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January 23, 2014

Qatar | Online

Qatar: mobile learning app to improve training

qa.pngThe PIE (Professionals in International Education) News reports on a new mobile app aimed at improving the use of technical English in Qatar’s oil and gas industry.

Academics at Athabasca University, Canada and Qatar University are developing a mobile learning application to help employees in Qatar’s oil and gas industry to learn technical English language terms used in the sector.

Learners will have unlimited access to specialised content delivered on mobile devices, enabling them to study at their own pace.

The ‘m-learning’ research project, led by Athabasca University’s Dr Mohamed Ally, is the first of its kind to be used for professional training in Qatar, according to co-lead researcher Dr Mohammad Samaka, of Qatar University.

“There is no history of mobile learning applications utilised to train employees in the workplace in Qatar. This project is novel,” he said. “During our most recent literature review, a hunt for existing applications yielded nothing, indicating that this could be the first mobile learning application under development in the oil and gas industry worldwide.”

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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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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December 10, 2013

Australia | Online | Third Level

ELT MOOC launched in Australia

The long-awaited first MOOC to offer a free online English language learning course was recently launched in Australia.

The first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for English language learners was launched in Brisbane, Australia on December 4. Fifteen colleges and universities in Queensland collaborated to develop the more than 50 lessons currently offered by MOOEC (the E is for English). Like all MOOCs, the course can be accessed free and the initial aim is for a high take-up within Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Lessons are organised into established levels of proficiency and approved by a committee of professional English language practitioners providing quality assurance oversight of the content.

The MOOEC is an initiative of International Education Services, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the improvement of international education. They say an additional 100 lessons are planned for release over the next six months. Other Australian higher learning institutions have expressed a strong interest in getting on board.

IES Managing Director, Chris Evason said, “The movement towards free, online education is a key development in Higher Education and the MOOEC intends to play an important complementary role in bringing language learning to a wider audience. We are seeking to use our extensive network of 20,000 industry professionals worldwide, to help us reach learners in every country in the world.”

While a stated aim of MOOEC is "to reach individuals who currently have limited means to access high-quality, on-line English Language tuition" it will not replace face-to-face instruction. Indeed it is viewed as a means to encourage students to eventually enrol at one of the partner institutions and to do so with a "substantial learning profile."

The MOOEC website
The International Education Services website

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November 29, 2013

Online | Business

Startup Stories: The EdTech Journey of ClassWired

lindsay-rattray-classwired.jpgIn part 1 of a 2-part series Lindsay Rattray, founder of student-centered ELT activity app ClassWired, writes this week for eltjam on how his startup came about.

Stage 1: Super Duper Flashcards
I first started playing with EdTech in the Old City of Damascus, Syria. I had moved there to study Arabic and suddenly discovered how difficult it is. The biggest problem was trying to stuff all the words into my memory – Arabic verbs and plurals are mostly irregular: for one word in English you have to learn two or three in Arabic.

So, being a computer science graduate, I built myself a basic flash card system. I experimented with things like:

  • how many times I need to get a word right to stop showing it to me
  • what to do with those words I just couldn’t seem to remember
  • when to show which word (aka spaced repetition)

At that stage it was just a personal tool borne of need. My teachers and classmates liked it, but I felt the problem of memorising words in language acquisition was so significant that someone must have solved it. I went looking.

I found some great tools. Byki was far more sleek than my clunky design. Anki seems to be the accepted flashcard program to use (and I’ve seen it demoed at programming meetups in Melbourne). Rosetta Stone was more high-tech and immersive than flashcards. Yet I kept using my own flash cards, and never adopted another piece of education in my Arabic studies.

Read the full article on eltjam.

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November 26, 2013

Technology | Publishing | Online

New Skins for Potato Pals: From Page to iPad

potato-pals-app.jpg ELT News regular Patrick Jackson has written a piece for eltjam on the new iPad app incarnation of his own Potato Pals series.

… the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

These days, Dylan’s words ring true in the ELT world. How we deal with change is at the forefront of everybody’s mind. There will be losers and winners but, as Nick Robinson writes, ‘if we all chose the most adventurous path, the industry could be quite an interesting place in a few years’. I’m happy to be able to announce some good news from my own neck of these woods – news that may have you rooting through your drawers.

For the past five years I have been working full time as an ELT author, pretty much exclusively with one of the major publishers (OUP). I have, like everyone in the business been watching developments with interest and wondering which way the wind will blow, whom it will blow away and what sort of jetsam it will cast up on the shore. All my work for OUP has been in the traditional way, for advances and royalties and that’s the way I would like it to remain. It keeps one invested in the project from start to finish as well as motivated to be involved on the marketing and professional development side of things, which I very much enjoy. I would urge Pearson to have a long hard think about what they are doing as they attempt to cast their authors adrift. Or maybe they did have a long hard think and this is a one hundred million dollar masterstroke that will create the new tomorrow. I hope not.

Read the full post on eltjam.

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November 07, 2013


EnglishAgenda podcast: Dr Maggie Sokolik - MOOCs

In the second edition of the British Council's EnglishAgenda podcast Dr Maggie Sokolik talks about a new and innovative massive open online course or MOOC aimed at developing writing skills specifically for English language learners. MOOCs offer free interactive participation and coursework to anyone with internet access. In addition to video lectures, readings, and quizzes, MOOCs provide discussion areas that build a community for participants.

Dr Maggie Sokolik has taught writing and technical communication at UC Berkeley since 1992. She is the author of over twenty ESL and composition textbooks, including Sound Ideas, co-authored with Michael Krasny. She is responsible for the MOOC on writing skills which is offered through and is completely free.

Listen to the podcast.

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November 04, 2013


Embassy English launches student focused website

embassy-english-website.jpgThe PIE (Professionals in International Education) News reports on a new student-oriented website for language provider Embassy English.

International English language provider Embassy English has redesigned its website – accessible via desktop and mobile platforms– with a strong student focus allowing for a more colourful insight into Embassy English’s schools, facilities and overall study experience, all of which will be translated into multiples languages in the coming weeks.

The website will showcase schools across the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, course packages as well as student life covering everything from visas to what happens inside the classroom.

“The new look reflects the Embassy English values of high quality in education and excellent facilities, with an emphasis on extensive location photography, recommendations from students, and clear, easy-to-read information on Embassy’s 18 study centres,” Ilse Marshall Web Strategist at Embassy English told The PIE News.

The new design also has punchy slogans against scenic location shots on an easy to scroll slideshow advertising everything from business communication to studying in Australia, on the landing home page.

Read the full post on The PIE News.

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October 18, 2013


British Council launches EnglishAgenda podcast


The EnglishAgenda podcast features news about English language teaching. Listen to interviews with leading experts and find out about innovative projects from around the world.

The podcast will be of interest to English language teachers and trainers as well as people working in research and other related areas of English language teaching.

The first podcast looks at some new technologies for English language teaching and training. Graham Stanley gives some insights into the project Ceibal en Inglés, which uses video conferencing technology to bring remote teachers into primary schools all around Uruguay. It also looks at how teacher trainers can use e-books with teachers for professional development.

Çheck out the EnglishAgenda podcast.

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October 10, 2013

Online | Events

Free on-line training day: using technology in teaching

ltsig-logo.jpgThe IATEFL Learning Technologies Special Interest Group will be discussing the theme Using technology in teaching on Saturday 12 October 2013. The following speakers will be participating in the on-line conference: Christel Broady, Carol Chapelle, Gavin Dudeney, Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, Deborah Healey, Nicky Hockly, Phil Hubbard, Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou, Paige Ware & Shaun Wilden.

This is the first joint online conference by TESOL CALL-IS (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, USA - Computer Assisted Language Learning Interest Section) and IATEFL LTSIG (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, UK - Learning Technologies Special Interest Group).

Find out more on the Learning Technologies SIG website.

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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 01, 2013

Online | ELT People

Startup Stories: Vocabla’s CEO, Michal Dyrda

vocabla-michael-dyrda.jpgThe folks over at eltjam have posted a brief interview with Michael Dyrda, CEO of online vocabulary learning tool Vocabla, a story we picked up from them recently.

Following on from our post on LangApp’s Vocabla platform earlier this month, we thought we’d get a few words from the company’s CEO to learn more about how the company operates.

Michal Dyrda is the CEO and founder of Vocabla. He is an entrepreneur with eight years experience in online business and management and focuses primarily on the educational field. He has worked for and/or founded well known and large web businesses in Poland such as,,, He is father of three and husband of one :)

1. Choose five words that best describe Vocabla:
a. English
b. Vocabulary
c. Gamification
d. Technology
e. Startup
… these best describe what Vocabla is as an app/ business, as well as our work here.

2. What was the opportunity you were responding to with Vocabla? What drove you to create it?
The Internet and the mobile revolution has changed the way people develop themselves, read, watch, and learn about anything. If you need high quality content to make progress in your professional life, there’s a high chance you can find it only in English.

Read the full interview on eltjam.

Related story: Vocabla: The Words On The Street

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September 27, 2013

Online | Business

Rosetta Stone launches kids division, blended reading app

rosetta-stone-kids.jpgMajor player Rosetta Stone recently moved for the first time into language learning for kids, as announced in their September 17 press release (sorry we're a bit late for the party).

Rosetta Stone Inc., a leading provider of education technology solutions, today introduced a groundbreaking app-Rosetta Stone® Kids Lingo Letter Sounds-designed specifically for kids. The app, available now on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, is the debut offering from the new Rosetta Stone Kids(TM) division, and represents the company's first foray into early childhood language and literacy.

Designed and built by Rosetta Stone's recently established San Francisco and Austin product development teams, Lingo Letter Sounds harnesses the company's pioneering language immersion methodology and proprietary speech recognition technology to deliver core English reading skills alongside a fun and interactive introduction to Spanish. Unique to the children's consumer education market, the blended solution provides an educational resource for parents eager to introduce their children to both basic literacy skills and a foreign language at an early age.

"Enhancing early language development skills gives kids an important edge in their overall education and enables them to get ahead," said Steve Swad, President and CEO of Rosetta Stone. "Rosetta Stone has a long, proud tradition of leadership in language-learning technology for adults and students K through 12, and we're excited to leverage that expertise to help younger kids learn. This app will give kids a great start down the road of reading and speaking-in English and Spanish."

Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Letter Sounds includes original content to support two hours of game play, including activities that promote English phonetic awareness, pronunciation of letter sounds, and a grasp of everyday Spanish phrases. Cleverly designed around a magical world of original cartoon creatures and fantasy landscapes, the app quickly engages kids through fun and entertainment, all the while accelerating their mastery of critical reading and speaking skills. Importantly, Lingo Letter Sounds also features a Parent Corner where adults can monitor their child's progress on the app every step of the way.

Read the full press release from Market Watch.

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September 26, 2013

Events | Online | Spain

Annual teachers' conference live online from Spain

british-council-logo-blue.jpgThis Saturday 28 September, the British Council in Spain holds its annual teacher’s conference with talks in teaching centres across the country, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia. You can follow the live stream of speakers between 09.00 and 14.15 UK BST on the British Council’s newly upgraded Livestream channel.

The streamed speakers this year are IATEFL President Carol Read (on Creativity in the Classroom), Samantha Lewis (on getting Teens to speak using games), John Liddy (on using literature to promote learners' creative writing), and Ali Smith (on making stories and storytelling interactive). The event concludes with a performance by professional storyteller Tim Bowley.

All talks are to be streamed via Livestream; the channel URL is: No registration is required to view the streams.

  The talks have been chosen to appeal to any teaching or teacher training staff, regardless of age range taught or level of experience. Please note that edited recordings of the talks will be available after the event, both on the Livestream channel and on the British Council's TeachingEnglish website.

For more information, see the British Council, Spain website.

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September 20, 2013


Can English students discover their inner Tom Hanks?

skyperead.jpgEnglish students around the world are being offered the chance to take part in read-throughs of Hollywood movies.

SkypeRead will bring students together in a Skype group call to read through a movie script. Each session will involve five students, and a professional language coach will act as moderator. A pilot programme for the project is scheduled to start in October.

Read-throughs are one of the key stages in the production of movies, TV shows and theatre plays. The actors sit down around a table — together with directors, writers and other members of the production team — and read through the script. Many actors compare read-throughs (which are also called 'table reads') to the first day at school: slightly terrifying, but very exciting.

"The SkypeRead vision is for people to have fun, improve their English, and discover their inner Tom Hanks," said Graham Jones of Ten Sentences, a consultancy that is developing the idea.

"For the pilot programme, we're going to be doing read-throughs of 'Toy Story', which is a brilliant movie with a brilliant script. We'd really love to hear from any students who would like to take part!

"We'd also really like to hear professional opinions and suggestions from our ELT colleagues. One of the most thought-provoking comments we've had so far was from a teacher here in Japan, who said, 'Woah, a read-through of an ENTIRE movie? You're asking people to climb Mount Everest!' We knew what he meant, of course, and we did have to go away and think carefully about this.

"In the end, we concluded that we quite liked the Everest metaphor! SkypeRead is supposed to be fun, but it's supposed to be a challenge, too. Our big hope is that everyone will feel a real — and lasting — sense of achievement when we reach the words 'The End'."

Full details are available at

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September 18, 2013

Online | Linguistics

Watch British Council seminar: 'The power of accents in the 21st century'

British CouncilThe British Council's latest seminar recording is now available to watch on the EnglishAgenda website. In 2013 Britain, the clipped vowels of the ‘Queen’s English’ may no longer rule the radio waves (in fact, even the Queen herself has brought her accent up to date) but accents still shape the ways we think about other people and ourselves. What are the current attitudes shaping our linguistic landscape?

Accent & Dialect coaches and authors of Collins’ 'Work on Your Accent', Sarah Shepherd and Helen Ashton give you the chance to learn some of the techniques they use to help actors change their accent for a role; and show you that the course of your life can be shaped not only by the way that you speak, but also by the way that you listen.

Watch the seminar recording on the British Council website.

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September 10, 2013


Vocabla: The Words On The Street

vocabla-logo.jpgVocabla is a simple but very powerful new online tool for English language learners to increase their vocabulary in a fun and social way. Read more from the folks at eltjam.

The folks over at Polish startup LangApp have come up with something rather special; a heady mix of vocabulary tutor, social network and shareable media library. It’s a potent brew.

Vocabla is a powerful demonstration of how addictive language learning can be whilst also being both effective and entirely free. Its premise is a simple one; learners use the platform to learn vocabulary through translation from/into their L1 and in doing so are able to build their own wordlists, take tests and compete with other learners using Vocabla. Currently, Vocabla supports Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Russian, Turkish and Polish translations and says it is continually evolving to include more.

The ‘chalk face’ of the platform is the vocab checker. The learner is presented with a word in English (along with an audio file for pronunciation) and they are given a simple choice: Do you feel that you know this word, or do you wan to add it to the list of words to practice? Once they have built up a sizeable list of words to practice they can begin a set of activities to help them familiarise themselves with and memorise the new items.

The activities available to the learner to help them with this task are simple but effective. There are simple flashcards showing the new vocab in L1 and revealing it in English on the reverse so that the learner can test themselves, a multiple choice activity using the L1 translations and a text entry task in which learner writes the English translation of the word themselves.

Read the full article from eltjam.

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September 03, 2013

UK | Publishing | Online

Macmillan revises definition of marriage to include gay couples

gay-pride-march.jpgMacmillan's is the first UK dictionary to reflect the country's new law on same sex marriage.

The online dictionary has become the first UK dictionary to revise its definition of marriage to reflect the change in the law allowing same sex couples to marry.

The definition of "marriage" now reads: "The relationship between two people who are husband and wife, or a similar relationship between people of the same sex," with the second clause newly added.

The revision follows the marriage (same sex couples) bill through its crucial reading in the House of Lords on 15 July and accompanies other changes in a significant update to the dictionary. One that is likely to offend grammar purists is the inclusion of "of" as a preposition for use with "bored", as in "bored of". editor-in-chief Michael Rundell said the change to the definition of "marriage" might suggest a future redefining of the terms "husband" and "wife". "In a same sex relationship two men are probably not going to refer to themselves as 'wife', but if it's two women, they might, so we need to keep an eye on that."

The definition of wife is "the woman that a man is married to", and husband is "the man that a woman is married to".

Changes to the official definitions of words are guided by analysis of their usage. "We have a corpus of two billion words, a huge collection of text including books, magazines and recorded speech, which we analyse in great detail to understand frequent and common usage," Rundell said.

Read the full article from The Guardian.

Photograph: Lee Harper/Corbis

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August 30, 2013


Recent college grads: teach English abroad

udemy-logo.jpgA press release issued today by ELT Online, a new startup which offers a course on the Udemy platform aimed at young graduates thinking of heading overseas to teach English.

Recent college graduates face a job market that has become saturated due to older workers waiting longer than ever to retire, and the remaining jobs have long been snatched up by past grads. Many exit university with the hopes of securing employment that is both fulfilling and affords them to pay off student loans. “Every student exits college at the beginning of May full of hope and eager to start working,” Brandon Wade, founder of, told The Washington Examiner. “By June, graduates who have yet to land a job in their desired fields have very few options open to them: settle for less pay than they deserve or settle for a job they don’t want.”

This lack of employment opportunities has caused several grads to look at other countries in order to make ends meet. English teachers in Asia can expect to make similar salaries to entry-level jobs in the U.S. ($25,000 to $30,000 annually), and they are often provided with government-subsidized health care and retirement benefits; things becoming ever-more elusive in many jobs back home. It also doesn't matter if college grads majored in education or not--most Asian countries require only a four-year degree in any discipline to process teaching visas.

Read the full press release from PR Web.

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August 28, 2013


ELT Online reading group

elt-reading-group.jpgSix years ago, Chris Lima set up and began managing the now successful ELT Online Reading Group. Fast forward to August 2013 and the group has over 1,500 members in an active community. And a new website.

The group has grown so much in the last couple of years that it was decided to create a website that could accommodate all the online traffic and provide a more interactive, visually appealing and user-friendly website, which is exactly what Chris has done on the new platform.

These are some of the features you will find on the new site:

  • An easily accessible welcome page where you can register as a member and post your welcome message
  • Distinct discussion threads for short stories, poems and novel extracts
  • New works uploaded every month
  • Selected web links that bring you more information on particular works and authors
  • A collection of downloadable lesson plans based on literary works and the opportunity to share your own lesson plans and materials
  • The ELT Online Reading Group own publications that you can read on screen as e-books or download as pdf documents
  • The Small Groups area where you can have your own closed online reading group for your own students or institution using our online platform
  • A direct link to the ELT Online Reading Group YouTube channel
  • Direct links to the ELT Online Reading Group Facebook and Twitter pages

ELT Online reading group

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August 27, 2013

Online | ELT People

Scott's got a brand new blog

scott-thornbury.jpgMany thousands of teachers worldwide were avid readers of Scott Thornbury's "An A-Z of ELT" blog, which he put to rest in June. Now Scott's back, with "The (De-)Fossilization Diaries."

I’ve been living in Spain for nearly thirty years, and my Spanish (never very good to start with) appears to have fossilized. That is to say, if someone who had interacted with me in Spanish twenty years ago were to talk to me again now, it’s unlikely they would detect much improvement. Worse, they may even note a distinct regression (aka attrition): not so much fossilized, as atrophied!

But, taking heart from Ellis’s comment that ‘there is never a complete cessation of learning’, I am going to attempt to redress the rot, as it were, and to ‘de-fossilize’. I am going to do this using a number of means, including formal instruction, vocabulary memorization, extensive reading and (if I can find it) informal interaction. At the same time, I plan to inform the process by occasional reference to the literature on second language acquisition (SLA), including such issues as motivation, age effects, aptitude, exposure, fluency, error correction, and identity formation. I imagine that there will be implications to be drawn in terms of language teaching methodology.

In short, I am going to devote as much time and effort as I can possibly manage towards dispelling the myth that language learning just stops.

This blog will be a record of that journey.

Read The (De-)Fossilization Diaries.

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August 26, 2013

Online | Events

Upcoming IATEFL webinar dates

iatefl-logo.jpgLater this week and in the coming months, here are some IATEFL webinar dates to pencil into your diary.

Claudia Ferradas PhD - 'Reading across cultures: literature for intercultural awareness'; 31 August 2013, 3pm BST


In a context of growing intercultural communication, reading and responding to texts in which cultures come into contact can help us develop intercultural awareness, as the encounter with otherness can encourage reflection on how meanings can be communicated across cultures. This webinar explores texts written in English in which intercultural encounters are highlighted and proposes activities and resources for the classroom which aim at developing the linguistic repertoire necessary to express our own meanings in English.


Claudia Ferradas is an experienced presenter and ELT author based in Argentina who travels the world as a teacher educator. Among many international presentations, she was the closing plenary speaker at the IATEFL conference in Cardiff in 2009. She is a lecturer in advanced language and literature at teacher training and translation programmes and has been in charge of MA seminars and research supervision in Argentina, Spain and the UK. Claudia works as a consultant for the British Council and has co-chaired the Oxford Conference on the Teaching of Literature on five occasions. She has also worked as Project Manager for the Penguin Active Readers Teacher Support Programme


Other dates:

Adrian Underhill - 'The Jazz of Teaching and Learning' 14 September 2013, 3pm BST


Vicki Hollett - 'Learning to speak 'merican' 19 October 2013, 3pm BST


Scott Thornbury - 'Fossilization: is it terminal?' 30 November 2013, 3pm GMT


Tessa Woodward - 'Enjoying personal and professional creativity' 31 January 2014, 3pm GMT


Mike McCarthy - 'Spoken fluency revisited' 22 February 2014, 3pm GMT


For more details about this week's webinar, see the IATEFL website.

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August 16, 2013

Publishing | Online

Pearson advances into digital, reports half year growth

Education-PearsonPearson - no longer a publisher, now a "learning company" - buys into English language learning platform Voxy as part of its ongoing switch from print to digital. The company now has 50% of revenues coming from digital and services, reports The PIE (Professionals in International Education) News.

Leading learning company, Pearson, recently partnered with investment fund Rethink Education to lead an $8.5m investment in Voxy, an English language learning platform with 2.5 million users. The global giant is pro-actively repositioning itself to be embedded in digital delivery and following solid half-year results, bullish about the prospect for growth in the education sector.

The company plans to incorporate Voxy’s products and technology into its suite of services it offers to learners as it continues to transition away from traditional print into digital learning.

The investment comes as the company releases its interim results up to 30 June which show like-for-like revenue was up 1%, driven mostly by the company’s North American Education business and movement in developing markets.

John Fallon, chief executive, said in a statement: “In trading terms, 2013 has begun much as we expected. In general, good growth in our digital, services and developing-market businesses continues to offset tough conditions for traditional publishing.”

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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August 15, 2013

Publishing | Online | Business

Disruptor or disrupted? How to be among the 9% that survive

EdTechYet another excellent post from Laurie Harrison over at eltjam on digital disruption of the ELT publishing industry. If newspapers are any guide, only a fraction of publishers will survive the coming storm.

A recent scary-sounding post on FutureBook by Suw Charman-Anderson (Will you be in the nine percent of publishers that survive?) about recent research into disruptive innovation and what it means for the publishing industry got me thinking about what it might mean for ELT publishing specifically. A few weeks ago I posted a primer on disruptive innovation in which I made the case for EdTech as a disruptive force in ELT. I thought it might be interesting now to delve into this a bit more and explore what it is that a disruptive ELT publisher might do, and how to avoid being among the ranks of the disrupted.

The background here is that former Harvard Business School professor, Clark Gilbert has carried out research into the newspaper industry as it’s been collapsing under the weight of online disruption. Maybe it’s a leap to think this could equally apply to ELT publishing, but let’s stick with it and see how it works out. Gilbert set out six principles that he sees as essential in order to survive. How does ELT publishing shape up?

Read the full article from eltjam.

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July 26, 2013

ELT People | Online | Events

IATEFL Webinar with Jeremy Harmer - July 27

jeremy-harmer.jpgThis time tomorrow you'll be able to tune in to watch one of ELT's leading lights. Jeremy Harmer will be holding a webinar on IATEFL BESIG on July 27 from 3pm to 4pm (BST).

The theme of the event is 'Yes, but why do we need teachers at all?'

We all think that teachers should motivate their students and help them to become successful learners - but what does that actually mean? And what is the balance of 'the-teacher-as-motivator', and the teacher who knows - and knows how to help students know? Furthermore, in a world where people are offering digital solutions to learning problems, how has/will the teacher's role change?

This session will look at opinions from English language teaching - and from outside the field - to come up with a new way of looking at how we can help our students to be more effective.

Jeremy - a frequent presenter, seminar leader and teacher both in the UK and, more frequently, around the world - currently works as as an online tutor for the MATESOL at The New School, New York.

To join the webinar please go to Ensure "Enter as Guest" is selected; enter your name and country; and click "Enter room." You do not need to register in advance to join this webinar.

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July 17, 2013

Australia | Online

Navitas backs virtual English classes for migrants

navitas-logo.jpgTwo companies are teaming up to deliver virtual English language lessons for migrants and refugees across Australia.

Global pathway provider Navitas has teamed up with AMES, a provider of training and employment support to refugees, to deliver virtual English language lessons for migrants and refugees across Australia.

Director of the project, Iain Rothwell, said the scheme offered Australia’s first fully interactive virtual English classroom, and would replicate face-to-face lessons for those unable to attend classes in person.

“For new Australians living in rural and remote areas or those who are unable to attend face-to-face classes, the virtual classroom will allow the development of language skills to enable participation in and contribution to their local communities,” he said. Launched earlier this month, the programme is being piloted by several groups of students in Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory who are being taught by AMES and Navitas teachers based in Melbourne and Sydney. Organisers say the trial will eventually extend to 200 students and run for two years.

Read the full article from PIE News.

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July 16, 2013

ELT People | Online

WizIQ Announces MOOC for Teachers on ELT Techniques

fluency-mc.jpgIn a press release issued this week, WizIQ lay claim to being the first provider of a MOOC for English language teacher development, led by Fluency MC. WizIQ is an online education platform used by over 220,000 teachers and 3 million learners in more than 100 countries.

WizIQ today announced that it is hosting a free English Language Teaching (ELT) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for teachers commencing on July 29, 2013. The self-paced 4-week course is first of its kind dedicated to the development of English language teaching professionals.

The MOOC will be led by Jason R. Levine (Jase), also known as Fluency MC, who has fifteen years of experience in ELT as a teacher, teacher trainer, and materials writer. He is the creator of ColloLearn, an approach to English language learning based on the songs he writes and performs as Fluency MC.

An Ambassador and Knowledge Entertainer at WizIQ, Jase teaches in the online MA TESOL program at the New School and writes songs and chants for several publishers, including Oxford University Press. His YouTube channel ColloLearn, receives hundreds of thousands of views per month and his Fluency MC Facebook page has thousands of members from over 50 countries.

Read the full press release on PR Newswire.

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Online | Publishing | US

Death of the textbook—and the 50-pound bookbag

digital-evolution.jpgiPads and other devices are already in many classrooms, though they tend to supplement rather than replace the printed textbooks that weigh down the bags and backpacks of students the world over. But according to this USA Today article, not for much longer, at least in the US.

The Department of Justice and Apple are battling in court over e-book pricing, but that's not the only high-stakes brawl that's brewing in the publishing industry.

The multi-billion dollar textbook industry is also being shaken up by a slew of forces, from the publishers to tech startups, education non-profits, the government, university professors and, of course, Apple.

Textbook sales, for both higher education and K-12, will reach an estimated $13.7 billion in the U.S. this year, according to Outsell, a research firm. The overall market is expected to increase over the next few years as the student population is growing, according to Kate Worlock, an analyst at Outsell.

Just as with e-books, the shift comes as students turn to their tablets and smartphones for digital textbooks. Just take college student Clayton Brown, who carries an iPad to his biology class at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

Read the full article from USA Today.

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July 10, 2013


10 free apps for teachers

ELT-Global-BlogDropbox and Evernote will be familiar names to many but you might just find something new and useful in this list, courtesy of the ELT Global Blog from Oxford University Press.

We know teachers can find it hard to make time to plan their lessons, or to manage their classes both in and out of the classroom, so we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 free apps to help make your planning more productive and time-efficient. You may also find some of our apps for learning English useful.

10 free apps for teachers to use for planning and classroom management.

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June 29, 2013

Online | Awards & Competitions

I'd like to sing the world a song

Global Sing-AlongEverybody Up is a seven-level course from Oxford University Press that motivates children by linking the English classroom to the wider world. One of the series' authors is ELT News columnist Patrick Jackson, a strong advocate of the use of songs in the English language classroom. And a natural extension of that is the Everybody Up Global Sing-along, a project that encourages classrooms around the world to send in YouTube videos of themselves singing songs from Everybody Up.

Patrick says, "Watching the videos come in from around the world has been the highlight of my career so far. It’s especially fun and educational for the kids to see themselves cooperating on the production of their videos and to be able to see other children all over the world singing the same songs as them."

The deadline for entries is 31st August, 2013.

The winners will win an all expenses paid trip to Oxford to attend the English Language Teachers Summer Seminar 2014 at Oxford University, including flights and accommodation.

Read more about the Global Sing-along.

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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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June 26, 2013

Publishing | Online

Call from journal on children’s literature in ELT

CLELE JournalThe call for papers for Volume 1, Issue 2 (November 2013) of the new CLELEjournal has been extended to July 1st 2013. This is a themed issue: Intercultural approaches to English language education through children’s literature. For further information about contributing please see

Launched in May, CLELEjournal is a bi-annual, comprehensively peer-reviewed, on-line journal. The acronym (which rhymes with FREELY) stands for Children’s Literature in English Language Education and the publication is for scholars, teacher educators and practitioners involved in using and researching children’s literature in the field of English learning as a second, additional or foreign language. The journal investigates children’s literature as an art form, and as a framework with which to connect L2 literature teaching across the school years. The scope covers the affordances of children’s literature for L2 acquisition with pre-school infants through to young adults. CLELEjournal Volume 1, Issue 1, is now available online.

This first issue contains five papers sharing perspectives from Poland, Germany, Lebanon, India and Portugal, CLELEjournal offering perceptive and innovative ideas, suggestions and shared experience with students from primary through to secondary education. The texts referred to include picturebooks, nonsense literature and an alternate history written for young adults.

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June 13, 2013


Eltjam looks at the great EdTech disruption in ELT

EdTechLaurie Harrison at eltjam takes a very interesting look at some questions that should be on the minds of any leader in the ELT industry: is technology about to cause a major shakeup in how education is delivered? And, if so, what will be the consequences for those who dismiss it or don't see it coming?

If you listen to any EdTech entrepreneur, you’ll notice the frequent and enthusiastic use of the terms disruption or disruptive innovation. To some extent, the whole concept of EdTech is based on the possibilities for disruption engendered by online and mobile tech. The belief is that the “education space” (ugh) is ripe for disruption, and the “factory model” of education we currently impose on our youth is rightly about to be swept away by an EdTech revolution. But what does EdTech disruption mean for ELT?


Is EdTech an example of disruptive innovation?
Well, I would argue that technology certainly is a disruptive force in education. But in what way, and for better or worse? EdTech fits the bill for disruptive innovation in many ways. The promise is not just that tech will allow students and teachers to do what they always did but in better ways – it’s that tech will actually transform what education is.

Read the ful article on eltjam.

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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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May 30, 2013

Online | Japan

There's an English doctor in the house

Teaching-English-in-Japan"Japanese company Mosuke Inc. today issued a press release to announce the launch of its new English language training website.

Local company Mosuke Incorporated has launched a new website targeted for the Japanese businessperson interested in improving his/her English. The new website is called Eigo ( ) and is designed for use with a PC, tablet computer, or smart phone. “Eigo” is the Japanese term for “English”.

Compared with other Asian countries, Japan ranks consistently in the bottom quartile in English language ability as measured by TOEIC and TOEFL language scores. Businesses have repeatedly implored the Ministry of Education to raise the standard of Japan’s English teaching quality and its teaching staff to little avail, while major businesses themselves continue to resort to “Engrish” (grammatically incorrect English) for their multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. Ignominious examples abound.

Read the full press release. (bilingual, Japanese and English)

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May 24, 2013

Online | Business

Urban Planet acquires revolutionary English learning system

Urban PlanetUrban Planet – the world’s leading mobile education provider – has gone deep into the jungles of Costa Rica (literally) to acquire the 333 Words English Language Learning System, the most efficient way to learn English on the planet.  Urban Planet is incorporating the newly acquired system into its award winning mobile education lines to create a new product, Urban English Express (UEx). Urban English Express, promises to be the fastest, most effective way to teach beginner level English to students of all ages on any mobile device around the world.

The 333 Words English Language System that Urban Planet acquired is unique in identifying the main problems most new English language learners experience; confusion with the rules of grammar and lack of confidence, and bypassing them in a pedagogically sound manner. The system utilizes a logical learning methodology with a set of 333 carefully selected, common and necessary words that are also essential for survival. These 333 words are introduced to the student in a carefully orchestrated learning sequence designed to maximize logical learning, and thus, retention.

“The 333 Words English Language System is specifically designed to allow the student to build confidence and, at the same time, be able to use important and necessary words correctly,” said Lauren Cleaver, Creator of the 333 Words English Language System. “Building confidence ultimately frees the student to  experiment with more difficult concepts; therefore, the student becomes more proficient in the language in a relatively short amount of time.”

“This is a game changing acquisition because it not only shows that we will go to the ends of the earth to find strategies that work but it also demonstrates that mobile technologies can work with any system,” said Brian OliverSmith, CEO of Urban Planet.  “I am confident that Urban English Express will become the gold standard by which all other mobile and non-mobile English language learning programs are measured.”

Potential success of Urban English Express can be seen by how non-English speakers in Costa Rica responded to the 333 Words English Language System. The majority of non-English speakers were frustrated by the vast detail and somewhat trivial rules taught by other well-known programs. They flocked to the 333 Words English Language System because it simplified the process for learning English efficiently and effectively. The system is successful because, unlike other English Language learning programs, it operates under the assumption English is a step-by-step process that requires the student to experience a level of confidence in the language before he or she can advance to more complicated concepts.

"Urban English Express harnesses the power of technology to deliver a never before possible system that teaches students how to communicate using a unique integrated skills approach to reading, writing, speaking, and listening in English,” said  John Eyles, Global Leading English Language Expert. “The program is convenient so students are able to work at their own pace and as their schedules permit.”

Urban Planet is a leading innovator of educational products created for mobile, tablet, and computer.  The company is a 2013 CODiE Award Finalist, a Frost & Sullivan Most Innovative App designee, the GSMA Global Mobile Award for Best Mobile Learning Innovation winner and a Gartner Cool Vendor in Education Technology. Urban Planet’s products are available worldwide, with distribution channels in 75 countries. With its innovative and pioneering audio-sms delivery, the company’s mobile learning products can be accessed on over 95% of all mobile phones. Urban Planet also offers Writing Planet™, the world’s only comprehensive, web-based English writing program built on automated assessment technology and created specifically for non-native English speakers.

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About Online

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to ELT News in the Online category. They are listed from newest to oldes.

Linguistics is the previous category.

Opinion is the next category.

Many more can be found by looking through the archives.

Recent Headlines


Hedbanz / Charades
Helene J Uchida
Think Read Write
David Lisgo


Useful Links


  • ALTEThe Association of Language Testers in Europe
  • British CouncilInformation, resources, and links to other sites
  • Cambridge English Language AssessmentInformation on examination and qualifications for teachers and students
  • IALICInternational Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication
  • IALLTInternational Association for Language Learning Technology
  • IATEFL"Linking, developing and supporting" ELT professionals worldwide
  • TESOL IncPublishing, connecting, events and career development for teachers




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