2018 New Year Wishes for the ELT Profession

I asked a number of people involved in English Language Teaching all over the world to make a wish for the profession in 2018. Here are their responses:

I wish for less competition and more collaboration – in our ELT classrooms, in schools, and in the world around us. I wish for teachers who recognize the dangers of a single story and who challenge learners to be creative together – not just to shine as individuals. Margit Szesztay, President of IATEFL

I wish that education authorities and examining boards around the world would place much more emphasis on what learners can DO with language, and less on what learners know about language. Nick Bilbrough, teacher trainer, ELT author

I hope that 2018 will bring critical reflection and re-evaluation of the pedagogical impact of novelties that we have been offered in recent months and years. I’m thinking in particular, though not exclusively, about ed-tech, and more generally about the explosion of all sorts of attractive-looking activities and tools. My big wish is that we slow it down a tad, to give ourselves some space to think through the very need for novelty as a strategy to stay relevant for our learners, big and small. Grzegorz Śpiewak, teacher trainer, ELT author, Poland

I wish that ministries/authorities would: a) LISTEN to what teachers NEED to transform ELT into a joy and a challenge for everybody and b) To make a consistent and ongoing exciting programme for every teacher’s CPD [Continuing Professional Development], offering a decent budget and time off school for training. Susan Hillyard, teacher trainer, ELT author

My best wishes for a creative 2018 to all the amazing people out there involved with ELT. As we inhabit a world in which almost every aspect of our lives is mediated through technology, I hope that the new year will bring a greater degree of skepticism towards the “latest and greatest” technologies and a wider focus on pedagogically-sound, well-researched ways that these can be used in language learning. Sophia Mavridi, teacher trainer, EdTech lecturer

My ELT New Year’s wish is hypothetical. I wish teachers – the large majority of whom are overworked and underpaid – had smaller workloads. If they did, they could devote more time to reflecting on their teaching, to paying more attention to individual students, to reading, and to working on becoming the teacher they would like to be. However, I’m aware that most colleagues do their best to achieve these things anyway in spite of their heavy workloads. That’s why there are so many great teachers out there! Herbert Puchta, teacher trainer, ELT author, former President of IATEFL

I hope that 2018 will be the year in which we really embrace inclusion and diversity and understand that our differences are what make us the same. I’d like to see an industry free of inequality, harassment and bullying, where everyone’s voice is heard regardless of who they are. We all have an important role to play in shaping a better, brighter future for ELT. Varinder Lekh, teacher trainer, ELT author, Academic Director

My wish for 2018 is for more teachers to be supported to learn about Action Research and gain confidence to investigate their teacher intuitions by undertaking small-scale classroom-based research projects.  Empowering people to understand their classrooms and their own teaching in richer ways can be transformative and sometimes just the boost teachers need to revitalise their classrooms. Sophie O’Keefe, Professional Development Manager, ELT Australia

I would like to see less hype about all the apps and tech tools emerging on the market and more focus on the effective use of technology in and out of the classroom. Russell Stannard, teacher trainer, ELT author

I’d like to see the people who create teaching content – the writers, the editors who shape and craft it, and the designers who bring it to life and make it look appealing – being valued in the way they deserve. Sue Kay, ELT author

In 2018 I’d like teachers to take more control when preparing their lessons, not relying only on course books, however great they are. Be more unpredictable, creative, surprise themselves and their students. Feel the enthusiasm. Feel alive in the classroom. Jean Scibberas, Director of Studies and teacher trainer, Malta

I hope that in the New Year Emotional Intelligence is given some space in every classroom, allowing students and teachers to grow not only linguistically but also personally and socially. Borja Uruñuela, Head of Education, Seville, Spain

My wish is for language schools around the world to focus less on lessons being ‘teacher-’ or ‘student-’ centred and more on being ‘learning-centred’, with the classroom as the emotionally stimulating space where everyone is eager to be a positive contributor by sharing their expertise and experiences. In other words, a space where teachers and students come out from not just having ‘covered a page from the book’ but taking home something relevant to their lives that helps us grow as human beings. Rozz Vargas, teacher trainer, Lima, Peru

I’m very proud of the contribution that teachers, trainers, writers and others have made towards making ELT a proper, honest, well-trained profession. In 2018 I’d like to see school owners, employers, administrators and publishers show more respect for our professionalism. Changes would include fair fees, contracts and working conditions; acknowledgement of the huge contribution that non-NESTs make; and a higher profile for women in an inclusive profession. We would avoid market-focused textbook series with large author teams where no one can take ownership of the project, and where individual creativity is suppressed in favour of a rigid and depersonalized brief. Finally, we would avoid the atomisation of language into ‘testable’ chunks, which abandons the holistic and integrated methodology, the hallmark of ELT since the 1970s. Not much to ask, is it? After all, for the past fifty years we’ve given our respect to them. Happy New Year 2018! Simon Greenall, ELT author, former President of IATEFL

My ELT wish for 2018 is for teachers to be more rigorous when they create and share classroom materials online. Our students deserve good quality materials that don’t infringe any copyright laws. After all, we should be setting examples. Katherine Bilsborough, ELT author, Spain

In a city dominated by franchises, many of which adhere to dogmatic methods, I wish English teaching would become more learner based/differentiated. Bjarne Vonsild, teacher trainer, São Paulo, Brazil   

I desperately hope that publishers will realize that their digitisation strategy was not as clever as they thought. My experience has been that students prefer working with a printed book in which they can easily make annotations or highlight words and phrases. I have been told by many students that they have difficulties retaining information that they read on screen and therefore like to print out handouts or entire coursebooks. In addition, publishers tend to ignore the fact that many teachers have to teach in schools where there are no interactive whiteboards. So, please, give teachers a choice and keep publishing printed course materials! Petra Pointer, lecturer

ELT teachers, especially in Latin America, greatly benefit from tutorials given by authors. Teachers LOVE being in touch with authors, knowing what they look like, how they speak, and feeling that they (teachers) are important for those authors as the latter nourish their writing based on teachers’ feedback. It would be a hit to have sample lessons delivered by the author using the material. Teachers also appreciate hints on how to plan and assess their students, assign effective homework, manage trouble makers, and deal with disabled students to truly include them. Magda Madany, teacher trainer, U.S./Ecuador

Finally, after four enjoyable years, it’s goodbye from me as I end my participation in this blog. I hope you’ve found some useful information and ideas, whether you’re a teacher, teacher trainer, materials writer, or educational manager. Keep learning! JJ Wilson, teacher trainer, author