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From Mad Hatter’s tea party to global Aladdin’s cave.

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The world of ELT no longer wears a British face, writes Melanie Butler.

Thirty years ago, EFL conferences reminded me a little of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Handwritten cards marked the doors of the tiny rooms where genteel British ladies with cut glass accents held court to audiences of (mostly British) language school teachers.

Young white male methodologists scurried around like rabbits and the tables of the twenty- plus British publishers groaned under the weight of brightly coloured books. Everything stopped for tea.

Modern conferences are more like Aladdin’s cave.

The language school teachers are mostly gone, replaced by postgraduate students and teacher trainers from all corners of the earth.

Foreign publishers take up the space left by their shrinking UK competition.

The white male methodologists are still there, taking the latest rabbit out of their hats.

But Britons no longer rule the roost. Take the plenary speakers at Iatefl 2018: to kick the conference off they have a Spanish born specialist in bilingualism and multilingualism who has worked in Greece and now the USA.

She is followed by an Irish tester, a Guyanese poet, an American author and a woman’s rights activist who was born in Germany and educated in Venezuela.

The world of ELT has changed.

It no longer wears a British face.

In this issue of the Gazette, a Polish born English language teacher, shortlisted for the prestigious Global Teacher Prize, writes about her work in Norway.

A Singapore kindergarten chain hits the headlines as it moves into China on our news section. And from Hong Kong, the founder of an EFL tech company argues that universities in English speaking countries should do more to help international students.

Even the ELTons shortlist on our resources section features as many products from Brazil as from Oxford.

Meanwhile back in Britain, a study, reported on page 10, finds that the vocabulary size of bilingual two-year-olds is correlated to how closely English is related to their mother tongue.

On our features section, Teachers based in East London appear in Latin American classrooms through the magic of technology.
It is all change too in British ELT.

Thom Kiddle of Nile calls on the British Council to rethink the way the UK accreditation scheme assesses teacher qualifications on our news section.

In Northern Ireland, our news pages report, the growing number of English language learners is posing problems for local schools. How the world of ELT has changed in thirty years.

The myth of the mighty monolingual native speaker has been put back in its box, not before time.

But, as we reveal in our Iatefl special features, there are still fables to conquer and fairy tales to fight, before we can answer the central question: what is the most effective way to help learners master English?

Melanie bw twitter2Melanie Butler, editor-in-chief