Climate Tuesday, 7th September

1. The latest Climate Action in Language Education newsletter is attached below, including details of the latest podcasts and this school video competition, in partnership with Digital Learning Associates (DLA) https://www.britishcouncil.org/climate-connection/get-involved/action-language-education/school-video-competition

And just in case you’ve forgotten, you can now find all the DLA Ready to Run videos on the NILE website https://digitallearningassociates.com/ready-to-run-schools-nile

2. ‘A Planet in Crisis: Ideas for Action’ was one of the themes at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/themes/a-planet-in-crisis-ideas-for-action?page=1

Try ‘Dreaming Big on Climate’ with Mya-Rose Craig where she talks about her new book We Have a Dream, which is a conversation with thirty young environmental campaigners from around the world https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/dreaming-big-on-climate-with-mya-rose-craig

3. Dave Reay’s job title at Edinburgh University is Professor of Carbon Management & Education. Here’s two of his talks:

a clear, short introduction to how we can mitigate climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions  https://youtu.be/AXC5vjV1YCc

and a longer lecture on why we need global agriculture to be ‘climate-smart’ to feed our ever-growing population https://youtu.be/s_YvrSkESe0

4. The Conversation has a rich collection of articles on the environment https://theconversation.com/uk/environment Here’s two recent ones:

one on the lingering of lead in our environment https://theconversation.com/leaded-petrol-is-gone-but-lead-pollution-may-linger-for-a-very-long-time-167214

and a second on the need to ensure that electric cars are introduced in a fair way, without disadvantaging those who can’t afford them https://theconversation.com/charging-ahead-how-to-make-sure-the-electric-vehicle-transition-is-sustainable-and-just-166685

5. And, finally and less climatically, at 12:00 UK time on 9th September you can join the first talk in NESTA’s ‘Transforming the Education Conversation’ series on Using motivational thinking to change how we nurture young minds with Sharath Jeevan, the founder of STIR Education https://www.nesta.org.uk/event/nesta-talks-to-sharath-jeevan/ Here’s the STIR Education site, too https://stireducation.org/

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Monday, 6th September

1. A full programme from Pearson over the next few weeks, outlined in this blog post, Back to School: What to expect in the coming weeks https://www.english.com/blog/back-to-school-2021/

Week 1 activities include a ‘back to school worksheet’ https://www.english.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Worksheet_A4-BrE.pdf to help teachers and their new classes get to know each other better. PDF below.

2. I didn’t know we had a Student Futures Commission in the UK https://upp-foundation.org/student-futures-commission/ Its Chair, Mary Curnock Cook, has just written this piece for the WONKHE blog on post-Covid 19 priorities for supporting student success https://wonkhe.com/blogs/students-need-universities-to-prioritise-inclusion-and-academic-confidence-in-the-years-ahead/

She highlights one comment by Geoff Layer, chair of the Disabled Students’ Commission https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/promoting-equal-opportunities/disabled-students-commission/ who noted that disabled students felt that the things they had been asking for over many years, but were told they couldn’t have, had been delivered in days and weeks when the pandemic hit

and another by Mhairi Underwood from The Student Room https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/ who had heard students identifying as being from the “cohort with the fake grades” (as a result of the cancellation of school exams).

3. I checked with colleagues in South East Asia earlier today if this piece on Forgetting My First Language from the New Yorker could be read without a subscription, and they said yes, so here goes: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/personal-history/forgetting-my-first-language PDF below, as it seems (surprisingly?) to be free access.

4. And, finally and much less light-heartedly than is often the case, here’s the Swedish PEN special issue on Hate Speech https://www.penopp.org/all-themes/hatespeech

and here’s the one on Linguistic Rights https://www.penopp.org/all-themes/linguistic-rights, both a mixture of short and long pieces and poems.

‘What is really a mother tongue?’ asks Carlos Torner in this piece https://www.penopp.org/articles/mother-tongue-babel?language_content_entity=en

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Friday, 3rd September

1. Issue 57 of the European Language Gazette came out today: https://www.ecml.at/News/Newsletter/Gazette57/tabid/4427/language/en-GB/Default.aspx

Lara’s Language Journey across Europe booklet https://edl.ecml.at/Activities/languagejourney/tabid/3223/Default.aspx

Languages Tree https://edl.ecml.at/Portals/33/documents/language-journey/pdf/language-tree-EN.pdf

Language sounds https://edl.ecml.at/Activities/languagejourney/Sounds/tabid/3224/Default.aspx Includes numbers from 1 to 10 in 46 different languages (if I counted right).

You can’t hold it against the European Centre for Modern Languages that they’re Euro-centred, I think. Might these examples from Europe translate into similar exercises in other parts of the world?

PDFs of the booklet and the tree below.

2. Teacher Tapp this week covers the controversial topics of which kind of marker pen, the bullet tip or the chisel tip, is most popular and which timetable layout, days across the top or lessons across the top, works best https://teachertapp.co.uk/start-of-term-2021/

3. The Noirwich – there’s a pun there, it’s not my spelling – festival of crime writing starts next Thursday, 9th September https://noirwich.co.uk/the-line-up/

Lots of free events, including David Peace talking about Murder in Tokyo at 19:00 UK time on Saturday, 11th September.

4. And, finally, follow the links on this page through to a short story or poem or extract from each of the 11 Asian women writers listed https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/article/11-translated-books-by-asian-women-writers-to-read-this-witmonth

Some good stuff – try the two Korean writers, Kyung-sook Shin and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim.

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(Largely) Multilingual Thursday, 2nd September

1. First today, “Rejecting abyssal thinking in the language and education of racialized bilinguals: A manifesto”. Trenchant, thought-provoking stuff from Li Wei and colleagues that aims to “challenge prevailing assumptions about language, bilingualism, and education that are based on raciolinguistic ideologies with roots in colonialism” https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15427587.2021.1935957 When you get chance, give this serious piece the time it deserves.

2. Good notice of the launch of The Invention of Multilingualism by David Gramling on Monday, September 20th at 17:00 UK time; David will be ‘in conversation’ with Claire Kramsch and Zhu Hua.

Registration here https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/5716297143381/WN_bjzB0q7HQl6ll08f0IB4IQ

and more info on the book and the series it’s part of here https://www.cambridge.org/core/series/key-topics-in-applied-linguistics/26B8BA9543A4AFC67B5195C07502B3C0

3. Courtesy of my colleague Ann, three pieces by and about Riz Ahmed:

first, his film The Long Goodbye https://youtu.be/Lzz50xENH4g Compelling watching and, be warned, violent in parts;

second, a piece discussing the translanguaging and code switching in The Long Goodbye from the Creative Multilingualism website https://www.creativeml.ox.ac.uk/blog/exploring-multilingualism/we-code-switch-riz-ahmed/index.html

third, a review of the stage version of The Long Goodbye, to give you a sense of the themes to do with British Asian identity that Ahmed explores https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2021/feb/07/riz-ahmed-the-long-goodbye-livestream-review-mif-manchester-international-festival

4. And, finally and funkily, Franc Moody https://youtu.be/ey7IbZslpZI

Other musicians are available, here https://music.britishcouncil.org/selector-radio/selector-sessions

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Wednesday, 1st September

A social-emotional focus of sorts to today’s message …

1. The international launch of a new report, Beyond Academic Learning, based on the OECD’s survey on Social and Emotional Skills, takes place at 15:00 UK time on Tuesday 7th September. More info and registration here https://msftedumarketing.eventbuilder.com/event/48213 and a flyer on the survey below

2. Here’s nine social and emotional learning tips from eSchool News, including ‘thresholding’ and ‘brain breaks’ https://www.eschoolnews.com/2021/08/23/9-social-emotional-learning-tips-to-take-into-this-school-year/

3. We all know that our capacity for friendship is limited to 150 people, don’t we? Robin Dunbar has just published a new book explaining why.

Here’s The Guardian’s review https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/feb/21/friends-by-robin-dunbar-review-how-important-are-your-pals

here’s a video of an interview with him explaining his ideas https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/mar/14/my-bright-idea-robin-dunbar

and here (below) is a graphic that I think might work quite well in the classroom

4. The Hay Festival in Queretaro, Mexico started yesterday – sorry!

Full programme here, a mixture of Spanish and English and almost invariably translated https://www.hayfestival.com/queretaro/inicio

Check the timings!

5. I’m not at all sure that this week’s phobia qualifies as a phobia, if you take the (fairly typical) definition from the Cambridge English Dictionary: an extreme fear or dislike of a particular thing or situation, especially one that is not reasonable https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/phobia What’s irrational or unreasonable about taphophobia?

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Friday, 13th August

This is my last message till Tuesday 31st August: these next two weeks, I’ll be helping my father publish his first novel!

1. An interesting account in The Conversation from Christopher Smith of St Andrew’s University of how humankind has responded to previous plagues and pandemics through history, Plagues and classical history – what the humanities will tell us about COVID in years to come https://theconversation.com/plagues-and-classical-history-what-the-humanities-will-tell-us-about-covid-in-years-to-come-165848

In fifth century Athens, for example, “some Athenians were dutiful in caring for others, which usually led to death, but many simply gave up, or they ignored family or the dead, or they chased pleasure of every kind in what time was left to them”.

2. More on plagues: a review by Dwight Garner for the New York Times of three books about disease https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/02/books/review-year-of-plagues-fred-daguiar-life-like-yours-jan-grue-blind-mans-bluff-james-tate-hill.html “As a genre, disease and illness memoirs are permanently interesting if honest and sharply observed. The writer is dealt a joker from the pack. It’s an excuse to open a life for examination, now with a flame-burst of urgency.” (Hope this link works; you may need to register.)

3. It was Fred D’Aguiar’s name that caught my eye. His book, Year of Plagues, is being launched by Carcanet Press next Wednesday, 18th August, at 19:00 UK time. Strictly speaking, ineligible for this message as it costs £2 to join; more info and registration here https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ChKaz30zRI6wJXNW3SbAZQ

Here’s an ever-so-slightly out-of-date page on Fred from our Literature Department https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/fred-daguiar with a free poem, Stone and Shell, at the end: I used a stone to pound a shell.// I pounded it to smithereens // Then ground it into dust. // Now the shell is hushed, // I weigh the stone against the dust.

4. And, finally, this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival opens tomorrow https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/ Still plenty of time to book – all free – and lots of good stuff for children that your students (or your children!) might enjoy, too.

This one with Jeffrey Boakye, available from tomorrow, looks good https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/jeffrey-boakye-music-is-power-music-is-life-15912

as does this one with Jenny Erpenbeck at 10:15 tomorrow https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/jenny-erpenbeck-freedom-came-at-a-price

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Multilingual Thursday, 12th August

Four different free online courses and websites from seven different universities today exploring multilingualism

1. First up, Glasgow University with Multilingual Learning for a Globalised World, a MOOC that explores “multilingual education and how it can impact and improve education and even wider society” https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/multilingual Four hours a week for three weeks, this one.

2. South to The Netherlands next, for the University of Groningen’s Multilingual Practices: Tackling Challenges and Creating Opportunities, which covers the “central aspects of multilingualism in today’s globalised societies, such as cognition, policies and education” https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/multilingual-practices This one’s three hours a week for four weeks!

3. The motto of this ‘e-course’ on Multilingual education, put together by a team from universities in Tartu (Estonia), Freiburg (Germany), Bolzano (Italy) and Primorska (Slovenia), is the Bulgarian proverb, “The more languages you speak, the more human you are” https://sisu.ut.ee/multilingual/avaleht Let me know if you know of a similar proverb in another language, please! This one’s a seven-week course.

Here’s the introductory video https://sisu.ut.ee/?jwsource=cl (You might need to turn up the volume on your device; it was a bit quiet on my laptop.)

4. The Lost Wor(l)ds website from Sheffield University, which aims “to normalise multilingualism and embed it in formal education systems, through a focus on nature and sustainability”, is (in its own accurate description) “a website full of activities and ideas to help encourage and facilitate multilingualism” https://www.multilingualism-in-schools.net/

Here’s a description of the project https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/education/research/early-childhood/lost-worlds-language-heritage-and-forgetting

5. And, finally, while you’re in the Lost Wor(l)ds website, take a look at the Schools for Sanctuary website with which it is closely associated https://schools.cityofsanctuary.org/

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Wednesday 11th August

Yesterday was planned to be the inaugural ‘Climate Tuesday’, but my broadband problems put paid to that, so here’s a one-off ‘Climate Wednesday’ instead.

1. Here’s a good, accessible summary piece on the recent 3,900-page-long (!) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report https://theconversation.com/this-is-the-most-sobering-report-card-yet-on-climate-change-and-earths-future-heres-what-you-need-to-know-165395

“Sadly,” says the article, “there is hardly any good news in the 3,900 pages of text released today. But there is still time to avert the worst damage if humanity chooses to.”

2. And here’s some suggestions for reducing plastic pollution https://somewang.com/15-ways-to-reduce-plastic-pollution/ Are they maybe too focussed on more developed economies, I wonder? Draw up a more appropriate list for your own context with your students?

3. Here’s ELT Footprint’s ideas for Practical ways of including sustainability in your language classroom https://youtu.be/ispWGr_VfFQ Their focus is on the UK, but their ideas travel quite well, I think https://eltfootprint.uk/

4. This week’s related phobia? Heliophobia!

5. And, finally, maybe not quite the greatest rally ever in the history of table tennis – but close! https://youtu.be/1dyQGoVLI8k Not convinced? How about this one? https://youtu.be/HO8HGx4So_E

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Monday, 9th August

1. A good blog post from Tim Oates of (what is now called) Cambridge University Publishing and Assessment, drawing together a number of current issues in education: Here’s how to solve the ‘hyper problem’ of interrupted learning  https://www.cambridge.org/news-and-insights/blogs/outline-principles-for-the-future-of-education

Several good links in Tim’s piece, including this one Are the best teachers the ones with fewest gimmicks? from Lauran Hampshire-Dell https://www.tes.com/news/are-best-teachers-ones-fewest-gimmicks-teaching-learning-schools

2. Tim makes no reference to the learning of Latin, however, about which there’s been something of a storm in a teacup here in UK recently. Here’s two pieces on the topic, one neutral, sort of https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/latin-state-schools-england-williamson-b1894202.html 

and the other strongly against https://ie-today.co.uk/news/plan-to-teach-latin-in-state-schools-utterly-misconceived-says-former-head/

Is Latin still learnt in schools anywhere else apart from the UK, I wonder? Italy, I guess!

3. Last year’s was cancelled because of Covid, but this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival has just begun. It’s a blend of ‘real’ and virtual audiences and events, and there’s a fair bit that’s free to watch online. Have a rummage around on their site! https://tickets.edfringe.com/

4. And, finally, a video of Cryptic’s sound installation last month on the beach at Irvine on the west coast of Scotland https://vimeo.com/581232471

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Friday, 6th August

1. This month’s Humanising Language Teaching (HLT) has a clear geographical focus on Germany https://www.hltmag.co.uk/aug21/ Betsy Hollweck’s piece on Teaching English through Food appealed to non-mageirocophobic me! https://www.hltmag.co.uk/aug21/teaching-english-through-food

2.  I mentioned Teacher Tapp a while ago. Here’s this month’s data and analysis https://teachertapp.co.uk/how-supported-do-teachers-feel/

They were looking at two issues: i) How supported do you (teachers) feel by your school senior leadership team? ii) Teacher Introspection. I thought the second more interesting.

3. “Time for a home-grown English language test, Indian agents say” https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/time-home-grown-english-language-test-indian-agents-say China next? You may need to register to access this piece.

4. And, finally, how do you establish yourself as an online authority in coffee machines like James Hoffmann and make lots of money from that authority? I clearly missed a trick! https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/jul/31/oslo-pram-guy-teenage-vacuum-expert-niche-online-reviewers

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