Monday, May 20, 2024

Follow the Signposts

Melanie Butler examines the way forward For the global English language industry

Is the ELT industry at a crossroads? If you define ELT as the English language travel industry, then market analyst Patrik Pavlacic argues that it is on page 18.

But English language training is not restricted to language travel. Many students attend local English language schools, a sector which is growing in some regions, as we report on page 23.

Most students, however, are at state-run schools in their home countries, although as the news story on this page reveals, the number attending international boarding schools or state schools overseas is rising.

Pavlacic sees the development of domestic school systems as one factor in the declining growth rate for English language travel, and at least within Europe, the coverage of English in state schools has now reached saturation point, as we report on page 24.

But for every threat there is an opportunity, and Pavlacic’s piece signposts an increase in the increasing number of young learners traveling to learn English year-round.

Focus on younger learners

The number of UK schools offering year-round courses for young learners is growing but, as we report on page 25, it is worth paying special attention to the inspection reports.

For the best young-learner specialists in the UK, check out the ranking on page 25. You’ll find this ranking dominated by smaller, family-run language schools, the kind of school which is represented by associations like Quality English, as Jonathan Swindell explains on page 26.

But it is not just the numbers of children learning English at school which the industry needs to consider; it is also the methods they are using. As we report on page 21, a recent study from Spain shows that the introduction of CLIL is transforming the linguistic outcomes in Spanish schools.

Train for CLIL

The growth in CLIL is likely to lead to an increase in demand for CLIL teacher-training provision – a sector currently dominated by schools in the UK and Ireland. Once again, the trick is finding the right school, with the right training course, and on page 20 we show you how.

But how do native-speaker EFL trainers really help foreign school teachers? As Rachel Halsall, head trainer at IH Newcastle, says on page 28, “CLIL trainees are specialists in their subject … we add the language knowledge and communicative ideas.”

CLIL will not stay in state schools. Indeed, the move towards learning English through general education offers a greater threat to private language schools everywhere, and perhaps a greater opportunity.

Move to education

Learning English through academic subjects is something British Boarding Schools have been doing for decades, but unlike their counterparts in CLIL school systems, they measure their success through progress in the subject area, not just in language outcomes, as we discover on page 22.

Some language schools are already taking a leaf out of the boarding school book and offering academic courses, particularly in the summer. In China, one chain even offers a programme where native speaker teachers review the Chinese curriculum in English.

And as we find on page 25, the age at which children start learning is dropping – down to pre-school and below. And language schools across Asia are following suit. Even the British Council is offering pre-school English.

How low can you go?

Image courtesy of Library
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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