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Why Tefl needs the right kind of troublemakers


Professionalising language school management will help reduce the number of dubious teachers attracted by a sector lacking regulation, says Melanie Butler

I first came across the name Seamus Ruddy in 1986. As a freelance journalist in those pre-internet days I spent much of my time in the BBC World Service News Library searching among the news clippings held in a special file entitled ‘Britons in trouble abroad’.

Quite a few of the Britons in trouble turned out to be Tefl teachers. Around half were the troublemakers, drug mules mostly, trying to scrape together the plane fare home.

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China climbs amid the minus signs

Claudia Civinini analyses the latest gloomy (and not-so-gloomy) student number figures for UK English language schools

The weak pound has not saved the UK ELT industry from its third consecutive year of decline, figures from English UK show.
Increased competition between host countries, political uncertainty in Europe, Brexit and obstructive visa policies may have all conspired to cause the decline in 2016, the new report suggests.

Both student numbers and student weeks show a minus sign for private and state providers, and the same is true for staple source markets such as Italy and Spain.

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A continent of polyglots

Melanie Butler takes a closer look at the latest Eurydice data, which gives a detailed picture of school-based language learning in Europe

Primary languages boom


Figure 1: Starting ages at which the first and second foreign languages are compulsory subjects for all students, 2015/16

In Europe, language learning is seen as a basic skill, like reading or maths. Only two countries, Scotland and Ireland, do not make foreign languages compulsory in schools.

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Out of the box: Making education research more ‘digestible’

elt research

A ‘blogstorm’ could help close the research–practice divide, says Anthony Schmidt, founder of the ELT Research Bites blog

There is often a wide gap between research and practice in education. Lack of time and access, as well as believing that research is neither practical nor generalisable, are among the reasons so many teachers fail to engage with it.

However, there is so much great research out there, very practical stuff with clear implications for learning and teaching. Far from being dusty and obscure, a piece of academic research could solve a day-to-day problem you have been trying to crack for years.

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Point Of View: ‘If you win, we all win’


Blair Matthews explains why Tefl teachers should unite to fight for better pay and conditions.

I’ve been a TEFL teacher for 16 years and in that time I have worked in a dozen or so schools. I’ve been made redundant twice, been on zero hours contracts, had my hours capped and generally been subject to the low status and poor pay that is too often typical in EFL. I’ve worked in places where bullying and bad management have gone unchallenged.

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