Saturday, May 25, 2024

The international scene

This issue we look at the challenges currently facing English language teaching around the world

What a strange old time it’s been on our planet this past year and a half (and counting). While a few industries have seen an upsurge in business (we’re looking at you, Amazon), many have suffered decimating blows. Take the aviation industry, for instance and, similarly, language schools, which have traditionally relied on international students travelling to learn in a host country where they can soak up the culture while practising their emerging new skill.

But with the restrictions on travel, whether that’s proving you’ve had two jabs, quarantining or countries simply closing their borders, this has become prohibitively difficult. It’s been noticeable particularly when it comes to short courses: no one is going to quarantine for 10 days if their visit is a month or less. Plus, with the ever-present threat of lockdown, young people – who make up the vast majority of students – are opting to stick close to home and loved ones.

“Malta, for instance, is giving £10 a day to students who enrol at one of 
its language schools”

To address and try to alleviate some of the financial pressures on UK-based language schools, an All Party Parliamentary Group recently hosted a round table to gather information to feed back to Government with the idea of applying pressure to gain support for the faltering industry. We report on this on page 12.

It’s not all gloom and doom. On other fronts, we look at those countries that are opening to overseas visitors and students, and the incentives they are offering to attract them back in these uncertain times.

Malta, for instance, is giving €10 a day to students who enrol at one of its language schools. Strong incentive to go there and a clever way to get the economy rolling again (turn to page 13).

And how are the international schools fairing around the world? Melanie Butler takes a look at this, along with the rise of the educational super-schools (pages 14 and 15). We also have an in-depth explanation of what language schools can do to bring ecological issues into the classroom and make their teaching as green as possible (page 18). And we bring you the latest research into whether travelling to study a language is actually worth it. What do you think? Turn to page 8 to find out if you’re right.

“An in-depth explanation of what language schools can do to bring ecological 
issues into the classroom”

Tragically, if we’re talking about schools, there is another subject that needs to be addressed: child safeguarding. The danger posed was highlighted by the recent case of a convicted British paedophile who changed his name by deed poll, and was thus able to leave the country and take work at an international school in Madrid. He got away with this by taking advantage of a perfectly legal loophole (page 8). We spoke to the Safeguarding Alliance to find out what can be done about this and how schools can best protect themselves from something similar happening to them (page 16).

In a change of tack, we all know that English is the lingua franca of the world. Even post-Brexit it is still the language of the EU in Brussels (though France is giving a good shot at bringing this state of affairs to an end). But what would you say if someone put forward the argument for another language overtaking it to become the new global language? In a compelling argument, Jeffrey Gil, author of Soft Power and the Worldwide Promotion of Chinese Language Learning: The Confucius Institute Project, makes his case for why he thinks Chinese may well overtake English as everyone’s go-to language (page 22).

Finally, whether you’re just starting out on your teaching career or need a bit of a refresher after a long (Covid-induced?) break, we have 10 top teaching tips that will work in any scenario on page 21. As usual, this issue is also packed full of information and news from the world of English language teaching. Hang in there – it can only get better.

Image courtesy of Library
Liz Granirer
Liz Granirer
Liz has been a journalist for many years. She is currently editor of EL Gazette and has previously edited the magazines Young Performer, StepForward and Accounting Technician; been deputy editor on Right Start magazine; chief sub editor on Country Homes & Interiors; and sub editor on easyJet Traveller, Lonely Planet and Family Traveller magazines, along with a number of others.
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