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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 23, 2014

UK

Apostrophe free street names will not drive down standards

Removing apostrophes from street names in Cambridge is unlikely to have an effect on English standards worldwide, says a department of Cambridge University.

It was recently announced that Cambridge City Council will be omitting apostrophes in new Cambridge street names in line with national guidelines. The move, which has been seen in other cities and towns around the country, has sparked an interesting debate in the media about English language standards.

An expert from Cambridge English Language Assessment – provider of over 4 million English language exams each year around the world – comments:

“Dumbing down the standard of English is not the road we want to go down, but you have to put this decision into context,” says Roger Johnson, Acting Chief Executive of Cambridge English Language Assessment.

“Lots of people do struggle with using apostrophes, and it’s important that learners are taught how to use them correctly, but removing apostrophes from street names in Cambridge is unlikely to have an effect on English learning standards worldwide. Interestingly, we tend to find that students learning English as a foreign language master the apostrophe remarkably well. This is also true of some other complicated grammar rules, which is really encouraging. I’d be much more concerned if there was a proposal to stop teaching grammar in classrooms around the world.”

The apostrophe is a powerful punctuation mark that can have a huge impact on the meaning of a sentence. It was first introduced into English from French in the 16th century and is used to indicate either possession or the omission of letters.

Read the original post from Cambridge English Language Assessment.

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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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November 14, 2013

UK

UK - English teaching projects awarded £6m

e3-project.jpgSix projects across England have been awarded £6m in government funding to teach English to the public using non-conventional methods.

They competed for funding with the aim of reaching 24,000 non-English speakers in so-called priority areas across London, the Midlands and the North.

The projects will be given funding initially but then encouraged to become self-sustaining.

Councils have been told they must encourage people to speak English.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles told local authorities in March they should encourage speaking English by not translating documents into foreign languages.

He said: "Speaking English is crucial to allow us to come together and be part of British society. People are unable to do this and are condemned to a limited life if they can't speak our language."

Jan Bros, director at one of the six projects, the London based e3 Partnership, said learning English was far more preferable to relying on translators.

She said: '"It is better to empower individuals to undertake things for themselves than encourage them to be passive.

"Our learners would rather be able to have conversations themselves than rely on family members to do everything for them."

Read the full article from the BBC.

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November 07, 2013

UK

What we can learn from teaching English abroad

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article from The Guardian.

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October 23, 2013

UK | Events

Pearson to host UK growth strategy panel

pearson-logo.jpgThe PIE (Professionals in International Education) News reports on an upcoming event aimed to boost the ELT industry in the UK.

Stakeholders from the UK’s English language teaching (ELT) industry will convene next week to discuss the UK’s new growth strategy for international enrolments and its likely impact on the sector at an event hosted by education giant Pearson.

In July, the UK government announced the it wants to see 15-20% growth in overseas enrolments at its universities.

The plan includes exporting UK English language teaching standards as the global benchmark and promoting the UK as an English learning destination.

Maddalaine Ansell, Head of the International Knowledge and Innovation Unit for the Government’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills, will present the keynote address at the event on 31 October.

This will be an overview and explanation of the UK government’s International Education Strategy and Implications for ELT within its five themes including; international student recruitment, transnational education, education technology, partnerships, and branding.

Read the full post on 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 20, 2013

UK | Business

Visa u-turn could mean £9 million for UK ELT

study-English-in-UK.jpgA recent article from The PIE (Professionals in International Education) News about the positive financial impact that a recent UK reversal on immigration might have on the country's ELT industry.

New immigration rules announced this month by UK Immigration Minister Mark Harper could boost the English language teaching industry by up to £9 million per year, based on estimates of potential business that had been turned away by a cross-section of English UK members.

A survey conducted of roughly 10% of English UK’s 470 member base at the beginning of the year showed that almost half of them were losing between 10% and 70% of total business by turning away students on visitor visas who were ineligible to study.

Coming into effect in October, the new immigration rules will now make it possible for visitors to come to the UK on a business, general or family visitor visas and to enrol on an English language course of up to 30 days.

Two centres in Oxford and London reported that they had to turn away 150 students with visitor visas in a six-month period.

“Even if the figures in percentages sound low, it’s still quite a lot of money,” said one anonymous respondent. “If we estimate that the 50 people would have spent £2000 each, then it’s £100,000. Our Executive Centre had to turn down one single booking of £12,000.”

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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September 11, 2013

UK

UK: Short-term study for business/tourists OK

English-in-UKA recent change to UK immigration rules is good news for students and for accredited language schools, as reported by The PIE (Professionals in International Education) News.

In significant news for the English language teaching industry in the UK, Immigration Minister Mark Harper has announced that short-term language study would be permissible for those entering the country on a business or tourism visa from October 28.

Chief Executive of English UK, Tony Millns, applauded the news, which his organisation had worked towards, along with others, for some time behind the scenes.

Visitors will be able to use the study allowance flexibly, either doing a six-week course in a single block or in weekly sessions, but may only take courses at centres accredited by approved bodies, such as Accreditation UK for the English language sector.

As part of the immigration update, it will also now be possible for international students to take up corporate internships of up to a year once they complete their degree.

Tier 4 students will soon be able to apply in-country for one of the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Schemes (GAE) schemes, provided it directly links to the qualification they gained at a UK university.

Minister Harper, announcing the changes that benefit businesses and international students, said, “The UK is open for business: we are building an immigration system that works in the national interest and supports growth.”

Read the full article from The PIE News.

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September 06, 2013

UK | Events

IATEFL 2014 - Speaker application deadline

iatefl-conference-sign.jpgThis a quick reminder that the 48th IATEFL Annual Conference and Exhibition will be held at Harrogate International Conference Centre, Harrogate, UK from 2nd to 5th April 2014.

Plenary speakers at the event will be David Graddoll, Kathleen Graves, Michael Hoey and Sugata Mitra.

Conference registration for speakers and delegates has been open since mid June 2013. Here are some upcoming important dates:

  • Speaker application deadline - 19th September 2013 (you will be notified of the results by end of November 2013)
  • Speaker payment deadline - 12th December 2013
  • Early bird payment deadline - 30th January 2014
  • Online booking available until 19th March 2014 and existing orders can be paid prior to arrival at conference.

Full details at the IATEFL 2014 website.

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September 03, 2013

UK

Turkish English teacher refused UK entry over grasp of language

uk-immigrationThe Herald reports the latest of many similar stories of couples and families separated by the UK's stringent English language regulations.

The English-teacher wife of a Scottish academic has been refused entry to Britain because she could not provide proof she has a basic grasp of the language.

The decision by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has shocked the family who have written to the Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond in protest.

Dr Philip Clark, an assistant professor of pharmacy at an Istanbul university and Jilda, his Turkish wife of 22 years, and two children want to move to Scotland so he can be closer to his frail, elderly parents in Ayr.

Dr Clark, 54, who is based at the Yeditepe University Faculty of Pharmacy, wanted to return to working in the field in his home country where his wife planned to teach English to migrant children.

The family applied to have Mrs Clark cleared for entry to the UK under immigration rules that allow for "family life as a partner". But after the refusal they are likely to spend six months apart as the appeal takes place.

The UKBA made the decision after its visas and immigration section would not accept her BA and MA in English language teaching gained at the universities of Bosphorus and Istanbul and said she needed to pass an English language test at an approved centre.

Read the full story from The Herald Scotland.

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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 Macmillandictionary.com 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".

Macmillandictionary.com 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 Macmillandictionary.com 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 08, 2013

UK | Business

Redesigned UK school rethinks how to teach

language-in-london.jpgThe PIE News reports on an English language school in London which has had a facelift to put digital learning at the core of its offer.

A London-based English language school, which is part of a small school group, has redesigned its central London school with a focus on communication and digital innovation, confident its extensive facelift will result in more satisfied customers and ensure it is future-proofing its offer to its modern clientele of mostly young adults.

Language in London, part of the Language In Group, will monitor feedback from its clients and partner agents and take its redesign – which has digital learning at the heart of its ethos – to sister schools in Totnes, south England and Dublin, Ireland within the next six months.

“We want to teach our students skills for communication in the real world,” explained Director, Stuart Rubenstein. “We’re obsessed with the impact that environment has on learning.”

Each classroom is equipped with Apple TV and one entire wall that doubles as a whiteboard. Rubenstein observed that interactive whiteboards (IWBs) are not necessarily authentic learning tools, given that many of their clients will not use IWBs when back in their home countries.

Read the full story from the PIE News.

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July 03, 2013

UK

1m+ UK schoolkids don't speak English as native language

mail-online-classroom.jpgThe Mail Online reports on the rapidly growing number of schoolchildren in the UK who are not native English speakers.

More than a million school children now do not speak English as their mother tongue - up by nearly 54,000, new official figures reveal.

A survey of the nation's classrooms, which provides an accurate snapshot of the composition of schools in England, shows a radical transformations taking place. During the past five years alone, the number of pupils without English as a native language has increased by almost 250,000.

The figures also show an increase in the number of pupils in England who are classed as being from an ethnic minority background.

Now nearly three in 10 primary school children in this category.

In the last year, the numbers of children who speak English as an additional language have risen by almost 54,000, according to statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE).

Read more from the Mail Online.

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June 28, 2013

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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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 03, 2013

UK

How to get the weaker communicators in class really talking

Teaching-English"Communication expert Jean Gross says it's time to adopt and adapt second-language strategies for use with socially-disadvantaged students in the UK

A couple of months ago an article in the Guardian described the successful communication strategies used with pupils at Gladstone Primary in Peterborough. The school made national news as the only school in the country where none of the children speak English as their first language.

When I read the article I was struck by the fact that exactly the same strategies are also needed for children who have English as their first language but whose language is limited as a result of social disadvantage.

These children too need help in making the transition from the everyday conversational language we use when the speaker and listener share a context, when they are both looking at the same thing. For example, to the more formal language we use when there is no shared context.

Read the full story from The Guardian.

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About UK

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

Turkey is the previous category.

Many more can be found by looking through the archives.

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