Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Turn on, click in, drop in to online

As the world leans toward internet-based learning, we uncover what’s out there for English-language learners and teachers

I’m very pleased to introduce myself as the new editor of EL Gazette. It’s a respected and trusted title in the English language learning world and I’m chuffed to have been asked to take it on.
My background is very much in the world of magazines, from humble beginnings as associate editor of True Confessions (I promise it wasn’t as lurid as the title suggests!) to editing a wide variety of publications, including Young Performer, for kids interested in a
life treading the boards; Step Forward, published on behalf of the Limbless Association; Freelancing Matters, for the self-employed; Accounting Technician (no description necessary!), along with sub-editing on titles as diverse as Country Homes & Interiors and easyJet Traveller. I’ve also written on food, travel, family life, entertainment and more. I love words – old ones, new ones and a clever portmanteau.
With each publication I’ve learned something about the world they represent, which has been a fascinating journey.

“There are those who may be sick to the back teeth of all this online stuff, 
but...”

The past year has been a doozy in terms of how our world has changed. No one needs reminding how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on just about every aspect of our lives. In terms of lifestyle, it has made us all more acutely reliant on the internet than we’ve ever been. More than once I’ve wondered what these months would have been like without it.
Can you imagine? No Zooms, no face-to-faces calls of any kind, no instant messaging, texts, WhatsApp, Facebook, TikTok… Sure, there are those who may be sick to the back teeth of all this online stuff, but our sense of isolation would have been heightened to intolerable levels without the connection the internet has given us to friends, family and workmates around the globe. Someone sneezes in New York and you can say gesundheit in London.
One of the biggest leaps in communication via the web has been in online teaching and exams. Schools around the world have worked hard to make classes which appear on a screen as effective as those in real life. Take the Hands Up Project (see page 26), a UK-registered charity working mostly in Palestine, which has taken its one-local-teacher-plus-one-remote- teacher concept to the next level by integrating both teachers in a combination of Zoom and Facebook, so that students experience a similar dynamic as they did when they met face-to-face in classrooms.

“…our sense of isolation would have been heightened to intolerable levels 
without the connection the internet has given us to friends, family and 
workmates around the globe”

Then there’s the incredible boom in language-learning apps, with some brands seeing as much as 67% growth since the pandemic began (see page 11 for Duolingo’s take on this), as people find ways to improve skills, learn new ones and make the most of their time indoors.
On top of this is the move to online exam testing, which we look at in more depth on page 10, along with digital platforms providing everything from teacher training to English language proficiency tests. Our list of online English-language learning platforms and what they provide starts on page 15. If you’re wondering where to go next with your career or which exam or course will bring the most benefits, take a look.
In fact, this issue of EL Gazette is packed with as much online information as we could gather. While we all want to “go back to normal”, our hunch is that online living and learning has taken a firm foothold and isn’t likely to disappear any time soon.
We also take a look at what will replace the disappearing Erasmus (page 6), research from around the world (page 8) and teacher training news (page 7), along with updates from around the world. Happy reading!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock
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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