Monday, 25th October

Only a quick double tonight: battling my first migraine for years!

1. Just enough notice, I hope, of Chris Farrell’s webinar at 14:00 UK time tomorrow, Tuesday 26th October, for Eaquals: The Classroom in 2021: Challenges and Opportunities.

More info here

and registration here

Chris will be looking at “the contrast between the realities of the ELT classroom in the pre-Covid context and the situation as it is now”.

2. Proof that vaccination works in this New Scientist article – but perhaps nonetheless not enough proof for those of us that don’t want proof, sadly?

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Friday, 22nd October

1. No fewer than five MOOCs to review over the weekend, three for teachers

and two for learners

2. Here’s the latest ELT position paper from Oxford University Press – possibly ever so slightly more controversial than previous papers? – on English Pronunciation for a Global World You need to register to download and I recommend you do so. PDF below just in case.

3. Three thinkpieces with strong views on the future of education to accompany a cup of coffee or tea over the weekend:

first, courtesy of the WONKHE blog, the recent Alun Francis social mobility report for Policy Exchange

“There are evidently many examples of unfairness and inequality, but if social mobility is going to improve, policymakers are going to achieve little if they remain locked into a discussion about elites, and policy focusses only on who becomes part of it. They have to ask harder questions about the supply of opportunities and how they can be extended to a wider variety of people” (PDF below)

second, from Sol Gamsu for the Open Democracy website,

“As the pandemic deepens inequality between children, it’s vital to dismantle the system that gives state schools no chance against private peers.”

and third, from Christopher Such’s Primary Colour blog,

“As all foundation stage and key stage one teachers are acutely aware, children arrive at school with a vast range of experiences and abilities. There is an overwhelming difference between a child who has just turned four from a challenging family background and a child who is about to turn five from a supportive family background.”

4. There’s free talks from the LSE on a number of interesting topics over the next few weeks, including China’s role in the world, USA-Europe relations, climate, and corruption. Have a browse over the weekend!

5. And, finally, John Agard reading his own most famous poem, ‘Listen Mr Oxford don’. A real treat if you don’t already know it – and a real treat if you do!

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Multilingual Thursday, 21st October

A quartet of webinars plus a survey today ….

1. Researching multilingualism multilingually: insights, reflections and future directions is the title of the next talk in the University of Reading Applied Linguistics Research Circle’s series of weekly talks, by Tracey Costley and Colin Reilly from the University of Essex at 16:00 UK time, next Tuesday, 26th October. PDF of flyer below and, as usual, if you’d like to attend, contact

2. Next Wednesday, 27th October, at 12:30 UK time, in the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics Seminar Series, Ernesto Macaro from the University of Oxford will be talking about Language Learning Strategies: Theorising the transition to English Medium Instruction Contexts. More info and registration here and abstract here

“Although there have been decades of theorising on language learner strategies, together with the practical application of strategies research through strategy-based instruction, there is very little theory and research on the strategies that students deploy when they are learning content in an English Medium Instruction (EMI) context.” PDF of abstract below.

3. Next Thursday, 28th October, at 16:00 UK time, in the National University of Ireland’s CALM (sic) webinar series, Sarah Berthaud from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway will be talking about Bilingual language use and acquisition: Motion event description by English-French sequential and simultaneous bilinguals More info and registration here

“Motion is an ubiquitous daily human activity and described regularly in language. However, the way motion events are described varies cross-linguistically.”

 4. At exactly the same time, alas, next Thursday, 28th October, 16:00 UK time, John O’Regan from UCL will be giving a talk related to his recent book, Global English and Political Economy, exploring the historical emergence and hegemonic dominance of English, offering an overview of arguments that challenge this hegemony and discussing their implications for those who support academic writing in higher education. More info and registration here

Professor O’Regan “locate(s) the origins of the ascent of English in the sixteenth century and the rise of a capitalist world-economy. It is from the sixteenth century that the die is set for English to become the dominant language in the world.”

Maybe there won’t be too much overlap between the Berthaud and the O’Regan audiences?

5. And, finally, a survey from the European Centre of Modern Languages (ECML) on Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education where extra-European participation is positively welcomed. It’s open till 10th November and is directed at people engaged in language education who live and/or work in a border region. The aim of the survey is to help prepare a manual for teacher educators, teachers and their students with an interest in promoting language learning in cross-border vocational education and training. Survey and more info here

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Wednesday, 20th October

1. Several new posts since I last paid a visit to Alexandra Mihai’s blog, The Educationalist – on student motivation, refreshing your teaching, exploring co-teaching and on teaching and learning support, all with Alexandra’s characteristically high-quality reading lists. Try the one on co-teaching?

Also, if you work in a university, Alexandra invites you to contribute to her research by completing this survey on Media and Learning Online – structurally supporting teaching and learning More info at the bottom of the blog post on student motivation

2. The IATEFL YLT (Young Learners and Teenagers) SIG have pulled out all the stops for their thirty-fifth, emerald anniversary conference. Thirty-five sessions spread over the (long) weekend of 5th to 7th November, all free. More info and registration here

3. Some of you might find this analysis by David Kernohan on the Wonkhe blog of how exactly the UK government’s plans to outlaw ‘essay mills’ might work, How will new laws on essay mills work? a bit nerdy; I didn’t – but there might be a reason for that!

4. There’s a bit of me that thinks we should all suffer from a mild dose of this week’s phobia, plutophobia ….

5. And, finally, here’s the winning story in the recent BBC National Short Story Competition, All the People Were Mean and Bad by Lucy Caldwell Scroll down a bit for the story itself. I enjoyed it!

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Climate Tuesday, 19th October

1. NESTA is the UK’s innovation agency for social good and climate and the environment is – unsurprisingly enough – one of the main strands of their activity. Next Tuesday, 26th October, at 13:00 UK time sees the start of their series on Making the Switch to Cleaner, Greener Homes

Last year they held another event focussed on greener homes, recorded here The summary of the event states baldly: “It’s a big task. According to the Energy Systems Catapult, the average household (in the UK) needs to bring its heating-related emissions down from roughly 2,745 kg of CO2 per year today to just 138 kg per year by 2050.” That’s a drop of 95% by my reckoning. Their website is well worth exploring.

2. FutureFest is also a NESTA initiative, but surprisingly difficult to find from the main NESTA website, so here it is

You need to register but once you’ve done so, there’s a host of video material available to you, including Louis Theroux on Is the World Getting Weirder? and Elif Shafak on Did Optimism Ruin the World? And Can Pessimism Save It? Climate is also one of the main themes of Future Fest.

3. This one’s not climate as such: it’s about teacher agency. A sense of one’s own agency, though, is what a teacher needs in order to engage with climate issues. Language Teacher Agency by Jian Tao and Xuesong (Andy) Gao has been published online in the Cambridge Elements series by Cambridge University Press, and is available free for the first two weeks for reading and download, via the following link: PDF below for convenience.

4. Slightly heavy going, maybe, this piece on The future of vehicles from the Centre for Science and Policy at Cambridge University. Give it to your more advanced students and ask them to précis it!

People do still do précis, don’t they?

5. And, finally and less heavy going, here’s what’s often claimed to be the most popular song in the world Be sure to watch the video!

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Monday, 18th October

1. Learnit has a number of good podcasts

Try Byju Raveendran on his eponymous EdTech company, Byju’s

or Laura McInerney on the Teacher Tapp app she co-founded

What, if anything, should we make of the fact that the Indian cricket team are sponsored by an EdTech company, Byju’s, whereas the England team are sponsored by a ‘used car marketplace’, Cinch, I wonder?

2. The next lecture in the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics Language Policy and Practices in the Global North and South series is To speak or not to speak: Issues of language revitalization in Mexico by José Antonio Flores Farfán from Mexico’s National Centre for Social Anthropology Studies & Research (CIESAS) at 15:00 UK time on Wednesday, 20th October.

More info and abstract here (also below) and registration here


3. Language Cert are offering an online event for teachers (not to be confused with a webinar, please), Empowering teachers in the brave new digital world of ELT, with Nicky Hockly and John Hughes at 14:30 UK time this Wednesday, 20th October.

More info here and registration here

4. And, finally, in five daily episodes, starting today (but all available on BBC Sounds already), Bernardine Evaristo’s new book, Manifesto (read by Bernie herself)

Piece about the book in The Guardian here which ends with a great quote!

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Friday, 15th October

1. I’ve mentioned the OASIS database from York University before OASIS stands for Open Accessible Summaries in Language Studies (so, no, not quite a true acronym) and its mission is to make “research on language learning, use, and education available and accessible to a wide audience”.

Stacks of stuff on every linguistic subject under the sun in OASIS. Try a search for ‘effectiveness of teaching’:

2. I think I played with Lego as a child. (I’ve just checked that it wasn’t invented only fifty years ago.) The LEGO Foundation – funded from the profits on plastic bricks – promotes the development of all children everywhere through ‘playful learning’

They’ve just published a report on reducing inequality through play, of which they claim “this review expands both the geographic breadth and the scale of this evidence and explores the use of play in early childhood classroom and home-based educational interventions that have demonstrated causal impact on learning and the closing of achievement gaps.”

Their CEO, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, was interviewed recently by ECW I like the phrase ‘playful learning’! PDF of both summary and full reports below.

 3. A reminder, neither polite nor impolite, that if you’d like to attend BBELT for free next year, you need to submit your paper proposal by 7th November:

‘Polite reminders’, especially faux-polite reminders drive me mad …

4.And, finally, two bits of longer reading for the weekend.

The first, an accessibly technical piece on algorithms and the Facebook whistle-blower, Frances Haugen from the Technology Review

Second, an Alun Francis piece on social mobility for the Policy Exchange thinktank that concludes that the solution is NOT just about getting disadvantaged pupils into elite educational establishments – well, not here in the UK at least! “There are evidently many examples of unfairness and inequality, but if social mobility is going to improve, policymakers are going to achieve little if they remain locked into a discussion about elites, and policy focusses only on who becomes part of it. They have to ask harder questions about the supply of opportunities and how they can be extended to a wider variety of people.” PDF below.

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Multilingual Thursday, 14th October

1. Multilingualism and Speech and Language Therapy is the title of Mirjam Blumenthal’s talk for the European Speech and Language Therapy Association next Thursday, 21st October at 17:00 UK time. More info and registration here

“After a short introduction about bilingualism in child language acquisition, this webinar focuses on diagnostic work with multilingual children. Multilingual children need assessment in all the languages they speak/understand, ideally in all language aspects. Diagnostic instruments in many immigrant languages are rare, though.”

2. Also next Thursday, 21st October, but at 15:00 UK time is the next ECML webinar, on a Roadmap for supporting the language(s) of schooling. More info and registration here

“If you would like to find out about the benefits of a whole-school approach when it comes to the language of schooling, as well as tips on how to engage all stakeholders in your school community, then this webinar is for you.”

3. Mike Mena’s The social life of language website is a bit different: see what you make of it!

Mike’s latest video investigates whether bilingualism/multilingualism gives people an economic advantage, and do bilinguals get better jobs and paid more?

You can find all his videos on his YouTube channel here

4. Here’s a piece from Monday’s HLT magazine on English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI): Developing Online and F2F Support Strategies at Verona University by Sharon Hartle and colleagues

“What emerged was a shifting of focus from lecturer linguistic competence to a concern for learner needs and what was innovative was the interest in combining traditional classroom practices with digital ones.”

5. And, finally, explore some of Canada’s indigenous languages here

And here’s an article on Truth and Reconciliation: Preserving and revitalizing Indigenous languages by Jacquelyn LeBel which gives a bit of the background

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Wednesday, 13th October

1. Here’s an article by Simon Borg on Video–based observation in impact evaluation Free of access, with a really useful bibliography containing links to a large number of related open-access articles. PDF below.

2. Full disclosure: I admit to being wholly non-objective about the IATEFL, English UK and British Council PRELIM project: it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I thought this webinar for Eaquals by Rose Aylett and Martyn Clarke on their report on PRELIM 1 was tremendous, and a highly recommended watch, especially if you’re thinking of applying for a PRELIM 2 grant

Thanks to Lou McLaughlin for making the recording available to non-members!

3. A technical but accessible piece from Emma Walland of Cambridge University Press and Assessment on Understanding grading, standards and grade inflation in England Grade inflation is (perceived to be) a problem in many countries around the world, I think?

4. This week’s phobia is ergophobia, from which very few people reading these messages of mine suffer!

5. And, finally, this month’s Hay Festival book of the month is Bewilderment by Richard Powers, described as “an arresting tale about the need to keep those we love safe. Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old, whose fears he soothes with inner voyages to fantastical worlds”.

There’s a free online reading and Q&A with Powers at 19:00 UK time on Thursday 21st October. More info and registration here

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Climate Tuesday, 12th October

1. Both sides of the globe involved, exactly twelve hours apart, in this UK-Australia Higher Education Roundtable at 09:00 UK time on Thursday, 14th October, The importance of global expertise and local action in the fight against Climate Change More info and registration here

2. Heather Michael is giving a webinar for National Geographic Learning on the ‘three pillars of an International Baccalaureate (IB) education’ Combining International Mindedness, Interdisciplinary Instruction, and Service Learning in the English Classroom at 14:00 UK time on Wednesday 20th October (repeated at 02:00 UK time on Thursday 21st October, if that’s more convenient).

More info and registration link here I don’t think I’d worry overly much about that IB focus, if you’re not teaching IB – the IB travels quite well!

3. Ceri Jones and Katherine Bilsborough gave a very-well-received talk on Eco-literacy: What? Why? And How? as part of the series of talks TeachingEnglish put on for World Teachers’ (good apostrophe!) Day, and …

… you can find the recordings of all the talks here

4. And, finally and more seriously than usual, Education Cannot Wait is the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crisis. Here’s their annual report for 2020 and here’s the executive summary if you’re in a hurry PDFs of whole report and of executive summary only below.

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