A Christmas wish list for English Language Teaching

Christmas blog post








I asked an assortment of teachers, teacher trainers, materials writers, methodology writers, bloggers, Directors of Studies, and school owners to make one Christmas wish for English Language Teaching, to be carried over into 2015. Here’s what they said:  


“My wish for 2015 is that a natural desire to measure every facet of language learning and its outcomes should be tempered by reminding ourselves that learning language is a deeply human activity; it is about communication and a good classroom should be a place of laughter and joy (as well as seriousness).”

Jeremy Harmer, lecturer, author


“My ELT New Year’s wish for 2015 is that the profession becomes more truly valued both by schools, who should recognize and reward the dedication and professionalism of their teachers, and by the big corporations who should recognize and reward the expertise and creativity of their authors and that in the rush to digital, the knowledge and experience of the last 50 years in ELT should be valued and not be lost in a return to audio-lingual behaviourist teaching methodology.”

Jill Hadfield, lecturer, author


“My Christmas wish is for constant dialogue and not inconsistent decisions to be what shapes education. For pupils to have a voice, for teachers to speak their intuitions, for parents to feel like they’re a more than spectators of the schooling system.”

Divya Madhavan, lecturer


“My wish for 2015 would be for more open dialogue within the ELT community, especially on topics such as EdTech and the future of publishing. I worry sometimes that too many of these important conversations happen where they can’t be seen or joined by the wider teaching community.”

Nick Robinson, author, editor, agent


“My Christmas ELT wish is for institutions to stop focussing so exclusively on standardised curricula and measurable outcomes, so teachers have more freedom and flexibility to allow for learning which may be difficult to measure or interpret. I wish we would stop overemphasising the value of technology in education and underemphasising the value of genuine human interaction in the classroom and beyond. Oh, and I’d also ask for most teachers to be paid a little bit more and to work a few hours less.”

Antonia Clare, author


“Happy Christmas to all those that way inclined and all the best for 2015. Here’s hoping we see a year in which grandstanding rhetorical whizzes cease denigrating the incredible work of many everyday teachers; we move back towards language teachers being involved in discussions about basics like . . . um . . . language and teaching . . . and the all-powerful PPP paradigm finally does the decent thing and slinks off to die in a cave somewhere.”

Hugh Dellar, teacher trainer, author


“My Christmas wish is about publishers. I’d like to see a more measured, thoughtful and sensible approach to edtech and the future of educational publishing than what we have seen so far.”

Lindsay Clandfield, teacher trainer, author


“My wish for 2015 is to have fewer ELT extremes and more moderate views that allow us to be more open-minded about the positive aspects of so many, methods, approaches, styles and even fads. I hope for a more inclusive and holistic view of teaching and learning, one where we can draw from whatever can enhance learning and make it even more effective!”
Vicky Saumell, coordinator, author


“My Christmas wish for the ELT profession as a whole would be for it to be thought of again more as a profession and less as an industry. I’d love to work on books again, rather than products, and work with people who have a passion for educating and a love of the English language, rather than a need to create a certain volume of a product to go into the marketplace.”

Diane Hall, author


“What I’d like for Christmas would be for the Gates Foundation to apologise for all the damage they have done to education, both in the US and worldwide, and to donate (to, say, AFT) an equivalent amount to what they have already spent in their mission to privatize and digitalize a fundamental human right.”

Philip Kerr, teacher trainer, author


“In 2015 I hope we’re brave enough to take a close, hard, honest look at some of the dogmas that remain relatively unchallenged in our profession, such as the principled use of translation in monolingual classes.”

Luiz Otávio Barros, teacher trainer, author


“I’m particularly interested in the application of technology in the English language classroom. In 2015, I’d like to see less emphasis on technology per se, and more emphasis on how to use it appropriately and effectively to help students learn. That means asking (and answering) the question ‘How does this help my students learn/acquire English?’, rather than ‘How can I use this cool tool with my students?’. It’s not about the technology, it’s about the teaching (and learning).”

Nicky Hockly, Director of Pedagogy, author


“I’d like more academic rigour in the ELT profession. With the digitalization of knowledge everything tends to get dumbed down and anybody can become an expert. As buzzwords, terms like ‘personalization’, ‘visual literacy’ and ‘critical thinking’ get simplified and co-opted by people and companies with different agendas – at best they become hollow and lose any meaning. It would be great to see more input which tackled topics from well-researched angles such as Philip Kerr’s blog on adaptive learning.”

Ben Goldstein, lecturer, author


“I would like all teachers not to be afraid or feel bad about making mistakes. We should also continue to develop professionally and learn constantly. No matter how many years we have been in the profession, we are always learning and that is the beauty of it!”

Vicky Loras, teacher, school owner


“In 2015, I’d like to see ELT publishers return to really listening to teachers instead of telling them what they think they need.”

Allen Ascher, author


“I would like 2015 to be the year when we start to cut back on the seemingly-endless list of ‘responsibilities’ that English teachers are supposed to have. It would be nice to get back to some good old teaching English. Also, perhaps it will be the year when Russ Mayne convinces the profession that it should turn its back on pseudoscience.”

Jamie Keddie, teacher trainer, author


“I’d like to see more creativity inside the classroom from students and teachers, and also classrooms that are more inclusive where students have the opportunity to learn, share, play and live the school environment happily. So, wishing you all a wonderful 2015.”

Priscila Mateini, teacher, teacher trainer


“Please, Santa, could you persuade one of the leading publishers to commission a book from an  author with charisma and a delightful, lucidly argued, crystal clear and witty writing style with a carefully market researched title whose sub-title would be something like: “Why obsession with “grammar” is detrimental to the effectiveness of the joint enterprise of consenting learners and facilitators (teachers)  of English as a foreign/second/other language to become enjoyably and motivatingly proficient in the language for whatever reasons they need it.”

Dennis Newson, teacher trainer


My thanks to all the contributors, and a merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all followers of this blog and clients of Reallyenglish. See you in 2015.


12 Comments on “A Christmas wish list for English Language Teaching”

  1. Nicola says:

    I’d wish for leading organisations like the British Council and IATEFL and other professional organisations to start standing for and acting towards better working conditions for teachers. They’ve sat on the fence for way too long and it’s obviously far too comfortable there.

    • JJ Wilson says:

      Amen to that, Nicola. Look at the countries that respect teachers and treat them well (e.g. Finland), and look at the results in their education systems. Of course it’s not a completely perfect correlation, but it’s not a coincidence either.

  2. Sergio Juan Gómez, teacher, coordinador, Cambridge speaking examiner says:

    My ELT New Year’s wish is that we teachers try to find ways for our learners to use English (or any other L2) regularly and naturally in their everyday lives, so that it truly becomes a communicative tool rather than a school subject.

    • JJ Wilson says:

      Thank you, Sergio. I agree with you 100%, but it’s not an easy goal to accomplish, especially in economically disadvantaged places where there’s less opportunity to interact with users of the second language. But it’s a good wish!

  3. My wish is that the EFL industry adopts a more equal approach to hiring teachers which will emphasise qualifications, experience and language proficiency rather than being a native speaker. I also hope that big organisations such as the BC or IATEFL get involved in advocating equal employment opportunities for nNESTs.

    • JJ Wilson says:

      Marek, thank you for your thoughtful contributions. I totally agree with everything you say here. It’s a really important issue and, judging from conference presentations and articles/blog posts, one that’s getting more and more attention. Merry Christmas to you.

  4. I hope that in the coming year we’ll see more and more schools moving away from the native speakers only hiring model towards one that gives equal opportunities to both nNESTs and NESTs, emphasising professionalism, experience and qualifications. As Nicola, I’d also wish for big EFL organisations such as the BC or IATEFL to get involved in advocating equal employment opportunities for nNESTs.

  5. My wish would be to find time to read more of those fantastic ressources out there!

  6. Jill says:

    Great blog post JJ

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