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What happened in 2008 (2)

December 31, 2008

Hello again,

The last day of the year once more. And the general air of gloom and doom is hard to escape. It occurred to me that the way the Internet allows people from all parts of the globe to connect with each other means that the suffering of regions, no matter...


...how remote from our own lives, comes up close and affects us in much more immediate ways. I have been watching videos on Youtube that make the plight of people trapped in Gaza all too plain. So, as I think about how our profession fared in 2008, my theme is very much “ this connected world.”

More than ever teachers have gone into areas that were once closed. China is the main example of this. A meeting of cultures between western teachers and Chinese students is sure to have repercussions for ELT. What new materials, techniques and tests will we need to cater for this gigantic market? Will Chinese students adopt more western styles of learning or will western teachers adopt more eastern styles of teaching? Undoubtedly this year’s Bejing Olympic Games brought China to the forefront of our minds and next year it will surely be an important player in ELT.

The Internet was once the preserve of web-savvy individuals but is now gradually being monopolised by big business. Major publishers and exam providers have consolidated their web presence with interactive sites and online learning possibilities that may even start to marginalise schools. I don’t know if any surveys have been done, but I wonder how many students have actually opted for online learning instead of attending a course in a classroom. And the same holds true for teachers. How many now offer classes online rather than face unknown risks overseas? These trends have certainly been noticeable over the past year.

Small schools are increasingly suffering the plight of the corner shop, as major companies with diverse interests buy up small concerns and offer a range of courses and learning experiences through their global networks.

Regulation and quality control have both become more important over the past year. Governments are anxious to make sure that those coming to study are genuine and not trying to enter for suspect reasons. Associations are now drawing in just about every school as course providers attempt to have some external validation of their credentials and agents, too, are joining associations that have codes of practice.

An end to 2008: a year that has seen more than of its share of natural disasters, human conflict and economic turmoil. Let’s hope 2009 is better. I wish all readers a very happy, peaceful and successful New Year.

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