Editorials

Here is everything you need to know about the current trends in English language training. 

 

According to the British Council, English is the most taught language around the world, with at least 1.75 billion speakers worldwide. One in every four people speaks English on an everyday basis.

By the beginning of 2021, it is expected that at least two billion people will be using English or learning it. From the small shop owner to the country leaders, regardless of age and nationality, they all need to speak English to communicate with the rest of the world.

 

What Are The Current Trends In English Language Teaching
Current Trends In English Language Training

 

English Teaching and the Role of Technology

As with any other line of business, TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) has had to adapt to the changing times. Over the last few decades, technological innovations have become an essential part of English Language Teaching, as educators seek new ways of engaging students and spreading their reach to every community. The year 2020 was a bit of a challenge as not everyone was prepared for online-only lessons.

 

Millions of students and teachers around the world could not engage in face-to-face lessons and, many of them did not even have access to an Internet connection. Efforts were made around the world to ensure more people continued learning, but the future is still uncertain. Will classrooms become fully virtual? What is the role of the TEFL teacher going to be in the future?

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Although the future is uncertain, two ingredients are crucial for language learning to occur: excellent teaching, and motivating lesson plans and materials.

 

Teaching English During the Pandemic

There’s no other trigger to educational change than a global-sized pandemic. TEFL around the world were forced to adapt to new kinds of lessons, technological innovations, and online resources.

As usual, some of these innovations may wear out, or they will be replaced by others. However, one thing is for sure: language teaching has deeply changed.

In 2020, the British Council held the ELTons Innovation Awards, which rewarded the best English Teaching courses, publications, projects, platforms and apps, and other innovative ideas to help spread the teaching of English around the world.  Some of the finalists of last year’s ELTons Awards presented the following innovations:

 

Blended Learning

Teachers have had to adapt the new technological tools and resources with their traditional forms of teaching. Blended learning is a type of eLearning approach that combines these two elements: all the traditional classroom teaching methods and materials with the newest online interactive tools.

Some schools and university courses were already incorporating blended learning, but the pandemic forced the rest of the institutions to follow.

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This new type of learning broadens the learner’s opportunities to acquire the language by having access to lessons and online resources at any time. It is circumstance-dependent, but blended learning usually involves webinars (online lessons and seminars), online texts, and activities, among other resources.

Not only is it easier for learners to attend lessons, but it is more accessible for teachers to upload material and grade students’ work.

 

Apps for Learning English

Most online platforms were forced to create mobile apps or a more mobile-friendly version of their website, as people are more engaged than ever with smartphones.

There are apps for everything, learners can: learn new vocabulary with games, listen to podcasts, do grammar activities, watch educational videos, look up words in the dictionary, among infinite other options. Even some universities around the world are creating apps for their courses of study.

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Some of the best apps that include resources for English learners and teachers are Essential English by Oxford University Press, TriPro English, LearnEnglish Grammar, Grammarly, BBC Learning English, among others.

 

Gamification

Game-based learning refers to a type of lesson in which there is a game with a defined learning outcome. The aim of including games in the classroom is to increase participation and motivation and to stimulate learners’ problem-solving abilities.

There are apps like Learn Match and Get, Set, Go! Phonics that use games to get students to learn new vocabulary and develop phonological awareness.

 

The core of gamification is to motivate students to complete a task or mission having a goal in mind and thinking there’s some kind of prize. Truly, most of the learning that takes place is incidental.

 

Learning by Making Inquiries of the World

Those coursebooks with unrealistic and simplified materials are a thing of the past. Nowadays there are plenty of coursebooks such as Wider World by Pearson and the BBC which uses authentic material to bring real-world English to each lesson: videos, interviews, audio content, and more.

 

Students can learn the language while being immersed in the culture, as in The TEFL Org, the UK’s most popular TEFL course provider that has trained more than 140,000 students through their online courses in the US, Canada and worldwide.

 

National Geographic also has plenty of coursebooks that use real-life stories and audio files, they even include TED talks which have become increasingly popular among teenagers and adults. The idea behind learning by making inquiries is that students feel motivated to think creatively and critically.

 

Moreover, Danny Norrington-Davies has published “Teaching Grammar: From Rules to Reasons”, a new kind of approach to teaching grammar in which learners have to discover by themselves how native speakers use the grammar of the language in real life.

So they are done with the oversimplification and isolation of grammatical units and expect learners to acquire this knowledge in a semi-authentic context.

 

English as a Lingua Franca (ELF)

The concept of Lingua Franca refers to the use of English as a common language between people who do not share the same mother tongue, so their priority is to communicate with others and be intelligible.

This trend is certainly not new as Jennifer Jenkins published her Lingua Franca Core in the year 2000, but ever since many academics, trainers, and writers have disagreed on which segmental and suprasegmental features should be included in the teaching of pronunciation.

 

Jenkins challenged the notion of Nativeness, that is, the idea of basing all pronunciation courses in copying a native speaker’s pronunciation, and proposed that the teaching of English should be more oriented to achieving Intelligibility among all speakers.

This was revolutionary and led to a new approach to English Language Teaching that, with the help of today’s technological resources, has become more oriented to international communication.

 

For instance, Mark Hancock’s PronPack 1-4 takes a non-prescriptive approach to the teaching of accent and focuses on achieving intelligibility. This course doesn’t teach American or British pronunciation but rather prepares the learner to speak English as a global language.

 

Use of their First Language

Though in the past students were told not to think in their First Language (L1) as it might hinder the learning of English, teachers are now encouraging students to think of their L1 as an asset.

Courses like the Family Skills Toolkit from Learning Unlimited celebrate linguistic diversity and encourage students to see bilingualism as a benefit.

 

In fact, according to the American School of Education, learning a second or third language helps the student develop communication skills and a higher degree of literacy. Those who speak more than one language have a higher sense of awareness of how languages work.

 

There’s no denying that English has become a Lingua Franca and its popularity will only increase. The current pandemic has forced millions of people to find new ways of teaching and learning. And some of these changes have been positive while others may fade away in a few years or be replaced by new ones.

Regardless of which educational trend one follows, the focus should always be on motivating students to always keep on learning.