Our experts debate the “truths” in English language teaching


Nothing is black and white in the world of English language teaching (ELT). Combine that with our hyperconnected world of rapid technological and social change, there is no definitive guide to what works well in every learning environment whether it be English as a Foreign Language (EFL), English as a Second Language (ESL) or English for Specific Purposes (ESP). To help bring you some clarity about what best supports teacher effectiveness and learner success, Pearson English has teamed up with ELTjam, thought leaders in the ELT industry, to bring you our Fact or Fiction report.

With an estimated 2 billion people in the world who are learning or want to learn English, there’s a growing demand for clarity about what best supports teacher effectiveness and learner success, especially from a digital perspective. Find out more about our experts and what they have to say about the subjects that get everyone talking…

David Crystal

As a linguist, writer, lecturer and Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, what will David Crystal reveal when he meets ‘The Unbelievable Abbrevatron’? We all know someone similar who can write twice as much in half the time – but is “text-speak” undermining the English language? In a recent survey by Pearson English of more than 600 ELT professionals, 30% thought that the abbreviations used in text messages and online language is having a negative effect on the quality of how learners communicate in English. Find out more in Fact or Fiction

David Crystal

Nicky Hockly

Is educational technology the miracle cure for English language learning? Nicky Hockly, Director of Pedagogy at online and training consultancy The Consultants-E, weighs in to discuss if this ‘Miracle Language Cure’ really does satisfy educational needs. This is a popular subject at the moment due to a huge increase in the amount of technology being pushed into schools. Indeed, 79% of ELT professionals in the survey believe that technology has transformed English language learning and teaching.

Ozge Karaoglu

Ozge Karaoglu, an English teacher, Foreign Languages Department K-12 technology integration specialist, author and freelance teacher trainer, is the perfect person to wonder: are all the children we teach really digital natives? Is every child a ‘Bionic Wunderkind’ – an ultimate master of learning technology? It certainly seems as though youngsters have a firm grasp on today’s technology, but is it true to assume that all children are tech-savvy?

Russ Mayne

Could it be true that individual learning styles don’t matter? When only 10% of English language teachers thought learning styles don’t need to be catered to in digital materials, can the majority be wrong? Russ Mayne, a teacher and tutor in EAP at the University of Leicester delves into the subject to find out where the “myth” of learning styles came from – and discusses if we really need to tailor our teaching methods at all.

Russ Mayne

Katharine Nielson

Join Katharine Nielson, Chief Education Officer at Voxy, to discuss the idea of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Can task-based learning and online resources make authentic materials work for low-level learners in ways that weren’t possible before? “But we always teach the basics first!” you may exclaim. So what implications does the notion of task-based learning have for ELT?

David Nunan

Applied linguist, educator and author David Nunan looks at whether online language learning is inferior to classroom learning. What’s your opinion of the subject? In our survey, only 20% of English language professionals believe that online learning might one day be as effective as classroom learning. But, in a world where the internet is seemingly transforming every industry on the planet, how could it affect the process of learning?

David Nunan

Scott Thornbury

Scott Thornbury, a teacher, trainer, author and Professor of English Studies at the New School in New York, examines the ‘Grammar Hammer’ – the obsession and fascination with the grammar syllabus. Should grammar drive everything we do with our learners? Scott takes a closer look at the task-based, project-based and activity-based classrooms that are flourishing all over the world to answer this question.

Alistair van Moere

Aahhh, behold the ‘Magnificent Marking Machine’! It can mark millions of test a year and can pronounce “success” or “could do better!” in the time it takes a teacher to pop the top off a pen. Is this a reality in ELT? It may surprise you to learn that computers have been marking students’ writing for the past 20 years. But are these machines perfect? Can they really replace English language teachers? Alistair van Moere, Head of Assessment Product Solutions at Pearson, finds out more…

Nick Robinson and Laurie Harrison

Do any of us really know what the future of ELT will look like? Nick Robinson and Laurie Harrison from ELTjam discuss whether advances in natural language processing, artificial intelligence and automated real-time translation spell the end of English language teaching.

Diane Schmitt

Diane Schmitt, Senior English lecturer, consultant, co-author and chair of BALEAP, steps up to the ‘Scale of Knowledge’ to find out if progress can really be tracked with measurement scales such as CEFR. The idea of using scales to track a learner’s progress goes back a long way but, on its own, is it enough?

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