The TESOL President’s Blog
Last month, I had the good fortune of having been invited as a plenary speaker in MexTESOL’s 40th anniversary convention, held in lovely Querétaro. I had a wonderful time, and I really felt at home—I discovered that Mexicans have a lot in common with my people (Egyptians). During the convention, I was also asked to give a talk about the current trends in English language teaching and learning in an EFL or ESL context. I was very pleased to do so, and here are the key eight trends that I talked about. These are not necessarily an exhaustive list and most likely there are other trends that I have not mentioned.
Trend 1: Change in the Goal of Teaching English
In my opinion, there are two key changes in the purpose of teaching English. Firstly, as Penny Ur (2009) noted the goal is “to produce fully competent English-knowing bilinguals rather than imitation native speakers.” As I mentioned in a previous blog, the purpose is not to aspire to become native speakers of English, because we are already native speakers of our own L1, but to focus on English as a means of communication. Secondly, English is not viewed as an end in itself but as a means to learn content such as science and mathematics. Content and language integrate learning (CLIL) is an approach where the English teacher uses cross-curricular content and so the students learn both the content and English.
Trend 2: Early Start in Teaching English
Many countries have started teaching English in earlier grades at school. For example, since 2011, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam have been introducing English from Grade 4. Also in 2011, Japan introduced English in the primary stage, and, in 2012, Dubai introduced English in the KG stage instead of Grade 1.
Trend 3: Change in the Approach to Teaching Culture
Both the local or native and international culture dominate in English language classes. There is less focus on teaching the culture of native speakers of English unless there is a specific purpose for doing so.
Trend 4: Changing View of an English Teacher
It is increasingly being recognized that the quality or effectiveness of teachers is determined by their linguistic, teaching, and intercultural competence rather than their being a native speaker of English.
Trend 5: Change in Teaching Content and Test Design
Teachers use a range of local texts or English translations of literature in the classroom. The use of L1 as appropriate as well as the use of a variety of accents in listening activities or tests are encouraged in English language classrooms.
Trend 6: E-Learning
Because of the proliferation of tablets and smart phones, I believe that textbooks will disappear in a few years. Furthermore, the access to knowledge in terms of flexibility and mobility has changed drastically.
Trend 7: Strategic Teaching and Learning
Teaching in English language classes focuses on fostering student thinking as well as language content, outcomes, and learning activities. There are significant and complex student-teacher interactions inside and outside the classroom. The gamification of learning is emerging as a way to make language learning more engaging and relevant to the younger generation.
Trend 8: Teachers as Life-Long Learners
In a knowledge-based society and to remain competitive and employable, teachers are expected to engage in continuous professional development or professional learning activities from the beginning to the end of their careers. As with any other profession, teachers are also expected to assume greater responsibility for their own professional learning, continually developing their knowledge and skills.
How have these trends affected your teaching? I look forward to hearing from you about additional trends that I neglected to mention.