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Very British problems.


When reporting on ELT from a London office, it’s easy to get obsessed with the UK, but the future of English is global, writes Melanie Butler.

‘Never forget you’re British’. That was the sobriquet bestowed by a Hausa speaking radio presenter on a BBC English by Radio course I once produced for broadcast in West Africa.

As the young and foolish junior radio producer, I had inadvertently come up with the original name: ‘Don’t forget your English’.
It’s a very British problem.

You edit a newspaper out of London and you try as hard as you can to take a global perspective.

You run news from around the world: China, Israel, Zimbabwe. You print the latest research from the US and fill your newsroom with multilinguals.

And then twice a year you print the results of the British Council inspections of UK language centres and all of a sudden everything goes all Rule Britannia on you.

Why do we only print the results of UK inspections? Because as far as we know it is only the British who publish them.

Publishing results in the press is up there with teacher observation and endless policy paperwork in the pantheon of Britain’s educational achievements.

As Paul Fear of the British Accreditation Council knows. His new scheme for English programmes overseas aims to bring the tradition of the British school inspector to the local language school in Lima and Lahore, as he explains in our monthly interview.

It’s all so very English.

Three cheers for our Teacher’s Pet. Barbara Anna Zielonka, the Polish teacher of English who works in Norway is up for the Global Teacher Prize.
And as for our decision to send President Macron to the Naughty Step?

La perfide Albion.

Not that all is shipshape in the world of British ELT. As we reveal in our top story on our news section, none other than the British Council is allowing accredited schools to meet the inspection requirement for all-graduate teachers while employing teachers without a degree.

It’s a case of the best person for the job, say the British Council.

It’s a case of a historic low in graduate unemployment, says English UK, the association of accredited schools, regretfully. Their new chief executive, Sarah Cooper, came from teaching and remains, as she explains on our comment section, a passionate teacher.

We also report on a study showing that students are translanguaging into a multilingual world: perhaps the sun is finally setting on the old empire of the monolingual Brit.

Will the last native speaker to leave the classroom, please turn out the light? The rest of us are on a plane to get a job in Hawaii.

As Claudia Civinini tells us, its multilingual, multicultural and more than happy to hire great teachers, whatever their mother tongue.

Melanie bwMelanie Butler, editor-in-chief