“The question is,” says George, “is writing the pathway for you?”
3. I did my first f2f training session (for many years!) earlier today for NILE in Norwich with a group of French teacher educators, a comparative look at the Eaquals, Cambridge and British Council frameworks for teacher and teacher educator professional development. I put together a handout with the key links and I’ve attached it below. Some similarities; some differences!
1. NATESOL’s next free webinar is this Saturday, 9th July at 10:00 UK time with Marijana Macis from Manchester Metropolitan University: Teaching Collocations in the EFL Classroom: New Insights from Research. How are collocations best taught?
2. Also on Saturday, at 15:00 UK time, Gamification and Language Learning is the title of Deborah Healey’s Facebook Live event for Eduling International. What are the important considerations when games are used in the classroom?
3. The next Eaquals webinar is next Tuesday, 12th July at 10:00 UK time: Sue Hackett will be talking about Academic Integrity: issues, challenges and considerations for an online world. What is academic integrity and what does it mean for an international student in particular?
1. Here’s a piece from Nature Neuroscience with no fewer than 24 credited authors, Shared computational principles for language processing in humans and deep language models (DLMs)https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-022-01026-4.pdf Worth persevering with: not as difficult a read as it might seem at first sight.
“DLMs learn language from real-world textual examples ‘in the wild’, with minimal or no explicit prior knowledge about language structure. Autoregressive DLMs do not parse words into parts of speech or apply explicit syntactic transformations. Rather, they learn to encode a sequence of words into a numerical vector, termed a contextual embedding, from which the model decodes the next word. After learning, the next-word prediction principle allows the generation of well-formed, novel, context-aware texts.” Much the same as we do, apparently! PDF below.
More than 10,000 undergraduate students took part in the survey reported on in the article, and on average each of them was asked to complete nearly seven summative assessments and four formative assessments each term. Seems a lot to me! Not sure whether ‘formative’ isn’t being used a bit loosely here, to mean assessment that doesn’t count towards one’s degree?
THE is also one of those publications that lets you sign up for free for a limited number of articles each month.
It includes a piece by Lionel Billows, Educational Aims in Language Teaching, which confidently proclaims that “(…) children, when they learned their first language, were helped by their isolation to an overpowering urge to communicate, and by the effervescence of their high spirits to utter sounds – if not words. This can be made use of in the learning of a new language by reproducing artificially the sense of isolation, in that no word of their first language is used in the classroom (my emphasis). Only in this way can they get the practice they need in learning not to feel bewildered in strange surroundings, to feel their way into a strange language.” We’ve come very nearly full circle since then in our attitude to the use of pupils’ first language(s) in the classroom! Might be fun with a cup of coffee over the weekend? PDF below.
“We found that monitored employees were substantially more likely to take unapproved breaks, disregard instructions, damage workplace property, steal office equipment, and purposefully work at a slow pace, among other rule-breaking behaviours.”
Might this legitimately be extrapolated to schools and universities, I wonder?
The last sentence, from the UK universities minister, is the real killer: “Courses that do not lead students on to work or further study fail both the students who pour their time and effort in, and the taxpayer, who picks up a substantial portion of the cost.”
This message today will be my last message as a British Council employee. I started work as an English language ‘lector’ at Zagreb University in what was then Yugoslavia in September 1979, and along the way I’ve worked and lived in Baghdad, Berlin, Bucharest, Edinburgh, London, Munich, Stockholm, and Zagreb (for a second time) and visited fifty-eight – I counted them up just now! – other countries. I’ve loved nearly every minute, as have my wife and children, who’ve put up uncomplainingly with playing second fiddle to the British Council through much of those forty-three years. I promise to reform in retirement! I’ve had occasion to say to many people this week that I’m retiring, not dying, and I hope and expect to be in touch with many of you in the years to come. From next week, I’ll be doing messages twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, unless there’s something I can’t wait to share.
1. Plenty to explore over the weekend here, including an update on the fourteen predictions that David Graddol made about the future of the English language in English Next in 2006: Future of English: what’s the future of the world’s most spoken language?https://www.britishcouncil.org/future-of-english
PDF of English Next below in case you missed it at the time!
1. Short notice – the deadline is 16:00 UK time tomorrow, Thursday 23rd June – but that doesn’t always affect the quality of an application in my experience: IATEFL offer a host of scholarships – no fewer than 28 – for their annual conference, which next year is in God’s Own County, Yorkshire, in Harrogate https://www.iatefl.org/get-involved/scholarships
Give it a go, if you see this in time. You will need to create a free IATEFL account if you don’t already have one.
4. This week’s phobia, koumpounophobia, is “a relatively rare condition”, which is slightly surprising given the frequency of most people’s exposure to the object that provokes the phobia.
5. And, finally, I mentioned my forthcoming retirement to a friend earlier today and he replied, “Well jel” – which I had to look up, not being quite as streetwise and ‘with it’ as my friend – who will now reply, I’m sure, to say that no-one says ‘with it’ anymore! https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Well%20jel