TEN BIGGEST ‘MYTHS’ ABOUT ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING UNPICKED

Monday, May 9, 2016
Leading names in ELT separate fact from fiction in new report 

A new report from Pearson and ELTjam questions ten of the most prevalent global ‘myths’  within the English language teaching sector today - asking which are fact and which are fiction.  Some of the biggest and most influential names in English language teaching have been enlisted to tackle assertions such as: online language learning is inferior to classroom learning; advances in automated translation services spell the end of English language teaching; can we really track progress in English through measurement scales, and whether computers can evaluate language proficiency as accurately or better than humans.

New data accompanying the report highlights that English Language Teachers are sceptical about the benefits of technology in the classroom and the true capability of digital solutions. For example  just 20% of the 600 surveyed thought that online learning could be as effective as classroom learning and a tiny minority (9%) believed that computers are as effective as humans in assessing learner ability in English. In reality automated scoring is as least as accurate as human scoring and furthermore offers to free up teacher time at the same time as providing accurate information about student proficiency.

David Crystal, linguist, writer, lecturer and Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, said “Fact or Fiction is a hugely informative dossier of down-to-earth advice for English teachers everywhere, puncturing some of the most widely held myths about language and technology while offering realistic and practical guidance on the way forward in the classroom. It affirms the central role of the teacher, and offers reassurance, inspiration, and confidence to anyone unsure about how to cope with the rapid pace of technological change.”

Giles Grant, SVP Pearson ELT, said: “To deliver the best for English learners teaching practises need to be based on evidence, not assumptions. The aim of the fact or fiction report is to run a critical eye over commonly held beliefs and ask to what extent they really stand up to scrutiny.”

David Nunan, applied linguist, educator and author said: “Technology plays a huge role in our everyday lives so it’s natural to assume that it should play a pivotal part of teaching English, but we shouldn’t accept it blindly or reject it out of hand. What really matters is analysing what technology can offer against the basic building blocks of the learning process to see if they match well.”

The full report is available to download at english.com/eltmyths.  


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Fact or Fiction contributors

David Crystal, linguist, writer, lecturer and Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor  Is “text-speak” and the language of online communication really undermining the English language?
Nicky Hockly, Director of Pedagogy at The Consultants-E, an online and training consultancy Can educational technology really fix language learning?
Ozge Karaoglu, English teacher, Foreign Languages Department K–12 technology integration specialist, author and freelance teacher trainer  Are all the children we teach really digital natives?
Russ Mayne, teacher and tutor in EAP at the University of Leicester Is it true that individual learning styles don’t matter?
Katie Nielson, Chief Education Officer at Voxy Can we make English for Specific Purposes accessible for low-level learners?
David Nunan, applied linguist, educator and author Is online language learning really inferior to classroom learning?
Scott Thornbury, teacher, trainer, author and Professor of English Language Studies at the New School in New York  Is grammar the best blueprint for language learning?
Alistair Van Moere, Head of Assessment Product Solutions at Pearson Can a computer really evaluate language proficiency as well as a human?
Laurie Harrison and Nick Robinson, ELTjam Might advances in natural language processing, artificial intelligence and automated real-time translation spell the end for English Language Teaching?
Diane Schmitt, senior English lecturer, consultant, co-author and chair of BALEAP - Can we really track progress in English with measurement scales?