ELT and the Crisis in Education
Sunday 7 November 2010
by Nik Peachey
In this first blog posting I’d like us to look at some of the major issues that are affecting education at this time and try to examine them in relation to English language teaching and how they may affect it.
One of the reasons I want to start this series by looking at the broader field of education and the changes taking place is that over the years it has been a source of annoyance to me that English language teaching or EFL, ESL has so often been seen as a kind of ‘poor relation’ within the field of education.
English language teachers, particularly native speaker ones who have graduated, as I did, through the kind of 1 month certificate course followed perhaps by a diploma course some years later are very often not viewed as ‘proper teachers’ within the education establishment. I often feel this is very unfair particularly as English language teaching has in so many ways long been ahead of many other teaching disciplines, both in terms of its awareness of learner centred pedagogical approaches and its, at times, obsessive need to continuously reflect and reevaluate and invent itself.
However, more recently I’ve started to feel a reversal of this trend, as many educational institutions, particularly in developed countries, start to face up to what is being described as a crisis in education. At the same time I’m starting to experience a sense that English language teaching is perhaps becoming more conservative as language schools, language departments, ELT publishers and language teachers themselves seem to want to ignore the huge changes that are taking place, in order to hang on to the established practices and patterns of working that they are comfortable with.
Before I go on to point to some of the information sources that have stimulated my thinking about the way education is changing and how that should impact on English language teaching, I would like you to have a look at this questionnaire.
It’s a social questionnaire, so by answering the questions in it you will be able to compare your answer with other people who have read this post and answered it (all responses are anonymous and you don’t need to register). If you register you can also add questions to the questionnaire.
I’d also like to leave you with a few questions to comment on:
1. What do you feel are the major challenges facing ELT?
2. How have things changed within your teaching context over the last five years?
3. Can we change the way we train new teachers to help them cope with what’s being described as the new ‘digital native’ students they need to teach?
I look forward to your comments and questions.
To read the second part of this posting go to: ELT and the Crisis in Education – Part 2
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