“Shift is happening” in English learning methodology – British Council

“Shift is happening” in English learning methodology – British Council

A new landmark research publication has claimed that there has been a gradual shift from the “ideal of mother tongue fluency” towards a more contextualised approach, among other findings.

The report said that there needs to be a regular review of “the approach to assessing English proficiency”. Photo: Pexels

The report says that the risk technology poses is not so much to jobs, but to general access

The Future of English: Global Perspectives, which was published by the British Council and is the first of a “major program of research and global engagement”.

Amid the rise of different types of English being spoken around the world, as opposed to American vs British English, Mark Walker, director of English and exams at the British Council, said that there will likely be increasingly context specific assessments.

“We are all probably going to be increasingly open to variations of English,” Walker said in an interview with The PIE News.

“In a lot of teaching and assessment organisations, there has been the idea of accepting American and British spelling – but there are now stylistic differences and different variants of English around the world that we will increasingly see become accepted if they are applicable in certain contexts,” he explained.

“If I’m learning English and go to work in Singapore, for example, then I need a variant of English that is to be understood – those other variants of English are not going to disappear.”

Continuing on testing, the report said that there needs to be a regular review of “the approach to assessing English proficiency”, lest assessment professionals be complacent to developing “study, work and social interactions”.

“The point the research is making is that every time [an organisation] reviews, it should be thinking, “am I testing the right English for the target context?”” he explained.

Crucially, on a wider level the publication said that English will likely continue to be the “global language of communication” for at least the next decade.

It will also, according to the research, retain its “important role alongside” other languages to provide a plethora of linguistic opportunities globally – something, Walker says, may placate the minds of some who have been “worried about” English displacing other languages.

“What we’re hearing… is particularly policy makers and educators are a lot more attuned to the risk of that – so rather than English being seen as something to supplant other languages, it is increasingly there as a supplementary tool. I think that’s really critical,” Walker explained.

The other crucial finding the report focuses on is the ELT sector’s relationships to AI and new technologies.

“Policy makers and educators are a lot more attuned to the risk of English displacing other languages”

While the research indicates that technology itself will be playing a larger role in how English is taught and how it is learned, it won’t be there to totally displace the teacher – due to the limitations on which technology can actually do in terms of language teaching.

“There will always be contexts in which teachers are going to be critical – people are still looking for human interaction,” he added.

On the other hand, the report says that the risk technology poses is not so much to jobs, but to general access to English language learning.

While technology has largely been seen as something that widens access to education overall, the risk lies in the divide between people who have access to the technology in the first place – and of course, those who don’t.

“That means that it’s easier for the privileged to get access to and acquire good English language skills – and it’s more challenging for those who don’t have that technological access.”

The report also touched on the importance of collaboration in private and public sector relationships in terms of English language learning, testing and teaching.

However, it also stressed that private sector “gap-filling” should be monitored as private provision qualities can be “variable” – and such quality assurance, Walker says, is approached in different ways across the world.

“I think where we have to be more sensitive as a global profession is when there are markets where the customer is not able to take a more informed view.”

Four universities have been given the opportunity to dig further into the themes of the report – as the British Council has issued them research grants.

The University of Bedfordshire will delve into EMI communication in higher ed classrooms; Lancaster will be focusing on the linguistic demands on EMI; the Open University will examine English for the “EDI generation” and the University of Warwick will look into English as a school subject in basic education.

“We are all probably going to be increasingly open to variations of English”

“There’ll be this sort of opportunity for everybody to take part and there’ll be continued academic research into the themes that the Future of English examines,” Walker added.

The opportunity for the wider masses to take part will be through a touring exhibition as part of the project, which will be taking to Stratford in East London in late April.

The Future of English exhibition, which will feature various facets of the report’s core themes, will have interactive sections to gain more perspectives from visitors for future iterations of the report.

“The exhibition is an opportunity to take that conversation even wider and get other perspectives on what the future of English might be,” Walker noted.

The tour will make its way round the world, starting in London on April 26, before going to the New Directions conferences in São Paulo in late May, and the Hanoi iteration in late October.

While other locations for 2023 have yet to be confirmed, the British Council has stressed the exhibition will return to London next year.

Related articles

Source link

Need to find out more? Click Here
To find out about the courses we have on offer: Click Here
Join the Course: Click Here

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top