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Taking The Next Step

Melanie Butler talks to Nile’s Dave Allan about its new partnership with Macmillan training teachers overseas

The news that Nile and Macmillan Education have formed a partnership is something of a first in British EFL – a materials publisher and a teacher-training specialist. I understand the main aim is to work together on government contracts overseas...

 -What kind of projects are you expecting to collaborate on and how will the different skills profiles of the organisations help that?

Yes, it is something of a first and I don’t know why we didn’t think of it earlier! It’s a very natural step given that institutions are more and more interested in discussing the complete package of materials, product training and teacher professional development from a validated provider, particularly with the advent of changing teaching methodologies and an increasing demand from governments for teachers to have higher levels of English.

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The thinking revolution

Marion Williams believes that ‘children need to develop a range of problem-solving and decision-making skills’ (Courtesy Richard Cullen)

Melanie Butler asks author Marion Williams about the psychology of learning and how it can be applied to teaching a foreign language

You’re most known in EFL for championing the role of psychology in the language classroom and have recently won the Ben Warren Prize for a book you co-authored on the subject, Exploring Psychology in Language Learning and Teaching (OUP, 2015). How did you first become interested in the psychology of learning in general and language learning, and what is the most important thing it has taught you?

These are huge questions, Melanie, and involve the last 45 years of my professional career.

In 1988 I took up a position at Exeter University running the MEd and doctoral programmes in Tesol. As a qualified primary teacher and teacher trainer, I had become increasingly concerned that, while the Tesol field had a vibrant literature on methodology, it did not draw sufficiently on insights from psychology. I became particularly curious about what educational psychology might have to offer language teachers. Surely, if we knew something about how learners learn, we would be in a better position to figure out how to help them to learn a language.

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Top team leads to top ranking

Melanie Butler asks Patrick Brook, director of the University of Brighton’s Language Institute, how he ended up running the British Council’s top-ranked uni language centre

Patrick Brook is director of the Language Institute at the University of Brighton, our new number-one-ranked university language centre based on British Council inspection reports. But being the director of a top language centre was not one of his childhood ambitions, he admits to me.

‘I wanted to work for the National Trust,’ Patrick says over coffee. But having taught English in France as part of his undergraduate degree, he headed back there to teach English after becoming disillusioned with teaching French in UK secondary schools. ‘I found it all rather challenging – a lot of crowd control!’ he explains.

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LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN Language Institute director Patrick Brook and assistant director Sally Nichols (front), with vice chancellor Debra Humphris (behind Patrick) and key staff (Courtesy University of Brighton Language Institute)

He ended up moving on to Cyprus and Russia before returning to work in London. ‘In 1999 I went to do my masters in Tesol at the University of Brighton. They offered me a job, and I’ve never left.’

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Communicating with a native

Andrea Pérez asks Simon Whitehouse how his role as a ‘fellow’ of the Colombia Bilingüe programme is helping his teenage students gain confidence in their spoken English

You have been working as a ‘fellow’ – a native-speaker English language teacher in the Colombia Bilingüe programme – in the Institución Educativa Técnica Comercial del Valle in Palmira since January. How did you come to enrol with this programme?

I enrolled through ESL Starter, one of the partner recruitment agencies. They are helping Volunteers Colombia and Heart for Change to supply native speakers, such as myself, to the programme, which is run through Colombia’s ministry of education.

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Know the criteria and be prepared

Dawn Leggott, former principal lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and independent education consultant, talks to Melanie Butler about her university’s recent inspection

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RIGHT ATTITUDE Dawn Leggot says school leaders should try to enjoy the inspection itself as this will create a positive atmosphere (Courtesy Dawn Leggott)

When was your last inspection and what was your role in relation to it?

We were last inspected for three and a half days in October. As project leader, I was responsible for preparing all the documentation and staff for the inspection and ensuring that all the relevant policies and procedures were in place, known to all staff and being implemented.

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