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April 17, 2015

Opinion

LLL Award finalists 2015 announced

LLL AwardThe Extensive Reading Foundation (ERF), an unaffiliated, not-for-profit organization that supports and promotes extensive reading in language education, announced the finalists of the 12th Annual Language Learner Literature (LLL) Award for books published in 2014.

An international jury chose the finalists in five book categories, taking into account online votes and comments of students and teachers around the world. The winning books will be announced at the Third World Congress on Extensive Reading in Dubai, 18-20 September 2015., and concurrently on ELTBooks.com.

You can order (almost) all the shortlisted books from ELTBooks.com, where you can also see an overview of all winning titles and finalists.

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January 31, 2014

Publishing | Opinion

Loyalty vs. Royalties in agile ELT publishing

loyalty-vs-royalties.jpgThe long-standing royalty agreement between author and publisher is continuing to be challenged by developments in digital content creation. Over on eltjam, ELT writer and prolific blogger Nicola Prentis takes a look at the implications of this shift.

ELT’s newest buzzword is not in fact ‘digital’ or ‘agile’, it’s ‘restructuring’. Pearson, as everyone knows by now, is leading the way with a huge restructuring that has had writers floundering, projects awaiting commission (or not) for a year and editors reapplying for their own jobs. The switch to digital is not Pearson’s only move, they’re adopting more agile ways of working and will be focusing on providing education services and viewing everything through the lens off ‘efficacy’.

At the recent MaWSIG conference I was surprised to learn that, contrary to ideas that publishers are raking it in, both they and the author’s percentage of profits from a coursebook is in single figures. Evidently this is not enough for either party but only one side has the power to rectify it. A massive 47%, goes on production costs so, if the point of agile is to be more efficient and get a product out quicker, money will be saved there. Good news.

Even more good news, digital products don’t require storage, printing or transport costs so will drive savings that could benefit both publishers and authors. In traditional publishing, we’re seeing ebook contracts with much higher shares of the profits going to authors and cheaper products for customers. For example I have an ebook contract with a division of Harper Collins for 25% of the net, rising to 50% if it sells over 10,000 copies, significantly more than I would get on print books.

Read the full article on eltjam.

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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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January 14, 2014

Business | Opinion | Publishing

Move Fast and Break ELT Things

move-fast-break-elt-things.gifThere's an interesting discussion going on over at eltjam about the perceptions and realities of the ELT publishing industry, based on a November blog post by Jonathan Sayers of www.eltplustech.com.

Tonight, at TESOLFrance‘s annual colloquium, I had the privilege of meeting Karen White, Karen Spiler and Sue Kay, and listening to them talk about their excellent resource ELT Teacher to Writer. The idea is to train teachers in the areas of content writing that the publishers value/need and then put writers and publishers in contact with each other.

As part of the talk we had to attribute a few statements about the ELT publishing industry with the labels ‘true’ or ‘false’ (in true ELT style). I got a couple of these very much wrong, and I don’t think I should have done (more in a furthering-of-the-industry way than a not-liking-to-be-wrong kind of way). Here’s why:

The first statement I got wrong was ‘Publishing companies decide what type of materials they are going to publish years in advance.’ There were mentions of publishers’ ’5 year plans’ and the (cosy) prior knowledge of changes to certain exams informing release dates of new publications. But 5 years is the time it takes some language learning companies, such as busuu or duolingo, to be conceptualised, launched and reach millions of users. Things change so fast these days that a 5 year plan could be redundant after 1. That’s not to say a long term plan isn’t good business practice, but the idea that publishers can predict the market so far in advance is becoming ever less believable. We can learn so much in 5 years, and we can help our learners by using that knowledge now, rather that having such a long lag.

Read the full article on eltjam.

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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 11, 2014

Publishing | Opinion | Business

Can Pearson solve the rubric’s cube?

If you are interested in the future of learning, and in particular digital learning, then you'll find a wealth of information in this extensive blog post on Pearson and their new efficacy web site.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s hard to dispute that Pearson has an outsized impact on education in America. This huge company—they have a stock market valuation of $18 billion—touches all levels from kindergarten through career education, providing textbooks, homework platforms, high-stakes testing, and even helping to design entire online degree programs. So when they announce a major change in their corporate strategy, it is consequential.

That is one reason why I think that most everybody who is motivated to read this blog on a regular basis will also find it worthwhile to read Pearson’s startling publication, “The Incomplete Guide to Delivering Learning Outcomes” and, more generally, peruse their new efficacy web site. One of our goals for e-Literate is to explain what the industry is doing, why, and what it might mean for education. Finding the answers to these questions is often an exercise in reading the tea leaves, as Phil ably demonstrated in his recent posts on the Udacity/SJSU pilot and the layoffs at Desire2Learn.

But this time is different. In all my years of covering the ed tech industry, I have never seen a company be so explicit and detailed about their strategy as Pearson is being now with their efficacy publications. Yes, there is plenty of marketing speak here. But there is also quite a bit about what they are actually doing as a company internally—details about pilots and quality reviews and hiring processes and M&A criteria. These are the gears that make a company go. The changes that Pearson is making in these areas are the best clues we can possibly have as to what the company really means when they say that they want efficacy to be at the core of their business going forward. And they have published this information for all the world to see.

Read the full post on e-Literate.

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October 30, 2013

Opinion

An ELT publisher’s survival plan

In her opinion piece over on eltjam, Laurie Harrison looks at the steps an ELT publisher needs to take now in order to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of edtech startups.

It’s crunch time for ELT publishers. There are a few more years left for the traditional ELT publishing business to stagger on, possibly even quite profitably for some. But we all know it’s on the way out, as evidenced by the attempts – with varying degrees of conviction – of the existing players to turn their businesses into ones capable of surviving and thriving in a world populated by rapidly changing student expectations and super-ambitious and rapacious EdTech start-ups who will very happily destroy the cosy world of ELT.

We’ve seen bold moves from Pearson, and turbulence elsewhere. And we haven’t yet seen the market taken over by the EdTech guys, so there might still be time. It’s a common trope that ELT is a conservative and slow-moving business, which may be true – but change now is required in order to be relevant in a few years time. The conservative end of the market has your backlist to keep them happy for a while yet. So there’s no need to kill off existing businesses – but failing to build the new one is surely suicide. So, what to do?

Read the full post on eltjam.

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October 14, 2013

Opinion | Publishing

Royalties – We are not amused

book-royalties.jpgMany English teachers venture into - or at least think about venturing into - the world of writing. But how does it work financially? Get some insight into the world of advances and royalties courtesy of Nicola Prentis.

This week I got my first Royalties statement. A landmark event. Hurrah!

Even though I’m long past the question I had at the beginning of the year about whether I’m a writer or just someone that writes, this is another pretty definitive answer to it.

However, this event also answered other questions I might think about posing to myself.

Am I ridiculously naive? Have I really got any clue what I’m doing playing with the Big Boys in the Grown Up Writing Playpen?

For starters, and the fact I’m publicly admitting this shows how much I feel kinship through blogging, is that I completely misunderstood the Advance vs Royalties system. I think in the back of my mind I knew advance meant “advance payment” but I had somehow turned it round in my head to think it meant something more like “in advance of your brilliance, here’s some money.”

Royalties, it turns out, are like paying back a debt to the publishers. They invested in me/my Graded Reader and until my royalties meet that, I will just see the minus number creep to £0 – hopefully. So after the first half of this year, I am now £160 closer to making more money. After that, if there are sales after that, I will make new money for old work. At those sales figures, it will take about 4.5 years.

Read the full post on the Simple English blog.

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October 03, 2013

Publishing | Opinion

Co-opetition and language teaching organisations

fiona-thomas-net-languages.jpgThe following is an excerpt from a guest post over on eltjam by Fiona Thomas, Director of Languages at Net Languages in Barcelona on the topic of the current climate on EFL social networks.

Over the last year I have noticed a shift in how some EFL publishing companies and other EFL groups are moving away from just talking about what they are doing and how wonderful their products, services and authors are to sharing interesting blog posts, discussions and information generated by other publishing companies and EFL professionals. This current climate on EFL social networks is refreshingly energising and is a great forum for growth at both individual and industry levels.

To a certain extent this is an example of co-opetition, a concept I was first introduced to back in 1999. For those of you not familiar with the term, it is a mixture of cooperation and competition which arguably leads to a supportive, innovative, and pro-development work culture and climate. However, although at an industry level EFL co-opetition is on the up, and publishing companies and individuals are reaping the benefits, few language schools seem to be fostering this sort of climate within their organisations.

A lot of language schools either seem to be very cooperative or very competitive, but few seem to bring the two forces together. Few recognise the benefits of nurturing a sharing, collaborative environment a long with stimulating and rewarding individual excellence. Being competitive is part of human nature and so encouraging a certain amount of competitiveness is healthy I feel in any organisation. This is why we love playing games and one of the reasons why the concept of gamification is so popular in the EFL industry at the moment. We rise to the challenge of trying to beat out opponents and strive to win. A competitive environment, therefore, provides us with an incentive to do things faster, better, cheaper, etc. with corresponding benefits for our organisation where we work.

Read the full post at eltjam.

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September 17, 2013

Pakistan | Opinion

Pakistan: The politics of language teaching

teach-English-in-Pakistan.jpgThis opinion piece from a lecturer in English at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University looks at the problems of outdated teaching methods and the continued perception of English as an imperialist language.

English Language is generally considered to be the legacy of British colonial rule in Pakistan and strangely, many political and religious leaders have time and again proposed the idea of doing away with English language and promote our own national language Urdu. They consider it to be the cultural invasion of Britain and America and all other English speaking countries in the world and make it a part of yet another of their conspiracy theories to contaminate the minds of Muslim youth with their literature and language.

What they fail to realize is that English is no more the Language of Britain as there are 750 millions of speakers of English(used as a foreign language) across the world as compared to 365 million speakers in Britain and all other English speaking countries, according to the British Council. English has grown in stature and importance with the advancement of Globalization, media and the internet. It is widely used in the world for business communication, political discourse and in academics. Roughly speaking, about 1428 books are daily published in the world, majority of which are written in English Language.

In Pakistan most of the people consider English to be a problem. One of the major hindrances in learning English is the traditional approach of teaching and unavailability of trained and qualified language teachers.

Read the full article from The Frontier Post.

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September 13, 2013

Rwanda | Opinion

Effective teaching of comprehension stimulates reading culture

teach-English-in-Rwanda.jpgAn opinion piece from The New Times by a high school teacher in Rwanda on the importance of reading comprehension.

Reading is a very important skill. Learners are expected to read a lot in order to master the concepts that they are taught in all the subjects on the curriculum. They should be guided on how to comprehend the lesson notes and other reading materials like textbooks. Teachers of English Language are supposed to be at the center of equipping the learners with the techniques of effective reading.

I wish to share my skills and experiences with fellow teachers of English language on how effective teaching of reading comprehension stimulates the reading culture among the learners.

Reading is a life skill. Therefore, teachers should guide learners to develop their abilities of reading the various forms of written information. Learners should realise that the passages they read in lessons prepare them to revise their lesson notes of other subjects effectively.

When they acquire reading comprehension skills, they develop interest in reading textbooks, novels, written plays, poems, newspapers, notices, circulars, magazines, brochures, advertisements, autobiographies, biographies, journals and information on the internet. Teachers should enable learners realise the relevance of reading comprehension in the acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Read the full article from AllAfrica.com.

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September 09, 2013

Asia | Opinion

Asian academia faces language block

Teach-English-in-AsiaMalaysian political scientist and historian Farish Noor writes on the challenges faced by Asian academics who are not publishing their work in English.

The debate over the teaching of the English language continues, not only in Malaysia but also in many other countries across the world. While the form and content of the debate has been shaped by domestic political considerations and agendas, there are some pressing realities that we cannot escape from; and one of them is the simple fact that English remains the most commonly used language in global academic circles.

In order to circumvent the somewhat heated temperature of the debate here, allow me to offer some observations based on my experience teaching in some other Asian countries. In countries like India and Pakistan, the teaching of English remains a serious concern for many students, parents and educational institutions that wish to give Indian and Pakistani students a fighting chance in the ever-changing global economy. For many of the new industries that have emerged, including information technology, the working knowledge remains English - despite the linguistic nationalism that is articulated and foregrounded by some politicians and activists there.

One country that I have come to know rather well by now is Indonesia, where I routinely travel to do research as well as to teach. It has been my honour, and pleasure, to meet a wide range of Indonesian academics, who have become my colleagues and friends for more than a decade now. Equally rewarding has been the experience of supervising more than a dozen Indonesian post-graduate scholars, who have done their doctoral theses under my supervision.

It is no exaggeration on my part, I feel, when I say that the Indonesian scholars and students I have met and known are among the best academics I have come across. Indonesia today produces some of the best work in the humanities and social sciences, and in all honesty, I have to state that the quality of work I have seen in Indonesia matches the work I have seen in countries like France, Holland and Germany, where I have also worked and taught in.

However, there remains one stumbling block that hinders Indonesia's rise as a major centre for teaching, research and knowledge-production, and it is the fact that an overwhelming majority of the works produced by Indonesian scholars today is in Bahasa Indonesia. And, despite the fact that Indonesia's population numbers almost a quarter of a billion souls, Bahasa Indonesia is not widely known, spoken or read beyond the shores of Southeast Asia. It has always seemed grossly unfair to me that Indonesia's academic presence is not known or felt wider, but the sad fact is that English remains the dominant language of academia in both the social sciences and the hard sciences.

Read the full article from the New Straits Times.

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September 04, 2013

Vietnam | Opinion

Why Asia needs white losers

teaching-english-in-vietnamVietnam's Thanh Nien News reports what it calls a "tongue-in-cheek look at 'racism' in hiring English teachers."

Last week this paper carried an article titled English teaching: Is White Right? The piece, written by Nazley Omar, made a pretty strong case that Vietnam uses racist hiring guidelines to recruit teachers.

I wholeheartedly disagree. It’s not that Vietnamese educators and parents are racist for overtly discriminating against Asian teachers. They just understand that their kids have a lot to learn from white losers.

In her piece Ms. Omar describes a Filipino teacher with a four-year degree in education, an English teaching certification, and a tough time finding a job. Meanwhile, she asserts that “any white person with a pulse and a degree” can net an English teaching job in Vietnam.

Hey. That’s just simply not true. It takes a bold, visionary type of white person to come over here and teach, especially those of us who have no background in education or formal training.

Read the full article from Thanh Nien News.

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July 25, 2013

Republic of Korea | Opinion

Cultural understanding key to English learning

English-Teaching-in-KoreaYoon Seon-joo, country manager of EF Education First Korea, writes this week in The Korea Herald about the role of culture in learning English.

When I was little, I had a great opportunity to live in the U.S. with my family for almost two years, which is when I first learned English and made foreign friends. I attended ESL or English as a second language classes at school with other international students whose parents were graduate students there like mine. During the first few days, the most difficult flash card to remember was “bread and butter” because, for me, “bread,” “and” and “butter” were three “unassociated” words instead of one like “apple” or “grapes” on other flash cards. Seeing others eat bread together with butter and doing so myself, however, I was soon able to remember this phrase, as eating bread with butter quickly became as natural as eating rice with kimchi. This was a 7-year-old Korean girl version of “living the language” and learning language by linking it to culture.

Read the full article from The Korea Herald.

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July 08, 2013

Opinion

Narrative stress: it's not you, it's me

typing-laptop.jpgYou know how you feel annoyed when you read an opinion piece about language in The Guardian? Well, this one will really tick you off?!

THE GUARDIAN: The second-person narrative has become the red trousers of the blogging world – initially endearing, it's now just irritating.

You know when you start a story, "You know when you", and you end up staring at the blank faces of people who never forget to put on deodorant or who don't have favourite mugs for different times of the day? They look at you with wonder or faint disgust, perhaps they edge back to the buffet, or remember a prior engagement. It's embarrassing. You've put yourself out there, shared something you thought was a universal experience, only to be reminded that you are uniquely clumsy, rude or unfortunate.

Or maybe you don't. Maybe this has never happened to you. You, after all, are probably someone I've never met, and to assume we are in any way alike is to misunderstand the breadth of the internet, of the world, of humanity.

Read the full article from The Guardian.

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About Opinion

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

Online is the previous category.

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