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The University of Central Lancashire is an ELT star known for its research and great language centre: three of the team tell Melanie Butler what makes UCLan different


Photo: International students in the Worldwise Centre


You all did a dizzying array of jobs in different countries: ESP in East Germany before the wall came down, teacher training in Bangladesh and Business English in Belgium and Italy. Which of these experiences most influenced your thinking about teaching and why?

Gordon: I learnt very early on to use my students as a resource. I was thrown in at the deep end, teaching EAP to post-doctoral researchers in East Germany, so I really had to get to know about my students’ wants and needs and tailor my teaching to them, rather than slavishly following a course book.

Tania: I agree totally. Another lesson I learnt early on when teaching in Czechoslovakia was how important it was to take the students’ cultural context and previous learning experiences into account.

Josie: Absolutely, attention to context is really important, and not making assumptions that what works in one place will automatically work in the same way somewhere else.

And another point, my work in some overseas universities, where most of my colleagues were not so called ‘native speakers’, really helped me to understand different perspectives on teaching and value different teacher strengths. I think these are beliefs which we share as a team and which we try to pass on to our students.

How does working with the UCLan team help you?

G: As Course Leaders and Tutors on MA courses, we can draw on a wide range of teaching experience in different countries and in different contexts. In the TESOL team we have an interesting range of research interests and specialisms, so these inform our teaching and – we believe – enhance student learning.

J: Plus, we also have the benefit of the Worldwise Centre and the Language Academy. The WWC organises some brilliant cultural events and has lots of language learning resources. The Language Academy, on the other hand, provides opportunities for our students to observe teaching and to participate in EFL volunteer projects. Again, that links the theoretical input we provide to real practical teaching situations.

T: As a team we organise various exciting events such as TESOL Works for Employability, and Supersize Your Cert for our own and other trainers’ CPD as Cert-TESOL trainers. We ran this for the first time last year and it was a great day for networking with other organisations nationwide.

Describe the ideal UCLan student.

T: We don’t have an ideal student in mind as such. Each cohort is made up of very different individuals: different ages and from lots of different countries all around the world. They bring a wide variety of backgrounds and experience…

G: But on all the MAs, what we value most is a sense of curiosity about the hows and whys of language learning and teaching. And a willingness to share experiences and learn from each other. We really do consider each application on its merits.

All of you have made the switch from EFL to international education. What do you think a background in EFL gives you?

T: The way we teach. So, our MA programmes aim to provide our students with the theoretical underpinnings of TESOL. But, because of our classroom experience, we do our best to make our sessions as interactive as possible and to demonstrate various teaching techniques which we have all used in our own EFL classrooms.

G: This is equally true of our teaching on the distance programme. We break down the input into manageable chunks and we create opportunities for reflection and discussion by making use of learning communities, discussion boards, Skype and so on. Again, this helps us to link theory and practice and raise students’ awareness of the theoretical principles underlying what they do – or will do – in their own classrooms.

J: On a related note, as we have all worked and studied abroad and had to adapt to very different cultures. We are well able to empathise with our international students who are going through similar things here at UCLan.

For us, international means working not only with students from other countries but also with people who are based abroad. We all benefit from working in an international environment!

Tania Horák

is course leader in the MA TESOL with Applied Linguistics.


Dr Grdon Dobson

Course Leader MA TESOL with Applied Linguistics by Distance. Teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate TESOL courses

Josie Leonard

Course Leader MA TESOL Teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate TESOL courses

Melanie Butler finds out which courses win gold medals for teaching, excel at research, and offer good value.

What are the new hot issues in EU funded teacher training courses? Melanie Butler explores what is on offer.

For this year’s listing of Erasmus courses, we have concentrated on including those designed specifically for state school teachers because the EU funds the scheme primarily with these teachers in mind. We have also limited the UK entries to accredited courses.

September 2017

Inspecting the reports

Written by

You can see our UK Language Centre Rankings 2018/19 supplement here

Our rankings are designed to be fair and informative. But how are they compiled?

How do we rank schools?

The EL Gazette rankings are based on the British Council inspectors’ summary statements. The inspectors assess centres on fourteen areas – plus a fifteenth area, ‘Care of Under-18s’, for centres enrolling this age group.

The inspectors can award a strength in any of the areas, and these areas of strength are noted on the summary statement. In our example (see below) the school has been awarded strengths in five areas: Staff Management, Quality Assurance, Premises & Facilities, Teaching, and Care of Students.

The inspectors can also note areas with a need for improvement. In our example above, a need for improvement was noted in one area: Publicity. To arrive at our score, we first take the total number of strengths, in this case five. We then subtract the number of areas that need improvement, in this case one. That gives this school a Gazette ranking score of four out of fifteen, the exact average score for British Council schools.


What is a need for improvement?

Every area assessed by the British Council is broken down into a group of mini-criteria. In the case of publicity there are nine criteria. The inspectors give one of three judgements for each criteria: ‘not met’, ‘met’ or ‘strength’.
In our example (below) the school did not meet expectations in three criteria. A school with two or more criteria that are not met will normally be given a need for improvement in the area. In our example, the school received a need for improvement in the area of publicity, which is noted on the summary statement (see above).

What is an area of strength?

If a centre meets and exceeds expectations in any criterion under an area of inspection, the inspectors may award a point of strength.
If it meets all the criteria in an area and is given a point of strength in 50 per cent or more of applicable criteria, the centre then receives an area of strength, which will be listed on the summary statement.

The example on the right shows all the criteria in the area of quality assurance.

As we can see, the school is marked as ‘met’ in all criteria and as ‘strong’ in two of them.

Point M16 is marked N/a for non-applicable, which means a strength cannot be awarded. This means that strengths are applicable in only four criteria, and our school has been awarded a strength in 50 per cent of them. It is therefore awarded an area of strength in quality assurance, which is noted on the summary statement (see below).


A petition calling on the UK's Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to reconsider its English language requirements for foreign nurses has gained nearly 5,500 signatures over the past four weeks, Claudia Civinini writes.

February 2017

Delta Results 2016

Written by

Congratulations to all those who passed their Cambridge English Language Assessment Delta modules in 2016. Under the UK Data Protection Act, Cambridge English Language Assessment can only release names of those candidates who have agreed they can do so by ticking the relevant box on the form. The Gazette can only publish the names that Cambridge provides. You can download the list as a PDF here. Results are for candidates who have signed an agreement giving Cambridge English permission to publish their names.

Key: P=pass, M=merit, D=distinction.

Please click here to download the list as a  PDF 


The Gazette’s up-to-date listing of Tesol and related MAs in the UK and Ireland

Master Course Guide 2017 1mc2mc3

As regular as clockwork, here is the Gazette’s new listing of ELT-related MA, MSc or MEd courses in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. These include specialisations such as teaching ESP, teaching young learners, sociocultural linguistics, media-assisted language teaching, multilingualism and teaching bilingual learners.

While our listing is as comprehensive as possible, we apologise for any errors or omissions. We are happy to hear from any academics whose courses don’t appear in this issue and will retain their information until the next time we run the listing. We are, however, unable to publish apologies or updates regarding courses for which we have requested information but not received any.

The listing comes in three easy-to-download parts:

Click here to dowload the list (Part 1, A-L)

Click here to dowload the list (Part 2, L-R)

Click here to dowload the list (Part 3, R-Y)










The Gazette guide to teacher training courses eligible for EU funding

British and Irish language centres are lining up to offer a vast array of courses for teachers next year, all eligible for Erasmus+ funding. So many, in fact, that we haven’t been able to fit them all in (entries marked * means there are more in this category). Alongside the old favourites like Refresher Courses and Clil there is a new emphasis on Special Educational Needs courses from Nile, Language Link and ISP, while Oxford International focuses on teaching children with Asperger’s Syndrome and autism – find them under Specialist Courses.


Minnesota state legislators have voted to require full disclosure on all university study abroad programmes from the next school year.

In a recent measure authored by senator Terri Bonoff, chair of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, all post-secondary institutions in the state are being asked to report annually on the safety statistics of the programmes they offer.

‘We want to know how many deaths – if any deaths – occurred. We want to know if there were any hospital stays as a result of participating in the programme,’ Senator Bonoff said. The information will ultimately be available for public consumption on the secretary of state’s website.

One proponent of the measure was Minnesota’s ClearCause Foundation, a non-profit organisation started by the parents of a dead Minnesota student who studied abroad, which is dedicated to transparency in study abroad programmes.

According to the Minnesota Public Radio website, mothers of injured and dead students campaigned together for the changes.

Senator Bonoff described the state legislation a necessary first step, but insisted more changes must be made for regulating study abroad initiatives, which she described as ‘a wonderful opportunity for our young people’.

She added that she had ‘no interest in putting obstacles in students’ way in terms of being able to access those programmes’.

Other states are following suit in terms of disclosure, although not in safety information. New York state is currently working on legislation that would require study abroad programmes to offer clear price breakdowns.

It’s unclear whether similar bills will become federally mandated, though Senator Bonoff believes a nationwide trend will follow.

‘I think that we are missing something by not having federal accountability and transparency in regards to all study abroad programs,’ she said. ‘We often say, start at the state level and then a few more states pursue things and then eventually the feds tackle it.’

Although the bill has been approved, the committee awaits further recommendations for how to improve the measure in the future from the Office of Higher Education.