Like so many topics, the English classroom is a great place to start raising awareness of global warming. Everyday the media are full of stories of great courage, ingenuity or anguish as people confront or prepare to solve what is probably the biggest problem of the day.
Heatwave. We’re having a heatwave. Well I never thought I would start my editorial with the word heatwave, but there you are. The quote is from a song written in the 1930s and goes on – The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising… and it isn’t. The thermometer went past 40°C here this week and there promises to be more. We all know the cause of such a metereological phenomenon and we all need to start doing something about it, but we have been saying that for too long. Like so many topics, the English classroom is a great place to start raising awareness of global warming. Everyday the media are full of stories of great courage, ingenuity or anguish as people confront or prepare to solve what is probably the biggest problem of the day – and that is when the world is recovering from a pandemic, has massive cost-of-living issues, and the impact of war is being felt everywhere. If you are looking for materials to use, go no further than eltfootprint.org where there are lots of useful resources.
I was having tea with an old friend the other day, a teacher trainer with fifty years experience who actually mentored me as a young teacher. He looked at the contents page of our last issue and said how amazing it was that the topics we cover are essentially the topics that have been under discussion throughout his career, yet we still find ways to revisit them and generate new thoughts on them. I replied that this was exactly the mission of this magazine. We look at topics through the eyes of practising teachers in classrooms all over the world, and get them to report on their findings direct from their learners, their colleagues, their materials and their own reading and research. 40% of the contributors to that last issue were writing for us for the first time and their teaching experiences covered twenty different countries. This issue is similar in terms of numbers.
Engagement, motivation, progress, behaviour and methodology continue to be areas of interest to all of us, whether we are teaching children, adolescents, young adults or adults. In this issue we are looking at English for Academic Purposes, which is one area which has completely evolved over the last fifteen years. When I was first teaching in the UK it was perfectly normal to get hundreds of sixteen-to-twenty year olds to visit most towns in the country for a one-month, or longer, full-time General English course. These days, because of improved language learning and access to so many other English language media, you are more likely to head to the UK for a pre-university or a high-school course, with the aim of getting high school qualifications and potentially university entrance. Schools and universities have adapted and there are now some excellent Academic English courses available all over the world.
Articles in this issue look at all four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing – and each of them has its own importance depending on the academic situation the student is likely to find themselves in. I remember visiting one university abroad where there was no speaking practice at all on their foundation course because ‘first year students are not expected to speak!’. I admire the realism of the approach but feel sorry for any students heading off to study there.
Each of the articles, like all of the ones we publish, has one clear message from the contributor – this is what I think to be true. We can’t ask for any more than that. Just like my old mentor and I, despite nearly a hundred years’ combined experience, there are still only a few things we know for sure. There is so much variety of ability, personality, commitment and needs in any one class that teachers can only do what they think will work. Hopefully this issue will give you one or two more ideas to think about, talk about with colleagues and then, hopefully, try out. Enjoy the weather wherever you are and read the magazine wherever is best, outside under the parasol or inside away from the pouring rain – or anywhere in between.