Non-Multilingual Thursday, 23rd September

We’ll have a Multilingual Monday instead!

1. It’s been quite a while since I had a look at the UKFIET website. A good piece by Maiya Hershey, Harry Haynes and Ben Webster has gone up just today, Learning Ecosystems: Reimagining Higher Education Access for Refugees about how we improve access to higher education for people who have been forced to leave their home countries.

Here’s the recording of the launch of the report referred to in the blog post

and here’s the report itself PDF below.


2. Three items from Stephen Downes’s e-learning newsletter, OLDaily, which is where I often find interesting stuff:

a whole free book on speaking in public

and a matching pair of blog posts on the future of education and whether or not we need radical change by Seth Godin and Chris Kennedy

You can sign up for OLDaily yourself here

3. The winners of the annual BBC Short Story Competition are being read each afternoon this week.

Catch them on iPlayer at your convenience: I enjoyed this one about a train journey to Kyiv by Georgina Harding

4. And, finally, the Hay Festival’s September book of the month is Elif Shafak’s The Island of Missing Trees, and there’s a free reading and discussion with her next Thursday, 30th September. More info and registration here

While you’re waiting, here’s an event from The Conduit with Elif last week (New to me, The Conduit.)

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‘Invitation Wednesday’, 22nd September

1. First up tonight, an invitation from my colleague Paul Braddock to give a webinar for the TeachingEnglish community. Come on now, don’t be shy! Full details in the PDF below.

2. Second, an invitation from my colleague Graham Stanley to present at next year’s online BBELT 2021:

NB! If your proposal is selected, you’ll be able to attend BBELT for free …

3. A  forthright blog post from Lisa Lane, Why Essay Assignments Suck

I’ve not yet met very many teachers who claim to enjoy marking essays, but you may disagree …

4. And, finally and thanks to my colleague Fraser, a short cartoon from the East Asia and Pacific Regional Office of UNICEF (EAPRO) about the impact of the pandemic upon children and schools that might provoke a thoughtful classroom discussion

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Climate Tuesday, 21st September

1. Scotland’s Climate Assembly sent out 20,000 invitations to randomly selected households across Scotland. Of those who responded, 105 people were invited to take part in the Assembly. Assembly members were selected to be broadly representative of Scotland’s population in terms of age, gender, disability, household income, geography, ethnicity, rurality and attitudes towards climate change. It presented its report to the Scottish Parliament earlier this year PDF below, but, on this occasion, I’d recommend using the online version if you’re able to.

2. Scotland’s Children’s Parliament (SCP) made their own full contribution to the report Their own report, especially the films they produced, will chime with your own students, their peers, I’m sure. PDF of the SCP report below.

3. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this RSA event last week, Our biggest experiment: A history of the climate crisis, but I think that’s because I got annoyed with the interviewer’s ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ (thank you, Granny!) haircut

His interviewee, Alice Bell, has a much more sensible haircut and co-runs the charity Possible

4. And, finally, here’s the Radio 4 adaptation of ‘the greatest travel writer in the world’, Colin Thubron’s latest book, The Amur River: Between Russia and China As usual, a masterpiece of BBC compression: 275 pages reduced to five quarter-hour episodes.

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Monday, 20th September

Sorry about the hiccup on Friday! Earlier than usual today, as I’m off down to London to celebrate Vietnamese National Day.

1. There’s scope for a good class discussion based on these two very short videos from the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s ‘How I See’ campaign here in the UK:


2. There’s also a good class discussion about group think and social media bubbles in this new RSA Short on The Power of Diverse Thinking by Matthew Syed

3. I wonder whether an obsession with sleep and insomnia is a luxury that most people who crawl into their beds at the end of the day dog tired around the world have no time for? Here’s a Guardian piece on the topic by Kate Mikhail

4. I mentioned last week the launch at 15:00 UK time tomorrow, Tuesday 21st September, of the OECD publication, Education at a Glance 2021. Just in case you’re attending (or just in case you’re not!) here’s a link to the online executive summary of findings which I’ve also copied into the PDF below, if that’s easier.

Webinar registration link once more here Some people said last week’s link didn’t work for them, but this one – which did work for me just now – looks identical!

5. And, finally and sadly, the poet Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze died before her time last month. Here’s a typically engaged and engaging performance, including the poem ‘Aid Travels with a Bomb’

and here’s her obituary

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Multilingual Thursday, 16th September

1. This year’s Einar Haugen Lecture at Oslo University will be given by Aneta Pavlenko at 14:15 UK time next Friday, 24th September. Described as “a tour in a time machine, starting out in Ptolemaic Alexandria in 323 BC and then making short stops in imperial Rome, Norman Palermo, medieval Toledo and London, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, imperial St Petersburg, colonial Philadelphia, and the capital of Habsburg Hungary, Pressburg-Poszony to answer the question: “Does multilingualism need a history?”

More info here:

2. A useful survey article from Bridge Universe, What Is CLIL? The Global Trend in Bilingual Education Explained

It includes a good video from Peeter Mehisto on What Is CLIL and What Is Not?

Here’s a video of a longer talk Dr Mehisto gave back in 2013 on ‘The Cognitive Benefits of Bilingualism’

3. Eaquals’ new series of webinars starts next Tuesday, 21st September. Full details of the series here Free of charge for everyone!

4. And, finally, an article about online education during the pandemic in Japan that you’ll need to register to read, but I suggest that’s well worth the effort

Perhaps not quite the story of success you’d have expected from high tech Japan.

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Wednesday, 15th September

1. A blog post by Nick Michelioudakis for Oxford University Press, to start with, How To Turn Reading Into A Habit

I’m feeling a little mischievous, so will point out that Nick’s writing about a world of dental floss, piano practice and a bedroom for each child in the family. Put that to one side and much of what he says makes good sense.

2. Three OECD events next week:

on 21st September  at 15:00 UK time, The state of education around the world: Findings from Education at a Glance 2021;

on  23rd September at 11:00 UK time, What Generation Z thinks about school, the curriculum and their future;

and at 11:45 UK time, also on 23rd September, Getting a job: How schools can help students develop recruitment skills

My expectation is that a global organisation like OECD thinks globally – let’s see! I’m keen on the Generation Z one.

3. Still plenty of time to register for the definitely global-minded mEducation Alliance symposium I mentioned last week and there’s now a full (provisional) programme available  PDF below for ease of reference.

4. This week’s global phobia? Mycophobia – develops overnight after rain!

5. And, finally, courtesy of my father (and The Times letters section), a (not very global) poem by John Moore:

I lately lost a preposition,

It fell, I thought, beneath my chair.

Angrily I cried, “Perdition,

Up from out of in under there!”

Now correctness is my vade mecum,

And straggling phrases I abhor,

And yet I wondered, what should it come

Up from out of in under for?”

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Partly Climatic Tuesday, 14th September

1. There’s still time to enter the Climate Action for Language Education (CALE) school video competition

I left out one very important partner when I first mentioned this competition last Tuesday, namely IATEFL Global Issues SIG (GISIG) Sorry, GSIG!

2. The next CALE Education Exchange digital event will be at 16:00 UK time on Wednesday, 22nd September on Climate change and language learning. More info on this event and future events in the series, plus recordings of previous events here

3. Some sobering climate facts in this new BBC report, Climate change: World now sees twice as many days over 50⁰C

Many years ago, lulled into a false sense of security by the efficiency of our car’s air conditioning, I once stopped in a desert lay-by on the way home from Kuwait to Baghdad and opened the car door – ouch! Must have been at least 50⁰. I also learnt that a sunroof is not a sunroof in that part of the world; it’s a moonroof!

4. Courtesy of Mark Henebury, here’s more on non-lexical language (I hope that non-lexical is the right word to use here.)

More articles on language from the BBC Future site here

5. And, finally and not at all light-heartedly, here’s a prescient piece that Dexter Filkins wrote for the New Yorker in 2012

Should you ever get chance to read his The Forever War: Dispatches from the War on Terror, do take it.

PS ~ PRELIM 2 is coming …..

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Monday, 13th September

1. British Council colleagues in East Asia are running a series of webinars on Teacher Takeaways: Practical Ideas for Classroom Teaching in partnership with the China English Teacher Professional Teachers Association. More info and registration details here

Fraser Bewick opens the batting at 09:00 UK time this Thursday, 16th September with a session on Adapting and experimenting with tasks to encourage thinking skills in classroom tasks. Full details of the whole Teacher Takeaways programme in the PDF below.

2. Thanks, as so often, to my colleague Andrew Skinner for this efficient short video introduction to ‘Assistive Technology’ from Microsoft:

Here’s another I found ‘all by myself’ (as my granddaughter often says with pride) where Microsoft employees describe the use they make of assistive technology in their work

Yes, at one level they’re advertisements for Microsoft, but the features they demonstrate are part of software that many of us who use it every day are unaware of.

3.  This quarter’s Poetry Book Society selection is Hannah Lowe’s ‘The Kids’, a collection of sonnets celebrating the children she taught in sixth form college in London – wonderful stuff! She’s giving a free reading at 19:00 UK time this Thursday, 16th September with Selima Hill and Stephanie Norgate

4. And, finally, another resource from the ECML for the forthcoming European Day of Languages on 26th September, “20 things you might not know about Europe’s languages”

I’d no idea that there is an ancient whistling language in Spain that’s still being taught in local schools – are there lots more whistling or non-lexical languages out there round the world?

You can look at some of the statistics from the other end of the telescope: Europe is now home to only 225 or 3% of the world’s languages – presumably that was once a significantly higher percentage? How many languages is Africa home to? Copy of poster below.

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Friday, 10th September

1. I remain hopelessly and culpably unclear what’s free and what’s not on onestopenglish, but here goes with the latest Vocabulary Builders lesson, Internet Language: What is the difference between patois, jargon, and slang? It’s designed to help your students discover more about language variations

Pretty sure you’ll need to register but free to access once you have. PDFs of worksheet and teacher’s notes below.

2. A swift return for Teacher Tapp, as I think this week’s three questions – on teacher fashion, teacher attitudes to the pandemic and vaccination, and teacher optimism – travel round the world pretty well!

3. Teaching pathways: How to motivate learners is a new online course from TeachingEnglish. It starts on 21st September; more info and registration here

The nine-hour course is intended to help teachers start creating their own motivational learning environment, learn about what affects motivation and discover some of the different ways to energise and engage students. It includes two live events with the course tutor and language teaching experts.

4. The Slow Burn of Inner Chaos: Writing from Malaysia is the latest issue of the Words without Borders monthly magazine

Try Mona Fandey’s Cassette, or Gray Feather by Malaysian Tamil writer, Navin Manogaran

5. Perhaps not for the faint-hearted, an extended excerpt from The House of Ashes, the new book from the ‘King of Belfast Noir’, Stuart Neville

6. And just in case you should need one, here’s an antidote to the Neville extract, a showcase of and by the young dancers of the UK Royal Ballet

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Catch-Up Thursday, 9th September

Multi-lingual Thursday will return next week. I’m very sorry for the disruption to normal service. The Virgin broadband engineer comes tomorrow morning ….

1. Details here of Oxford University Press’s ELT Together 2021 event, which runs on six days in the period from 27th September to 8th October, from 17:00 to 20:00 UK time each day

The topics covered include Assessment for Learning, Pronunciation, Literature and Extensive Reading, How Languages are Learned, Learner Agency and Diversity and Inclusion. This kind of event often books up (annoyingly) early, so I hope this gives you good notice!

2. Also starting on 27th September is the mEducation Alliance’s 11th annual symposium, this time on EdTech To Accelerate Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) in Low-Resource Contexts; more info and registration here

Their avowed intention is to “explore untraditional formats to maximize knowledge-exchange and networking among presenters and participants”. (Thanks to Adam for this one!)

3. Another attractively eclectic selection this year in the University of Westminster’s English Language and Linguistics Research Seminar programme. I’m not sure their website has caught up yet, but there’s full details in the PDF below. I’m looking forward to Sylvia Shaw’s session on 17th November: ‘Supine, protoplasmic invertebrate jellies’: the linguistic style of Boris Johnson.

4. For a change, there is almost certainly NOT a lesson in this one, but I hope there might be an article or two that appeal in the latest, free-to-read issue of International Affairs from the Chatham House thinktank

5. And, finally and poetically, read

or listen

or do both concurrently or consecutively to For Henry’s Bar by Joseph Rios.

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