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Gestures, grammar and global issues

Photo courtesy of Tulane University Public Relations with Creative Commons license

Claudia Civinini presents a round-up of the latest ELT and applied linguistics research.

DO YOU SPEAK SCIENCE?


Has English removed all barriers to the global sharing of knowledge? A paper published in PLOS Biology, ‘Languages are still a major barrier to global science’, thinks otherwise. Using Google Scholar in sixteen languages, researchers surveyed 75,513 scientific documents on biodiversity conservation published in 2014 and found that 35 per cent of them were not in English, with most of these providing neither an abstract nor a title in English.

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EAP – The medium or the message?

English for academic purposes (EAP) is the branch of ELT that concerns itself with the study of English in, and for, higher education, Claudia Civinini writes. We wanted to have a taste of the research that powers teaching practice in EAP, and we went right to the source: the courses that prepare future EAP instructors. We talked to Professor Sue Wharton, course leader of the MA English language teaching – EAP and ESP at the University of Warwick, and Dr Heath Rose, course leader of the MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (TELUS) at the University of Oxford. Their responses focus on the ever-increasing use of English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in higher education, and the changes brought by the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF).

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EL Young learners: Creating a Clil controversy?

Lucélia Ribeiro Sandy

Claudia Civinini reports on a controversial new study investigating bilingual education in Spain, while Bilingual Teaching Association president and study authors join the discussion

While many studies highlight a positive link between bilingual programmes (Clil) and foreign language learning, it is not yet clear what impact these programmes have on the learning of the actual content of a subject course taught in a foreign language.

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Neuroscience meets linguistics

letters

Claudia Civinini looks at a review trying to connect neurolinguistics and the classroom

Knowing what a P600 is might not be at the top of a teacher’s priorities – except to make sure that it is not yet another requirement of their school’s nightmarish bureaucracy. Certainly, the fact that the P600 is a type of brain response often associated with syntax violations could make it very interesting to language teachers. It would be even more compelling if they could use this knowledge in class. But can neurolinguistics inform classroom teaching, and if so how?

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Research round-up

Two topics animate newsroom discussions at the Gazette: one is politics, the other is language learning. While it’s hard to imagine us running out of issues to discuss in politics, keeping our language learning debates alive and relevant requires some research. That is one of the reasons why we, in our editor’s words, read an ‘inordinate amount’ of research papers – mostly in the field of applied linguistics and education – and survey academics. The other more serious reason is that current research is the lifeblood of classroom practice. With our Research News in Brief we wish to inspire teachers and foreign language aficionados alike – and the section will grow as we dedicate more space to evidence-based teaching.

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A Compass To Navigate Education

Claudia Civinini presents an overview of a substantial body of research which analyses the evidence behind many educational practices and interventions

 The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is an independent grant-making charity founded by the Sutton Trust whose mission is to close the attainment gap for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It aims to do so by collaborating with research institutions to test educational practices and interventions, and provide evidence about which of these work best – and at what cost. They then collect their results in the Early Years and Teaching and Learning (5–16-year-old) Toolkits ‘so that schools have the best possible evidence on which to base their own professional judgements’.

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EL Research: The academic angle

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Claudia Civinini surveys some of the world-class uni departments to discover the top priorities for research in applied linguistics

The Research Excellence Framework (Ref) 2014 was a government exercise that assessed the quality of research conducted at British universities. The data was picked up by Times Higher Education (THE) magazine and transformed into a ranking instrument that could potentially aid students from all over the world choosing a university in Britain. In April 2015 we printed our own version of the THE rankings, focusing on those departments that could interest teachers looking for a higher academic qualification in the fields of English language, linguistics and education. In the Ref, academics in the field of applied linguistics generally submit their research under one of these three categories.

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