Thursday, 1st December (Cambridge)

1. This one’s a bit specific, for those of you that completed – or supervised the completion of – an MA thesis at a European university during 2022 within the area of language use, language policy and multilingualism.

EFNIL http://efnil.org/ is the European Federation of National Institutes for Language. Each year they run a competition to find the best master’s theses in Europe, and the winners get a €1,500 prize and a free trip to the EFNIL conference. The languages studied in the thesis may be any of the European national languages. Please note, say EFNIL, that English is still one of the official languages!

More detailed information here http://efnil.org/master-thesis-award/master-thesis-award

NB! The deadline is 15th January.

2. Two pieces with a focus on South Asia:

first, the recording of a lecture for the Asia Scotland Institute by John Keay, Himalaya: Crisis on the Roof of the World? https://youtu.be/aIdAUiay6Tc;

second, a short film from The Guardian, The Great Abandonment, about migrant workers within India https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2022/nov/23/the-great-abandonment-the-extraordinary-exodus-of-indias-migrant-labourers

3. Sound advice from the gov.uk site on Designing for people with dyscalculia and low numeracy https://designnotes.blog.gov.uk/2022/11/28/designing-for-people-with-dyscalculia-and-low-numeracy/

More on dyscalculia, which is a challenge for more people than perhaps we realise, here https://www.dyscalculianetwork.com/ including a short video introduction https://youtu.be/HVf_OHK2hHQ

4. Michael Rosen made a splendid host for last night’s ELTons awards ceremony. He performed one of his poems, Hot Food https://youtu.be/Akwm2UZJ34o

Lots more on his YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/@MichaelRosenOfficial

5. And, finally and uncomfortably, from the Radio 5 ‘Teach me a Lesson’ series, Where’s The Most Painful Place To Get A Tattoo? https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0cdhpjm

More episodes here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p095y1m1/episodes/player

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Tuesday, 29th November (Cambridge)

1. The UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is held on 3rd December each year. This Friday, December 2nd, the TeachingEnglish team are holding an online event in support of IDPD on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in English Language Teaching, comprising four webinars and a panel discussion. More info about topics and speakers and registration here https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/online-event-special-educational-needs-and-disabilities-english-language-teaching

More info on the IDPD, including two short videos, here https://www.un.org/en/observances/day-of-persons-with-disabilities

2. The IATEFL Global Issues SIG (Special Interest Group) is convening a panel discussion on Teacher Activism in Times of Adversity with Akemi Iwasa, Margarita Kosior and Laszlo Hajba at 15:00 UK time on Saturday, 3rd December. Registration here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc_ewEPr7ZTiuTm3UAHDFHNqVKPCu2lH_7ggVNYa8z-MRFeNQ/viewform?fbclid=IwAR0sftq9odtY6sen0qQfecRFthq9C0LpwZ3xtXZI0K2ER4vcTpOgLkVZo_o

3. Dave Reay from Edinburgh University offers his analysis of the Successes and failures of COP27 here https://www.climatexchange.org.uk/blog/successes-and-failures-of-cop27/ If you’d rather listen – or want to set a homework task? – there’s a video version at the bottom of the page.

The bald one-sentence summary of Dave’s piece is that “a fund for loss and damage is good news from COP27, but the goal of limiting warming to 1.5C is lost and that of 2C is badly damaged”.

4. I’ve just discovered and much enjoy the Something Rhymes with Purple podcast about words and their origin by Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth – Brandreth is a bit Marmite, but Dent manages him well! https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/something-rhymes-with-purple/id1456772823 or https://open.spotify.com/show/7ntItPoYGVgBKzFOYnQgbR

Here’s the Macmillan Dictionary explanation of what we mean when we say a person’s ‘a bit Marmite’ https://www.macmillandictionary.com/buzzword/entries/marmite.html

5. A quick reminder that it’s the ELTons tomorrow! https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/eltons-innovation-awards-2022-live-stream

6. And, finally and whimsically, I’ve just discovered that it’s simply a fib that there’s one single shortest day each year. There are no fewer than seven days here in Cambridge of equal (short) length this year, the whole of the week beginning Sunday 18th December, when the days will all be seven hours and forty-four minutes long http://www.happyzebra.com/timezones-worldclock/sunrisesunset.php?city=Cambridge And the Cambridge shortest day is a whopping twenty-four minutes longer than the Richmond shortest day, of which there are five, beginning Tuesday 20th December.

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Thursday, 24th November (Richmond)

1. The 2nd ‘Decentring ELT’ conference will be held on 10th and 11th March next year, and the call for papers is now open. More info on both the conference itself and the ‘decentring’ concept here https://www.hornby-trust.org.uk/decentring-elt and in the first PDF below. You’ll find a brief report on the 1st ‘Decentring ELT’ conference, including links to video recordings of the conference sessions, on the same page or in the second PDF below.

As the Hornby Trust website puts it, “The world of ELT has been characterised by a hegemony of ‘global’ or ‘centre’ ELT approaches and materials developed outside the teaching contexts in which they are expected to be used. However, these approaches and materials (‘frames for action’) are not necessarily appropriate to and do not recognise teachers’ and other insiders’ experience and expertise in those contexts.”

2. It’s that time of year again! Next Wednesday, 30th December, sees the (increasingly less hegemonic) annual ELTons awards ceremony for innovation in ELT, hosted this year by Michael Rosen. You’ll find all the finalists, who will all have their fingers and toes firmly crossed till Wednesday evening, listed here https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/eltons-innovation-awards-2022-finalists and you can watch the ceremony from 17:00 UK time next Wednesday on the TeachingEnglish Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/TeachingEnglish.BritishCouncil

3. At 14:00 UK time this Saturday, 26th November, Anna Hasper and Jonathan Hadley, the authors of ‘Supplementary Activities for English Language Teaching: Large Classes and Low Resource Contexts’ are presenting the second event in TransformELT’s series on ‘Teaching English to large classes’. More info and registration herehttps://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/teaching-english-to-large-classes-part-2-tickets-470938508757 You can download a PDF of Anna and Jonathan’s book here https://www.britishcouncil.com.sn/en/programmes/education/english-connects/teachers-resources/supplementary-activities and it’s also attached below, just in case.

4. There have been times recently when it has seemed that the UK is falling apart at the seams. Opinions differ as to why that might be. ICAI, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, however, continues to exemplify the UK’s ability to look at itself critically. Their latest report, UK aid to Afghanistan, “examines the relevance, coherence and effectiveness of the UK’s aid investment in Afghanistan since 2014” https://icai.independent.gov.uk/review/uk-aid-to-afghanistan/review/ ‘Not great’ is their verdict, alas. PDFs of report and literature review below.

5. And, finally and poetically and wholly less depressingly, a conversation between Edward Mendelson, the world’s foremost Auden scholar, and Sam Leith of The Spectator https://www.spectator.co.uk/podcast/edward-mendelson-complete-poems-of-w-h-auden/ And here’s the poem that Edward says makes him cry every time he reads it, River Profile https://allpoetry.com/River-Profile Requires and repays a second and third reading!

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Tuesday, 22nd November (Richmond)

1. Joshua Bell is a post-doctoral researcher in the Maths Department at Oxford University; he also beat more than eight million (!) other players worldwide, including the world’s best chess player, Magnus Carlsen, when he won the Fantasy Football League in 2019/20. (Carlsen ended up tenth or eleventh, I think.) Two reasons why Bell might be quite a good person to predict the outcome of the World Cup currently taking place in Qatar, so here’s his A Mathematician’s Guide to the World Cup https://youtu.be/KjISuCarlsenZ5o06Q PDF of Dr Bell’s predictions below

and here’s another of his lectures, Can maths tell us how to win at Fantasy Football? https://youtu.be/LzEuweGrHvc

2. This World Cup is a controversial one in several ways. Here’s a piece from Spiegel International, Qatar Has Spent Years Preparing, But Is the World Ready? https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/the-winter-world-cup-qatar-has-spent-years-preparing-but-is-the-world-ready-a-21d5c58f-86f6-4bd4-b394-289649e0cebe

and here’s the lively inaugural podcast from The i newspaper, The truth about how Qatar treats LGBT people https://inews.co.uk/news/the-i-podcast-the-truth-about-how-qatar-treats-lgbt-people-1980698?ico=in-line_link

3. I mentioned Green ELT earlier this month. At 14:00 UK time this Friday, 25th November, Arran Stibbe, who’s Professor in Ecological Linguistics at The University of Gloucestershire, will be talking about ELT & ecology: how language shapes our world More info and registration here https://green-action-elt.uk/events/

4. Here’s a blog post from the Cambridge Dictionary explaining their surprising choice of ‘word of the year’ for 2022 https://dictionaryblog.cambridge.org/2022/11/16/cambridge-dictionarys-word-of-the-year-2022/

5. And, finally and doggedly, a highly effective visit to the market https://twitter.com/TansuYegen/status/1593239732649332744?t=9mdbacmejCtno37hJG_Isg&s=19

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Thursday, 17th  November (Cambridge)

1. You’ll find reports on all forty Partnered Remote Language Improvement (PRELIM) 2 partnerships – from ‘A’ for Angola to ’Z’ for Zambia! – here, plus Martyn Clarke and Rose Aylett’s summary report. https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/partnered-remote-language-improvement-prelim-2-project-report

PDF of Rose and Martyn’s report below; I’ll leave you to download the country reports you’re interested in for yourselves!

Just this morning, wearing my new NILE hat, I was helping review the UK applications for PRELIM 3. There’s still just time for English Teacher Associations to apply – application form below. The deadline is 23:59 UK time next Monday, 21st November!

2. One of the strengths of both PRELIM 1 and PRELIM 2 was the community of practice established between the UK language schools who took part. Some interesting thoughts here from Network Weaver on what makes communities of practice (otherwise known as ‘peer learning circles’) work, most of which I think Rose and Martyn would agree with https://networkweaver.com/peer-learning-changes-everything-but-how-to-make-it-work/

Network Weaver also offer a free Introduction to Networks facilitated by Collective Mind, described as ‘interactive training to learn about our comprehensive framework for understanding networks and ensuring their impact’. More details here; there’s a choice of dates https://networkweaver.com/events/

3. Olivia Douglass has just won this year’s 4thWrite prize with her short story, ‘Ink’ and you can read it here https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/nov/16/the-4thwrite-short-story-prize-winner-a-young-mothers-chance-encounter-with-an-old-classmate

A bit more on the 4thWrite prize here https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/nov/16/olivia-douglass-wins-4thwrite-prize-for-gripping-short-story-ink

4. Went to a great concert by Abdullah Ibrahim on Tuesday evening. Here’s his Tiny Desk (Home) Concert for NPR: https://youtu.be/L5i4stj4M30

5. And, finally and automotively, one of my ten monthly New York Times ‘gift’ articles, What Riding in a Self-Driving Tesla Tells Us About the Future of Autonomy https://nyti.ms/3hMLQ6Q There are a few bugs left, it seems!

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Tuesday, 15th November (Cambridge)

1. This event on Friday at 12:30 UK time (18:00 Delhi time), chaired by Amol Padwad, looks likely to be good: Learning languages by promoting cultural diversity: policy and practice.

It will include insights from research commissioned by the British Council and conducted by Cambridge Partnership for Education, An analysis of representation in the English curricula of the UK and India, analysing the extent to which the other country is represented and what form this representation takes in the ‘partner curriculum’, particularly in relation to diversity and contemporary life.

Registration and more info here: https://bit.ly/online_18Nov

2. A piece from Business Leader about the growth of the online tuition business with some very large numbers in it https://www.businessleader.co.uk/mytutor-appointments-online-tuition-market-reach-20-9bn-2030/

3. Two matching pieces about DuoLingo from The Guardian:

the first from Morwenna Ferrier, ‘I lie in the bath, imagining that I am wandering the Rialto in Venice’: my obsession with Duolingo https://www.theguardian.com/education/2022/nov/14/my-obsession-with-duolingo

the second, an interview with Luis von Ahn, the founder of DuoLingo, Duolingo says its English language tests for visas are cheap and secure https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/oct/02/english-language-tests-for-visas-cheap-secure-duolingo

4. And, finally and mischievously, here’s a recent piece from Gulf News, Exclusive option for test takers includes welcome lounge, lunch at 5-star hotel in Dubai https://gulfnews.com/uae/worlds-first-ielts-british-council—premium-service-launched-in-uae-1.91987218

Von Ahn refers in his interview to the prohibitive cost of English examinations for many …

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Thursday, 10th  November (Richmond)

1. Harry Kuchah Kuchah is giving the next webinar in the Universitas Negeri Jakarta
Graduate School ‘Language, Society, Education’ monthly programme, Silence and Silencing: English Medium Education and the Exclusion of Girls in an African Basic Education Context, at 08:30 UK time next Wednesday, 16th November.

Zoom link here https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87433869222?pwd=R2FIOE50VnRWd2dGWlFVV0JZdXZpQT09&fbclid=IwAR3TjiRXB0SxPRxB#success

and Harry’s blurb here: “There is very limited evidence globally of the impact that learning in an unfamiliar language has on girls’ educational outcomes. In this presentation, I start by mapping the emergence of a gender gap in English in Rwandan primary and secondary schools and describe a research study which built on these differences to investigate in- and out-of-school factors that might account for this gap. By focusing on data collected through classroom observations of teachers’ pedagogic practices and the ways in which girls interact in the classrooms, I provide evidence of how experiences of exclusion intersect with other mechanisms of marginalisation related to gendered norms and expected behaviours.”

(I’ll check that Zoom link before next Tuesday.)


2. A new TeachingEnglish course, Climate Action in Language Education starts next Tuesday, 15th November, running for twelve hours in total over four weeks https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-action-language-education It’s described as “a practical course designed to help English language teachers integrate environmental issues into English language teaching, through the exploration of language, principles and projects.  It aims to equip teachers and learners with the skills they need to take and sustain meaningful and impactful action to protect the environment in their local contexts”.

 Much more to explore on the TeachingEnglish site here https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/

3. Here’s the recording of Sarah Mercer and Chris Farrell’s webinar for OUP ELT earlier this week on the new Oxford paper on Self-Directed Professional Development that they wrote together with Donald Freeman https://www.facebook.com/events/627867849121441/ The paper presents a “step-by-step approach to realistic, personalised, and effective professional development (PD)” and its key messages are that:

• Self-directed PD is typically relevant and sustainable over time and impacts positively on teachers’ wellbeing, motivation, and confidence.

• Each teacher has different PD needs, depending on their own preferences, the context they work in, their personal circumstances, and the opportunities available to them.

• The potential for self-directed PD emerges from teachers’ motivation and curiosity to learn, knowledge of the learning opportunities available, access to these opportunities, and support to engage with them.

• Teachers can draw on the seven-step PD framework provided in this paper to guide their self-directed PD.

• Employers have an important role to play in ensuring teachers have the practical support they need to engage with opportunities for self-directed PD.

It’s a good paper. My sense is that Sarah and Chris’s intended audience, with their talk of ‘crafting’ the PD available to the teacher’s own needs, is one of teachers who are already reasonably confident and self-aware and just need a little extra encouragement. PDF of the paper below.

4. And, finally, here’s an LRB diary piece about teaching in the suburbs of Paris by Madeleine SchwartzTeaching in the Banlieue https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v44/n22/madeleine-schwartz/diary PDF below, just in case.

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Tuesday, 8th November (Richmond)

1. From a newspaper ‘down under’ – from a UK perspective, at least! – for a change, the Sydney Morning Herald: University students caught paying others to do their work at record levels https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/university-students-caught-paying-others-to-do-their-work-at-record-levels-20221025-p5bsrx.html

I wonder if ‘the war on cheating’ isn’t going to turn into something similar to ‘the war on drugs’ that will never be won without radical thinking?

2. More evidence, from the BBC, of the extensive (and expensive) impact of the pandemic on child development, Child speech delays increase following lockdowns https://www.bbc.com/news/education-63373804

“Covid restrictions affected some children’s development by limiting socialising and new experiences, which helps them learn new words.”

3. More good sense from Alexandra Mihai, You want your students back in the classroom? Give them a good reason! https://educationalist.substack.com/

‘Teacher presence’ and ‘peer presence’ are the two key assets she identifies.

4. And, finally, I came across The University of Oxford Style Guide https://www.ox.ac.uk/public-affairs/style-guide (PDFs below of whole thing and one-page version)

and this BBC Bitesize guide for Key Stage 3 students, How to punctuate quotations in an essay https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zr6bxyc/articles/zn2n8xs

while reminding myself how to punctuate direct speech. The former was fun but the latter more useful!

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Thursday, 3rd November (Cambridge)

An accidental focus on listening today.

1. I’ve never felt able to take out full membership of the Stephen Fry fan club, which says more about me than it does about him, I’m sure. Nonetheless, Cross prejudice notwithstanding, here’s the Babel lecture he gave earlier this year on language, ‘What we have here is a failure to communicate’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBI4Smdjvps

2. The T S Eliot Prize is the UK’s biggest poetry prize, and in the build-up to this year’s prize being awarded, interviews, readings and reading notes from all ten poets shortlisted are being posted on their website https://tseliot.com/prize/the-t-s-eliot-prize-2022/shortlist/

Videos of poets reading their poems can also be found on their YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiFYerr-EK6Xkys5kh6tZ1Q/videos

and here’s three poems by Victoria Adukwei Bulley that haven’t made it to the website just yet:

‘Dreaming is a Form of Knowledge Production’ https://youtu.be/WpVNkgYbbwk,

‘Whose Name Means Honey’ https://youtu.be/NlwpVhwq7kI

and – my favourite – ‘The Ultra-Black Fish’ https://youtu.be/1kxoG63OrVc

And here’s Victoria talking about her work https://youtu.be/J9mEbN5PHG4

3. Here’s ‘Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and the timely pleasures of reading’ from Andrew King of the University of Greenwich https://youtu.be/HiMW7ePJgj4

“This video,” says Andrew, “discusses Agatha Christie’s first major success The Murder of Roger Ackroyd through the methodology outlined elsewhere in  the Greenwich Detective Fiction series on YouTube. Rather than repeat the usual kinds of readings that are so easy to find elsewhere, I cover a lot of unexpected ground starting with how the novel and Christie’s work in general is locked into the business of making money (and before you get enraged, no, I’m not criticising her), to the relevance of opera (especially Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande)  and WW1 and changing conceptions of masculinity and femininity. Above all though, I’m concerned to explore how time works in reading this novel, and also  Agatha Christie’s own interest in how time might be conceived.”

Give Andrew’s ‘unexpected ground’ a go?

4. And, finally and athletically, a new podcast on leading Ukrainian football club Shakhtar Donetsk as they compete against the world’s best teams despite being unable to play at home in their own stadium. Here’s the trailer https://theathletic.com/podcast/281-away-from-home/ Not just for football fans!

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Tuesday, 1st November (Cambridge)

1. The Green English language teaching page on the Green Action ELT website is a very rich resource https://green-action-elt.uk/act-now/teach/#outdoor-elt

Scroll right down for a video on Green ELT for lower language levels from Carol Samlal https://youtu.be/J342v5JTUB0

Green Action ELT is the new name for ELT Footprint UK.

2. Eaquals and Clara Wildschütz are offering us a chance to practise our French at 10:00 UK time this Thursday, 3rd November: Du plaisir au Bonheur d’enseigner le français dans un contexte dynamisant et motivant! https://www.eaquals.org/eaquals-events/event/du-plaisir-au-bonheur-denseigner-le-francais-dans-un-contexte-dynamisant-et-motivant/ (That capital B ‘Bonheur’ is puzzling me a bit, though.)

You’ll find other Eaquals events – en Anglais! – here https://www.eaquals.org/eaquals-events/type/webinars-online/

Scroll down a little for more details on David Bish on Combining Video Enhanced Observation with a strong rubric framework for teacher and school development at 10:00 UK time next Monday, 8th November

and Dalia Ashraf on How to Maximize students’ Speaking Opportunities in Online Classes at 10:00 UK time the following Monday, 15th November.

3. The current crop of articles on The Conversation website is as wide-ranging as ever https://theconversation.com/uk

Try this one about the longevity of language learning https://theconversation.com/modern-language-gcses-continue-to-fall-in-popularity-but-new-research-shows-language-knowledge-will-last-you-a-lifetime-187820 (certainly true of my own French)

this one about Ouija boards https://theconversation.com/ouija-boards-three-factors-that-might-explain-why-they-appear-to-work-for-some-193059 (many spooky-sceptical evenings were spent this way at my boarding school)

or this one about Shakespeare and contemporary UK politics https://theconversation.com/four-of-shakespeares-plays-and-how-they-speak-to-the-current-political-situation-in-britain-193248 (Shakespeare comes out of the comparison better).

4. And, finally and agriculturally, a piece on maslins from Atlas Obscura https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/ancient-crop-future-farming-ethiopia – not something I’d ever heard of!

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