Jose Carillo's Forum


The Forum makes a weekly roundup of interesting news from all over the world about the English language and related subjects. To read the news from a particular country, simply click the indicated country link. To go out of that country’s news section, simply click the country link again and choose another country link.


Language issues to be tackled in Sept. 15-17 Manila conference

MANILA, September 8, 2011—The Conference on Language Teaching: Issues and Concerns, set on Sept. 15 -17, at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, will answer many questions and issues that pertain to the English language.

The three-day event, convened by Primetrade Asia, Inc. and the UP-Department of English and Comparative Literature (UP-DECL), will touch various topics about language, English language proficiency, and Philippine English.

More than 30 distinguished speakers will share their knowledge about language, led by National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, to talk about Language in Literature on Sept. 15. Other speakers on Sept 15 include: Dr. Jonathan Malicsi on “English Language Proficiency”; Prof. Frances Jane P. Abao on “Teaching Gothic and Fantasy Literature”; Dr. Ricardo Nolasco on “MTB-MLE Issues”; Dr. Ruth Pison on “Scholarship gone Haywire”; Dr. Danilo Dayag on “Philippine English”; Dr. Maria Rhodora Ancheta on “Make ‘Em Laugh: Teaching American Comic Texts in the Filipino Classroom” ; Dr. Ma. Milagros C. Laurel on “Stylistics”; Dr. Naida Rivera on “Irony in Selected English Poems”; Prof. Rosella Torrecampo on “Blended Learning in Language, Literature and Literacy Content Areas: Experiences and Insights from the Field” and Dr. Emil Flores on “Appreciating the Graphic Novel”.

On Sept. 16, speakers are Julian Warden on “Graded Readers”; Dr. Lourdes Tayao on “Testing and Measurement”; Dr. Araceli C. Hidalgo on “Global Skills in Learning and Acts of Conversation in the Teaching of English”; Dr. Cesar Hidalgo on “The Exciting World of Idioms and Metaphors in Learning English”; Dr. Felipe Jocano Jr. on “Varieties of English”; Dr. Ma. Antoinette C. Montealegre on “Differentiated Instruction”; Dr. Aileen Salonga on “Varieties of English”; Prof. Portia Padilla on “To Speak Or Not To Speak: Listening To The Ground, Where Schools And Teachers Wobbly Stand” ; Dr. Carmencita Abayan on ‘’Prepping For Theme Writing; Dr. Adelaida F. Lucero on “Beyond the 17 Morae of the Haiku”; Dr. Rosalina B. Cruz on “Sentence Sense in Language and Song” and Prof. Alexander C. Maximo on “English for the Professions”.

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2 Philippine universities vow higher academic standards

MANILA, September 7, 2011—Two Philippine universities on Wednesday vowed to push for higher academic standards while maintaining good practices already in place in their schools as world university rankings showed a slump in Philippine standings this year.

The Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University, both private institutions, also noted the importance of international rankings in giving schools indicators on which to improve.
London-based research and ratings firm Quacquarelli (QS) on Monday released its 2011/2012 index of top-rank universities, with four Philippine universities rated outside the 300 world’s best and faring worse than they did last year: the University of the Philippines (332), Ateneo de Manila University (360), De La Salle University (551-600 bracket) and the University of Santo Tomas (601+ bracket).

“As we have mentioned in past years, rankings are important because they provide an external perspective,” said John Paul Vergara, Loyola Schools vice president.

In a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Vergara said the Ateneo would boost its research out and internationalization (student exchange), which make up QS criteria in assessing the world’s universities.

He noted that Philippine universities, in general, rate poorly in terms of research citations as the total papers and citations number “in the hundreds” while top-rated foreign universities have an annual research and citation output “in the several thousands.”

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US-based Filipino nurse bags 3 prizes in Palanca Awards
September 3, 2011—A California-based Filipino orthopedic nurse emerged as the big winner at this year’s Palanca Awards, garnering three prizes in different categories in rites held at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City (Metro Manila) on Thursday night.

The thrice-blessed winner, 42-year-old Peter Solis Nery—who came to the ceremony wearing a fedora and all-white suit—clinched first prize for his Hiligaynon short story “Donato Bugtot.”

He also earned second prize in two other categories: poetry for children for his collection “The Shape of Happiness” and English full-length play for “If the Shoe Fits” (or, “The Five Men Imelda Marcos Meets in Heaven”).

The Iloilo province-born Nery, who first won in the prestigious literary competition in 1998, is poised for induction into the Palanca Hall of Fame, an honor that a creative writer can earn once he or she scores five first-place wins.

Before winning for “Donato Bugtot,” the nurse previously garnered first prize for his Hiligaynon short stories “Lirio” (1998) and “Candido” (2007), as well as his English full-length play “The Passion of Jovita Fuentes” (2008).

Twenty-two writers have been elevated to the Hall of Fame, including The Manila Times College president Dr. Isagani R. Cruz.

Other major winners on Thursday were playwright Joshua Lim So, who earned first prize for his English full-length play “A Return Home” and third prize for his Filipino full-length play “Panahon ng Sampung Libong Ilong” (A Season of Ten Thousand Noses); Ateneo de Manila University professor Allan Derain for his Filipino novel Ang Banal na Aklat ng mga Kumag (The Holy Book of Lazy Idiots) and US-based Marivi Soliven for her English novel In the Service of Secrets.

Highlights of the awarding ceremony include a staging of Remi Velasco’s winning one-act play Ondoy, a comedy about a married couple bickering on a rooftop at the height of the devastating September 26, 2009 tropical storm; and the presence of National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José, who graced the event as guest of honor.

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Bishop favors use of ‘jejemon’ language in fight vs RH bill
MANILA, August 31, 2011 (GMA News)—The incoming vice president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is open to the use of the “jejemon” language in order to get the support of the Filipino youth in their fight against the Reproductive Health bill now pending in Congress.

“The real battle is in the minds and hearts of our youth," said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who, along with other officials of the CBCP, will assume their positions on December 1, in a statement released on Wednesday.

He said the youth, which are “like parched dry sponge[s]," are “being misled by wrong teachings.”

“In their thirst, they absorb all and retain them regardless of the purity of source. I pity our youth,” he said as he rallied the Catholic Church to “join the arena of public opinion” by using “new methods and approaches and even jejemon vocabulary to make the message of God convincing.”

Jejemon is a language used by many young Filipinos, usually used in texting and on the Internet, where they subvert the English language to the point of incomprehensibility.

The Church opposes the passage of the RH bill, which is among the priority legislation of the Aquino administration, as it supposedly espouses artificial family planning methods. The Church only favors natural methods.

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Angara pushes for upgrades in standards for teacher education

MANILA, August 30, 2011 (PNA)—Senator Edgardo Angara pushes for the review and reevaluation of the standards for teacher education in the country following a dismal results of Licensure Examination for Teacher this year.

“Every year, we produce tens of thousands of teachers in schools all over the country. However, the education and training they get are not up to standard,” said Angara in a recent forum held at the Philippine Normal University.

In the April 2011 Licensure Examination for Teachers, only around 13,000 out of the 62,000 examinees passed, or about one in five. “This is dismal average—a pitiful waste of human capital,” said Angara.

He then underscored the importance of educators in nation development.

“The task of overhauling the Philippine educational system falls on you — educators who mold the minds and hearts of the youth. In order to improve the performance of our students and graduates, we must first focus on upgrading the training of our teachers,” he said.

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Filipino-Americans in US, fired for speaking Tagalog at work, win lawsuit
By Nimfa U. Rueda, Philippine Daily Inquirer

LOS ANGELES, August 21, 2011—Four Filipino-American health workers, who were fired for speaking Tagalog in the workplace, have won the discrimination lawsuit they filed against the Bon Secours Health System, a hospital based in Baltimore, Maryland.

The ruling was “a big win for diversity and an important victory for Filipinos in America,” said the health workers lawyer, Arnedo Valera, coexecutive director of the Washington DC-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC).

This is because aside from the fact that the ruling benefits all bilingual and multilingual immigrants, it is also the first time the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) came up with a ruling specific to the Filipino language, he said.

“I feel relieved, happy and thankful,” said Jazziel Granada, a 30-year-old health unit coordinator who was two months pregnant when she and nurses Corina Yap, Ana Rosales and Hachelle Natano were dismissed for violating the hospital’s “English-only” policy in its emergency department last year.

In a ruling dated August 16, EEOC Director Gerald Kiel said he found reasonable cause that the health workers were subjected to “unequal terms and conditions of employment, a hostile work environment, disciplinary action and discharge because of their national origin in violation of Title VII (of the Civil Rights Act of 1964).”

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Romance rules Philippine literary charts

MANILA, August 23, 2011 (AFP)—In the fantasy world created by Philippine publishing giant Precious Hearts Romances, the men are rich, sexual promiscuity and homosexuals are taboo, and the story always ends happily after 128 pages.

The ultra-cheap local versions of Mills and Boon novels are the country’s most popular books, making their authors champions of conservative Christian values and unlikely heroes in the battle to improve literacy among the poor.

“Some people say it’s trash, but at least they (the poor) read,” said Segundo Matias, the boss of Precious Hearts, which churns out 50 titles monthly to dominate a genre that has a readership estimated in the millions.

Priced at P37 and written in street-level Tagalog, the books emerged in the early 1980s when an economic crisis forced the importers of western “chick literature” paperbacks to seek out alternatives.

Matias told Agence France-Presse from his Manila print shop that the local versions turned out to be far more popular, partly because they were faster-paced.

“Filipinos don’t like boring stuff. They want stories that move very fast,” the 48-year-old former film script writer said.

Matias said another important factor was that the novels’ morality codes reflected values embraced by many in the Philippines, Asia’s Roman Catholic outpost where divorce, abortion, and same-sex marriages remain illegal.

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Partylist representative wants probe of schools penalizing use of Tagalog

QUEZON CITY, August 19, 2011—Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino has filed a resolution seeking an investigation of schools allegedly penalizing students who speak in Tagalog and other local dialects.

Palatino recently filed House Resolution no. 1567 and stated: “We understand the importance of English in today’s world. But our country’s attempt to integrate in this globalized community of English tongues should not be done at the expense of our vernaculars.”

“Penalizing students for speaking their native language in schools is a crime to our culture and it should be stopped,” he said.

Palatino expressed dismay on the “misdirected valorization” of the English language that has repressed the use of some 150 native dialects in the country.

He cited the prevalent practice in schools wherein students who are caught speaking in Tagalog or another local dialect are penalized in the form of monetary fines and demerits.

“This colonial attitude towards English language affects the learning process and self-appreciation of students, most of whom begin their early development with the use of their mother tongue,” said Palatino.

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BPO summit to review Philippine expansion into non-voice services
By Anna Valmero,

QUEZON CITY, August 11, 2011—The third International Outsourcing Summit will review the industry focus on strengthening non-voice business process outsourcing (BPO) services, which is expected to outgrow voice-based services.

While traditional voice-based BPO will contribute substantially to that growth, non-voice and more complex services will drive growth for the industry, said Raymond Lacdao, industry affairs executive director of Business Processing Association of the Philippines (B/PAP), the event's organizer.

“We anticipate growth in non-voice, complex BPO services of 20 to 25 percent over the next five years,” Lacdao said.

Voice-based services, on the other hand, will grow at a rate of 15 to 20 percent, given that it is already a mature sector of the outsourcing market.

“Last year, the Philippines became the global leader in voice BPO. But we are rapidly transitioning to non-voice, complex services delivery. The Philippines has a very high capability in this area, including emerging complex services,” said Lacdao.

B/PAP forecast in the IT-BPO Roadmap 2016 an annual growth of up to 20 percent over the next five years for the market, generating 1.3 million direct jobs, 3.2 million indirect jobs, and $25 billion in revenues.

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House probe sought on penalties vs native-speaking students
MANILA, August 9, 2011—As the country celebrates “Buwan ng Wika” this month, a youth solon has filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the penalties imposed by some school on students who speak in Filipino and other native languages.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond “Mong" Palatino on Tuesday filed House Resolution no. 1567 seeking an investigation into the modes employed by schools to promote the use of English by penalizing students for speaking in Filipino and Philippine dialects.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Palatino noted the practice in many schools where students are fined or given demerits for using their mother tongue even during extra-curricular conversations.

He said this “colonial attitude" towards English language affects the learning process and self-appreciation of students.

“Language is not just a means for communication; it is likewise a double-edged weapon used for repression and emancipation. I am afraid that with the current English teaching practices in our schools, we are unwittingly reinforcing the colonial setup that treats our local cultures as inferior to that of the West," Palatino said.

“There is no doubt that we should teach English in our schools, just like we should other foreign languages. But we should do so in a manner that does not trample on our native languages and the learning development of our students. The high functional illiteracy among our people, where language plays a crucial role, is enough for us to rethink our teaching methods with regard to English," he added.

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Filipino seamen’s hero is a girl

MANILA, August 7, 2011—Filipino seafarers are the most in demand in the world, accounting for 30 percent of about 1.2 million seamen abroad—from cruise liners to oil rigs. Dubbed “crewing capital of the world,” the Philippines has emerged as the world’s biggest supplier of international ship crew.

International manning principals have called Filipino seamen their “preferred choice” because of their outstanding qualities: Technical knowledge, flexibility, reliability, trustworthiness, hard work, and their command of the English language.

During the first quarter of 2011 seafarers have contributed $627.3 million to Philippine coffers. Last year, they brought $3.8 billion in remittances.

With a growing global requirement projected to grow at 50 percent in the next 10 years, and an aging international pool to boot, career prospects for Filipino maritime professionals are certainly bright.

With a lucrative seafaring industry it has then become imperative for maritime professionals to unite to protect their social, legal, moral rights both on the domestic and international fronts.

For 50 years, the late master mariner Gregorio S. Oca fought for seafarers’ protection through the Associated Marine Officers’ Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), which he established in 1960.

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United Kingdom

Students “preparing to flock to cheaper foreign universities”
By Graeme Paton,

British universities face losing thousands of students to cheaper English language courses at top Europe institutions, researchers warned today.

Higher education in most of Britain is already more expensive than in the continent and universities may witness a huge exodus when fees rocket next year, it was claimed.

Leading Dutch universities currently offer degree courses at less than £2,000, compared with up to £9,000 for students starting degrees in England in 2012, while many of those in Scandinavia offer undergraduate courses in English free of charge.

The disclosure came as international league tables were published today showing that British universities remain among the best in the world.

Cambridge beat hundreds of competitors to top the QS World University Rankings, which rate institutions by the quality of research, teaching, graduate job prospects and international reputation.

Harvard – the elite American university – was named in second place.

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Nurses who can’t speak English put patients in danger, noted doctor warns

September 10, 2011—Patients have told how they are being forced to use sign language because hospitals are employing foreign nurses who struggle to understand English.

One nurse mistakenly handed out a trifle with nutty toppings to a patient with a nut allergy because they did not understand warnings in his medical notes.

Some hospitals have resorted to sticking pictures of syringes, blankets and other medical equipment on the outside of cupboards – rather than having written lists – so all nurses know where to find everything.

The examples have come to light a day after the Daily Mail revealed the grave concerns of Lord Winston, who said the poor communication skills of some Eastern European nurses was putting patients in danger.

The world-renowned fertility doctor expressed particular worries over nurses from Romania and Bulgaria who had been trained in a “completely different way.”

Nearly 3,000 nurses from EU countries registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council last year, a rise of 38 per cent in just 12 months. They made up more than one in eight nurses who registered to work in Britain.

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Schools demand inquiry into GCSE “marking errors”

September 10, 1011—Teachers are demanding a major review of marking in GCSE English after it emerged that the number of top grades gained by leading schools plummeted by up to a third this year, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

Schools are calling for Ofqual, the exams watchdog, to launch an urgent inquiry into English language and literature marking as figures show a dramatic year-on-year variation in results.
The scale of the problem has been laid bare in damning research by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents some of Britain’s leading independent schools.
HMC surveyed 58 members and found that almost all had witnessed a significant rise or fall in the proportion of A or A* grades scored by pupils this year.

Twenty three said results had increased or decreased by at least 10 per cent in both English language and literature compared with 2010, despite broadly comparable scores in other disciplines.

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One in four primary schools in England still has no male teachers

September 2, 2011—One in four primary schools in England still has no male registered teacher, statistics show.

General Teaching Council for England figures show a slight improvement on last year, with 27.2% schools with no male teachers, down from 27.8%.

There are just 48 male teachers in state nurseries.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said more male teachers were needed but they were put off by worries that teacher-pupil contact was a “legal minefield.”

In total, women make up three-quarters of registered teachers—which includes all state school teachers and also teachers in the independent sector who choose to register with the GTCE.

Only 12% of primary school teachers are male, compared with 38% of secondary school teachers—with the proportions virtually unchanged since last year.

However, the proportion of men entering the profession has risen slightly, with men making up 25.6% of newly qualified teachers, up from 24% last year.

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UK pupils are “worst in Europe for learning foreign languages”
By Graeme Paton,

August 30, 2011—The UK is the worst nation in Europe for the teaching of foreign languages following a dramatic collapse in the subject under Labour.

An international study shows that schoolchildren are less likely to learn multiple languages than in almost any other EU member state.

In the last decade, the UK plunged from mid-table to joint-bottom of major rankings listing the number of languages learned in each country.

Children from nations such as Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania are more likely to be taught a number of foreign languages than peers in home nations, figures show.
In Luxembourg, pupils learn between two and three languages compared with an average of just one in the UK.

The disclosure comes just days after the publication of GCSE results showed that the study of languages had plummeted to a record low.

Figures revealed that the overall number of pupils taking an exam in foreign languages had dropped by 12 per cent in a year and 45 per cent in the last decade.

The fall was particularly marked in French and German – traditionally the two most popular languages in UK schools – with both being named among the fastest declining subjects at GCSE level.

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Too few trainee teachers end up in schools, says report

August 11, 2011—A study by Buckingham University found 27,976 (71.5%) of the 39,103 trainees who qualified in the summer of 2010 were in teaching posts in January 2011.

It found that 62% of the trainees were teaching in state schools, while 5% were in independent schools and 4% in "other" education.

The Department for Education said not all trainees started work immediately while others worked as supply teachers.

The report found that teacher trainees who entered the profession via "hands-on" courses were more likely to go into the profession than those trained at universities, even though only a relatively small number of teachers come through this route.

In 2009-10, 78% trained at universities, while 4.5% trained on school-based courses and 17% were in employment-based training.

However, by January 2011, 78% (1,369) of the school-centred trainees and 75% (5,125) of the employment-based trainees were in teaching jobs.

This compared with 70% (21,482) of the university-based trainees.

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Is it a word? Is it profane? No it’s...Grammar Man
By Alex West,

August 6, 2011—A mystery superhero is leading the fight on graffiti louts he accuses of MURDER - of the English language.

Grammar Man wields his white marker pen to correct misspelt scrawls and criticise the writers.

Signing off with the words "Pow! Grammar Man Strikes Again!" he draws himself in a mask and cape, with an exclamation mark on his front.

He corrected "Phoebe woz ere innit brav" to "Phoebe was here isn't it brother", scribbled on the floor of a bandstand in a park in Chatham, Kent.

He added: "Terrible spelling and poor use of grammar. This is murder of the English Language!" —slightly spoiling the effect by using an unnecessary capital L. The crusader's corrections have also appeared around nearby Rochester and Gillingham.

Offenders he catches in the act will presumably face a long sentence.

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Government ends free language classes for immigrants

LONDON, August 1, 2011—Thousands of vulnerable women face being priced out of classes that enable them to learn English, under new rules launched yesterday.

Changes to benefit entitlement mean almost 80,000 people across England could lose the right to free language classes, with women representing more than two-thirds of those affected—58,900 enrolments—according to the government’s own assessment.

The move calls into question the prime minister’s commitment to promoting “integration” among migrant groups, critics claim.

David Cameron insisted immigrants to Britain “must learn English, so that ... they can be more integrated into our country,” in a speech in Parliament earlier this year.

The new changes mean that only people on “active benefits”—jobseeker’s allowance or employment support allowance—would be entitled to full funding for ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) courses.

The changes are intended to focus resources on those seeking employment. Other people on so-called “inactive” benefits, such as income support and housing benefits, or those on low incomes —including asylum-seekers and refugees—will have to pay at least 50% of the cost of their courses.

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English test centre adopts biometric data to prevent identify fraud

SYDNEY, September 7, 2011—Tough measures against fraud, including a fingerprint scan, have been introduced at one of Australia's biggest English language test centres.

A worker at the LTC centre in Sydney was surprised by last month's introduction of fingerprint scans and photos for all candidates sitting the International English Language Testing System exam.

"It's only an English test. Even people who migrate to Australia don't get fingerprinted at the border," said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous. "I'm concerned about privacy."

IELTS Australia said the photo and finger scan, taken before candidates were admitted to the test room, were simply to prevent imposter fraud.

The LTC worker did know of one recent case at the centre of an attempt by someone, using a Chinese passport issued in Sydney, to sit the IELTS test for someone else. After this staff members were warned to pay special attention to Chinese passports issued in Sydney.

Between 350 and 550 candidates could take an IELTS test in a single sitting at the LTC centre.

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New English standard for nurses and midwives
August 31, 2011—Australia will have a new English language skills registration standard for nurses and midwives from September 19.

The Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council has approved the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s revised language skills standard which requires registered nurses, midwives and enrolled nurses to communicate effectively in English.

The new language skills standard accepts applicants who have completed a minimum of five years, full-time equivalent of combined secondary, vocational or tertiary education taught and assessed in English in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States without the need to sit an English language test.

Registered nurses and registered midwives must complete two of those five years in a pre-registration program of study while enrolled nurses must complete one of those five years in a pre-registration program.

The revised standard still requires other applicants to submit evidence of English proficiency through their English test results, achieving a minimum of level seven in one sitting across listening, reading, writing and speaking in the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or a B score or above in one sitting of the four components in the Occupational English Test (OET).

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Oral language project talks primary students into reading

August 29, 2011—The best way to start children reading is to get them talking first. A new approach being trialed in schools focuses first on improving students' speaking skills and has doubled their rate of progress in learning to read.

A group of Catholic schools in Melbourne taught students spoken language skills in the first three years of school as part of their reading program, focusing on improving vocabulary, using longer sentences, teaching letter-sound relationships and being able to tell a story in sequence.

The research project was conducted with about 600 students in 14 schools, with teachers in eight of the schools receiving special training in teaching oral language while six schools acted as controls.

Students' reading and comprehension was assessed at the end of each year and those specifically taught oral language skills had improved at twice the rate of students in the control schools.

For students whose parents speak English as a second language, the improvement was even more dramatic, about four times higher. In the control group of schools, students from non-English-speaking backgrounds fell further behind their English-speaking peers in reading.

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Fears ACT rushing non-English speakers
By Breanna Tucker, Canberra Times

August 6, 2011—Children from non-English speaking backgrounds are being pushed into mainstream schooling with ‘‘appalling’’ language skills and little support, lobbyists say.

Unions, teachers and parents believe an influx of migrants is putting pressure on English centres to graduate students before they are ready.

They say some children are entering Year 5 and 6 classes with reading and language skills worse than a kindergarten student.

The situation is believed to be mirrored across sectors, with adult courses facing similar pressures.

The Australian Education Union’s Cathy Smith said funding for English as a second language teachers had dropped over the past decade despite the number of ESL students in government schools increasing by 50 per cent.

Class sizes had blown out from 10 to 18 students in some cases and students were graduating into the mainstream schooling system at a lower minimum proficiency level.

On a scale of zero to five, students were now moving into mainstream classrooms with a score of 1.75 (equating to ‘‘well below average’’) compared with a score of 2.25 (below average) three or four years ago.

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Judges air concerns about English tests in visa cases

July 13, 2011—The Federal Court has seized on the use of English language tests by immigration authorities as potentially unfair.

In a decision this month involving an Indian-born graduate from the University of New England, Justice Nye Perram said the court had noticed something puzzling in a number of cases.

There was "a disjunct between the apparent ability of [former overseas students] in skilled migration visa appeals to conduct their own cases in fluent English, on the one hand, and the operation of the [International English Language Testing System] test which deemed them not able to speak competent English at all, on the other''.

Justice Perram began his judgment by recalling the 1934 attempt to deport the communist Egon Kisch by setting him a dictation test in Scottish Gaelic, a device used to apply the White Australia Policy.

"Experiences such as these have led to a natural caution in the legal mind about the use of language tests in an immigration setting,'' the judge said.

However, he conceded that today's immigration authorities had a legitimate concern about English proficiency and said IELTS was not "a discreet tool for the implementation of concealed policies. ".

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Corruption leads to closure of Curtin’s English language test centre

July 8, 2011—Curtin University will close its IELTS English language testing centre following a corruption scandal.

A former staff member, Kok Keith Low, pleaded guilty to bribery offences following an anti-corruption inquiry into a 2009-10 trade in falsified IELTS results from the Curtin centre.

Low is to be sentenced on August 9 and the eight others charged, most of them former international students, also have pleaded guilty to bribery offences.

In many cases, the test results were used by international students to secure permanent residency visas. As would-be skilled migrants, they had to show competent English. The price for fake IELTS results was as high as $11,000.

Today, Curtin's vice-chancellor Jeanette Hacket said the university centre would hold its last IELTS test on August 13.

She said the decision to close followed the WA Corruption and Crime Commission's inquiry and an internal review, "which found the high-stakes testing would always carry associated risks and responsibilities''.

An internal Curtin document says: "With the need identified recently, as a result of the CCC hearing, to reduce testing numbers in order to provide a quality product with all the safeguards for risk in place, the service has become less financially viable''.

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English teachers sent abroad

July 17, 2011—Positive comments about Japan's system of English teaching are rare, but hope is on the horizon. This month, 96 Japanese high school and junior high teachers of English leave for a half-year training program in the United States. They will enroll this fall in courses on English-teaching methods, stay with local families and work as interns at secondary schools in America.

The experience they bring back will be a great step toward genuinely improving Japan's woeful way of teaching English.

The program, sponsored by the government, is an important initiative. The teachers, most in their 20s to 40s, will be able to acquire the kind of experience that will have an enormous impact on their students.

By going abroad, these teachers can learn how to teach communicative English and how to communicate better themselves. That will bring a higher level of English into the classroom as well as a broader outlook on English as a global language. That will also be a start toward changing the current fixation on exam-based English.

After these teachers return, they will also be changing the attitudes of students. At the send-off ceremony, Vice Education Minister Hirofumi Ryu said the teachers would be able to change the "inward-looking" nature of Japanese students and help to nurture students who can be "active globally."

Teachers who have developed a broad-minded, active and open approach themselves will be even better equipped to achieve those aims.

These teachers will also be able to encourage young Japanese to study abroad, or at least study with greater zest. The authority of experience goes a long way, especially with young people.

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Japanese English teachers leave for U.S. looking to broaden horizons

KYODO, July 8, 2011—A total of 96 Japanese teachers of English who will leave for the United States this month on a half-year training program vowed Thursday to use the experience to enhance global understanding.

The junior high school and high school teachers from across Japan, who are in their 20s to 40s, will be enrolled in courses on English teaching methods at seven U.S. universities, stay with local families and work as interns at American secondary schools on the exchange program through early February. The program is sponsored by the government.

Kaori Taguchi, a 32-year-old teacher at a high school in Miyagi Prefecture, told a send-off ceremony in Tokyo that she felt guilty about leaving at a time when her colleagues remain affected by the March 11 megaquake-tsunami disaster.

“Some schools in coastal areas are used as evacuation shelters and classes cannot be conducted properly there,” Taguchi said, speaking as a representative of the teachers. “I hope I can improve my English teaching skills through the program and return the favor by nurturing students who will open their eyes to the international community."

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United States

16 Colorado counties go ahead with English language ballots

WELD COUNTY, Colorado, September 7, 2011—Weld County is among 16 counties in Colorado that will print ballots only in English for this November’s election after an expected federal mandate that would have required the counties to also print ballots in Spanish failed to materialize in time.

Earlier this summer, Weld County Clerk Steve Moreno expected to hear that growth among the Latino population reported in the most recent census would make the county subject to Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act.

Section 203 of the 1973 Voting Rights Act states that areas with Latino, Asian, American Indian and Alaskan populations must provide voting materials in languages spoken by these minorities if the number of U.S. citizens of voting age of a single-language group is more than 10,000 or more than 5 percent of all voting-age citizens and the illiteracy rate of the group is higher than the national illiteracy rate, according to the Department of Justice.

The determination about where to apply Section 203 comes from the U.S. Census Bureau. As of Wednesday, the state had not been notified by the federal government. The deadline to certify ballots was last Friday.

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Teaching English abroad gives KU grads trip of a lifetime
By Aaron Couch,

September 2, 2011—When Gabriel Rebeck was 14, he visited Japan and met an Australian man who was teaching English there.

“I just thought he was the coolest guy in the world,” Rebeck said.

Rebeck decided that’s what he wanted to do when he was older. After graduating from Kansas University with a degree in film in 2008, he packed up and moved to a small fishing village on the southernmost tip of Japan.

He spent the next three years in Uchinoura, teaching English at junior high and high schools through the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program, a Japanese government program that places foreign teachers in its schools.

After years of study, Rebeck’s Japanese was good and getting better. He is one of several KU alumni who teach English overseas.

“If you can actually communicate with them in their language, they’re a lot more interesting to converse with. They don’t just say, ‘this is sushi. We love sushi.’ You can get to know them on a more personal level,” Rebeck said.

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New York Times starts English-language India site

NEW YORK, September 9, 2011 (AP)—The New York Times said Friday it is launching an English-language website called India Ink offering news and analysis about politics, culture, business, sports and lifestyle in India.

The site,, initially will be exempt from digital subscription packages.

India Ink is edited by The New York Times in India and the International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong. It is led by Heather Timmons, who has covered business in India for The New York Times for the last four years.

The site will feature contributions from the newspaper's journalists, including New Delhi bureau chief Jim Yardley and correspondent Lydia Polgreen, Mumbai correspondent Vikas Bajaj and former New Delhi bureau chief Somini Sengupta.

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More kids growing up bilingual
By Taya Flores,

August 21, 2011 (AP)—Although only 13 months old, Irene Melgarejo is already speaking words from two languages. She says leche for milk, bye-bye, mama and papa.

Her parents, Karina Caballero and Mauricio Melgarejo are raising Irene to be bilingual and speak both English and Spanish, which is their native tongue.

“She is an American citizen and for her it’s important to learn English,” said Karina, who is from Honduras but lives in Lafayette, Ind. “It’s important that she learn Spanish, too, because her grandparents only speak Spanish.”

Irene is one of an increasing number of children who will grow up in a household where English is not the primary language spoken. In 1990, only 15 percent of Americans lived in households where languages other than English were spoken. By 2009, the percentage had increased to nearly 20 percent, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Data on the number of children growing up bilingual are scarce. But the 2000 Census report on language use said 55 percent of people who reported speaking a language other than English at home reported they spoke English “very well.” A 2001 Gallup poll found that 22 percent of English-speaking Americans can speak a second language well enough to hold a conversation.

There was a time when immigrants who spoke another language encouraged their children to forsake their mother tongue in order to assimilate faster in America. Increasingly, that is changing.

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Colorado congressman wants ballots printed only in English

DENVER, August 18, 2011—U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman announced plans Wednesday to introduce legislation that would repeal a section of the 1973 Voting Rights Act that requires jurisdictions with large populations of nonproficient English speakers to print ballots in more than one language.

Coffman, R-Colo., asserts that Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act is an unnecessary and unfunded federal mandate that can be a financial hardship for some jurisdictions because of the increased cost of translating and printing election materials and mailing larger ballots.

"Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all," Coffman said.

Applicants for naturalization must demonstrate an ability to read, write, speak and understand a limited amount of basic English.

Immigrant-rights advocates see Coffman's proposal as an attempt to disenfranchise eligible voters and an attack on one of the most important rights of citizens.

"We are talking about U.S. citizens, whether they were born here or not," said Elena Nunez, program director with Colorado Common Cause.

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Poor English, family income, parental education drive down test scores

ORANGE COUNTY, California, August 16, 2011—An analysis of Orange County student subgroup performance on the California Standards Test math and English language arts exams shows a slew of expected factors driving down local scores -- English fluency, family income and parental education.

The scores were released as part of the state's annual Standardized Testing and Reporting program, known as STAR. The math and English CST exams are just two of dozens of tests encompassed by the program, but perhaps the best known.'

The subgroup with the lowest performance on the state's English test was English learners who had attended a U.S. school for less than a year. Their score: 17.7 percent scoring proficient or advanced, compared with the county's overall score of 62.9 percent.

In all, 24.5 percent of all English learners passed the test -- the second-worst showing by a student subgroup.

Some 36.2 percent of students whose parents have only a high school education passed the English arts test as did 45.4 percent of those whose families are considered poor -- meaning they qualify for reduced price or free meals at schools.

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Translated: The secret language of the Federal Reserve
By Joey McBrennan,   

August 16, 2011—It is not what they say, but how they say it. We've translated the latest musings from the Federal Reserve.

When I was in my early 20s, I worked in the Far East. Part of my job was to take Japanese business material and write it in a way to make it be more palatable to English speakers.

My title was that of translator. As inflated as that description is, what I really did was learn how to convey meaning without ever using the English language in a precise way.


My Asian boss explained that it was all very "Japanese." He explained that using direct language was fine in technical manuals, but everything else needed to be very opaque.

I never really understood what exactly they wanted, but since I needed the paycheck more than the argument, I learned the odd craft of writing everything so it could be taken a number of different ways.

I would write "opportunity to participate" instead of "for sale" or "delayed the renewal of the contract" instead of writing "canceled." My favorite was "we're reviewing current design improvements." This always meant "It doesn't work."

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Purdue creates new certification for English Language Learners

August 1, 2011—As Indiana has become the state with the third-highest increase in English language learners, the College of Education is taking steps to prepare its teachers for changing Hoosier school populations.

According to a 2006 report by the National Clearinghouse on English Language Acquisition, from 1994 to 1995 and 2004 to 2005, Indiana saw a 408 percent increase in the number of English language learners – the third-highest in the United States.

An English language learner, commonly referred to as “ELL,” is any student for whom English is a new language. According to James Lehman, a faculty member in the College of Education, most ELL students are of Hispanic origin.

In fact, John Layton, assistant superintendent of the Lafayette School Corporation, reported one in seven students in his schools are considered to be an ELL.

It is left to Hoosier educators to respond and adapt.

This fall, the College of Education will offer a new graduate certificate program focused on identifying ELL needs, developing student language skills and utilizing effective teaching methods unique to the ELL student.

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Telugu set to become world language

HYDERABAD, September 9, 2011—Telugu is all set to become a world language, thanks to a move by the information and technology department to “technicalize” the language so that it could be uploaded online easily like English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese and Russian.

The IT department is now embarking on standardization of Telugu language so that many of the complex words can be translated into Unicode so that there would be no trouble in uploading the Telugu text. "Telugu is the language of more than 10 crore people. Our language has every right to be recognized as world language. We have allotted budget for standardizing the language to suit to the Internet," said IT minister Ponnala Laxmaiah.

For example, to give space between words, in English we use the word “space,” but there is no such Telugu equivalent. After researching the old script of Telugu language experts discovered that one straight line was used to denote the comma and two straight lines for full stop. Now, this expert team is working on 'online character reorganization' so that Telugu can be easily available in all international platforms.

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“TOEFL score comparison unfair,” says test development company executive
By Hemali Chhapia, Times of India

MUMBAI, August 11, 2011—An analysis by the ETS which conducts TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) showed that candidates whose mother tongue is an Indian language fared much better than those whose native language was English.

"TOEFL provides accurate scores at the individual level; it is not appropriate for comparing countries," clarified Walt MacDonald, ETS executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

"The differences in the number of students taking the test in each country, how early English is introduced into the curriculum, how many hours per week are devoted to learning English, and the fact that those taking the test are not representative of all English speakers in each country or any defined population," Said MacDonald.

English is gaining currency in India's rural pockets and pedestrian schools, too. And picking up the grammar of what people want, some governments have been forced to introduce the Queen's lingo as the medium of instruction in public schools. "There is a huge amount of English in the country now. Everybody knows a fair amount of English. Also, Indians are intrinsically bright. When they apply themselves to a task, they do well at it," said Yasmeen Lukmani, former English HOD at the University of Mumbai.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have had English in all regional-language schools from as early as the records read. A Planning Commission member said that no agency or government would be able to provide the exact number of students learning English in India.

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Lack of English proficiency contributes to high failure rate in Namibia                                      

July 8, 2011—About 100 linguistics experts from all over the world are attending the annual Poetics and Language Association (PALA) Conference which is currently taking place at the Polytechnic of Namibia in the capital.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Education Minister, Dr Abraham Iyambo, said English is being taught from the cradle to the grave in many parts of the world.

“But this teaching must be done properly by trained teachers. The teaching of English should not be at the exclusion or neglect of indigenous languages. Do we have these trained teachers? I do not think that we have them in enough numbers in Namibia. Is it obvious that proficiency in the English language will enable learners to perform better in other subjects because these subjects are taught and written in English,” he said.

Iyambo added that it is a fact of life that if learners have deficient English language reading, writing, listening and speaking skills; then they will not understand those subjects written and taught in English.

According to Iyambo, the strident call for the introduction of Science and Mathematics will remain just that, unless equally vocal measures are taken to improve the teaching of English in educational institutions.

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Saudi Arabia

Language program bridges Korea and the world

YEONGI, August 29, 2011—Benjamin Stevens, 24, first came to Korea with his mother for a seminar nine years ago. Fascinated by Korea, he wanted to come back, and realized his dream thanks to the TaLK (Teach and Learn in Korea) program.

Under the government program, he recently visited Korea to teach English, his native language, at a rural elementary school. It was also an opportunity to travel across the country and experience the Korean culture.

Stevens is among 322 young foreigners from English-speaking countries who have participated in the 7th orientation of the program starting in early August on Sejong Campus of Korea University in Yeongi, South Chungcheong Province.

The program was launched in 2008 to provide an English immersion environment to rural elementary schools by attracting native English speakers from abroad. It is also intended to give them a chance to experience Korean culture and travel across the country.

They are placed to rural schools because students there are less exposed to native English speakers than their urban peers. The foreign teachers on the program receive monthly stipend and accommodation subsidy from the Korean government.

Currently, about 600 foreigners are in the country under the program to narrow the gap between English education in the city and the country. One foreigner is assigned per school.

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South Korea

Improving English is top New Year resolution for salaried workers

August 1, 2011—Improving foreign language skills, especially English, was the goal that employees want to achieve the most in the New Year, with 56.8 percent of 944 people surveyed making the statement, according to the recruitment company Saramin.

When multiple replies were allowed, the other most common New Year resolutions included self-improvement (47.7 percent), saving money (36.5 percent), and maintaining good health (26.8 percent).

The survey results come at a time when an increasing number of people are signing up to take English classes at private institutes. YBM, one of the largest English schools, sees about a 60 percent rise in the number of attendees every January compared with other months.

“We have many students during summer, but have more in winter because English study is one of the most common New Year resolutions for both students and workers. Employees usually take early morning or late evening classes,”' Cha Kyung-sim, of YBM's marketing and PR department, said.

Due to financial constraints, some people have chosen to study at home alone instead of attending institutes. According to online auctioneer Auction, the sales of language study materials such as TOEIC handbooks increased by 20 percent in December compared to the previous month.

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Busan Global Village emerges as major English education center
By Song Sang-ho, The Korea Herald

June 30, 2011—Busan Global Village is emerging as the country’s key center for English education, thanks to a variety of unique programs tailored to the needs of different age groups and its location in the center of the southeastern port city.

Since it opened in July 2009, BGV has gained much recognition from inside and outside of the country’s second largest city as it seeks to offer a low-cost and effective alternative to overseas language learning.

For the last two years, more than 100,000 people have learned English at BGV, which now seeks to transform itself into a leading English education center representing the country.

Kim Ji-seon, a 32-year-old housewife in Dongrae-gu, Busan, said that she is satisfied with the three-month “Happy School” course designed to give toddlers a head start in English education.

“I take my 25-month-old son to the Happy School class every Thursday. This is a class my son and I attend together,” she said. “Compared with programs offered by other language institutes, the BGV course is far more satisfactory and its price is very reasonable.”

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Koreans struggle to solve English quagmire

SEOUL, June 17, 2011 (Yonhap)—No English. No job. No future. At least that's what many Koreans believe these days, and they will do almost anything to improve their English skills.

Parents pour huge amounts of money into a bottomless English-craze pit, while students stay late into the night at private cram schools finding ways to hack the "terrible" TOEIC, as many here call the dreaded standardized English test.

"In many countries around the world, there is a push from governments, employers and parents to improve levels of English, but Korea probably tops the league table for anxiety about English proficiency," says David Graddol, a well-known British writer, broadcaster, lecturer and consultant on issues related to global English and educational trends.

The British Council commissioned Graddol to write two of his most famous works: The Future of English and its follow-up, English Next. Both books report on the global development of English as a world language.

He says that in Korea, "too much emphasis is placed on the power of English to transform people's lives."

Few countries in the world spend more time and money learning English. According to a 2006 study by the Samsung Economic Research Institute, Koreans spend around US$15 billion per year on private English education. That's more money than the gross domestic product, or GDP, of Laos, Jamaica or Iceland.

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Top universities use reputations to run pricey English camps

June 13, 2011—"It`s so expensive even if the university`s name value is considered," a mother of two daughters said who planned to send them, one in middle school and the other in elementary school, to an English-language summer camp run by a Korean university.

She gave up, however, due to expensive tuition of a combined 6 million won (5,540 U.S. dollars) for a three-month program.

"Certain English camps in the Philippines with the same schedule cost less than 3 million won (2,770 dollars)," she said, adding, "It`s unpleasant to see domestic universities apparently encourage expensive private education."

In the run-up to summer vacation, major universities in Seoul are recruiting elementary, middle and high school students for English camps. Such programs are so popular among parents that the universities hold briefing sessions on them. Certain parents even have a far-fetched expectation that such programs will help their children enter a given university.

The problem is the cost of a camp can exceed 1 million won (923 dollars) per month. Tuition is 3.1 million won (2,862 dollars) at the 19-day Sogang English Workshop run by Sogang University¡¯s English education center SLP. Native English speakers and Korean teachers will give lectures in the program that begins July 25.

I-Oedae, an English education company under Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, will open the 2011 I-Oedae Summer English Camp for students in fifth and sixth grade and seventh and eighth grade from July 22 through Aug. 10. The program costs 2.94 million won (2,714 dollars) per student.

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The fun factor

September 4, 2011—It was an English language workshop that drew interest and enthusiasm not just among the primary school pupils but also their parents who wanted to join in!

“Every single day, we had pupils asking if they could join the workshop. There were also many parents who approached us to learn about our method of teaching and engaging their children in learning the English language.

“Some even wanted to join our workshop so that they could practise communicating in English with their children,” said Angeline Lee Hwee Yin, 20, a second-year medical student at the University of Bristol in England.

Lee, who is back home for the summer holidays, is the founder and director of UKECharisma, the organisation that had arranged the English language enhancement programme for SK Seri Setia in Jalan Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur.

A total of 170 pupils from Year One to Year Six, signed up for the workshop which aimed to instil interest in the English language, by making learning fun.

Through story-telling sessions, word games, creative writing exercises, skits and songs, and a full-day treasure hunt, Lee and her team of 16 volunteers managed to get the children to warm up to the two-week workshop, which ran from Monday to Saturday recently.

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Using jazz chants to teach English

August 28, 2011—The International Conference on English Language Teaching (ICELT) which will be held next month will see several international language experts attending and presenting papers.

Their presence at the event is timely following the recent call by the Education Minister that teachers need to be more creative in the teaching of English, to enable learners to enjoy and have fun with the language.

One expert who will be present and perform at the conference is Carolyn Graham, who has taught in Harvard University and the New York Teachers College in the United States.

Her method of teaching English involves jazz chants —a unique way of getting students to improve their speaking and listening skills.

Below, Graham gives an account of how the idea for her extraordinary teaching style was mooted and developed over the years.

Graham will present and perform her jazz chants at the conference.

“When I first arrived in New York in the late 60’s, I began teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) at New York University. I didn’t really think of teaching as a profession for me,” she said. “I just thought it would pay the rent so I could do what I really wanted to do, which was to sing and play the piano.

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Confusion reigns over English
By Hussaini Abdul Karim,

August 26, 2011—The teaching of the English language in the country today is in sheer confusion, a result of the Government’s inconsistent stand. We often have statements rebutting what the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have said about English.

The PM and DPM have often made statements in support of English, such as “Re-looking at PPSMI” and “Re-think about PPSMI policy”, but very soon after, the Deputy Education Minister, certain community leaders and “language nationalists” will release statements that read “Education Ministry remains firm in its decision to abolish PPSMI” or something similar against the re-introduction of PPSMI in national primary and secondary schools.

This has been going on for a few years now and we seem to be unable to see the end of it.

Given the situation, I do not blame teachers and students for not showing commitment when it comes to teaching and learning English. This will go on until a final decision is reached.

While matters relating to Bahasa Malaysia are clearly set, English isn’t, and that’s why we can see the former leading in all areas.

However, when talking about IT, engineering, science and mathematics and the ability of our people to engage in dialogue with representatives of other countries, and for graduates to secure jobs, not only in the country but outside as well, we fail very badly due to our generally poor grasp of the English language.

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Malaysian government wants students to improve their English

LABIS, August 7, 2011—Many students are still unable to master English despite learning the language in school for 13 years and the Government wants to find ways to improve their command of it.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said despite allocating a lot of time for students to master the language at primary, secondary and matriculation levels, the command of the language, especially among those at university level, was poor.

“That is why I have instructed the education director-general to look into the curriculum as to why our students are unable to master English as a second language despite learning it for 13 years,” Muhyiddin who is also Education Minister, said.

He added that he wanted to find out whether the teachers teaching the language were not properly trained, whether there were adequate teachers, or the books that were being used to teach the subject were not appropriate.

Muhyiddin stressed that while the Government had scrapped the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English programme (PPSMI), it still placed emphasis on English as a second language, which was vital for economic development and international relations.

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Why the bad English?
By Rizalman Hammim, New Straits Times

LABIS, August 7, 2011—Are teachers incompetent, or school books unsuitable?

The Education Ministry will look at these factors to determine why students continue to have a poor grasp of the English language.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, said the ministry would review the curriculum with regard to the teaching of English as well as identify the reasons behind students' poor command of the language.

Muhyiddin said even after learning the language for 13 years at primary, secondary and matriculation levels, some students still could not master English.

"I have no answers for this problem. I will ask the (Education) director-general to review the English curriculum to find out the reasons behind the problem.

"Is it because the teachers are not competent or there are not enough teachers, or because the books are not suitable?We can't ignore this anymore." He said this during his visit to SMK Maokil here yesterday.

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Use English to teach other subjects – College CEO
by Chok Sim Yee, The Borneo Post

KOTA KINABALU, August 9, 2011—English can be used as the teaching language for several other subjects in schools, such as Geography or History, to build the students’ foundation in the language.

Asian Tourism International College (ATIC) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau said there was insufficient English language lessons in school.

“It does not matter if we use English to teach Geography or History,” he said when commenting on Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s call to re-look at the learning of English in schools.

“The point is to use English in other subjects in schools, or else students do not speak a word of English a day.”

Wong suggested that foreign teachers could be recruited to enable better teaching of English, as what had been done in China.

Although English is a compulsory subject in schools, Wong said it had not produced students who are proficient enough to communicate in the language.

Citing Singapore as an example, Wong said the standard of English was better because they use the language as the medium of communication in schools.

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English-language broadcasters get better grade

SINGAPORE, September 8, 2011—While broadcasters here were given a pat on the back by the Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE) for providing quality content, recommendations were made for further improvement in some areas, such as in protecting children from unsuitable content, editorial integrity in news and producing more quality local content.

Presenting its 13th report on the range and quality of English broadcast content yesterday, PACE chairman Leo Tan said that he would rate English programming here 7.5 out of 10, whereas two years ago, he would have given it only a six.

Said Prof Tan said: "The standard of English has gone up, the quality, the range of programmes ... it is a continuous evolving thing and not static. Societal norms change, expectations change, the programming must also evolve according to what the societal demands are."

The PACE report, compiled by a 31-member committee, commended broadcasters for the "strong emphasis" on sports programmes last year. It singled out coverage of the Youth Olympic Games by MediaCorp, as well as locally-produced programmes Sports@SG by Channel 5 and Score by SingTel's mioTV.

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English language institute of Singapore opens Tuesday
SINGAPORE, September 5, 2011—The English Language Institute of Singapore (ELIS) will be officially launched by former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on Tuesday.

The institute aims to drive excellence in the teaching and learning of the English language in Singapore schools to raise the general command of both spoken and written English among students.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) says it will play a key role in providing in-service professional development for both English language and English-medium teachers.

ELIS aims to involve more than 6,000 teachers next year and 12,000 teachers by 2014 in its courses.

It also aims to become an English language teaching hub for Asia.

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Thai students “must learn languages”

June 20, 2011—Thai students have been urged to improve their English and also learn a third language so they can compete with people from other Southeast Asian nations when the region becomes a single economic community of more than 600 million people in 2015.

Sakkarin Niyomsilpa, a demographic expert at Mahidol University's Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), said Thailand's weakness was its language limitations, especially in English. He said Filipino labourers could speak better English than Thais, giving them a much better chance of getting hired in other countries.

It was now time for Thai students to improve their English and learn a third language such as Vietnamese, Bahasa, Japanese or Korean, he added.

Mr. Sakkarin said if the education system and students paid no attention to language improvement, Thailand might lose its competitive edge to Vietnam as many Vietnamese could now speak English or even Thai.

He recently addressed an IPSR seminar entitled "A Turning Point For The Thai Population; A Turning Point For Thai Society" that discussed the kingdom's situation as it prepares for the launch of the Asean Community.

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Record 1million pupils speak English as a second language
By Graeme Paton,

June 22, 2011—A record one-in-six pupils in primary schools and one-in-eight in secondary education speak another language at home, it was disclosed.

The proportion of children starting school with a relatively poor grasp of English has now doubled in just over a decade.

In some parts of London, as many as three-quarters of pupils speak other languages, according to figures.

The disclosure comes despite concerns over cuts in funding to teach pupils with English as a second language. A ring-fenced grant set aside to boost language skills among foreign pupils was abolished by the Coalition, with money now devolved to local councils to spend as they see fit.
But head teachers’ leaders claim this has led to cash drying up in some areas as councils use the money to subsidise cuts to other services.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said funding had been “cut back quite extensively” by certain authorities.
“Support for these pupils is vitally important,” he said. “These children are just as able as other pupils but they’ll fail to access the curriculum if they are behind in literacy and linguistic skills.”

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How “chairman” became “president”

By Eric Jou, China Daily

July 31, 2011—China’s rampant foray into the English language has created a mess in the translation field with more and more amateur translators.

A key problem: The ability to speak English and Chinese does not make a translator, says Huang Youyi, vice-chairman of the International Federation of Translators and also of the Translators Association of China (TAC)

Huang, 58, the vice- president of China International Publishing Group, says that despite the rise in China’s foreign language proficiency, particularly in English, there are still too few top-notch translators working.

“Society tends assume you are capable of doing translation if you know a foreign language, but that’s not the case,” said Huang. “To know a foreign language is only one of the basic requirements.”

To Huang, being a top translator demands an understanding of culture and language combined.
Huang didn’t exactly pick his career track but embraced the chance to study language, leading him to become a translator.

During the time that Huang was a university student, China was going through the changing times of the “cultural revolution.” Huang, a Beijing native, was relocated to work in the countryside. It wasn’t until 1971 that he returned to school.

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Reading the key to improving English skills
By Hong Liang, China Daily

July 12, 2011—Other than the "historical legacy", there is really no reason for the government to continue subsidizing the English Schools Foundation which operates five secondary schools, nine primary schools and one for students with special needs in Hong Kong.

As Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung has said, "ESF's funding issue is a problem arising from a historical legacy, which needs to be resolved."

ESF was established specifically to provide education to expatriate - mainly British - children living in Hong Kong. But in recent years, nearly half the students attending the various ESF schools are children of local Chinese parents, who are convinced about the benefits of an all-English language education.

For these parents, ESF schools are preferred over other international schools because of their comparatively lower fees.

The question is why tax payers' money should be used to subsidize ESF schools which are little different from any other private international school? Instead, the government should consider a program to provide financial help to children of non-Chinese speaking expatriates who cannot afford the lofty fees of the international schools.

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Reading the key to improving English skills
By Hong Liang, China Daily

July 12, 2011—Other than the "historical legacy", there is really no reason for the government to continue subsidizing the English Schools Foundation which operates five secondary schools, nine primary schools and one for students with special needs in Hong Kong.

As Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung has said, "ESF's funding issue is a problem arising from a historical legacy, which needs to be resolved."

ESF was established specifically to provide education to expatriate - mainly British - children living in Hong Kong. But in recent years, nearly half the students attending the various ESF schools are children of local Chinese parents, who are convinced about the benefits of an all-English language education.

For these parents, ESF schools are preferred over other international schools because of their comparatively lower fees.

The question is why tax payers' money should be used to subsidize ESF schools which are little different from any other private international school? Instead, the government should consider a program to provide financial help to children of non-Chinese speaking expatriates who cannot afford the lofty fees of the international schools.

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English training stand-out explains the reason for his success

June 16, 2011—A leading private Chinese education institution is looking for overseas investment and capital injection to make it more competitive.

Yun Guanqiu, the chairman of the Beijing Talenty Education Institution, which runs Talenty English, explains it this way, "We expect more far-sighted investors or partners overseas to join us in a number of areas in English education, such as textbook publishing, multi-media teaching, human resources, and management."

Talenty, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary soon, has grown into one of the top names in private English education in China, with a special focus on children and teenagers.

It has won a number of awards, such as one of the Top 10 Competitive English Education Institutions, Most Valuable English Trainer for Primary School Students, and Most Satisfactory English Training Name in China.

Yun, who is 45 and a renowned figure in his field, added, "We'll never just sit there resting on our laurels, but will devote ourselves to being the most professional, best English training institution for children and teenagers, in China."

It is hardly surprising, in view of his group's success, that Yun himself has been praised, for example, for being one of Asia's Top 100 Innovative Celebrities, one of China's Outstanding Educators, and one of China's Management Talents, among other similar awards.

Full story...

China’s Sina to internationalize Weibo, launch English-language service

June 20, 2011—Sina Corporation announced plans earlier this month to invest in an English version of its micro-blogging service, Weibo, aimed generally at overseas users.

“We’re now developing an English-language microblog service, but there is no timetable to launch it,” Sina’s Spokesperson Mao Taotao told the China Daily. “The service is aimed at overseas users, but we don’t target users from a particular country.”

The program is reportedly still in the early development stages and Mao was unable to confirm whether or not the English version would constitute a new interface to the traditional Weibo service or if this would amount to a new service altogether.

The announcement also prompted questions as to whether or not Sina plans to position Weibo on the global stage as a direct competitor to similar English sites such as Twitter. Sina’s spokesperson dismissed such questions, while back in April the company’s chief executive, Charles Chao, suggested that such a move is not an immediate concern for the company and that if Weibo were to compete outside of China, it would likely be through foreign partnerships.

Full story...


Traditional approaches to English education should be changed, says minister

June 20, 2011—English language proficiency is considered one of the key elements in developing international competitiveness. Taiwan ranks 25 out of 44 non-native English speaking countries around the world, according to a study by English First, the world's largest private educational institution.

Despite the vast amounts of money spent by the government on English education, the ubiquitous presence of English cram schools and President Ma Ying-jou's pledge to increase the nation's international competitiveness, many college graduates in Taiwan still have difficulty having basic conversations in English despite over a decade of learning English.

Currently all third grade elementary school students and above have regular English classes on a weekly basis. According to the Ministry of Education (MOE), elementary schools can start teaching English from the first grade. However, most schools in Taiwan outside of Taipei and New Taipei have not introduced these programs due to limited resources.

According to the MOE's white paper on international education at local junior high and elementary schools, the ministry hopes to extend English language education to all elementary school students in Taiwan over the next decade. Wu said the ministry has commissioned the National Academy for Educational Research to study the appropriateness of this proposal, although currently there is no specific timeline for the implementation.

Full story...

MHA asks central offices, PSUs and banks to use local language

NEW DELHI, June 18, 2011—All central government offices, Public Sector Undertakings and banks across the country will now write sign-boards and name-plates in the 'second official language' as well, in addition to Hindi and English.

The home ministry taken the decision in order to give due prominence to the 'second official language', which is different in different states and Union Territories.

"The boards, sign-boards, name-plates and directional signs will be written/printed/inscribed/embossed in Hindi (the national language) first (in Hindi speaking states). The order of the other languages including English will be determined by the department concerned or the state concerned," said the home ministry in a statement.

The decision will, however, not affect the “order” in the non-Hindi speaking states. These states will continue to use regional languages, Hindi and English, in that order. The font sizes of the texts of all the languages will be of the same size.

Full story...


Quebec language agency to combat English signs

MONTREAL, August 29, 2011—Walk through Montreal streets and they’re everywhere – English names plastered on storefronts.

It’s become the new landscape of Quebec – and it’s something the province’s language police wants to change.

“It is time we do something because this is the law — this is the regulation that applies in Quebec,” said Louise Marchand, President of the Office of French Language (Office de la Langue Francaise).

Marchand explained that as part of the campaign, the organization will ask companies with English trademark names to add a French word to their brand.

For example, the group will suggest the word “meubles” meaning “furniture” be placed in front of the name “Crate and Barrel,” making its Quebec name, “Meubles Crate and Barrel”.

The French language office says it’s reacting to an increase in public complaints – they receive 500-600 calls a year from Quebecers upset by the increased presence of English in the province.

“We have to work with people and make people understand how important it is and we have to let people know the law applies,” Marchand said.

Full story...

Dictionary detectives track origins of Old English

TORONTO, August 24, 2011—University of Toronto scholars are meticulously documenting a version of the English language that is no longer living.

The Dictionary of Old English project is compiling the very first written and spoken version of the English language, which was used from about 600 to 1150. Scholars believe the dictionary will reflect a history of the language and serve as a window into Anglo-Saxon culture.

Professor Antonette diPaolo Healey, the project’s editor, said this venture will help historians, political scientists, botanists or anyone else interested in tracking the roots of words and concepts in their areas of study.

More than a third of the dictionary — eight of the 22 letters of the Old English alphabet — has been published, and more than 60 per cent of entries already written.

The dictionary is available online, on CD-ROM and microfiche. It is believed to complement the existing Middle English dictionary which covers the period from 1100 to 1500 and the Oxford English Dictionary. The three, researchers believe, provide a full account of the language.

Full story...

English test too tough for immigrants

TORONTO, August 16, 2011—As many as 95% of Toronto construction workers fail an English language proficiency test required to become immigrants, say immigration lawyers.

Calls have been made for the government to lower the bar so many can pass and become citizens.

The tradesmen, who work on some of the tallest buildings in Toronto, claim the eight-hour test, called the International English Language Training System (IELTS), is difficult and stressful.

“There is a 95% failure rate of this test for my clients,” said Toronto lawyer Richard Boraks. “They get stressed out by the time they get to the classroom.”

He said workers have to dish out $275 each time they apply to take the test and some have failed three or four times.

He said the newcomers have to attend a community college to write the test and must pass to obtain permanent residency and then citizenship. Most have been in Canada for years and are still going through the immigration process.

“Ottawa has to lower the bar so these people and others like them can pass,” Boraks said.

Full story...

CRTC opens consultation on closed captioning standards

August 15, 2011—The CRTC opened a call for comments Monday on a pair of proposed guidelines to regulate the quality of closed captioning standards for English-language and French-language television programming in Canada.

In May 2007, the commission established a new policy requiring all broadcasters to provide closed captioning for 100 per cent of their English-language and French-language programming.

At the time, the commission ordered the broadcasting industry to establish a closed captioning working group for each official language.

Each group is tasked with studying and responding to concerns regarding the quality and consistency of closed captioning for programming in their language.

Earlier this year, each of the working groups released a final report to the commission laying out proposed mandatory standards and guidelines for best practices to regulate the speed of captions, acceptable rates of error, standards for digital broadcasting, and other common captioning concerns.

While the commission noted that the French-language working group reached a consensus on most of the major concerns its members examined, the English-language group was less unified in its submission.

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Moore slams language watchdog over “secret shoppers” 17
By Jessica Murphy, Toronto Sun    

OTTAWA, August 3, 2011—Heritage Minister James Moore doesn’t agree with the federal language watchdog’s decision to spy on Ottawa businesses.

Moore, who oversees official languages, said his government believes it’s important to protect and promote both English and French in Canada, but in this case, Official Languages commissioner Graham Fraser has overstepped his mandate.

“It is not the federal government’s business to police the language in which private businesses communicate with their customers,” Moore said in an e-mail Wednesday.

Moore was responding to an initiative by Fraser’s office to send “mystery shoppers” posing as unilingual Francophone tourists into downtown Ottawa stores.

The commissioner’s spokesman, Nelson Kalil, maintained the project wasn’t meant to “to name or shame, or dictate to companies,” but to give an overview of the French-language services available in the national capital.

Results will be published in the commissioner’s 2012 annual report, which usually only audits federal and related institutions.

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English teachers fail to make the grade

HA NOI, August 29, 2011—A regulation stipulating that English language teachers must achieve required scores on international English tests come into force with the start of the new academic year, but many teachers are unable to meet the new requirements.

According to the Ministry of Education and Training, all English language teachers are required to score at least 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam or 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Teachers whose scores do not make the grade would be required to improve their skills and re-take the exam. Those who failed the exam twice would be forced to quit their teaching jobs.

However, surveys carried out by the ministry revealed that few teachers have passed the exams.
In southern Ben Tre Province, only 61 out of 700 English language teachers were able to achieve the required score.

In Ha Noi, nearly 150 teachers from 90 primary schools took the exams, but only 28, which accounted for 18 per cent, passed.

About 500 teachers in southern Soc Trang Province will take the exams next month, and many said most would struggle to pass and need to take short-term training courses to improve their skills.

Full story...


$3.5 million grant awarded for teaching English education in Afghanistan

July 14, 2011—This month, U.S. troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan. Thirty thousand troops are expected to return home by next summer.

Now, as the country begins the process of standing on its own legs, the U.S. State Department has awarded an IU center nearly $3.5 million to help teach English education there.

The $3,487,454 grant will fund a three-year project organized by IU’s Center for Social Studies and International Education.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the American University of Afghanistan will serve as partners for the project, which will be directed by two IU School of Education faculty members.

Its goal is to develop and implement a master’s degree in English language education at Kabul Education University in Afghanistan.

The faculty members, Terry Mason and Mitzi Lewison, have worked with Afghan higher education for a number of years, establishing an education master’s degree at Kabul — the first master’s degree ever offered there — and bringing Afghan educators to study at IU.

Full story...


Kenyan girl beats world in English examination
By Christine Mungai, Nation
July 15, 2011—Shiro Keziah Wachira is extremely articulate, almost disarmingly so. She is only 16, but speaks like a person twice her age.

The first time one meets her, one is taken aback by her eloquent and coherent speech, devoid of redundancies like “umm”, “as in”, “like” and “yaani” that characterise a typical Kenyan teenager’s speech.

“We only speak English at home. I read everything, and that’s mostly due to the influence of my mum and dad. We have a big library in our house. I can’t really say I have a favourite genre of literature, I give anything a shot,” says Shiro.

Her parents’ influence has certainly paid off. The former student of St Austin’s Academy, Nairobi, scored the highest marks in the world in English Language when she sat for her Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) O-level examinations in June 2010.

She beat more than 420,000 students from all over the world.

“The news was unexpected, but I was very proud of myself,” she says.

Her English teacher at St Austin’s, Mr Frank Atuti, says she is an exceptional student and that her command of the English language is far beyond that of her peers.

Full story...


Sixty judges, court personnel complete English language course
July 10, 2011—A group of 60 Supreme Court judges and other court workers have completed four months of intensive training in the English language.

The training pilot programme was conducted by US Peace Corps in cooperation with the Rwandan Government, the Millennium Challenge Corporation Threshold Program - Rwanda Justice Strengthening Project (MCC JSP).

The programme's objective was to serve as an aid and catalyst for the justice system's transition from a Francophone civil law to an Anglophone hybrid common-civil law system.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Fabian Yankurije, one of the trainees, said that he benefited a lot from the programme since he can now speak and write in English without any difficulty.

"Now I am able to conduct court proceedings in English, for instance, in trans-national cases or foreign investment disputes," he said.

Speaking at the event, Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice, Sam Rugege, observed that the English language remains a major concern for the Rwanda judiciary.

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151 graduations frozen over faked English test scores

Surabaya, July 18, 2011—After it was discovered that they had falsified their English-language proficiency scores, 151 students from Surabaya State University were prevented from graduating over the weekend.

Heru Siswanto, the university’s head of public relations, said on Monday that the students from a variety of majors had failed to obtain the minimum score of 400 out of 677 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which was a prerequisite for graduating.

“We canceled their graduation because of the falsification,” he said.

“We’ve now given them four months in which to do a make-up TOEFL test and improve their scores.”

Despite the fact that the students had knowingly falsified their scores to make it seem as though they had passed, he said the university had still not decided whether to hand down any disciplinary sanctions against them.

Heru said the university was inclined to take a lenient stance on the students, including treating them as the victims in this case. He claimed they had “fallen prey to irresponsible parties who took advantage of their desperation after not attaining the required TOEFL score.”

“As an institute of higher learning, we will work with the police to identify and punish the wrongdoers in this case,” he said.

He declined to say whether the university suspected the students had been aided in the falsification by officials from the school’s Language Center, although he said this was a possibility now being investigated.

Full story...


Looking for qualified English teachers
By Katarína Koreňová,

August 1, 2011—The idea of compulsory English in Slovakia’s schools has opened the gates for arguments, both for and against the concept from its very inception. Nevertheless, the Slovak Parliament overrode a presidential veto of the amendment to the Education Act on March 1.

Starting in September this year, English will be mandatory for all incoming third-grade pupils.
Education Minister Eugen Jurzyca has said that his ministry hopes students will master at least one foreign language by the age of 15. In an interview with the weekly .týždeň he argued that “English is the language of experts and to a great extent also of diplomats,” noting that more than half of EU member states have compulsory English in their educational systems. Slovakia is the 14th to take that step.

Opponents of the new legislation do not necessarily disapprove of mandatory English classes. Apart from those who object to what they call the unreasonable preference for English over other foreign languages in the curricula, the most common concern is a lack of qualified educators to teach those classes.

“We do not have enough English teachers, either qualified or unqualified,” says Eva Tandlichová, Professor Emeritus of the Department of British and American Studies at Comenius University in Bratislava, and a recognized expert in the field of teacher training.

Full story...


English tuition needed before tablet PCs are given to pupils
August 16, 2011—Education Minister Worawat Ua-apinyakul has encouraged schools of all grades to offer students intensive English courses in preparation for the distribution of tablet PCs.

Since the English language is widely used on the devices, students from all grades should learn more English before the tablets are delivered, planned to be in the next academic year.

During its election campaign, the Pheu Thai Party promised to give a free tablet PC to each Prathom 1 (Grade 1) student under its One Tablet Per Child project.

The promise, however, has drawn criticisms from educators who believe that Prathom 1 children are too young for the PCs. Some critics have also voiced their concern about the inadequacy of digital educational content.

Mr Worawat said the distribution of tablets should not be limited to students at the Prathom 1 level.

"They should be provided to all actually. However, they will be handed out in lots based on the readiness of the digital content and the students themselves," he said yesterday at the second round of the ministry's executive meeting held at the Royal Princess Hotel. The minister insisted the free tablet PCs would be complementary to existing learning via textbooks.

Full story...

English proficiency or attitudes: what are the true barriers?
By Achara Deboonme, The Nation
Published on August 8, 2011

Is Thailand's low English proficiency a barrier to economic expansion?

That was a tough question from a young Thai man who graduated from a university in Sydney.

He asked that question because he is the only one on a eight-person team who has to cover English-related stuff for their magazine.

Statistically, the right answer is "yes." Studies show that in a society where over 90 per cent are literate, few are fluent in English.

Many universities are correcting this by demanding their undergraduate and graduate students to submit their theses in English.

But how can you force someone who doesn't know English to write in the language? Eventually, that requirement just gave extra work to those with a good command of the foreign language.

Given that I was also contacted for help, it's true that many English-language theses are completed by these people, not the students themselves.

That does not surprise me. In my university days, only English majors took more than 60 credits (20 courses) of English.

Full story...

New Zealand

Should Pacific parents emphasize the English language?

August 31, 2011—A Pacific Island education activist in New Zealand says it's up to Pacific parents to decide if they want to emphasize command of the English language with their children, not schools.

Danny Tolovae, the Pacific Advocate for the Pacific Island Community Tauranga Trust in New Zealand, was responding to comments from John McCaffery, a senior lecturer at Auckland University's School of Arts, Languages and Literacies, who says says bilingual education actually helps students do better in school.

He said Pacific parents who favour English over their vernacular Pacific language with their children have been taught that attitude because of decades of mistreatment at the hands of New Zealand, Australian and English teachers who physically punished Pacific children if they spoke their own languages at school.

Danny Tolovae says that didn't happen to him, and he's unfamiliar with such practices.

TOLOVAE: I haven't heard that through my own upbringing. I spent eight years in Samoa and I've never have heard of beatings and stuff like that. Colonisation happened at the time, but I couldn't remember being beaten up. We could be sent outside to ... cut the grass with our hands, round the school but that was part of sometimes our activities that we had to do in school…

Full story...

Good English starts in the home

TAURANGA TRUST, August 7, 2011—The trust’s Pacific advocate, Danny Tolovae, says some Pacific children are struggling in school because their low ability in English is preventing them from understanding what is being taught.

He says government funding cuts are not helping.

“They have stopped printing Pacific language journals and have cut back on funding Aoga Amata School,” says Danny, of the Samoan language pre-school.

“My preference would be for every culture to learn basic English – Why? – because it’s spoken widely around the globe.”

For families, however, which have immigrated to New Zealand, Danny says they need to make the effort to speak in English in the home as a part of their children’s education.

He says relying on a Pacific language as a first language is not helping.

Full story...

Republic of Georgia

English language prioritized in Georgian schools
By Salome Modebadze,

August 8, 2011—English language is becoming mandatory at all the accredited and authorized educational institutions in Georgia. The initiative of the Ministry of Education and Science aims to raise interest towards English language as the main priority for the Government and the initial step for the Georgian citizens to integrate with the international society. On August 5th the First Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Georgia Koka Seperteladze held a briefing where he explained the principles of the project.

As Seperteladze explained to the media, the Decree of the Ministry refers to the first year students of Bachelor’s degree from the 2011-2012 academic year and would be organized in coordination with the National Examination Center (NAEC). The higher education institutions that get a relevant license from the National Center for Education Quality Enhancement would also be able to carry out English language exams. “Those entrants who passed an English language exam at Unified National Exams should have B2 level in English and those who passed exam in other foreign language should obtain B1 level in English,” he said stressing that the students who hold TOEFl, IELTS or other international certificates in English language will be free from the additional exam.

Deputy Minister of Education and Science Nodar Surguladze explained the six international educational levels to The Messenger. A1 is the starting level for the foreign language and C2 emphasizes the highest educational background – equal to the mother tongue. B1 is the level necessary for overcoming the Unified National Exams in Georgia, while B2 is considered for Master’s degree, followed by C1 – for Doctor’s degree.

Full story...


Help, text messages, Facebook are killing language!
By Cosmas Omegoh

September 7, 2011—English Language experts in the country are worried that advancements in communication technologies are changing the complexion of the language for the worse. They are emphatic that the Internet, social network systems, Global Systems for Mobile Communication (GSM) and allied innovations are affecting the teaching and learning of the language. According to them, these new technologies are providing platforms for the wrong use of the language. Students and the society, they say, are being negatively influenced by them.

Mrs. Adeniyi, Head of the Department of English Language at Amuwo-Odofin Junior High School, Mile 2, Lagos laments that students nowadays no longer pay the right attention to English Language instruction. Despite efforts being made to help them develop proficiency in it, their writings are being heavily influenced by the short message services (sms), otherwise known as text messages that they send and receive with their phones and on facebook. She warns that the trend might have telling consequences in future.

“We have a big problem on our hands these days” she breathes out with a tinge of disappointment. “Our children are increasingly getting uninterested in learning the English Language. They don’t write simple words anymore without a lot of errors. You need to see the kind of essays they write these days. They no longer care a hoot about it.”

Full story...

Over 600,000 fail English as WAEC releases results

LAGOS, August 11, 2011—The West African Examinations Council (WAEC), on Wednesday, released the results of the 2011 Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE), with over 600,000 failing English Language, out of the total 1,460,003 results released.

Also, about 80,247 candidates who wrote the May/June examinations had their results eing processed due to various errors and omissions, while 81,573 candidates had their results withheld for alleged malpractices.

The Head of National Office of the WAEC, Dr Iyi Uwadiae, said this at a news conference in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Wednesday.

According to him, out of about 1,540,250 candidates who wrote the examination, about 600,000, representing 37 per cent, obtained credit in Mathematics, while over 800,000, representing about 54 per cent, obtained credit in English Language.

Uwadiae said the candidates whose results were withheld were found to be involved in various examination malpractices.

Full story...

Sri Lanka

NDB Bank helps develop English language teacher skills

September 3, 2011—NDB Bank joined hands with the British Council to launch an initiative that will improve the teaching skills and knowledge of secondary English language teachers in Sri Lanka.

The official agreement was signed between Russell de Mel, CEO of NDB Bank and Tony Reilly, Country Director of British Council.

The project aims to support one of NDB Bank’s strategic CSR initiatives in Education through a Secondary English Teaching Improvement.

Training and related services comprise of a teacher training course in the Secondary English language, consisting of 20 topic-based modules on key class room issues for select Secondary English language teachers teaching 11 to 18 year old students of Government Schools in the North Western Province. The teachers will be trained in up-to-date learner-centred, activity based methodology.

Each module will be assessed independently and upon the completion of all 20 modules the participants will be awarded a British Council Certificate in Secondary English Language Teaching at the end of the course.

Full story...

Skills for Life to promote Cambridge English Language qualifications

August 14, 2011—The University of Cambridge ESOL Sri Lanka office and Skills for Life (Pvt) Ltd, an authorized centre for the University of Cambridge English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) examinations, recently concluded two awareness programmes in Colombo and Kandy. The session in Colombo was directed towards corporate and educational establishments of both the public and private sectors. The successive event in the hill capital, Kandy was graced by Sarath Ekanayake, Chief Minister of the Central Province and officials of the Provincial Ministry of Education, Department of Education, Principals and teachers of schools in the Central Province.

A speaker from the University of Cambridge enlightened the audiences of Colombo and Kandy on the importance and relevance of University of Cambridge English Language qualifications, especially for candidates whose native language is not English. The speaker also emphasized on the international recognition placed on these qualifications and why they should be taken up in a country such as Sri Lanka.

Skills for Life is an organization that provides well researched, widely accepted curricula in key skill areas that have become training priorities today. The courses on offer not only assist in training new entrants to the workforce but are also aimed at nurturing young talent from early childhood…

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Why Americans no longer say what they mean in plain English
By Lara Marlowe, The Irish Times

IRELAND, June 25, 2011—In the preface to Pygmalion , George Bernard Shaw famously wrote that every time an Englishman opens his mouth he makes another Englishman despise him.

This is less true in America, where social mobility and democracy have blunted linguistic markers, while in politics there’s a premium on imaginative language that makes an apathetic public sit up and take notice.

But Democrats are handicapped by their split electorate, explains Timothy Meagher, a fourth generation Irish-American and professor of history at Catholic University. Republicans tend to be white and working or middle class, while Democrats encompass the poor, ethnic minorities and Americans with university degrees.

“The language that appeals to educated Democrats is more formal, more academic,” says Meagher. “College professors love Obama, because his language is beautifully crafted. But other groups can find it alienating.”

Race further complicates Obama’s linguistic choices. In his efforts to be a “regular guy”, the president calls people “folks” and drops his ‘g’s. “If he indulges too much in colloquial English, it sounds like black argot,” says Meagher.

“It’s easier for white politicians to descend into folksiness.” Obama’s intelligence and Ivy League education can be a political weakness that make him appear distant and cold, Meagher explains. “Dropping his ‘g’s can seem hip and cool to blacks and young whites, but older whites, and especially middle-class whites, may hear language that conjures up images of poor blacks. Do white Americans see someone like them, or someone who crosses a boundary? He’s boxed in by American stereotypes.”

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Hungary wants to dump English for being too easy to learn
By Gergo Racz, Wall Street Journal (blog)

August 18, 2011—Hungary’s government wants to dethrone English as the most common foreign language taught in Hungarian schools. The reason: It’s just too easy to learn.

“It is fortunate if the first foreign language learned is not English. The initial, very quick and spectacular successes of English learning may evoke the false image in students that learning any foreign language is that simple,” reads a draft bill obtained by news website that would amend Hungary’s education laws.

Instead, the ministry department in charge of education would prefer if students “chose languages with a fixed, structured grammatical system, the learning of which presents a balanced workload, such as neo-Latin languages.”

Besides giving a deceptive sense of achievement, English learning also makes acquiring other languages more difficult, the ministry argues. Reversing the order, on the other hand, makes learning English essentially effortless, it added.

“If someone is earlier taught another language, they’ll hardly notice that they can learn English alongside. This is because unfortunately, we use exclusively English words when talking about computers, international music and molecular biology,” Deputy State Secretary Laszlo Dux said in a radio interview on state radio station MR1 Kossuth.

Full story...


Chinese language gaining ground in the world
By Sabir Shah,

LAHORE, September 6, 2011—Although the government of Sindh province has decided to make the Standard Chinese language a compulsory subject from class six onwards in all schools with effect from 2013, the decision still seems to be a belated one if one takes into account the fact that the world’s largest exporter and second top most importers of goods formally overtook Japan in February 2011 to become the world’s second-largest economy with a nominal GDP of $5.88 trillion.

A BBC report of August 9, 2011 had summed up the “global Pied Piper” China’s unmatched economic prowess more than adequately: “After stagnating for more decades under the rigid rule of Communist leader Mao Tse-Tung, China now has the world’s fastest-growing economy and is undergoing what has been described as a second industrial revolution. Nowadays China is one of the world’s top exporters and is attracting record amounts of foreign investment. In turn, it is investing billions of dollars abroad. The collapse in international export markets that accompanied the global financial crisis of 2009 initially hit China hard, but its economy was among the first in the world to rebound, quickly returning to growth.” A research carried out by The News International shows that there are nearly 510 million Chinese-speaking people using the internet currently—-the second most after those who talk in English.

Mandarin is the most widely spoken language on earth as over 1.372 billion humans residing on the planet express themselves in this lingo.

Full story...

Chinese is the language the whole world wants to learn

September 8, 2011—There's been some noise this week in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh following the announcement that from 2013, learning standard Chinese will become compulsory for all students from sixth grade onwards.

There are those who say the move will erode Pakistani culture and those who say it simply makes sense as the world's most populous nation sits right on Sindh's doorstep.

But what the issue does to the rest of the world is—once again—highlight just how wide the use of the Chinese language is fast becoming.

With more than 1, 372 billion Chinese (or Mandarin) speakers in the world, it is the planet's most-used language, in front of English (1,302 billion). More and more, it is also becoming the language of the Internet.

According to the Internet World Stats, there were by the end of 2010, an estimated 444.9 million people using Chinese on the internet, second only to English and its web community of 536.6 million.

Full story...


Learning inglês by Internet
By Martha Gill, (blog)

September 9, 2011—As Brazilians warm up to hosting the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup, practising their stretches and squat-thrusts, they have suddenly begun to worry about their English.

This anxiety is pushing up a booming market for English language tuition in Brazil, which has grown as the economy develops and becomes more globalised. And as Brazilians look for ways to brush up their language skills, one Brazilian company is looking to the US to help fill the gap.

Abril Educação (ABRE11:SAO), a Brazilian educational company, this week paid $2m to acquire a 5.9 per cent stake in Livemocha, a Seattle-based company that bills itself as “the world’s largest online language learning community”.

The partnership would use the web to bring together Brazilian students with US-based teachers. The BM&FBovespa-listed Abril Educação had a revenue of R$510m in 2010, according companies figures from Bloomberg, and is controlled by Brazilian media corporation Grupo Abril. It sells textbooks, and serves approximately 30m Brazilian students. Livemocha, on the other hand, is a privately owned company which sets up language lessons via video-link. It currently has 11m members – 250,000 of whom are English teachers.

“There is an increasing awareness in Brazil of the importance of learning English, especially in anticipation of the World Cup,” Manoel Amorim, Abril Educação’s chief executive told beyondbrics…

Full story...


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