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Point of View: Don’t be blinded by the big numbers

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ELT consultant Simon Cox stresses the importance of recognising the diversity and complexity in Chinese education

I’ve noticed that many articles about China begin with big numbers. Whatever the point of view of the writer – whether critical, admiring, or a bit of both – the go-to opening is often to start with scale.

It could be how many miles of high-speed train lines have been built across the country in the last 10 years, or how many millions of students are sitting gaokao (the college entrance examination) this June, or just how many clay warriors the first emperor of Qin had built for his tomb.

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Step into the linguistic boxing ring


Don’t worry whether there’s a critical period for language learning, just do whatever works to achieve your goal, says Melanie Butler.

Stephen Pinker has well and truly thrown the MIT cat among the proverbial ELT pigeons. The celebrity psycholinguist is among the authors of a new paper based on a grammar quiz taken by over half a million learners on Facebook.

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Comment: Performance pay or the highway?

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Should language schools pay more money to their best teachers, and should student feedback be the deciding factor, asks Melanie Butler.

Personally I have always thought relating pay to performance was piffle.

When I was a book publisher, I was promised a bonus based on the number of books I published and their sales.

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Out of the box: Are exams a form of child abuse?


Exams can be intrinsically unfair and do not allow many young people to flourish

I have a brother and we both had to sit our 0 Level exams in our mid-teens. Bernard slept badly the nights before the exams, he was sweating as he entered the examination hall and his writing hand was hard for him to control. He only passed one of his exams, English language.

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Comment: The hotter the better?

Russ Mayne looks at one student feedback site, and is unsurprised to discover that the most attractive teachers get the best ratings

The top-rated teacher on ratemyprofessor.com currently is Douglas Klutz, a law professor from the University of Alabama.

Reading through the student comments, which include such insights as ‘hes [sic] so hot’ and ‘Great class.

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