Welcome to the May issue of the magazine and wherever you are I hope you are having a good time teaching. Passing on knowledge of the language and how to really use it is what we all trying to do in all our classes. Sometimes our learners need more than just the language, however, they need the content as well. When you are teaching content in English, it becomes a completely new game. Over the time I have been teaching, more and more people have needed an education delivered in English whether at an international primary school, at a vocational college where they are learning a trade or at an Ivy League college where they are studying a serious academic subject. So this is the topic of this issue, what people call English medium education (EME). What I don’t want to do is feel that any of our readers are excluded, so I wanted to include all of those lessons, subjects and courses where the aim is to study something in English, not just English for its own sake.

Primary school teachers are an interesting case in point. All over the world they are trained and employed to teach a wide range of skills and subjects to children. Teachers are not taken on for having a particular strength in one subject but usually for their all-round skill set and personality. One subject they are often required to teach is a foreign language, often English. Training them to take on this challenge can be difficult, so it is interesting to read one of the ways this is gone about in Italy where story telling is used. Taking a classic English story and telling it to a class is an obvious way to practise the language at this level, another equally valid approach is to take a story which is known locally and deliver it in English. Look out for both approaches described in this issue.

Talking of using fiction as a way to teach English brings me to the most famous writer in English history, William Shakespeare. For many years he was dismissed as out-of-date and complicated. With the four-hundredth anniversary of the publication of his First Folio last year, he got a new lease of life all over the world. Seven years after his death, this was essentially the first time his complete works were published and there were between eight hundred and one thousand copies – of which around 230 remain. On the last day of my recent trip to New Zealand, I got the chance to see a version at the Auckland Library. It was amazing to turn to various pages of plays such as Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet in a book printed such a long time ago and still in brilliant condition. As a writer, he was responsible for numerous words and expressions which remain in use to this day, even something as simple as bedroom! Downstairs, gossip, critic, hurry and manager are all attributed to this great playwright and poet. In our next issue of the magazine, we will have more on how we can use Shakespeare in our English classes, particularly at secondary level.

When we talk about EME, we usually mean at university level; and a number of our contributors describe challenges and solutions they have come across in countries such as Turkey, China, the UK and Japan. This international nature of our profession is one of its most exciting aspects and I am always conscious of trying to cover as much of the world as we can in our magazine. I might live just outside Oxford but the English language belongs to the whole world these days.

So whatever age of student you are teaching and wherever you are doing it, I hope this issue has ideas for you to think about and take into your staffrooms and classrooms. Colleagues and the help they can give us is actually the topic of my talk at IATEFL this year and by the time you read this, I will have delivered it. My main point is that not all of us have physical contact with colleagues these days and so our access to tips and ideas has to come from other sources than the staffroom. Obviously the internet provides a lot of sources of advice via websites, blogs and apps – but don’t forget books and magazines too! Each issue this year we are providing ideas from the ETpedia series which is celebrating its tenth birthday this year. Not quite as established as Shakespeare yet, but give it time!

Wishing you a great May and June – enjoy your teaching and don’t overthink it! As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’

Robert McLarty

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