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Global perspective

The Gazette editorial team’s selection of ELT news from around the world

USA:

The state of Arizona has passed a law ending the requirement of four hours a day of segregated instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) in schools.

Previously, these four hours were devoted to grammar, vocabulary and preparation for the English language tests that ELLs needed to take in order to progress to the mainstream curriculum. However, ELLs struggled to gain credit needed for high school graduation under this system, as they missed out on other subjects.

Governor Doug Ducey signed into law SB 1014, following its unanimous approval by the state lawmakers. The law ends the “restrictive”, 20-year-old, four-hours-a-day ELL regime, described by Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman as a “misguided policy that left them [ELLs] isolated”.

Ducey said the new law, which halves the number of segregated hours, gives teachers “the flexibility they need” to ensure better outcomes for students. Other “research-based methods of English instruction” can be taught instead, subject to Board of Education approval.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

CHINA:

An English language teacher who was imprisoned in China has been sentenced to eight years for possession of child pornography, after returning to the US.

While working with Chinese children, US national Christopher Eklund came to the attention of an FBI investigation into online networks sharing pornographic images.

The investigation uncovered Eklund’s online posts claiming that he had “thousands” of images of children to share. After downloading some of these, the FBI alerted the Chinese authorities.

Elklund was arrested in China and served two years in prison there. He was then deported. Following his arrival in the US, he was arrested and pled guilty to one charge of distributing child pornography.

Court documents for his trial in a US Federal court in Milwaukee reveal that Eklund had molested children in China, and that he possessed two terabytes of child pornography at the time of his arrest.

Milwaukee federal courthouse

SWEDEN:

International enrolments for Stockholm’s 18 higher education institutions are back up to the levels they were in 2011, when tuition fees for non-EU students were introduced. Enrolments from China, up 18 per cent in the last year, account for much of the increase.

A report by the Stockholm Academic Forum states that attractions for foreign students include “democratic values” and teachers which are approachable and who can be called by their first name. The fact that “everyone speaks English” means foreign students feel less isolated, while the low crime rate is attractive to parents.

There are now 9,750 international students in Stockholm, 11 per cent of the Swedish capital’s total student body. More than 800 of these are from China, while three next biggest provider markets, Finland, Germany and France are all in the EU, The fifth-largest provider market, India, is also growing rapidly – up 16 per cent year-on-year.

Students attending
Stockholm University

ISRAEL:

Only five per cent of undergraduate students who had applied successfully for places on teacher training colleges to start a bachelor’s degree in English language education earned a high enough score in their bagrut high school leaving exam to exempt them from mandatory English language courses during their studie, Haaretz newspaper reports.

This figure, from the Central Bureau of Statistics, compares with 21 per cent of students across all of those entering high education who had enough language skills to be exempted from having to study English.

Students bound for universities received an average of 111 in the bagrut (including ‘bonus points’), while entrants to teacher training colleges (for all subjects) picked up 95 points on average. The national average for all undergraduates was 102. The article did not give the threshold score at which students were exempted from compulsory English modules.

ZAMBIA:

Five hundred Zambian teachers are to be sent to teach English in the island of Madagascar, African Daily Voice reports.

With an oversupply of teachers in the country, the initiative announced by Quality Education in Zambia is designed to provide employment for “this vital human resourse,” reported Director Aaron Chansa.

Chansa also tried to calm fears about the selection procedure by promising it would be “transparent” and said he was optimistic that the teacher ‘exportation’ procedure would be speeded up.

Zambian teachers are already working in the Seychelles under a similar programme, where they are doing well, according to Chansa. He urged teachers selected for the Madagascar project to “work hard” so that other countries would also ask for teachers from Zambia.

KOREA:

Local teachers are urging the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) to abandon plans to recruit 90 new native speaker teachers for the Korean capital’s elementary schools.

“It costs a lot to hire native English teachers,” Kim Hong-Tae, policy chief at the Seoul branch of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union told the Korea Herald, adding, “but how qualified the teachers are and how much they help English education for South Korean students remains questionable.”

SMOE Superintendent Cho Hee-yeon announced the plan to recruit teachers from native English-speaking countries in April, as part of efforts to improve the quality of English education at public schools, and ease the reliance on private language education.

Schools with foreign teachers report high levels of satisfaction among teachers and students, but their impact on student progress remains unclear.

According to the Education Ministry, Korean families spent an estimated 18.6 trillion won ($12.5 billion) on private classes, including English language courses, in 2017.

Korean children in school.

UK:

A Saudi Arabian student studying English in Brighton on a student visa has been sentenced to 20 months for armed robbery. He is expected to be deported at the end of his sentence.

Ibrahim Aloqaybi pleaded guilty, along with another two perpetrators, of stopping the victim and forcing him at knifepoint to draw out £200 from a cashpoint machine. The victim is reported to be traumatised by the event.

At his trial in January, Aloqaybi’s lawyer, Ben Squirrel, described him as someone, “fairly naïve, who came to this country with good intentions to study English,” but had fallen in with the wrong crowd. His family are said to be devastated.

 

Images courtesy of Library, Arizonagov.gov, Gsa.gov, Su.se and Michael prewett/unsplash
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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