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Global Perspective

Gazette News Editor Matt Salusbury’s selection of ELT news from around the world.

USA: A linebacker in the Dallas Cowboys American football team gave thanks to his first English language teacher in a Zoom call in October.

Azur Kamara, currently off the Dallas Cowboys squad as he recovers from an injury, arrived in Phoenix, Arizona with his family as a refugee from the Ivory Coast aged just 10. He spoke French but very little English. His first teacher, Margaret Bradley, welcomed him by giving him a French-English dictionary and a ‘soccer’ ball. Kamara told Fox 4 KDFW Texas news l that the gifts “made me to the man I am today.”

Margaret Bradley, now living in Arlington, Texas, said she had no idea that Kamara was a new arrival, and thought he was just “new to my classroom.” Of her gifts, she said, “I didn’t want any student to feel not welcomed.” She now uses Kamara’s example to inspire her current students.

AFGHANISTAN: A terrorist attack on 2 November at Kabul University, Afghanistan’s oldest higher education institution, left at least 22 dead and at least another 27 wounded.

Two classes, together with their teachers, were briefly taken hostage. Several students were hospitalised after jumping from walls or out of second floor windows to escape the carnage.

The attack, which took place while a book fair featuring Iranian government officials was in progress at the university, was claimed by the Afghan branch of Da’esh (also known as the Islamic State).

Two weeks later, Afghanistan’s Vice President announced that the nation’s armed forces had arrested a man identified as “Adil”, said to be the “mastermind” of the Kabul University attack. Adil and his accomplices are with the Haqqani network, a terrorist group affiliated to the Taliban.

GERMANY: Two courts settling international commercial disputes in English opened in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg in November. ‘Commercial Courts’ are now operating in English in the cities of Stuttgart and Mannheim.

It is hoped that these courts will compete with other jurisdictions offering to settle such disputes in English-medium courts in Singapore, Amsterdam and Dubai. The Commercial Court of England and Wales, based in London, has been a popular centre for dispute resolution, but post Brexit, Germany hopes to pick up some of the business that would previously have gone to the UK.

German law, though, means some elements of the cases, such as original submissions and the judgements, will still have to be delivered in German.

MALAYSIA: Samuel Isaiah, who teaches English to students from the Orang Asli aboriginal minority who live in remote wetlands in Pahang State, may not have won the Global Teacher of the Year Award, for which he was finalist, but he has become a local celebrity. Isiah takes an “out of the box” approach to teaching English, including crowdfunded ed-tech and group renditions of English-language 1990s alternative rock and indy pop songs on the ukulele. His methods have seen English pass rates jump by 30 to 80 per cent.

NORTH CYPRUS: In October, the European University of Lefke, in the self-styled “Turkish Republic of North Cyprus” suddenly revoked merit-based scholarships for existing international students. The announcement left many struggling to survive and unable to leave the island, due to Covid.

Africans, predominantly from Zimbabwe and Cameroon, make up 20,000 of the 90,000 international students in North Cyprus. The University’s accounts departments and student welfare services function predominantly in Turkish, leaving Anglophone or Francophone African students unable to access help.

NIGERIA: Feature films from Nigeria’s huge film industry with dialogue in Nigerian Pidgin English can now be submitted to the Academy Awards in the “Best International Feature” category as the Oscar for “Best Foreign Language Film” is now known.

In 2019, Nigeria’s first ever Oscars entry, the critically acclaimed comedy Lionheart, failed to meet criteria for “Best International Feature” as the film, which is predominantly in Nigerian Pidgin English with some Igbo, was ruled to have “too much English”.

RWANDA: Kigali Institute of Management, also known as KIM University, closed in October, one of four higher education institutions in the landlocked Central African nation to do so.

After a long coronavirus lockdown, acting vice-chancellor Jean Baptiste Mugabe confirmed in October that “due to financial problems,” KIM would “not be re-opening.”

According to University World News, however, KIM was one of four higher education institutes ordered to close by the Ministry of Education after failing to apply for full accreditation, despite repeated warnings.

CAPE VERDE: The new $60 million campus of the University of Cape Verde (U-CV), built with funding from China, is nearing completion. It is expected to open on the Portuguese-speaking island nation in early 2021, after its opening was postponed from June by Covid-19.

An international teacher training institute to provide teachers for all of West Africa is one of the features of the new campus, with the Chinese government showing an interest in developing teacher training capacity. It is hoped U-CV will also help stem the “brain drain” of Cape Verdians going abroad to study and not returning.

Image courtesy of Library
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Matt Salusbury
Matt Salusbury
MATT SALUSBURY, news editor and journalist, has worked for EL Gazette since 2007. He is also joint Chair of the London Freelance Branch of the National Union of Journalists and co-edits its newsletter, the Freelance. He taught English language for 15 years in the Netherlands, in Turkey, in a North London further education college and now as an English for Academic Purposes tutor, most recently at the London School of Economics. He is a native English speaker and is also fluent in Dutch.
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