished quickly for the student, I am rarely able to catch the pupil’s name among the garble.

Once the performer has finished, he retreats and the next classmate comes up to the plate to pitch the same scenario.

Sorry guys, but this is not English communication; this is memorizing English phrases.

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

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January 08, 2014

Japan | Education

Japan: English fluency hopes rest on an education overhaul

english-class-in-japan.jpg
A look at the problems facing Japan as it aims to improve the nation's English language skills in advance of the 2020 Olympics.

Ringing in 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a dream: One nation that will actively re-engage with the global marketplace.

To realize this dream by 2020, it’s commonly accepted that the Japanese need to improve their English. So, what’s the problem? Unfortunately there are a few.

Though English has been a part of the official national syllabus since 1947 and many subsequent education policies have addressed curriculum reform — most recently the 2008 “Revisions of the Courses of Study for the Elementary and Secondary Schools” — there is widespread concern that few Japanese can actually speak fluent English.

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

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December 18, 2013

ELT People | Education | Iraq

The view from an American veteran teaching in Iraq

andrew-slater.jpgNew Orleans Public Radio interviews a veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army who later returned to the country to teach English.

Connecticut native Andrew Slater served three tours of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Army infantry and special forces officer. He came home. But then he went back to the country he fought in.

Slater now teaches English at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani. That’s in the Kurdish part of the country, which has been more peaceful that the rest of Iraq, but even that area has been touched by the violence that has plagued the country this year.

Slater has his students read Faulkner, Melville and speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. He joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss his students, who are the future of Iraq.

Listen to the interview on New Orleans Public Radio.

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Teacher Development | Japan

Tokyo to boost teachers’ ESL for 2020 Olympics

The PIE (Professionals in International Education) News reports on Japanese government plans for its English language teachers to undergo 'Olympic' training.

As of next year, high and junior high school English language teachers in Tokyo will be required to spend three months abroad, in a bid by the Tokyo Board of Education to raise the standard of English teaching in schools as the city prepares for the 2020 Olympics.

Through the programme, teachers will study on a TESOL course, and live in a homestay in order to gain an understanding of different cultures. The project will launch with its first intake of 200 teachers in their third year of teaching in April 2014, provided the ¥600 million (USD$5.9 million) annual budget is approved by the Tokyo Metropolitan government.

Eventually, all of Tokyo’s high and junior high school English teachers will have to spend three months abroad, though the locations have not yet been decided. There are currently around 3,300 eligible teachers in the prefecture.

At the moment, there is no national study abroad programme for English teachers, and overseas study is not a prerequisite for teaching.

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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December 17, 2013

Japan | Secondary Level | Primary Level

Japan: English education set to get serious

Japan's education ministry recently announced its latest overhaul of the country's English language education system, reports The Japan Times.

Junior high school English teachers should conduct classes exclusively in English and be periodically tested on their skills in the language using a third-party proficiency test, and formal English instruction should start in the fifth grade of elementary school from 2020, according to a blueprint for education reform unveiled Friday.

As part of the plan for elementary to high school English education, more assistant language teachers also will be hired, education minister Hakubun Shimomura said.

“We want to raise the standards for English education at the junior high and high school levels by having teachers conduct classes in English in junior high school, and focusing on the presentation and debate aspects of English usage in high school,” he said.

The proposals are part of the “Execution Plan for the Reform of English Education in Response to Globalization,” the ministry’s blueprint for strengthening English-language education from elementary to high school.

Among other factors, the education ministry is hoping to take advantage of heightened interest in the language ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which will draw large numbers of visitors to Japan.

Read the full article from The Japan Times.

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December 13, 2013

Canada | Adult Education

British Columbia colleges, universities to lose ESL funding

Ottawa expected to negotiate directly with community groups to provide English classes to immigrants.

B.C. colleges and universities that teach English as a second language to recent immigrants were told Tuesday their funding will probably end on March 31.

The province knew changes would be coming since the federal government announced in 2012 that it would be cancel the Canada-B.C. Immigration Agreement, which funded the training, said Amrik Virk, B.C.’s advanced education minister.

“We are still waiting for an official decision on how the federal government plans to deliver English language training on April 1, 2014,” Virk said in a statement. “However, it seems unlikely that the funding that flows through the ministry to institutions will be replaced.”

The cut amounts to about $17 million, which paid for more than 9,000 ESL students to learn English tuition-free last year. Vancouver Community College provided 46 per cent of the ESL training under the program, with Camosun College on Vancouver Island second at 14 per cent, according to the Advanced Education Ministry.

Read the full article from The Vancouver Sun.

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December 12, 2013

Israel | Education

Israel, UK team up to improve English education

New initiative will provide more training for teachers in Israel, but critic says the program won’t address fundamental issues

The Israeli education minister and his British counterpart signed a cooperative agreement Tuesday aimed at providing more training for English teachers in Israel, the Education Ministry announced Wednesday.

The initiative is not, however, expected to lead to a sea change in English-language instruction in the country.

As part of a five-year curriculum, the British Council has developed the Routes to Excellence program by which English teachers in Israel can take courses that will “improve their teaching and teacher training skills,” according to the council’s website. The program will include seminars and teacher training, and it will provide “skills for the English language tailored for the 21st century,” according to a statement from the Education Ministry.

The program does not constitute a major shift in Israel’s English education curriculum, but it will provide teachers with important resources, including language courses for teachers who feel they need to improve their skills, according to Chief Inspector for English Language Education Judy Steiner.

“We aren’t expecting a great improvement in students’ English specifically from this program, but we believe that better trained teachers with more tools they can use in the classroom will result in better teaching,” she told The Times of Israel.

Read the full article from The Times of Israel.

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December 11, 2013

Online | Education | Business

'TripAdvisor' for language learners set to launch

coursefinders.jpgCourseFinders, described as a 'TripAdvisor' for language learners, is set to launch its online service this month.

Currently in testing mode, CourseFinders is a new online service that allows language students to search for and review schools worldwide. The website refers to a directory of 7,472 schools in 138 countries.

It is expected to launch later this month when it has 250 participant schools fully registered with complete profiles and aims to have up to a million website visitors by the end of next year. The service was created by major education conference organiser ICEF.

Among the features on offer on CourseFinders are the ability to contact multiple schools and enquire about prices from a single form; to read reviews of schools from current and previous students; to share photos and reviews with friends and family, to check to see if anyone knows the school. Students will be expected to login through their Facebook or Google+ accounts and complete a brief questionnaire before being ale to contact schools. Schools will be able to decide if they want to accept leads, paying a flat €3 fee for each one.

The website describes the service as helping students find schools "in the same way that Trip Advisor helps you find hotels." Other websites, for hotel schools and boarding schools, are also planned.

The CourseFinders website.

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China | Education

Job-oriented foreign languages teaching

The People's Daily speculates on the recent policy shift to de-emphasise the importance of English for young children and in college entrance exams in China.

A sea change is on horizon in the way Chinese people learn English. And along with it, a debate is growing among teachers and parents as to how foreign languages are to be taught and learned in this country.

In October, the Beijing municipal education authorities decided to lessen both the importance and proportion of foreign languages in the college entrance examination, or gaokao, of the municipality, starting 2016. Similar moves were reportedly being planned in Shanghai and a number of coastal provinces.

Since then, the policies on foreign language teaching in schools have been revised by the education authorities of one province after another. Children are no longer encouraged to start learning English at a very young age, say in their first and second years in primary school, or in kindergartens.

In the latest move, the Ministry of Education proposed that foreign language tests should no longer be part of the once-a-year college entrance examination. Instead, they should be offered as a social service, and be held multiple times in a year.

All these moves, both plans and suggestions - and presumably more will come - should not be seen as only a nationalistic whim. Nor should they be independent from the overall endeavor to reform the system and the ways in which many subjects, not just foreign languages, are being taught to Chinese students.

Read the full article from The People's Daily.

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December 05, 2013

Education | ELT People | Tanzania

Teaching English abroad is about educating the people who really need it

ellyharris-learning-centre.jpg
Victoria Harris has taught English as a foreign language for almost 13 years and has set up a school in Tanzania for disadvantaged children.

Victoria Harris has travelled the world teaching English as a foreign language. Now her quest to make a difference through education has led her to start her own school in Tanzania.

My heart has always been in Africa. I taught in Hong Kong for three years, but although I loved the city, it was very materialistic – all about money and shopping centres. I just wanted to do something completely different so decided to become a volunteer. My parents had both been English teachers in Kenya and we lived in Africa for a couple of years when we were kids. I had always wanted to go back, so I found a small non-profit organisation called the MondoChallenge Foundation which sends volunteers to various countries. The original plan was to return to Kenya but they needed people more in Tanzania and they set me up with a placement there.

Improvisation is key to an ESL (English as a second language) teacher's survival. I came to Tanzania for three months, living with an African family and teaching at a primary school with 120 kids in the class. There was no electricity and no running water. At the time, I had six years teaching experience so I was ok. But I think if I had done it earlier in my career it would have been a struggle. You have to improvise. You have these huge blackboards, but the chalk is such bad quality that it just disintegrates. You would be writing something on the board and it just dissolves into powder. It's therefore important to find ways to get the kids involved. If you've got 120 children in the class with some sitting right at the back who can't even see the board, a lot of it is just about getting them to take part. So, I used songs and games where they had to come up and write something on the board.

Read the full article from The Guardian.

Photograph: EllyHarris Learning Centre

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December 04, 2013

Third Level | Europe

Europe: Shift in attitudes towards English-taught HE

role-of-emi-conference.jpgThe PIE (Professionals in International Education) News reports on a recent European conference on the role of English as a medium of instruction in higher education.

English as a medium of instruction in higher education across Europe provides marketing opportunities for non-native speaking countries and is becoming more widely accepted by governments and institutions, according to discussions in Spain last week.

A two-day event organised by the British Council and Madrid-based IE University brought together EU policy makers and university leaders to consider the role of English in institutions. While attitudes toward EMI are shifting, delegates concluded that further guidelines and principles are necessary to maintain quality standards.

English tuition is on the rise across Europe, with an increase of 30% in the number of degrees taught entirely in English in Spain alone, according to the Spain’s British Council director, Rod Pryde. He added that 52 of 89 Spanish HEIs now offer English-taught Bachelor’s programmes.

According to research by the Institute of International Education, fully or partially English-based programmes now account for almost a third of taught Masters courses in continental Europe. The number of English taught Masters programmes listed on the course listings website Mastersportal.eu rose by 38% to 6,407 between December 2011 and June 2013.

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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November 27, 2013

UAE | Education

Cambridge praises Abu Dhabi school for ELT achievements

ae.pngA school in Abu Dhabi has been praised by an expert from Cambridge University at a ceremony to mark the English language achievements of a group of its students.

Fifty students from the Al Murooj Scientific Private School in Abu Dhabi recently passed Cambridge English exams. They were presented with their certificates at a special ceremony attended by the students and their families, along with representatives from the school and Cambridge University.

Speaking at the event, Angela Wright from Cambridge English Language Assessment – a department of Cambridge University – said:

‘I’d like to congratulate the students who achieved excellent results in their Cambridge English exams. They have proved they can use English to international standards, which will put them in a really good position when they start looking for further study opportunities or employment. Their achievements would not have been possible without the support of the teachers at the Al Murooj Scientific Private School, who made sure that the students were well prepared for exam day.’

The Al Murooj Scientific Private School has been preparing students for Cambridge English exams for two years. The successful students took a range of school-age exams including Cambridge English: Young Learners and Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools.

The ceremony took place on 24 November at Al Murooj Scientific School in Abu Dhabi.

Read the original article from Cambridge English Language Assessment.

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November 25, 2013

Australia | Education

Australia: funding changes hit ESL support program

adrian-piccoli.jpg Experts warn that education department cuts in New South Wales will have an adverse effect on ESL programs for immigrant children.

Vulnerable refugee and migrant children will be disadvantaged by the abolition of specialist support for teachers of English as a second language, academics and community groups have warned.

Ten academics from the state's top universities fear the changes are the beginning of the end for the English as a second language program in public schools across NSW.

"These changes are widely being interpreted as the beginning of a dismantling of the system-wide, targeted ESL program support infrastructure developed over the last four decades," their letter to NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said.

The academics said the NSW government plan to devolve control of school budgets from the Education Department to individual principals would also put the future of the state's 1600 specialist ESL teachers at risk.

The academics from the University of Sydney, University of NSW, University of Western Sydney, Macquarie University, Australian Catholic University and University of Technology, Sydney, said targeted funding was needed to sustain ESL teaching.

Read the full article from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Photo: NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (smh.com.au)

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India | Education

Quality suffers, English still 'foreign' for Gujarat students

gujarat-students.jpgExperts blame poor school teaching and diminishing reading habits for the low standard of English among students in the Indian region of Gujarat.

“Friends, our dear sister
is departing for foreign
in two three days,
and we are meeting today
to wish her bon voyage,”

The lines, written by Indo-Anglian poet Nissim Ezekiel in the poem ‘Goodbye Party for Miss Pushpa TS’, decades ago throws open the clichés that plague English in our country even today.

And Gujarat is no exception. Is English still a foreign language to the country? Why is it that students, despite being trained in the use of the language, continue to falter?

Recently, Gujarati boy Pranav Mistry- alumnus of Nirma University and currently head of Think Tank team of Samsung Research America that designed the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch, faced criticism for his heavily accented English. This has once again raised the issue of quality of English teaching in institutes and colleges in the state.

Read the full article from DNA India.

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Teacher Development | Saudi Arabia

US experts to train Saudis in ELT

The Saudi Arabian government has invited specialists from Colombia University to train Saudi teachers in English language teaching.

The Ministry of Education has invited specialists from Colombia University in the United States to train Saudi teachers on methods of teaching the English language.

They will also visit public schools to elicit the views and opinions of students and teachers on the curriculum.

The specialists will conduct surveys during their visits to schools and interact with staff and students to gather information on the benefits they have derived from the present curriculum and methods of teaching.

This initiative has been taken within the framework of the Project of King Abdullah for Public Educational Development, for which international educational companies aim to develop a curriculum in schools for next year.

Sources said reports submitted to the Ministry of Education had stated that students were weak in the English language.

This prompted the Educational Services Development Company (ESDC), appointed to develop the English portfolio, to sign contracts with international universities specialized in training teachers and supervisors teaching English at school level.

Read the full article from Arab News.

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November 22, 2013

Thailand | Education

Thailand - English teaching projects inadequate

A report on how Thailand should look to its Asian neighbors for ideas on how to reform English teaching. The country ranked last in a recent English proficiency index.

Thailand has implemented English-language learning projects to improve English skills for students over the past several years, but most of the projects demonstrated a lack of consistency and seriousness, a study has found.

The study also found that Thailand should learn from methods used in China to develop students' English proficiency.

There, Chinese students need to pass College English Tests (CET) as an exit exam before gaining college degrees.

The study on "English Language Teaching (ELT) Policies and Situation" in five countries _ China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand _ was aimed at comparing the strengths of ELT in Thailand and enhancing the English abilities of Thai learners.

The study was conducted by Sa-ngiam Torut, a lecturer in the faculty of education at Silpakorn University.

The study findings were presented on Wednesday at a seminar titled "International Lessons: English Learning Reform," organised by the Quality Learning Foundation (QLF).

Read the full article from the Bangkok Post.

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China | Primary Level

Mixed reactions over cutting English classes

primary-school-students-china.jpg A decision to push back English-language classes for Beijing primary school students to the third grade has received mixed reviews from city teachers, parents and experts.

The Beijing Commission of Education decided on Tuesday that primary school students in the capital will not begin learning English until the third grade.

The decision will take effect in next year's fall semester. Currently, English classes begin in the first grade.

It is the commission's second major change to the city's education system in recent months. In October, it reduced the total score of the English-language portion of the gaokao, or China's college entrance exam, from 150 to 100. This change takes effect in 2016.

While some parents, teachers and experts said starting English classes in the third grade will add to an already heavy homework load, others said first- and second-graders are currently having a tough time learning both Chinese and English simultaneously.

"I think it's better for children to learn a language - including English - earlier," said Zhao Xingli, mother of a 9-year-old girl in Beijing.

Read the full article from Chinese news site ECNS.cn.

Photo: An English teacher helps Chongwen Elementary School first graders take an exam in Beijing last year. Liu Ping/For China Daily

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November 18, 2013

Pakistan | Education

Pakistan: 94% of teachers lack English skills

The PIE (Professionals in International Education) News reports on British Council findings that show ongoing educational reforms in Punjab still have a very long way to go.

Ninety-four per cent of Pakistan’s primary and middle school teachers lack the necessary English language skills needed for providing a quality education in English, due to what a report from the British Council’s Punjab Education and English Language Initiative (PEELI) calls a lack of “buy-in” to the government’s policy to expand and improve English medium education.

Of the 2,008 teachers sampled from Punjab’s 18 districts, 62% of private and 56% of government school teachers scored in the lowest possible band in the Aptis test – a computer based competency test used by the British Council– indicating an inability to use familiar everyday expressions and simple phrases.

“We are committed to continuing to work with the School Education Department of the Government of Punjab to improve the situation for both teachers and learners and ensure that English medium education is of the highest possible quality,” said Richard Wyers, Director Punjab at the British Council.

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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Japan | Teacher Development

Tokyo teachers to study abroad

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will send some 200 Japanese and other non-native English teachers to study at foreign universities for three months in fiscal 2014, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose announced.

The capital will lead state reforms in English-language education in the run-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics, Inose told a news conference Friday.

The dispatch will cover junior high and high school teachers who have been working for at least three years. The city hopes they will learn effective teaching methods and everyday English while abroad.

Tokyo will also hike the number of full-time assistant language teachers at high schools to 100 in 2014 from just five at present. That number will rise to 200 in the following year, so that all of these schools are staffed with native English-speaking ALTs

Read the original article from The Japan Times.

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October 25, 2013

Japan | Primary Level

Required English from third grade eyed

The Japanese government is considering having children start compulsory English education two years earlier than currently.

The education ministry is considering moving up the starting year of obligatory English-language education in elementary schools to the third grade from the current fifth grade by around 2020, government officials said Wednesday.

The move would force the government to considerably boost the number and quality of English teachers and native-language assistant teachers at more than 22,000 six-year elementary schools with 7.1 million children across the country.

During his daily press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said children should be given more English lessons and at an earlier age in elementary school.

“(The government) will consider concrete (education reforms), including moving up the starting year from the current fifth,” Suga said.

The education ministry came up with the idea in response to a government education panel’s call for developing human resources needed in this age of globalization. The idea was included in the panel’s policy recommendation report published in May.

Under the current system, a 45-minute English lesson is held once a week for fifth- and sixth-graders in elementary school.

Read the full post from The Japan Times.

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October 08, 2013

Online | Education

E-learning heavy hitters forecasted

ou-report-2013.jpgThe PIE (Professionals in International Education) News recently posted about the latest innovation report from The Open University, which looks at the latest e-learning trends.

Crowd learning, gaming and new forms of electronic certification will be the latest e-learning trends to join the burgeoning Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) culture that is gaining attention in the education industry.

These predicted shifts in teaching and learning – picked out of some 80 to 100 innovations –are set to change education in the next two to five years, according to the latest innovation report from The Open University.

The same publication last year predicted the rise of MOOCs in 2012, adding gravitas to its most recent forecasts.

“The purpose of the report is to indicate new ways of teaching learning and assessment,” Mike Sharples, Chair in Educational Technology at The Open University, told The PIE News. “The focus is on pedagogy rather than on the technology. MOOCs was predicted last year and is already hitting the headlines.”

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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October 04, 2013

UK | Tests

UK: 69% of children pass new phonics test

uk-phonics-test.jpgThe latest results are out on a controversial phonics test introduced last year in the UK.

More children have passed the new phonics reading test for England's five- and six-year-olds this year.

More than two-thirds (69%) of pupils in state schools reached the expected level - up from 58% last year.

Nearly 180,000 pupils failed to meet the expected standard in the controversial new check, which is carried out at the end of Year 1.

Girls did better than boys - almost three-quarters passed - while about two-thirds of boys did so.

The statistics were published on Thursday by the Department for Education.

This is the second year that pupils have taken the test, which is based on "synthetic phonics", a system that focuses on children being able to identify sounds of letters and groups of letters so that they are then able to decode and read real words.

For the check, the children are asked to sound out 40 words, some of which are made up, such as "voo", "spron" and "terg" - to test their reading skills.

They need correctly to identify 32 out of the 40 phonic sounds to pass.

Read the full story from the BBC.

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September 30, 2013

Philippines | Secondary Level | Primary Level | Pre-school

Philippines: Bill to reinforce English in schools

study-English-in-Philippines.jpgA senior Filipino politician is seeking to make English a teaching language from kindergarten right up to 12th grade.

House Assistant Majority Leader and Cebu Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. has authored a measure to restore English as medium of instruction in all school levels.

House Bill 1339 proposes the adoption of a new bilingual program in schools in which English, Filipino or the regional language may be used as the teaching language in all subjects from kindergarten to Grade 3.

“We have high hopes that our bill, once enacted, will go a long way in boosting the English competency of our future labor force participants, and build up the capability of our high school as well as college graduates to gain and maintain employment,” Gullas said.

“English is the world’s working language. It is also the language of technology. Young Filipinos with inadequate English skills may risk getting marginalized in the lucrative global labor markets of the future.”

According to Gullas, also House higher and technical education committee vice chairman, his bill proposes English as teaching language from Grades 4 to 6 in elementary school, and from Grades 7 to 12 in junior and senior high school; English and Filipino shall be taught as separate subjects in all levels of elementary and high school.

Read the full story from Manila Standard Today.

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September 28, 2013

Portugal | Education

Portugal: Confusion over English class

study-English-in-Portugal.jpgA community newspaper for English speaking residents in Portugal reports on confusion over the country's EFL system in public schools.

Confusion abounds over the teaching of English as a foreign language in public primary schools in Portugal as the Minister of Education has been accused of inconsistency when deciding whether to make the subject compulsory.

After announcing that primary schools were free to choose whether to include English as a curricular or extracurricular subject, the Minister of Education decided this week that English should, in fact, become compulsory in primary education and has called for a review of the law.

Nuno Crato has called on the National Education Council (CNE) to help the government review the law and draft a proposal. “We must introduce English as a compulsory school subject from primary education through to the ninth grade,” he told CNE on Monday.

Nuno Crato has since come under attack by both the opposition and parents’ associations which criticise his lack of consistency over the issue.

The background

It all started in 2005, when the José Sócrates government introduced English as a compulsory foreign language subject in primary extracurricular activities.

Read the full article from Algarve Resident.

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September 27, 2013

Asia | Education

English proficiency tops Thai student agenda

study-English-in-Thailand.jpgThailand's Education Ministry is set to overhaul English language teaching given a setback in the skills among Thai instructors and students.

Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng said English is vital in the digital era and a springboard to knowledge in many other fields.

Chairing a workshop on “How Thailand should reform English teaching,” he admitted that the country is short of qualified teachers for English language and urged the use of information technology in English language classes.

“We should rethink if the Ordinary National Education Test, or O-NET, is sufficient in assessing Thai students’ English proficiency. What is the indication of success?” said Mr Chaturon.

The education minister’s attempt to revamp Thailand’s teaching system--particularly the subject of English--is mulled in light of an international rating of educational proficiency in which Thailand was ranked last in Southeast Asian countries, behind Vietnam and Cambodia.

He said the teaching system should aim at enabling students to communicate like native speakers, instead of rote learning.

The 2009 assessment of English-language teachers’ proficiency was displayed in the workshop. It showed the proficiency of 60,732 teachers at medium level, 29,838 teachers at basic level, and only 3,701 teachers or 3.92 per cent at a high level.

The 2010-2013 strategy emphasises improving the proficiency of English-language teachers and increasing English communication classes more than an hour a week.

Read the original article from Pattaya Mail.

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September 19, 2013

China | Education

Modern English class inspires rural Chinese pupils

Teach-English-in-ChinaA look at the role of ELT within the Hope Project, which aims to bring schools to poverty-stricken rural areas of China.

Zhao Minghui, 11, is picking up English words through making faces. As a fourth grader of a rural primary school in Laiyuan County, north China's Hebei Province, Zhao, together with her classmates, is having a unique English class.

This was the scene on Monday, when a special language-learning program saw visiting volunteer teacher Liu Wei, a former member of a national English research group, use an avant-garde story-based approach to attract kids from Dongtuanbu Central Primary School (DCPS) to actively participate in the class.

Some 160 kilometres from Beijing, Laiyuan is officially classed as one of China's most poverty-stricken counties. With many people struggling for daily necessities, education in such rural areas is far less developed than in cities.

That is why the Hope Project continues to work to improve the situation. Initiated in 1989 by the China Youth Development Foundation and the Communist Youth League Central Committee, it aims to bring schools to poverty-stricken rural areas of China, to help children of poor families complete elementary school education. DCPS is covered in the project.

Read the full article from MySinchew.com.

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September 16, 2013

Malaysia | Teacher Development

Malaysia: All about change

malaysia-all-about-change.jpgThis is the latest of many articles in the Malaysian media recently about ongoing and high-profile changes to English language teaching in the country.

The winds of change have blown through various schools in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan over the past two years with the introduction of the British Council’s English Language Teacher Development Project (ELTDP).

Teachers who once found teaching the English language to students a challenge because lessons were teacher-centred, have developed new perceptions and changed their approach so that lessons are student-centred and engaging.

Now, members of the public can read about the teachers’ experiences in The Book of Change, a collection of over 100 short stories written by the project’s mentors and teachers.

The book along with a series of short films on the ELTDP were recently launched by the British Council in Putrajaya.

Read the full article from The Star Online.

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September 14, 2013

Cambodia | Education

Poverty poses challenge to learning English in Cambodia

cambodian-pupil.jpgPoverty poses a big challenge to English-language education in Cambodia, where quality English lessons are only available in expensive private schools. But not all hope is lost as individuals and NGOs are doing their best to help the country’s poor learn the language.

English will be the working language throughout Southeast Asia in 2015 when the ASEAN Economic Community is formed.

In Cambodia, however, poverty still poses a big challenge to the quality of English-language education, usually only available in expensive private schools.

Some 200 children take turns fighting for a space in a tiny unit in northern Phnom Penh, where they learn how to read, write and speak English once a week.

For these children, the small room may be the best English school they will ever attend.

English lesson is a great privilege in this Southeast Asian kingdom. Although it is commonly taught in public schools, teaching quality is usually very low.

To receive English schooling, around US$1,000 per year is needed. That amount might be affordable in developed countries, but not in Cambodia where one third of its 15-million population earns less than US$1 per day.

But at Tinath New Generation Academy (TNGA), poor children aged between six and 18 years old can enjoy that privilege for free.

Read the full article from Channel NewsAsia.

Photo: AFP/TANG CHHIN SOTHY

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September 13, 2013

Education | Malaysia

Malaysia: English teachers to come from India?

Teach-English-in-MalaysiaThe heated debate continues in Malaysia since a government decision to make English a compulsory must-pass subject for high schoolers by 2016, with the quality of the majority of English language teachers deemed well below the required standard.

PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party) demanded to know today if Putrajaya (the federal administrative capital of Malaysia) had already inked a deal to import English teachers from India prior to announcing the National Education Blueprint, noting the short three-year notice the government had given to turn every school English-ready by 2016.

The party’s information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the decision to turn English into a must-pass subject seemed to come without any semblance of an action plan to address Malaysia’s stark shortage of qualified English teachers.

In a statement here, Tuan Ibrahim pointed out that while announcing its plans to improve English proficiency here, the government had in the same breath admitted that over 70 per cent of the country’s 60,000 English teachers had scored poorly in the English Language Cambridge Placement Test.

“This means at least two-thirds of our English teachers are considered ‘incapable’ or ‘unqualified’ to teach the subject in school,” he said.

“Is this likely to be resolved by 2016? What about the students, especially those in the rural areas, how would they prepare themselves to face a must-pass English examination from now until 2016 with the current quality of our teachers?” he added.

Read the full article from The Malay Mail.

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September 12, 2013

Teacher Development

10 commandments for new teachers

tips-for-new-teachers.jpgA recent article from the Teacher Network section of The Guardian: From the power of Google to ditching the monotone, secondary teacher Lulu Kuper shares her proven tips on how NQTs can get the best from their students.

For some new teachers it's bewildering as to what it takes to be an effective teacher. To teach so that students actually learn in your class you need to know the secret procedures and routines that will make you efficient in the classroom. I can almost guarantee that if you have them in place your lessons will run smoothly.

It is no exaggeration to say teaching can be one of the most rewarding careers. If you save one kid, it feels as if you've saved the entire world. Every teacher has the capacity to make the world a better place and give someone the ambition to become somebody. Yet if you're new to the profession, before you can do this you need to master the old fashioned craft of how to teach… with a modern twist.

Many passionate graduate teachers encounter a hard to crack merciless class and feel they have been eaten for breakfast. You can find these teachers slumped in the staffroom often in tears. This guide is for anyone, new or experienced teachers, who want to know the secrets of the classroom.

1. The secret to learning anything is enjoyment

As Albert Einstein said: "That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don't notice that the time passes." Sadly if you have ever followed a student around for the day in school you will realise for young people it's incredibly dull and boring. At a time of life that you are quite literally full of life.

Using a bit of imagination – cellotape, cereal boxes, water, sticks, paper and each other can transform your lessons. Enjoyment and learning can be hard to get right, but if you can do this your students will appreciate you.

Read the full article from The Guardian.

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September 09, 2013

Malaysia | Secondary Level

Malaysia: Spelling the blues over English ruling

Teach-English-in-MalaysiaIn this opinion piece, Leanne Goh looks at the implications of a government decision to make English a mandatory passing subject for Malaysian secondary school pupils.

Our SPM students do best in Bahasa Malaysia and worst in English.

Going by last year’s SPM results, 23% of the candidates failed English and this group risks completing 11 years of schooling without that final paper qualification come 2016 when a pass in the language is made compulsory.

They number more than 105,000 out of the 459,118 candidates who sat for the exam last year.

And to compound the problem, there will be another compulsory pass next year (besides BM) – History. This core subject saw the biggest decline in passes in last year’s SPM – 19.7% failed compared to 16.7% the year before.

So, in the near future, low achieving students have to overcome three “hurdles” to obtain that SPM certificate or join the workforce without paper qualification. And we are talking about potentially a six-figure number.

This puts tremendous pressure on everyone. And no one knows it better that the Education Ministry as the mastermind of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 which was launched on Friday.

Read the full article from Malaysia Today.

Read a related piece from The Malaysian Insider on conservative reaction to the decision.

(Editor's note: The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), or the Malaysian Certificate of Education, is a national examination taken by all fifth-year secondary school students in Malaysia. More from Wikipedia.)

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India | Primary Level

Punjab village teacher's 12-hour English class a big hit

Teach-English-in-IndiaA teacher in India takes a novel approach to help less privileged students see they don't need to attend a private school to master English.

Dispelling the notion that English is Greek to students of government schools, a teacher held a marathon 12-hour session on English grammar at Government Elementary School in Rahimpur village in Jalandhar district to mark Teachers' Day. Unlike the English learning class in the British television series of the seventies, "Mind Your Language", the class held by teacher Ram Krishan was a success. When the session ended at 7pm on Thursday, the students came out confident and visibly at ease with the language that had been their Achilles heel in the past.

Irked by the categorisation of students from government schools as poor in English language skills, Krishan decided to set the balance right. "Elementary schools don't have exclusive English teachers and teaching is left to social sciences tutors. The private schools use the English USP to attract students. Children in government schools are generally considered to be laggards in the language. I want to clear this misconception," Krishan pointed out.

Proving that a good teacher can hold the students' interest, most of the children stayed till the end though there were no curbs on their leaving the class. "It was so interesting. It was as if the curtain had lifted in our minds," said Romi Jassal, a Class IX student whose father is a driver.

Read the full article from The Times of India.

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August 30, 2013

Tests

English test for medical professionals now more accessible

oet-logo.jpgCambridge English Language Assessment reports on changes to an English language proficiency test for trained health professionals from overseas who want to work or study in Australia or New Zealand.

The highly regarded Occupational English Test (OET) for healthcare professionals is now more accessible, with tests to be scheduled ten times a year in 2014 (up from seven in 2013), and a reduction in the cost of the test for many candidates.

From October this year, OET candidates will now pay the same AU$580 test fee, regardless of the location in which they take the test. Candidates previously paid a higher fee if they were outside Australia.

The changes to OET have been made as part of an enhanced focus on quality and accessibility by the newly formed Cambridge Box Hill Language Assessment, a joint venture between the University of Cambridge’s language assessment arm, Cambridge English Language Assessment, and Melbourne’s Box Hill Institute.

Sujata Stead, CEO of Cambridge Box Hill Language Assessment, said improving accessibility of OET was an important element in the plan to build the language test’s international profile.

Full article from Cambridge English Language Assessment.

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August 29, 2013

Tests | Liberia

All 25,000 candidates fail Liberian university entrance exam

liberia-exam.jpg
All 25,000 candidates failed this year's University of Liberia entrance exam and are accused of "lacking enthusiasm and not having a basic grasp of English."

The University of Liberia. Number of applicants this year: nearly 25,000. Number gaining admission: zero.

The "epic fail" of every single candidate in the admission exam provoked bafflement, consternation and heated debate on Tuesday, with some convinced that flaws in Liberia's education system had been brutally exposed. A government minister likened it to "mass murder".

At first it appeared there would no freshers at west Africa's oldest degree-granting institution when the new academic year gets under way next month. But then an intervention by president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf forced the university to back down and give places to a lucky 1,800.

According to university officials, the applicants lacked enthusiasm and did not have a basic grasp of English. Spokesman Momodu Getaweh told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the university stood by its decision and would not be swayed by emotion. "In English, the mechanics of the language, they didn't know anything about it. So the government has to do something."

Read the full article from The Guardian.

Photo: Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

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US | Education

Why the alarm is going off about ESL students

ESOL-in-US.jpgAn article on the WRLN website looks at the growing sense of crisis in Florida's ESOL program, which caters to a tenth of the US state’s public school students.

Full disclosure: My wife is a bilingual teacher and my children grew up speaking English and Spanish. But you don’t need those factors in your life to have a vested interest in how well the school program commonly known as ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages – is faring in this country, state and community.

Latinos are now the largest minority in the US. Florida’s population growth today is driven largely by Latinos. And Latinos make up almost two-thirds of Miami-Dade County’s residents.

A quarter million Florida youths, a tenth of the state’s public school students, are enrolled in ESOL. The program accounts for a fifth of Miami-Dade’s public school pupils – and more than 25 percent when you include the system’s ESOL adults.

There are certainly Florida schools, like Miami’s Coral Way K-8 Bilingual Center, where ESOL is exemplary. But as a new academic year gets underway – and as classrooms face the more rigorous Common Core standards – there are nagging signs that too many Florida ESOL students are slipping behind. Or as El Nuevo Herald education writer Daniel Shoer Roth recently put it, an “alarm has sounded” among educators across the peninsula.

Read the full article from WLRN.

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August 27, 2013

Pakistan | Teacher Development

Islamabad - ELT workshop for seminary teachers begins

pk.pngThe Express Tribune reports on an ELT workshop for Islamic scholars in Pakistan, led by international teaching trainer Don Johnson.

A two-week “Madaris Teachers’ English Training” workshop jointly by the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) and the US embassy, Islamabad, kicked off here on Monday.

Renowned international teaching trainer Don Johnson from the US and Dean Faculty of Language and Literature, IIUI, Dr Munawar Iqbal Gondal are the resource persons while Student Affairs Adviser Dr Safeer Awan is coordinating the workshop, said a press release.

Around 40 seminary teachers from Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Peshawar, Mohmand Agency, Malakand, Islamabad and other areas of the country are participating in the workshop.

The workshop includes communication language teaching, teaching pronunciation, vocabulary, lesson planning, teaching writing skills, teaching grammar and reading skills and interactive sessions to improve English language proficiency and pedagogy.

Read the full article from The Express Tribune.

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Secondary Level | Guinea

Guinean government wants English taught in all secondary schools

gn.pngThe West African country of Guinea is to introduce English teaching for all secondary school students from October.

The Guinean government has ordered English teaching in all secondary schools across the French-speaking country in West Africa once the 2013-2014 academic year begins in October, Xinhua news agency reported.

English is already part of the curriculum for some students at a lower level of secondary education where the language is only an optional.

Guinea's Pre-University and Civic Education Minister Ibrahima Kourouma met with teachers of the English language on Monday to discuss their new assignment before classes begin.

Addressing the 300 or so teachers, Kourouma hailed the Guinea-South Africa cooperation which has enabled Guinea to introduce teaching of the English language in all secondary schools.

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August 14, 2013

India | Tests

CBSE ties up with Trinity College to train ESL teachers

teach-English-in-IndiaIndia Today reports on a tie up between the Indian board of education for public and private schools and Trinity College, London in a program to integrate English language in the curriculum.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will train teachers for the implementation of the Assessment of Speaking and Listening (ASL) skills in collaboration with Trinity College, London, an official said Tuesday.

ASL has been introduced in all CBSE-affiliated schools for Class 9 and Class 11 in an effort to integrate English language in the curriculum.

"Principals of schools need to identify senior teachers of English from their schools who are eligible to take the online screening test to qualify for examiner trainers in the ASL," said Sadhna Parashar, CBSE director, training research and innovation.

Read the full article at India Today.

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July 29, 2013

India | Teacher Development

Delivering a jolt to India's teacher training

teach-English-in-IndiaThe New York Times reports on Muktangan, an organization that is taking a whole new - and effective - approach to teacher training in India.

Samidha Shetya, a mill worker’s daughter with a 10th-grade education, was among the first group of women to start working as teachers for a private group called Muktangan in 2003.

She is now among hundreds of teachers who initially had no formal training, much less university degrees in education, working with children from low-income homes.

When Mrs. Shetya began at Muktangan, she was given three months of training and told to find children she could enroll in kindergarten; she began with two classes of 30 students each. Having studied only in the Marathi language, she had to use a translator to get through Muktangan’s English-language curriculum.

Read the full article from The New York Times.

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July 18, 2013

Chile | Events | Teacher Development

ELTeach aiming to boost teacher confidence in Chile

elteach-logo.jpgELTeach - a new teacher training and assessment initiative launched by Cengage Learning and ETS - will be the focus of a seminar for English language teachers in Chile next month. The 2nd Academic Seminar - Teaching with Confidence event will be held August 10, 2013 at the Hotel Crowne Plaza, Santiago.

The seminar will feature presenters Donald Freeman, ELTeach Senior Academic Advisor; Mary Jane Abrahams, Director TESOL CHILE; and Richard J. Tannenbaum, Ph.D., Senior Research Director for the Center for Validity Research, Research & Development, ETS.

The event is co-organized by local partner Seminarium Certificación. For more information or to register, get in touch by phone: (562) 2490-26-10/2490-26-15 or email.

Run by Cengage Learning, ELTeach is an online, integrated Professional Development, Assessment, and Certificate program, supporting teachers of English through coursework and assessments. Pilots program have been run in over a dozen countries worldwide in 2012-13, making it one of the biggest teacher training projects done on a global scale in the ELT industry. With more than 6,000 teachers involved, it's a significant move into the teacher training and assessment space by Cengage and ETS. Implementation programs are beginning now in several countries.

ETS is the company that develops, administers and scores more than 50 million TOEFL, TOEIC, and GRE tests annually in more than 180 countries.

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July 11, 2013

Vietnam | Teacher Development

Pygmalion effect unlikely to propel Vietnam's English upgrade plans

English-Teaching-in-VietnamAn ambitious government project aimed at churning out an English-savvy young workforce by 2020 has failed to enthuse experts who doubt Vietnam will be able to accomplish in 7 years a task that took its better-off neighbors several decades.

THANH NIEN NEWS: Hundreds of thousands of students sitting for their university entrance examinations this week would have been surprised to know that many of their teachers were sharing their acute anxiety.

“I just feel extremely nervous,” said Nguyen Duc Nghiem, a junior high school English teacher in Ho Chi Minh City. “The upcoming test is wearing me down,” he told Vietweek.

Nghiem is among some 86,000 English teachers across Vietnam who are taking European standard exams aimed at gauging if they are competent enough to churn out an English-savvy young workforce by 2020 as part of an ambitious government project. The tests for the teachers are being carried out gradually until 2015 and those who fail the screening can face dismissal.

“I only wish we had more time to get prepared for such tough tasks,” Nghiem said.

The timeframe of the project has been severely criticized by independent experts, who doubt Vietnam will be able to accomplish a task that took its better-off neighbors several decades. Other things about the project do not add up as well, they say.

Read the full story from Thanh Nien News.

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July 09, 2013

India | Teacher Development

Indian region teams with British Council to improve teaching

English-Teaching-in-IndiaThe British Council is teaming up with regional government to raise English teaching standards in Maharashtra, a state in the western region of India.

INDIA TV NEWS: Maharashtra Government has tied-up with the British Council to enhance English language teaching skills of teachers of the state-run secondary schools.

Education Minister Rajendra Darda said that his department in collaboration with the British Council would implement ‘English Language Initiative for Secondary Schools’.

“Specifically, teachers who teach students of VIIth to Xth class would be trained in English language. Around 20,000 teachers from the state will be trained by the government and British Council,” Darda said.

Last year, education department had signed an agreement with the British Council to train teachers from government-run primary schools.

Darda said that education department has opened a corporate social responsibility (CSR) cell, which will provide platform for corporates to invest in school development programmes such as upgrading school infrastructure, setting up libraries, laboratories and so on.

“We are not asking them (corporate houses) for money. We are just providing them CSR platform,” the minister said.

Report from India TV news.

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July 04, 2013

Republic of Korea | Tests

S Korea's new English test shows glitch, faces criticism

English-Test-in-KoreaThe Korea Herald reports on a technical glitch that prevented dozens of students from completing a recently launched national test of English language ability.

A number of students who recently took a state-administered English proficiency test complained that there were critical errors in the exam system.

They said that they were unable to complete the Internet-based exam because their answer sheet suddenly disappeared from the computer screen.

Fifty-eight of the 1,116 test takers cited the same error, raising questions about the National English Ability Test that the government developed with a reported investment nearing 30 billion won (S$33.3 million) over the last four years.

It was the first time students had taken the test after the Education Ministry announced it last year as an alternative to the current state-administered college exam.

Developing the NEAT, the ministry originally sought to substitute the English section of College Scholastic Ability Test from 2016.

But critics say the government is implementing the new test without careful planning. Teachers are concerned about lack of programs and teaching materials to prepare students. Parents also worry that it may drive more students to private education.

Read the full story from The Korea Herald.

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July 02, 2013

Asia | Education

More Pakistani schools to teach in English

Teaching-English-in-PakistanThe Pakistani government has announced plans to expand a program that is increasing the number of schools in far-flung regions of the country that teach core subjects through the medium of English, according to Central Asia Online. The report makes reference to security issues mentioning, almost as an aside, "violent attacks" and "bombed schools."

A recent move by the Pakistani government to have more schools in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) teach classes in English will improve the standard of education, officials say.

Fifty-two FATA schools in April started teaching in English, they said, following the lead of seven schools in Kurram and Khyber agencies that earlier started teaching their 3,642 pupils in English.

The new programme will affect schoolchildren in grades six and higher in general science, Pakistan studies and math, Abid Majeed, secretary to Khyber Pakhktunkhwa (KP) Governor Engineer Shaukatullah Khan, told Central Asia Online.

"Five schools from each agency were selected and three from each Frontier Region [FR]. Of every five selected, two were girls' schools," Majeed said, noting that only one school in FR Lakki Marwat was chosen because the main town had no other schools.

The initial switch, which occurred in April, affected 3,231 sixth-graders, he said, noting that the number of pupils affected will double next year and triple by 2015, as the new sixth-graders are added to the mix and the previous classes advance in grade but remain under the English-teaching programme.

Read the full story from Central Asia Online.

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June 28, 2013

Online | Education

Revolution is coming to a classroom near you

edtech.jpgEdtech is the buzzword of the moment. While the technological transformation of education has failed to live up to expectations for many years, a couple of articles today in The Economist illustrate how we are finally entering a period of real and substantial change.

"IT IS possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture," observed Thomas Edison in 1913, predicting that books would soon be obsolete in the classroom. In fact the motion picture has had little effect on education. The same, until recently, was true of computers. Ever since the 1970s Silicon Valley’s visionaries have been claiming that their industry would change the schoolroom as radically as the office—and they have sold a lot of technology to schools on the back of that. Children use computers to do research, type essays and cheat. But the core of the system has changed little since the Middle Ages: a “sage on a stage” teacher spouting “lessons” to rows of students. Tom Brown and Huckleberry Finn would recognise it in an instant—and shudder.

Now at last a revolution is under way. At its heart is the idea of moving from “one-size-fits-all” education to a more personalised approach, with technology allowing each child to be taught at a different speed, in some cases by adaptive computer programs, in others by “superstar” lecturers of one sort or another, while the job of classroom teachers moves from orator to coach: giving individual attention to children identified by the gizmos as needing targeted help.

Read the full article from The Economist:
E-ducation: A long-overdue technological revolution is at last under way

IN A small school on the South Side of Chicago, 40 children between the ages of five and six sit quietly learning in a classroom. In front of each of them is a computer running software called Reading Eggs. Some are reading a short story, others building sentences with words they are learning. The least advanced are capturing all the upper- and lower-case Bs that fly past in the sky. As they complete each task they move through a cartoon map that shows how far they have progressed in reading and writing. Along the way they collect eggs which they can use to buy objects in the game, such as items to furnish their avatar’s apartment. Now and then a child will be taken aside for scheduled reading periods with one of the two monitoring teachers.

The director of North Kenwood-Oakland school says this sort of teaching, blending software with human intervention, helps her pupils learn faster. It also allows teachers at this school—which, like other charter schools, is publicly funded but has some freedom to teach as it likes—to spend more time teaching and less time marking written work and leading pupils through dull drills of words and numbers. On top of that the school gains an accurate, continuous record of each child’s performance through the data its various programs collect and analyse.

Read the full article from The Economist:
Catching on at last: New technology is poised to disrupt America’s schools, and then the world’s

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Online | Teacher Development

The changing face of English, or is that Englishes?

myth-of-planet-english.jpgThe British Council this week published two pieces of interest to anyone who's ever asked the question, "What is English?" In his seminar The Myth of Planet English, Dr Christopher J Hall explains why the idea that there is just one correct and unchanging form of English is a myth. And the Changing Englishes online, self-paced course from York St John University is designed to help teachers cope with the many aspects of a language constantly in flux.

The Myth of Planet English
English tends to be conceptualised as a monolithic entity, more like a planet than a galaxy. We talk about ‘the’ English language, ‘the’ grammar of English, and ‘the’ vocabulary of English, as though it was all one neat system. But linguists have long understood that this is no more than a convenient fiction. In the 21st century, the global diversity of Englishes and uses of English is revealing that the fiction can be rather inconvenient on many levels, especially in parts of the world where native speakers are scarce.

Most English is used now as a lingua franca between non-native users in diverse global situations, and research suggests that the native-speaker norms of Standard English (SE) aren’t always the best solution for effective communication. It’s relevant, then, to investigate teachers’ beliefs about English. What kind of thing do they believe English to be, such that it can be taught, learnt, and used? And how do their beliefs help or hinder the disparate needs of their learners?

Read more or watch a video of the seminar on the British Council website.

Changing Englishes
English, like all languages, is constantly changing. But in these globalizing times, it is changing at a faster pace and in a greater number of contexts of use than ever before. 'What is English?' has become an urgent and important question for teachers. The Changing Englishes online, self-paced course is designed to help you meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities of new ways of thinking about our profession.

Unlike many resources and discussions in ELT, it concentrates on what we teach, and how it is learnt, rather than on how we teach it. Both experienced and trainee teachers, as well as teacher trainers, will benefit from its provocative ideas and stimulating exercises.

The course includes opportunities to:

  • reflect on your own beliefs about English, and engage with new ideas and data
  • complete exercises and try flashcard quizzes as 'concept checks' of your understanding
  • collect and analyse data in your own local contexts
  • contribute your own findings, reflections, and resources to a Discussion Board and read postings by other users of the course

Changing Englishes is published under a Creative Commons Licence. This means that if you decide to use any of the materials in your classes, or re-purpose them as workshop materials, you are free to do so.

Find out more about the course on the York St John University website.

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UK | Third Level

UK policy makes foreign students ‘feel less welcome’

Studying-English-in-UKTimes Higher Education reports that the UK government's plans to reduce net migration are making more than half of international students in the UK feel less welcome, according to a new survey.

The survey of 510 students from more than 100 institutions, carried out by polling firm YouthSight for Regents University London, suggests that the public debate around immigration is harming international students’ perception of the UK.

Fifty-three per cent of students from Asia and 46 per cent from North America said the policy made them feel less welcome.

Aldwyn Cooper, Regents vice-chancellor, said that the migration policy “risks alienating overseas students in the UK”.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, has repeatedly stressed that despite the overall target to cut net migration, there is no actual cap on the number of students who can come to the UK.

Read the full story from Times Higher Education.

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Japan | Education

Confusion in Japan over call for 'global human resources'

global-human-resources.jpgA recent feature in The Mainichi took a lengthy look at the confusion surrounding the term "global human resources' and its practical implications for English language education in Japan.

Recently, not a day goes by without someone proclaiming the importance of nurturing "global human resources." Bold proposals abound, including the use of TOEFL scores as a criterion for admission to college, and the introduction of English as a subject in lower elementary school grades. What, however, does "global human resources" actually mean?

At the Institution for a Global Society (IGS), a Tokyo preparatory cram school catering toward elementary, junior high and high school students who aspire to attend schools overseas, founder and CEO Masahiro Fukuhara teaches a class on "creating values."

"It doesn't matter what it is: just say what you think!" Fukuhara urges, nudging and encouraging the 15 high school students, who all appear to be at a loss. The topic of the day's lesson is: "Which do you support? The Syrian Armed Forces, or Syrian rebels?"

"You don't have to have the right answer. Japanese people are too worried about getting it right, which is the reason they are scared to speak up," he says. "This is the biggest news story on CNN. You have to know about it if you're planning to go to college abroad."

The students are constantly kept on their toes by Fukuhara's ongoing barrage of questions and prompts. Twenty elementary school students and 35 junior high and high school students attend the school, which was founded in 2010. There were only four students in the beginning, but as calls for "global human resources" increased, so did inquiries from families interested in the school.

Read the full story from The Mainichi.

ELT News interview with Kumiko Torikai.

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June 27, 2013

UK | China | Teacher Development | Business

TEFL Scotland seals China training deal

tefl-scotland-logo.jpgThe BBC reports on a Scottish company which "began life in a garden shed" and has won a million-pound contract to develop training courses for English teachers in China.

Under the deal, TEFL Scotland will partner Zhi Bo Hong Yuan Co - a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Website for Primary and Middle School Teachers' Further Education.

It is one of China's largest online training providers for teachers.

The deal is worth an estimated £1m over three years.

TEFL Scotland and Zhi Bo Hong Yuan Co, which operates as teacher.com.cn, will jointly develop and promote TEFL distance and classroom training and international culture exchanges to English teachers across China.

Read the full story from the BBC.

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June 25, 2013

Malaysia | Teacher Development

Don't be hazy when it comes to English proficiency

Teaching-English-in-MalaysiaColumnist Satiman Jamin writes today in the New Straits Times about the issue of English proficiency among Malaysia's English teachers. The country's education minister was at a small university on Saturday for the launch of "Let's Talk and Let's Go Global", a programme to help raise the English language proficiency of secondary school students.

(Minister) Idris said similar programmes would be conducted by other universities and teachers' training institutes around the country.

However, his acknowledgement that English proficiency among students in schools suffered because of the lack of qualified teachers indicated that something must be done to ensure that the universities roped in to help the schools do not have the same problem.

"As reported in the newspapers recently, our 60,000 English teachers sat for the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT), and the results showed that two-thirds of them did not have the required qualification to teach English," he said.

Read the full article from New Straits Times

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June 20, 2013

Republic of Korea | Education

Instability for English instructors in Korea

Teaching-English-in-KoreaThe Hankyoreh today reports on opposition to the Korean government's policy of putting English conversation teachers on rolling 4-year contracts rather than permanent positions.

Four middle-aged women wearing funeral clothes stood in front of the Central Government Complex in Seoul at around 11am on June 19.

"The government’s inconsistent education policies have left all the powerless irregular workers out of jobs," they declared. The women, English conversation instructors for elementary and middle school classes, called for indefinite contracts. Ko Sun-gyung, who heads the Association for Professional English Conversation Instructors, blasted the Ministry of Education for "sending out an announcement to make it appear that this was lifetime employment, only to turn around and later backpedal."

"We’ve been trying to help advance public education by teaching English to children in farming and fishing villages who don’t have access to private education," she said.

"Now, 6,100 English teachers have ended up being cast aside like old shoes."

Read the full story from The Hankyoreh.

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June 19, 2013

Japan | Tests | Qualifications

TOEFL score to be requirement for teaching hopefuls

Teaching-English-in-JapanJapanese newspaper The Mainichi recently reported on a planned new English language test score requirement for university students hoping to become elementary school teachers.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is set to require college students studying to become elementary school teachers to obtain a specified score in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to graduate, an LDP lawmaker has told the Mainichi Shimbun.

An English-language course was introduced as a once-a-week foreign language activity for fifth- and sixth-grade students in the 2011 school year, but the course remains unofficial, and students are not graded on it.

Read the full story from The Mainichi.

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June 13, 2013

Vietnam | Primary Level

Vietnam - Rising competition in primary English teaching

Teaching-English-in-VietnamThis article from VietnamBridge provides a snapshot of the private ELT school sector in Ho Chi Minh City. For reference, 1 million Vietnam Dong (VND) is approximately equal to $50.

Nguyen Hoai Chuong, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Education and Training, said that primary schools in the city have applied some programs of both local and foreign providers on a trial basis. They are still seeking most suitable programs for local pupils.

The most popular is the Cambridge’s English teaching program with monthly tuition at over VND3 million each pupil. However, this level is rather high compared to financial capability of most local households.

A survey of iSmart Education Joint Stock Company shows that only 1-4% of households in HCMC can afford to pay VND4-10 million a month for their children’s education.

These families usually send their children to high-quality international schools such as British International School, RISS and CIS with tuitions from VND20-40 million a month. Meanwhile, around 4-5% of households can spend from VND4.5 million to VND10.5 million per month and send their children to international bilingual schools with tuitions from VND3-20 million a month. Some 13% of families can spend VND2.2-4.5 million a month and the remaining pay VND2 million or less.

Given this situation, English teaching solution providers have stepped in, offering various programs such as Cambridge, i-Learn and Langmaster.

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June 12, 2013

Oman | Online | Teacher Development

Honoring E-teachers in Oman

Teaching-English-in-OmanThe Times of Oman reported today on a group of local English teachers who availed of an online programme by U.S. universities.

The US Embassy in Muscat honoured 24 Omani participants of its E-Teacher Scholarship Programme, at a function on Monday.

The E-Teacher Scholarship Programme offers English teaching professionals living outside the United States the opportunity to take innovative, online, graduate-level classes through the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the University of Oregon.

The courses explore major areas of the academic speciality of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

During the ceremony, US Ambassador Greta C. Holtz congratulated the E-Teachers for their successful completion of the 10-week online courses and presented them with certificates.

Read the full story from the Times of Oman.

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June 06, 2013

Teacher Development | Qualifications | Primary Level | Pre-school

OUP to launch Teachers' Academy in Japan

Teaching-English-in-Japan"Oxford University Press recently announced the upcoming launch of the Oxford Teachers' Academy in Japan, starting with a first course about "Principles of Teaching Young Learners" to be held from July 13-15 in the OUP office in Tokyo. The course will cover such diverse topics as "How children learn," "Classroom management," and "Using songs and chants." It is open to all English teachers, though participants require an English level of intermediate (TOEIC 600/ CEFR B1) or above.

Oxford Teachers’ Academy provides short courses, endorsed by and created in collaboration with the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, with lasting benefits to teachers. Courses contain 18 hours of content delivered over 3 days (from 09:00-17:00) to groups of 20-35 teachers. Participants who successfully complete the programme and provide evidence of learning will receive a certificate issued by OUP and endorsed by the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.

Oxford Teachers’ Academy has run courses in over 30 countries, making a difference through education and learning to thousands of teachers and students.

Read more about the course and instructors.

Register now for the course.

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June 03, 2013

Tests | US

Teacher Assessments Extending to Art and Gym (and ESL)

Teaching-English-in-US"The New York Times reports today that students and teachers in the state face new evaluations and assessments in a wide range of subjects, including English as a second language.

New York City students have grown accustomed to the restless routine of state tests in math and reading every year. But soon they will face assessments in subjects typically spared from standardized testing, including art, gym and foreign languages.

A new system for evaluating educators, announced by the state on Saturday, will reshape how teachers are hired and fired in the city. It will also have a profound effect on students, who will take part in a series of new exams designed to help administrators grade teachers in specialized subjects.

Read the full story from the New York Times.

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Japan | Primary Level

Practicality, cultural literacy must be heart of elementary school English

Teaching-English-in-Japan"Saturday's edition of The Mainichi ran yet another editorial on the plans to make English a formal subject in Japan's elementary schools.

The Education Rebuilding Implementation Council, overseen by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has proposed that English should be made into an official subject for elementary school fifth- and sixth-graders, as well as an unofficial subject for fourth-graders and below.

While public interest in the proposal is quite high, the Central Education Council -- an advisory panel to the minister of education, culture, sports, science, and technology -- will face numerous challenges in creating a framework for enhancing English-language education at elementary schools. In order to create an effective system for elementary school-level English education, therefore, the panel should hold in-depth discussions on the issue.

So far, elementary schools have taught English conversation as part of their "integrated studies" classes, falling under the heading of international understanding. In 2006, the Central Education Council proposed that English should be made into a compulsory subject for elementary school children. Thereafter, one English lesson is now given to fifth- and sixth-graders per week as a "foreign language activity."

Read the full editorial from The Mainichi.

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May 29, 2013

Malaysia | Education

Malaysian royalty all for English-medium schools

Teaching-English-in-Malaysia"The New Straits Times reports on royal support in Malaysia for schools that teach through English.

Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah, the consort of the sultan of Johor, said yesterday that she would support any Education Ministry plans to set up English-medium schools.

Speaking after opening the 22nd International Conference of the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta), where she is the royal patron, she said, "Having an English-medium school will serve as an alternative for parents who want their children to be proficient in English." She cited her own experience when she went to England to study after completing her education at a national-type primary school in Malaysia.

The three-day event was held in the southern city of Johor Baru, just across the Johor Strait from Singapore, and saw the participation of 450 educators from 28 countries. Melta was formed in 1982 to promote the teaching of English in Malaysia.

Melta president Associate Professor Dr S. Ganakumaran said the focus of the event this year was to evaluate the changes in the national education system and help teachers cope with the changes.

Read the full story from the New Straits Times

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May 28, 2013

US | Education

Nevada eyes English language learner education

Teaching-English-in-US"RGJ.com reports on ELT in Nevada, home to 31% of English language learners in the US.

It’s early one Thursday morning at Jay W. Jeffers Elementary School in Las Vegas, and Lisa Cabrera-Terry’s voice is spilling from the first grade classroom where she’s reading about an illiterate grandma who surprises her family by learning to read.

Cabrera-Terry takes a fat marker to a sheet of poster paper and adds to a wheel-shaped diagram of words that describe feelings.

“If your face beams, you’re sooooo happy,” she said. “Why are they so happy about grandma reading?”

To the untrained eye, the lesson is nothing unusual. But Cabrera-Terry is at a school where 83 percent of incoming kindergartners don’t speak English, where you take every picture book page slow and where you tell students exactly what “astonished” means and explicitly that it’s a word to describe a feeling.

Read the full story from the Reno Gazette-Journal

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