In this issue, eight of the articles are written by teachers writing for us for the very first time. They are all worth a read.
This is my 25th issue of the magazine and a lot has changed in my life and in the teaching world over that period of six years. Obviously the major change for me is that I am now teaching and training in New Zealand and, in so many ways, it is very different to life back in Oxford. More of that later. Another change which is becoming more and more apparent as the years go by is that good teaching resources are being produced by local practitioners and are of immediate use in the local conditions. This is reflected in the smaller number of products the large publishers have for review these days and the knock-on effect to us is more pages for contributors to write about their circumstances, issues and solutions. In this issue, for example, eight of the articles are written by teachers writing for us for the very first time. They are all worth a read.
One change I made early on in my time as Editor was to have a theme for each issue. I felt it would give some cohesion to each issue and the aim was always to have around a quarter to a third of the issue dedicated to that topic. This time we are looking at testing and assessment and we are lucky to have articles in from a wide range of contexts and age groups, from testing young learners right up to university students. I have avoided having articles which are too technical with the hope that the level of the articles will help practising teachers learn a little more about how and when to assess. There is a feeling that testing literacy is not covered enough on teacher-training courses and it is an area of interest, and sometimes frustration, to many teachers. During the production of this issue I ran a short survey on testing and will be publishing the results in our next issue.
Another change I have noticed over this period is with my own students and my own approach to teaching. Many of my students are not from a European background, where I spent most of my teaching and professional life. Some of the illustrations and explanations about grammar which I have always relied on do not always work in this context. Furthermore, their motivations for learning English are very varied, from the former refugees who need it to survive, study and/or get a job to the young vocational students wanting to move into mainstream studies and study culinary arts, media studies, teaching or nursing. There is a wide range of courses available, but the key to entry to all of them remains English. With 20 or so in a class, it takes a lot of effort to keep everyone focused.
As I look down the contents list of articles, I do notice how my teaching and editing share some core values. Over the years, I have been mastering the art of short titles for articles and feel that with every issue we are getting better. With my students, the one thing I nag them about constantly is to keep things simple. Clarity is King! As few words as possible to take their idea and share it with their classmates. You have to set high standards for pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar anyway, so encouraging brevity is a win-win. Simple ideas like using pronouns or short questions and answers will get things rolling. I heard the other day about a teacher teaching ‘Yes, but ...’ and ever since I have realised what a neat and useful turn-taking expression this is.
So in keeping with my theme, I will leave it there. Enjoy this issue – the titles make it clear what the articles are about. If they encourage you to write one yourself, even better. Everyone has at least one good article in them!
Enjoy April to June wherever you are.