Welcome to another issue of our magazine and, for the first time in nearly five years, I am writing this editorial in England. Things have changed here so, rather like someone arriving in a new country, I have had to be patient and relearn certain habits.
Welcome to another issue of our magazine and, for the first time in nearly five years, I am writing this editorial in England. The return from New Zealand has not been without problems, one of our suitcases went missing for a week, our goods being shipped are still not through the Suez Canal and our garden here had not been cut back for a few years. More than that has been the difficulty reintegrating into a country where I was born, educated and worked for many years. Things have changed here so, rather like someone arriving in a new country, I have had to be patient and relearn certain habits. I am sure it is only a matter of time but it is a good reminder of all those socio-cultural aspects of life we sometimes take for granted.
About twenty-five years ago I remember testing someone at a French pharmaceutical company which was being taken over by an American firm. He was understandably nervous about his level of English and when I asked him which particular area he was most concerned about, he mentioned reading and writing. When pushed for more information he explained that he wouldn’t be using the telephone much because the Americans used something called Electronic Mail. This was the first time I had heard of this and I vaguely remember reassuring him that it probably wouldn’t catch on! How wrong I was! Yesterday I got emails from all over the world, had a Zoom meeting with a colleague in New Zealand, chatted with family on WhatsApp and handed over most of this magazine to the designer via Dropbox. Everything we do is now made easier by the internet, if we even use that name any more. So a year ago, when I decided to dedicate this issue to Hybrid Learning, I was confident that it was an important part of most teachers’ lives. Most of the articles I have received over the last few months confirm this. People teach live online, face-to-face, from home, from school, via laptops and phones and in any way the institution, the government, the class or even the teacher want.
What a change from less than twenty years ago when I was asked at an interview what I felt about Blended Learning. That, again, was a new term, but one we have all now embraced although some maintain that the blend does not have to be digital. Classwork and homework has been the standard blend since time immemorial. The pandemic has certainly made us think long and hard about teaching and how to do it in as engaging a way as possible whatever the circumstances. How efficient some of the online teaching has been will become apparent as various students get to higher levels and gaps in their learning reveal themselves or not, but whatever the criticisms, teachers all over the world have done a fabulous job.
Talking of the world, our feature Global Voices is really starting to take off, helped, as ever, by social media where we have managed to spread the word, leading to contributions from Angola, Azerbaijan and Argentina just this week. The point of the feature is to show how huge our teaching community is and how different our circumstances are, but how we all share a commitment and an interest in teaching and learning. It is also a great way of getting teachers to write short pieces for us, possibly as a stepping-stone to a longer article. The whole magazine is driven by contributions from people like you and we are always keen to hear from you. Just as an example, over one third of the articles in this issue are written by first-time authors and that is exactly what we need.
Keep an eye out online for the videos we make where authors talk about their articles, they are a perfect complement to the magazine and can be found on the usual media channels. In the curent batch a writer describes why he writes articles and he basically says how much he likes writing, how he loves sharing ideas and how he wants the English language teaching community to work together to get better – a wonderful reason for writing for and reading our magazine. As ever, you will find new ideas, new opinions and new approaches – enjoy reading and take a look at the CPD Essentials page, a great way to share ideas with colleagues. Wherever you are, keep enjoying the teaching and make sure your learners have fun (in a serious way!).