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Debunked ‘learning styles’ theory still part of gold-standard EFL qualifications

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...But Cambridge English has now pledged to remove the phrase from Celta and Delta syllabuses

by Claudia Civinini

Cambridge English Language Assessment has been referring to the concept of ‘learning styles’ in its Celta and Delta EFL qualifications even though the theory has long been debunked by academics, it has emerged.

The Cambridge English Teaching Framework, which underpins the two qualifications, contains references to learning styles – ‘visual, auditory, kinaesthetic’ – under the competency area ‘understanding learners’.

Teacher trainers have confirmed that trainees on these courses have been required to show an awareness of their students’ learning style, both in their assignments and their teaching practice.

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‘When Students Cry, I Get Anxious’

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By Claudia Civinini

Teachers are worried about their students’ language anxiety. To find out how they deal with it, we surveyed ten EFL and Italian teachers the world over, from England to Australia. EFL teachers’ challenges seem to concern mainly students’ psychology and class dynamics: some reported that one student’s anxiety can affect the whole class, and that it is difficult to integrate an anxious student into a group.

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‘Negative emotions should not remain hidden’

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By Claudia Civinini

Many teachers worry about their students’ foreign language anxiety (FLA), and at times don’t really know how to deal with it, a survey of teachers across the world revealed last month (see the April edition of the Gazette).

But Dr Christina Gkonou from the University of Essex, who has researched FLA extensively, has some advice for teachers. Dr Gkonou confirmed that, according to her research, anxiety is the most common negative emotion among language learners, and that it is subjective and context-bound.

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Love As A Second Language

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by Claudia Civinini

Culturally mixed couples often have stacks of funny anecdotes involving cross-language misunderstandings. But do emotions also get lost in translation? A study investigated how multilinguals feel when expressing emotions in a foreign language. The 429 participants, who had all used a second language in a romantic relationship at least once, took an online questionnaire, and a sample was also interviewed. About 60 per cent of comments were negative, highlighting communication mishaps, general constraining effects of the foreign language and lack of genuineness in the communication.

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‘We help people overcome trauma by developing a sense of control over their lives’

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By Claudia Civinini

The Pacific Immigrant Resource Society, a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping refugees in British Columbia, Canada, has recently piloted a programme for refugee women.
We spoke to the programme director, Dr Amea Wilbur, who has investigated how to make government funded language programmes more inclusive to people who have survived extremely difficult events.

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