Click here to recommend us!
NEWS AND COMMENTARY
|COMMENTARY||COMMUNITY AFFAIRS||CAMPUS SCENE|
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, sim ply 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.
Philippine CHED, DepEd told: ‘Don’t drop the ball on English’
MANILA—The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) should keep on improving the capability of schools to teach the English language to students, House Assistant Majority Leader and Cebu Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. said in a press statement.
“We cannot afford to drop the ball on English, which is not only the world’s working language, but also the language of technology,” Gullas, vice chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education, said.
“Both the DepEd and the CHED should spend more to continuously retool our instructors in English, regardless whether they are teaching English as a language, or teaching Math, Natural Sciences or Social Sciences,” Gullas said.
The lawmaker also called for the inclusion of two courses—Bachelor of Arts in English and Bachelor of Arts in Journalism—in the CHED’s list of high-priority programs that may be subscribed by underprivileged high school graduates wishing to avail of public-funded college scholarships.
“We have to consciously grow the country’s future supply of fluent English-speaking, college-educated human resources,” Gullas said.
The Philippines has outperformed its competitors in the lucrative global information technology (IT)-based business process outsourcing (BPO) services, partly due to the fairly accent-free English of the country’s college graduates.
The country has emerged as one of the world’s fastest-growing BPO hubs, and Gullas’ home province has the greatest concentration of outsourcing activity outside Metro Manila.
At the close of 2014, the BPO sector already employed 1,030,000 Filipinos, of which 630,000 worked in outsourced or in-house contact centers, serving mostly the English-speaking customers of global corporations via voice calls, electronic mail and live chat.
Gullas has been pushing for the passage of new legislation that seeks to reinforce the English proficiency of Filipinos by reinstating the language as the medium of instruction in all school levels.
House Bill 1339 proposes the adoption of a new bilingual program in schools in which:
The country’s BPO and IT-based services industry encompasses contact centers; back offices; medical, legal and other data transcription; animation; software development; engineering design; and digital content.
According to the IT and Business Processing Association of the Philippines, the sector is projected to fully employ some 1.3 million Filipinos and generate up to $25 billion in annual revenues by 2016.
Muslim students find learning English can be fun
By Mozart Pastrano, Philippine Daily Inquirer
DAVAO CITY—On June 5, 16-year-old Shoaib Shamsoddin stood in front of an assembly of madrassa, or Islamic school, students from all over Mindanao and began to chant a passage from the Koran.
Wearing traditional Muslim clothes, he threw his deep, musical voice across the hall, the well-enunciated “h’s” and “f’s” and “k’s” of the Arabic words punctuating his prayer, asking God for forgiveness, seeking atonement for mistakes by offering good deeds.
While Waib, as friends call the prayer leader, clearly deserved the perfect scores he consistently got in his Arabic class, this assembly was a thanksgiving for an answered prayer: learning the English language.
“When we study hard, by the grace of God, we manage to get 100 percent in some of our subjects. But despite our best efforts, we could not ace our English class,” Waib, who studies at the Jamiatu Muslim Mindanao at Darussalam, Matampay, Marawi City, admitted after the ceremony. “That’s why we are very happy to be in this program and learn English in a fun, exciting way.”
Just as the new school year got under way, Waib and 88 other students from Zamboanga City and the Lanao provinces gathered here for graduation from a pioneering English-language learning program called Madrassa Youth Promoting English Advancement for Community Empowerment (My Peace).
My Peace was divided into four modules: grammar, parts of speech, pronunciation and reading.
“We made sure that learning would be fun,” said Dr. Edralin C. Manla of the School of Education at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City.
Manla headed the My Peace module-writing team, which included three educators from Marawi City and another two from Zamboanga City.
She said: “We made sure that each class would have the four A’s—activity, analysis, abstraction and application.
Crusader finds 1,300 errors in Grade 10 book in English
MANILA, June 8, 2015—A self-styled “sick books crusader” has slammed the Department of Education (DepEd) for its failure over the past two decades to catch errors in textbooks and teaching materials used in public schools.
Antonio Calipjo Go, academic supervisor at Marian School of Quezon City, said he had found some 1,300 errors in the newest book the DepEd had published titled “Diversity: Celebrating Multiculturism (sic) Through World Literature”—a learner’s material for Grade 10 students.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro, in an interview with the Inquirer last week, said, “With that title, I am sure that’s the first draft.”
Luistro said the book that Go had critiqued was still in the printing process, and it had been corrected and given a new title, “Celebrating Diversity Through World Literature.”
He added that if Go truly wanted to help, he should have sent the mistakes he had uncovered in the textbook to the DepEd.
Go said in his letter that the book he reviewed was a 508-page textbook that was “recently published” by the DepEd.
The DepEd’s Learning Resource and Management Development System (LRMDS) showed a digitized copy of the questioned textbook carrying the updated title.
The LRMDS is the DepEd’s online portal where digitized copies of learner’s modules can be downloaded. The Inquirer asked the DepEd for a hard copy of the textbook but had yet to receive it as of writing.
Over the past 20 years, Go has called the attention of the DepEd to various errors he had found in its textbooks, spending his own money to buy newspaper advertising space to publicize the mistakes.
His efforts have raised concern here and abroad about the quality of education in the Philippines and its textbooks “lost in translation.”
Legislator seeks probe on “sick” Philippine textbooks
MANILA, June 13, 2015—Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday called for an investigation into books published by the Department of Education (DepEd) that contain a large number of errors.
“Allowing textbooks with errors to be used by teachers and students amounts to wasting and mismanaging taxpayers’ money. We need a law penalizing those responsible for such errors, including government officials,” he said.
He urged the DepEd to make a comprehensive review of all textbooks and learning materials and withdraw those with errors.
“If the DepEd is really committed to making the student population globally competitive, textbooks for students and teachers should have no room for errors,” Gatchalian said.
“A textbook mistake does not only affect one generation of students but also future ones, creating a vicious cycle of ignorance. Such cycle could have been prevented if only the concerned officials and employees are performing their jobs excellently,” he said.
A Grade 10 English textbook has been found to contain numerous errors.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro has claimed the 508-page book is only a draft, while Usec. Dina Ocampo said it was used for teacher training, not classroom instruction.
Gatchalian said he does not buy the statements of Luistro and his undersecretary.
“Transformative change in the procurement and evaluation of books is not an easy process and cannot be done overnight, given that major and minor errors in books have been appearing for more than a decade now. And the DepEd should do the right thing even if it means firing a lot of people, even those in the upper echelons,” he said.
‘Presidentiable,’ ‘barkada,’ ‘KKB’ recognized in Oxford English Dictionary
By Tarra Quismundo, Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, June 25, 2015—It’s official: “presidentiable,” “barkada” and “balikbayan” have been included in the English dictionary.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) announced Thursday that several Filipino terms and uniquely Filipino usages of common English words are among those included in the latest update of the lexicon, recognized as the “definitive record of the English language.”
In a news release sent to the Inquirer, the OED said the dictionary’s latest update “sees the inclusion of a number of words from Philippine English as part of our ongoing commitment to recording words from all varieties of English, throughout the world.”
“There are new senses of common English words like gimmick to mean ‘a night out with friends’; loanwords from Spanish (like estafa ‘fraud’) and Tagalog like barkada (‘group of friends’); and formations in English that are only used in Philippine English, like carnap (‘to steal a car’) and presidentiable (‘a person who is a likely or confirmed candidate for president’),” the OED said.
“Evidence for these usages is not just found in the Philippines but also in parts of the United States that have large Filipino populations,” it said.
The latest OED update includes 500 new words, more than 900 newly revised and updated words, and more than 2,400 new senses or definitions of existing words.
“This makes the OED one of the largest and longest-running language research projects in the world,” the OED said.
Filipino words liven up the English language
By Inquirer Social Media
MANILA, June 26, 2015—For netizens, more Filipino words in the Oxford English Dictionary mean more fun.
According to the dictionary’s latest update, “evidence for these usages is not just found in the Philippines but also in parts of the United States that have large Filipino populations.”
Aside from “presidentiable,” terms like “barkada,” “balikbayan,” “barangay,” “balikbayan,” “KKB,” “high blood,” “despedida,” “halo-halo,” “sari-sari store” and “utang na loob” made it to the dictionary’s list of new words.
The dictionary is considered the “definitive record of the English language.”
Netizens took to social media to poke fun at the “new” words.
Reader Hiphip R. Bael III said: “This is good news. Finally, some Filipino slang, terms, and languages are included in the English Dictionary. At least we are a part of the evolution of the English language.”
For Internet user Kristian Jacob Lora, the news meant more chances to win at Scrabble, a popular board game. “Woah! Pandagdag points sa scrabble :-D,” he said.
However, these netizens thought that Oxford’s dictionary editors should have these words instead.
“Sumalosep! Aren’t they going to include ‘jejemon?’ Waaahh!,” said Selwyn Clyde M. Alojipan.
Philippines top source country for new Canadian immigrants in 2014
May 2015 (CICNews.com)—More than 40,000 Filipinos became permanent residents of Canada in 2014, making the Philippines the top source country for Canadian immigration last year. The Philippines had previously been the top source country in 2012, with China having been the top source country in 2013.
Canada also issued nearly 47,000 visitor visas to Filipinos in 2014, a 56 percent increase since 2006.
The number of new permanent residents from the Philippines is up from 14,004 in 2004, a near three-fold increase in just one decade. Many of the Filipino newcomers originally came to Canada under the Live-In Caregiver Program, now simply the Caregiver Program after modifications made last November. The government of Canada’s immigration plan for 2015 states that it aims to convert between 26,000 and 30,000 caregivers to permanent resident status this year.
In just a few short decades, Canada’s Filipino community has grown to become one of the country’s largest immigrant demographics. The more than 700,000 people of Filipino descent in Canada make up one of the country’s larger diaspora communities, and this number is increasing constantly. Filipino workers in Canada are important to both the Canadian and Philippine economies. While workers in Canada help to fill important labour shortages, families and friends in the Philippines benefit from remittances sent from Canada.
About half of Canada’s Filipino population lives in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), with Vancouver hosting the second-largest Filipino population in Canada and Winnipeg also home to a large number of Filipinos.
“Oftentimes, individuals will first come to Canada as temporary workers, leaving spouses and children behind. But many Filipinos have also worked hard to bring their immediate families to Canada. Once permanent residence is achieved, they are then able to reunite with their families in Canada,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“Canada’s generous family sponsorship rules allow permanent residents to sponsor not only children and spouses, but parents and grandparents as well. These include the popular Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program as well as the new Super Visa Program, which offers long-term visitor visas to qualified applicants. The introduction of these family reunification programs has contributed to the upsurge in new arrivals from the Philippines.”
DepEd wasted PhP608-M books due to K to 12, says audit commission
MANILA, April 2, 2015—The 16,296,231 textbooks that the Department of Education (DepEd) bought for P608.7 million for its school year 2011-2012 textbook replenishment project under the old curriculum have become obsolete because of the shift to the K to 12 program.
In a 2013 report released yesterday, the Commission on Audit (COA) said government funds would be wasted because the textbooks were delivered only in school year 2012-2013 or at the onset of the implementation of the K to 12 program.
The COA blamed DepEd’s “lapses in planning and lack of foresight,” considering that as early as 2010 it was already gearing up towards the implementation of the new learning system.
“The delivered textbooks will eventually be regarded only as reference materials being no longer responsive to the enhanced K to 12 curriculum even though they were received by the schools for use for school year 2012-2013,” state auditors said.
“It can be said that the lack of preparedness of the agency in the implementation of K to 12 deprived the students their access to quality education,” state auditors stressed.
The COA called on DepEd to determine all officials who should be held accountable for the procurement of the textbooks.
Records show that the textbooks were mostly contracted in 2011 with delivery and distribution schedules from the last quarter of 2011 to the last quarter of 2012.
The deliveries covered mostly the textbook requirements of the grade levels that will be covered by the first and second year implementation of K to 12.
The COA identified some of the textbooks as English Expressway 1, English for You and Me 2, Elementary Mathematics 1, Mathematics for Everyday Use, Landas sa Wika at Pagbasa, Pagdiriwang ng Wikang Filipino 2, Matapat na Pilipino 1 and Katangiang Pilipino.
“The procurement done by DepEd can be considered as unnecessary expenses,” COA said.
DepEd, US sign deal to boost PH education
MANILA, January 31, 2015—The Department of Education (DepEd) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a bilateral agreement for basic education programs that aim to increase access to quality education for vulnerable populations such as out-of-school youth and students in conflict-affected areas.
The five-year agreement pledges P580 million ($12.9 million) in US assistance through USAID for basic education programs throughout the Philippines.
“This bilateral education agreement will sustain and reinvigorate our combined efforts to ensure that the Philippines continues its rise as a regional and global leader in this new century,” Brian Goldbeck, US deputy chief of mission, said.
“It also symbolizes the continued partnership between our two nations that began over a century ago with the arrival of about 500 American Thomasite teachers,” Goldbeck, who is also a former teacher, added.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said that through this partnership, the department will be able to open educational opportunities not only for students who reside in conflict-torn areas but to all Filipino children.
Under the agreement, DepEd and USAID will provide skills training to youth, promote community engagement and peace education, increase the capacity of teachers and youth leaders to meet the education needs of youth and vulnerable population through alternative learning in areas affected by crisis and conflict.
The partnership intends to strengthen education governance at national and local levels…
Pope Francis practicing English but speaks from the heart
By Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer
VATICAN CITY, January 8, 2015—In what language should the Vicar of Christ speak when he comes again to Asia?
Why, in English, of course, said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J.
But it will help if the Vicar of Christ polishes his English. And if that fails, then he can speak from the heart.
After all, the theme of his visit is “mercy and compassion,” a message better delivered from the heart than from the Anglo-Saxon tongue.
Lombardi explained that the Pope delivered his speeches in English when he was in South Korea last August, his first Asian visit, and he would do likewise when he goes to Sri Lanka and the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19.
He will reportedly deliver a total of 11 speeches.
If we must add, Pope Paul VI delivered his 1970 Philippine addresses in English and so did Saint Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995.
But Paul VI was a diplomat and John Paul II was a polyglot.
Even the Italian Jesuit spokesman of His Holiness is not fluent in English and his Italian-Argentinian boss is not exactly at home in it, the way he’s comfortable with Italian and Spanish.
The Pope’s English after all cannot compare with, say, the King’s English.
CHEd rewards schools using Filipino as medium of instruction
MANILA, December 27, 2014—The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said it will give incentives to institutions that constantly use Filipino or Tagalog as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction.
In a statement, CHEd said schools that opt to use Filipino in the general education (GE) courses or offer several sections of a given course in Filipino and other Philippine languages will be given financial incentives for the development of instructional materials in Filipino.
The commission has been urging faculty members who teach general education curriculum (GEC) as well as those teaching major courses to contribute to the intellectualization of Filipino by using it.
“Filipino cannot merely be taught as a subject, but must be used in oral and written forms, across academic domains,” it said.
According to the commission, only 15 percent of the general education curriculum subject will be offered to all college students in time of the nationwide implementation of Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-to-12) program by 2016. Under the K-to-12 scheme, the general education subjects were trimmed down to 36 units from 63 units.
The commission however clarified that only Filipino subjects have been removed from the original college curriculum because these will be offered to senior high school (Grades 11 and 12) students.
OFWs urged to avail of open distance learning
MANILA, December 26, 2014—Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo has encouraged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are high school graduates or college undergraduates to seek higher education through Open Distance Learning (ODL), so that they may improve their standard of living.
“We’ve established ODL precisely to help every Filipino, especially OFWs, working students, and persons with disabilities, realize their hopes and dreams of acquiring higher education -- whether a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree,” said Romulo, chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education.
Romulo made the statement shortly after Malacañang signed into law the Open Distance Learning Law, or Republic Act 10650.
“What is great about ODL is that you can obtain a bachelor’s degree from any Philippine university, regardless of your location -- while you are employed as a service crew of McDonald’s in Kuwait, a domestic helper in Riyadh, or a hotel bellhop in Abu Dhabi,” Romulo said.
“You are able to study at your own pace. The mode of study is at your option and convenience,” said Romulo, who has been pushing for greater public access to higher education.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) records show that more than 5,000 Filipinos leave the country every day for contract jobs abroad. Many of them are high school graduates, holders of post-secondary certificate courses, or college undergraduates.
“Technological advances that have made it possible to teach more and more subjects remotely, mainly via computers and the Internet, while our human resources, including OFWs, have to continually retool and upgrade their skills to stay highly competitive,” Romulo said.
ODL is a mode of delivering flexible education and instruction to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting such as a classroom.
It provides “access to education when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, or both.”
ODL may be conveyed to students individually, or via massive online courses, aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the Internet or other network technologies.
No less than the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been batting for ODL to help developing countries achieve their education system-wide goals.
“As a force contributing to social and economic development, ODL has become an indispensable part of the mainstream of global educational systems,” UNESCO said.
Fil-Am one of top five teachers in California
By Bernice Camille V. Bauzon, The Manila Times
MANILA, December 21, 2014—For someone who was bullied as a child because she could not speak English well, Filipino-American Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher has come a long way.
Prueher, who teaches English at the Dodson Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), was selected as one of the top five California Teachers of the Year from among the state’s nearly 300,000 teachers.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to receive this award,” she said in a statement.
“But this is not just an award but an opportunity to talk to students, parents and fellow teachers all over California about what it’s like to be an immigrant . . . and to be suspected of having a learning disability because of language needs.”
The 34-year-old immigrated to the United States when she was nine years old. She recalled that in her early years in school, she was bullied because she did not speak English well.
That experience has made her a strong advocate for immigrants, who make up nearly a quarter of the student population in Los Angeles County, learning the English language.
Marquez-Prueher is one of the 16 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year for 2014-2015.
She was honored at a luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and attended by 700 people, including the top educators and education administrators in the county.
57th PEN Congress: Mabini, moral regeneration, corruption atbp.
By Amadís Ma. Guerrero, Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, December 8, 2014—Most of our national heroes were flawed human beings, as Nick Joaquin so startlingly revealed in his “A Question of Heroes” (Filipinas Foundation, 1977). But I submit that Apolinario Mabini—due to his intellect, uprightness and uncompromising stand—was the least flawed.
On the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary, Mabini cast a long shadow over the recent 57th Philippine PEN (Poets, Essayists and Novelists) Congress, held at the Henry Sy Sr. Hall at De La Salle University, Manila.
The Philippine Center of International PEN—based in London—was founded by National Artist F. Sionil José in 1957. PEN chair is National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera.
The theme of the conference was “Writers, Writing, Moral Regeneration and National Renewal.” It was inspired by an exhortation from Mabini’s The True Decalogue: “Never stray from the path of righteousness and justice…”
The keynote speaker, novelist and former Intramuros Admiration chief Anna Maria “Bambi” L. Harper called attention to Mabini’s second commandment (“We should not recognize any person who has not been elected by the people”), and scored government indifference to the arts: “Compare the lobbies in Makati and Ortigas to the lobby of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.”
Fil-Am science teacher wins prestigious Milken Educator Award
UNION, New Jersey, December 15, 2014—Filipino American science teacher Tracy Espiritu got the surprise of her life Monday, December 8, when she was given a $25,000 Milken Educator Award before students, fellow colleagues and dignitaries at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy School No. 29 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She thought she was attending a presentation on college and career readiness.
Espiritu is the sole recipient of the award in New Jersey, from among 40 recipients across the U.S. who will be receiving the honor during the 2014-15 season.
The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists. Milken Family Foundation co-founder Mike Milken, together with New Jersey first lady Mary Pat Christie and acting state Education Commissioner David C. Hespe, made the announcement of the award at a special ceremony.
“Winning the Milken Educator Award validates years of hard work and dedication I had put into teaching,” Espiritu told this reporter. “It signifies that my passion as a teacher made a positive impact in many people’s lives, not just my students’ but families and colleagues as well.”
Espiritu’s family was as surprised as she was on winning the $25,000 cash award. “I thought the cash prize was to be used towards classroom/school equipment, but when I was told I can use it for personal use, I was speechless, ” she said. Although her family has not given much thought on how to use it, she said her children “are quick to remind me that the prize came conveniently before Christmas.”
New PHL law assures top 10 HS grads of college scholarships
MANILA, November 30, 2014—The top 10 graduates of every public high school are now assured of scholarships in 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs), with President Benigno Aquino III’s signing into law of the Iskolar ng Bayan Program, now Republic Act No. 10648.
“The new law will enable a greater number of Filipino families to fulfill their hopes and dreams of sending their children to college,” said Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education.
“We expect around 80,000 of the country’s best-performing public high school graduates to benefit from the new legislation,” said Romulo, who has been championing greater public access to higher education.
“Highly improved access to a college education is crucially important in fighting poverty and growing our middle class families,” Romulo added.
Under the Iskolar ng Bayan Program, the top 10 graduates of every public high school will be entitled to admission to the SUC of his or her choice within his or her province, without having to pay for first-year tuition and miscellaneous fees.
According to the Department of Education, there are more than 8,000 public high schools nationwide.
Public high schools with more than 1,000 graduates will be entitled to one additional college scholarship slot for every 500 graduates, to be granted to graduates whose ranks immediately follow the top 10.
After the first-year college scholarship under the program, the student beneficiary will be covered by financial assistance from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), if qualified.
In the 2015 national budget, SUCs have a total of P3.5 billion available for scholarships. This is apart from the CHED’s P2.2-billion allotment for student financial aid.
Romulo is also author of the proposed Voluntary Student Loan Program by Private Banks, which since been passed on third and final reading by the House of Representatives, and is now pending Senate action.
Under the program, an eligible student may obtain a low-cost bank loan to pay for the tuition of the college where the borrower has been accepted. The student may also use the money to finance all other schooling as well as living expenses.
The loan would have an effective interest rate pegged to the 91-day Treasury bill rate, which stood at 1.144 percent per annum as of Nov. 28.
The bank may apply an add-on 3.0 to 5.0 percent annual interest rate. But instead of the student paying for the extra interest charges, the lender may claim the corresponding amount as tax credits. The bank may then use the credits to pay, or offset, its tax obligations.
The borrower would pay off the loan periodically, starting two years after graduation, but not later than eight years after leaving college.
Borrowers would be issued either Social Security System (SSS) or Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) numbers, depending on their preferred future employment.
The bank may then enlist the SSS or GSIS to collect repayments via salary deduction or withholding.
The lender may also ask the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to help collect from borrowers with job contracts abroad.
PEN writers hold 57th congress; several books to be launched
MANILA, December 1, 2014—The Philippines Center of the International PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) will hold its 57th annual conference on Dec. 2 and 3 at The Verdure Multipurpose Hall, 5th floor, Henry Sy Hall, De La Salle University (DLSU), Taft Avenue, Manila.
Supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the conference has for its theme “Never stray from the path of righteousness and justice…” (Mabini’s The True Decalogue): Writing, Writers, Moral Regeneration and National Renewal.
The 2014 conference is being held in commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini.
Main speakers are novelist Anna Maria “Bambi” L. Harper, former columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and chief of the Intramuros Administration, who will deliver the keynote address; and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna, now of the International Commission of Jurists, who will deliver the traditional José Rizal Lecture.
Featured writer-discussants in the literary sessions include Raissa Robles, Victor Peñaranda, Rene Azurin, Joel Pablo Salud, Nicolas Pichay, Floy Quintos, Dennis Marasigan, Clodualdo del Mundo Jr., Kristian Cordero, Fr. Wilmer Tria, Junley Lazaga, Alex R. Castro, Zola Macarambon, Francis Allan Angelo, Edgardo Maranan, Glenn Mas, Jun Cruz Reyes, Amadís Ma. Guerrero, Santiago Villafania, and Charlson Ong;
Ricardo Soler, Gemma Cruz Araneta, Saul Hofileña Jr., Ambassador Alejandrino Vicente, Bernardita Churchill, Karina Bolasco, Nida Ramirez, Jun Matias, Carlo Vergara, Edgar Samar and Marjorie Evasco.
Storm surge, other terms to be made simple in the Philippines
MANILA, November 27, 2014 (AFP)—President Benigno Aquino III has been among Pagasa’s most severe critics, often lecturing its forecasters publicly to use layman’s terms in its bulletins.
Now, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) is working with linguists to ensure that people fully understand the threat posed by typhoons, floods and other events, the officials said.
Giant walls of seawater, called “storm surges” generated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), the strongest recorded typhoon to hit land, were blamed for most of the 7,350 lives lost in the Visayas last year.
Even though the hardest-hit areas were warned beforehand, the weather service and other officials later admitted that the victims were unfamiliar with the term “storm surge,” which they said failed to adequately convey the deadly threat.
“People need to be told in a language they can understand the dangers that they face,” said Roberto Añonuevo, executive director of the Commission on the Filipino Language.
“Typhoons and storms are a common occurrence, so they (people) become complacent. This will help them to respond. This is potentially life-saving,” Añonuevo said.
About 20 typhoons and storms hit the country each year, triggering floods and landslides that kill hundreds.
Downton Abbey actor voices Noli Me Tangere audiobook
By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
LONDON, October 22, 2014—International star of stage and screen Richard E. Grant was at the Philippine Embassy in London to launch an English language audiobook of classic Filipino novel, Noli Me Tangere.
The British actor, who currently stars in hit television series Downton Abbey, was tasked to narrate the Jose Rizal novel in a new audiobook, using a popular English translation from 1961 by Leon Maria Guerrero III, a former ambassador of the Philippines in the United Kingdom.
“I enjoyed reading the book enormously,” Grant told ABS-CBN Europe.
He explained: “I was so struck by the fact that it combined so many genres of being an absolute page turning thriller, in a sense, as well as history of the most incredible colonial social injustice. And then it’s livened by incredible humor, high comedy and satire.”
It was the first time Grant read Noli Me Tangere, and by doing so discovered a part of Philippine history that many say defined the nation through the words written by Rizal.
“The happy ending is that the country has been liberated from colonialism, so that is the great triumph of history. So everything that this young man hoped for and presaged has come true,” he said.
The new audiobook, also complimented by an e-book of the same title, could take Rizal’s ideas even further by introducing the text to a wider audience from a multimedia-savvy digital generation.
“It’s time for a new way of telling a story through mobile, through web, ebooks, audiobooks, so there should be no barrier to people reading the book or reading the story at least,” said David Guerrero, head of Guerrero Publishing.
PHL teachers urged to begin biggest revolution in education
MANILA, October 5, 2014—In observance of World Teachers Day on Sunday, Education Secretary Armin Luistro yesterday called on the country’s 660,000 teachers to continue the educational revolution and completely eliminate illiteracy.
In activities held at Victorias Coliseum in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, Luistro paid homage to every teacher for their commitment to empower the youth with the wisdom and knowledge to achieve their dreams.
“If all the teachers in the country start to move as one, we will start the biggest revolution in education… If we want to transform our country, we need living heroes,” he told his audience of educators.
“We hope to give emphasis to your efforts, our dear teachers all throughout the country, in your everyday battles inside and outside the classroom. Each day you stand in front of your students is another day of taking on the challenge of eliminating illiteracy and ignorance among the minds of the Filipino youth,” Luistro said.
He said that every day, teachers empowered the learners and inspired them to achieve greatness for themselves and others.
“Every day that you spend in your classroom is living heroism,” he added, citing not only the teachers’ role as educators but as leaders in times of calamity and in disaster risk management.
Relearning the art of letter writing and using “snail mail”
MANILA, October 4, 2014—To try to bring back the forgotten art of letter writing in the age of email and 140-character limitations of Twitter, the Department of Education is urging high school students to take part in World Post Day activities.
In an October 3 advisory, the Deped’s Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino said it was teaming up with the Philippine Postal Corp. for the 2nd National Letter Writing Day on October 9 to be held simultaneously in 35 SM Malls nationwide.
National Letter Writing Day in Metro Manila will be held at the SM Aura in Taguig City.
With “Pinasaya”—past tense of the Tagalog equivalent of the verb “to bring joy”—as this year’s theme, a participant will be asked to write a letter containing happy thoughts to bring joy to a family member, a friend, a teacher, or anybody the student considers special.
According to the DepEd advisory, the activity is aimed at developing a learner’s composition skills, promoting positivism, and fostering a passion for letter writing amid the prevalence of social networking sites and electronic communications. It is also intended to build stronger friendships and family ties.
The activity is also aimed at familiarizing the youth in the age of the Internet with one of the most basic forms of communication as well as the functions of the postal system, now referred to as “snail mail.”
A regional contest is to be held on November 8 for the Universal Postal Union’s 2015 international letter writing competition, which will be open to grades 7 to 9 students from selected public and private secondary schools nationwide.
Go for original stories, Young Adult lit authors tell young writers
MANILA, September 23, 2014—While many writers would name their stories’ characters after loved ones or friends, a best-selling author revealed to her audience at International School Manila (ISM) that she looked to cyberspace for inspiration.
“Baby names on the Internet! I Google them,” said Lissa Price, author of the “Starters” series, as the audience laughed and applauded.
Price and fellow novelist Jennifer E. Smith were here recently on a book signing tour. This visit to ISM in Taguig City was organized by National Book Store.
Smith, known for her teen romance novels “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight” and “This Is What Happy Looks Like,” also talked about how she wrote her books.
“I don’t write with an outline because I’m a bit of a scatterbrain,” she said. She would write in the form of a script, she said, whenever she experienced writer’s block.
“I write the scenes in dialogues and go back to rewrite them after an hour,” she said.
Both Price and Smith warned ISM students that getting a book published was no easy task. Price described it as a “whirlwind process.”
Before her first book “Starters” was bought by a publishing company, Price said, she had written two scripts that were both rejected.
“But with ‘Starters,’ there were 10 editors who wanted it,” Price said.
When her agent called and asked if she was sitting down, Price knew the news had to be important. True enough, Random House had bought her script.
Filipino is “foreign” to many Pinoy students, says DepEd
MANILA, August 19, 2014—Many Filipino students living in Manila and the provinces remain “foreign” to their national language – Filipino – despite the annual celebration of National Language Month (Buwan ng Wika) every August.
Majority of the students outside Manila do not speak Filipino whether they are at home or in school, according to the Department of Education (DepEd). Filipino can even be considered as a “foreign” language to some students who are enrolled in private and exclusive schools where speaking English is common.
“We’re all Filipinos but we are not all Filipino speakers since we are a multi-lingual country,” said DepEd Curriculum Development Division (CDD) OIC Dr. Rosalina Villaneza.
While Filipino – as a subject – has always been a part of the basic education curriculum, it remains a language that is not used by all students.
Recently, teaching the Filipino language, and using Filipino as classroom language has also become controversial with the revision of the General Education Curriculum (GEC) approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) last year. The revision is a result of the implementation of the Senior High School (SHS) Program under K to 12.
Filipino units – along with courses in English, Literature, Math, Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences – are among those removed in the new GEC.
This led advocates of the Filipino such as the “Tanggol Wika” – an alliance of around 70 schools, colleges, universities, linguistic and cultural organizations, and concerned citizens – to protest, demanding to retain Filipino as a subject in college.
Philippines lays claim to being Asia’s education center
MANILA, July 7, 2014—The Philippines has been noted for many things – its beautiful women, its lovely scenery, its hospitality – but recently it received a new accolade: as the education center of Asia. More foreign students are coming to the Philippines to study, because of its growing reputation for quality education, quality faculty members, and Filipino teachers proficiency in English as a medium of instruction.
According to the latest government report which was carried in the local press, a total of 47,478 foreign students are enrolled in Philippine schools. So far as nationalities are concerned, South Koreans, who have been the largest foreign group attending college in the Philippines for the last three years, top the list this year with over fifteen hundred new students, with Indians taking second place with 1,069. Iranians come in third with 1,089 and there are a thousand Chinese students. And judging by student visas issued, the number of foreign students will increase this year as 5,719 more visas have been issued by the Bureau of Immigration.
Only schools accredited by the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Education, and the Commission on Higher Education are authorized to accept foreign students.
Today the Philippines is ranked among the top five countries in the world in terms of total numbers of English-speakers, and its schools are graduating an additional 470,000 more English speakers from college each year. This explosion in Filipinos speaking English has led to another quiet but important development.
San Francisco certifies Tagalog as 3rd required language in city affairs
INQUIRER.net US Bureau
SAN FRANCISCO, California, April 4, 2014—Filipino (Tagalog), the most commonly spoken Filipino language in the Bay Area and the official language of the Philippines, is now a third required language, in addition to Chinese and Spanish, city officials announced April 2 at the Bayanihan Community Center.
Mayor Edwin M. Lee with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Supervisors John Avalos and Jane Kim and local community partners today announced the certification of Tagalog as covered under the City’s Language Access Ordinance.
San Francisco’s Language Access Ordinance was established in 2001 and is one of the most comprehensive local language laws in the nation.
The ordinance requires city departments that interact with the public to provide translated materials, interpreters at public meetings and other services.
Several City Departments already provide services in Tagalog and an array of other languages to meet state and federal requirements, but the City’s ordinance requires much more rigorous study and provision of multilingual services.
More than 112 different languages are spoken in the San Francisco Bay Area and 45 percent of all San Francisco residents do not speak English at home.
“San Francisco is a model for the nation in welcoming immigrants and empowering communities, and we are committed to doing even better on behalf of our immigrant populations,” said Lee.
Pre-college screening exams proposed for aspiring teachers
MANILA, March 23, 2014—Citing the dismal passing rate of those who take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET), a group of businessmen advocating education reform has called for a pre-college screening test for would-be teachers.
The Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) proposed that high school graduates be made to take and pass a national entrance exam for teachers before they could take an education course in college.
PBEd president Chito Salazar doubted the LET, one of the requisites before one can teach preschool, elementary or high school, still served its purpose.
He said that in the first place, the educational system had to make sure it had the right people to train to become teachers.
A pre-college screening test for teachers would also help restore the prestige of the teaching profession, Salazar said.
“Why don’t they pass the LET? Maybe because of poor training, poor performance. Or maybe the exam is not a good measure of what makes a good teacher,” he said.
Analyzing LET results from 2009 to 2013, the PBEd found that only about half or 146,091 of the 268,361 first-time LET takers in the last five years passed the exam.
Philippines’ education crisis far from over, says UNESCO
MANILA, January 23, 2014—The United Nations’ education arm observed how several educational targets for the Philippines are far from being reached even under President Benigno Aquino III.
In financing the sector, a UNESCO representative said in an e-mail exchange with Philstar.com that the Philippine government has not prioritized education as much as it ought to.
While education spending increased from 1999 to 2011 from 13.9 percent to 15 percent, it has not yet reached the target suggested 20 percent of national budget.
Moreover, education is not a significant contributor to the country’s gross national product.
“The share of national income invested in education, which equalled the subregional average in 1999, had fallen behind by 2009 at 2.7 percent of GNP, compared with an average of 3.2 percent for East Asia,” UNESCO said.
The Philippines also has 1.46 million huge out-of-school population and the number has hardly been improved between 2000 and 2011.
“The Philippines is still in the top ten countries with the highest out of school population ... By contrast, Indonesia managed to reduce its out-of-school population by 84 percent between 2000 and 2011,” UNESCO said.
The international organization furthermore cited teacher absenteeism as a recurring problem in the country’s schools.
The “sexist” words your children are no longer allowed to use at school
By Helena Horton, Telegraph.co.uk
October 19, 2015—Children as young as five are going to be admonished for using language that enforces gender stereotypes as new guidelines are sent to every school in England this Tuesday.
“We used to say ‘Man up, cupcake’. We’ve stopped that. Saying ‘Don’t be a girl’ to a boy if they are being a bit wet is also unacceptable. Language is a very powerful tool. You have to be so conscious of what you are saying to children”
School students are no longer allowed to use sexist language to bait each other in the playground, such as “man up” and “go make me a sandwich,” and head teachers are being urged to ensure that sexist language is taken as seriously as racist language.
These guidelines come from a report by the Institute of Physics.
In response, some schools are creating volunteer squads of girls to police sexist attitudes and report back to teachers.
Schools are also being asked by the report to appoint senior teachers as “gender champions,” appointing them with the task of encouraging more girls to take traditionally “male” subjects such as economics, computer science and physics at GCSE and A-level and more boys to take 'female' subjects such as English literature, foreign languages and psychology.
Stereotypes are blamed for the fact that there is a gender divide in the subjects taken at GCSE and A-level. Only 19 per cent of girls who scored an A* in GCSE physics studied it at A-level in 2011. This contrasts to the amount of boys - just under half of whom scored an A* in physics studied it at A-level in the same year.
Government launches parental guide to teens’ online chatter
By Josh Barrie, Independent.co.uk
September 6, 2015—An official guide to help parents decipher the language used by their children on social media has been launched by the Government.
ParentInfo, a website designed to help older generations better understand the communications of teenagers and children, has been unveiled by the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan.
Terms such as “GNOC” (meaning “get naked on camera”) and “420” (“cannabis”) are often enough to “KPC” – “keep parents clueless’”
Not all the acronyms and abbreviations highlighted by the guide are dangerous – “IRL” simply means “in real life”.
But many indicate sexual content, and the new dictionary may help parents shine a light on youngsters engaging in risky behaviour. There is particular emphasis on safeguarding from paedophiles who mask their true identity behind a computer screen, with “LMIRL” meaning “let’s meet in real life” and “IWSN” translating as “I want sex now”.
The Department for Education (DfE) reports that one in five parents feel “ill equipped” to keep their children safe online. A quarter of girls aged between nine and 16 say they’ve been “bothered” on the internet.
Ms Morgan said: “As a parent myself, I understand how important it is to know your child is safe and that’s why this new, online service is so important. I hope all schools take advantage of this new resource, which addresses fundamental issues like cyber bullying and body confidence – so that they can help protect their children in this digital age.”
The DfE says 550 schools have already registered to use ParentInfo.
New immigrants must speak English, says Labour leader
LONDON, April 18, 2015—All new immigrants to Britain should be able to speak English, Ed Miliband has said in an apparent attempt to harden Labour’s line on immigration before the general election.
The Labour leader said it was particularly important that doctors, nurses and paramedics working in the NHS were able to communicate properly with patients.
A future Labour government would pass laws to ensure all health workers spoke English well enough to care for patients before they could start work, he said, and regulators would be given powers to enforce the rules.
In an effort to shed perceptions that Labour was soft on immigration, Miliband said that in the past his party had been “too timid” about insisting that newcomers learn English when they arrive in the UK.
“It’s something we should expect from everyone who comes here and it’s especially important that people who work in public services in public-facing roles should be required to speak English,” he told an audience at Pensby high school in Heswall, Merseyside.
Miliband said the need for people to speak English was “nowhere … more true than in our NHS”, which has a significant proportion of nurses and particularly doctors who have qualified overseas. Of the 267,150 doctors registered with the General Medical Council on 6 January this year, 97,915 (36.7%) were foreign-trained, including 34,120 specialists.
“I will never demean or devalue their contribution to our country, but it is vital that people who come to fill those roles don’t just have the right medical skills but can communicate with those for whom they care,” Miliband said.
Language school ditches “Isis” name
LONDON, April 20, 2015—An English language school and education group called “Isis” is having to change its name because of the associations with extremism.
A spokesman said it had become increasingly difficult to attend international language events under the Isis banner.
There were also a few “negative comments” for staff wearing Isis T-shirts, said the spokesman.
The re-branding has adopted the name Oxford International Education Group.
The chain of language schools and education providers has been called Isis since 1991, taking its name from the part of the River Thames at Oxford that is called the Isis.
But the group has decided it is no longer practical to keep the name, when there are so many negative connotations of violent extremism, with Isis one of the names attached to the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The use of the Isis branding was dropped because of the negative connotations.
A spokesman said a decision had been taken not to wait for a change in the political situation but to go ahead and switch from Isis Education to avoid any further risk of embarrassing confusions.
“To have our staff in certain markets operating with Isis business cards, Isis group email addresses, Isis banners, was not an option. Thus, after 24 years as Isis the rather sad decision was made to re-brand,” said a spokesman.
Language guru explains the weirdest English words today
By Nicole Low, Daily Mail Australia
December 23, 2015—”Photobomb” and “emoji” may be familiar words to many of us but what about “lumbersexual,” “nerdjacking,” and “lawnmower parent”?
They are some of the quirkiest words to recently enter the English language and are now in contention for Macquarie Australian Dictionary’s 2015 word of the year.
Melbourne language expert David has shed light on some of the words including “lumbersexual,” which is a “metrosexual” who holds on to some outdoor based ruggedness, often keeping a finely trimmed beard.
The word “lumbersexual,” which means a metrosexual who wears heavy boots and gives the impression of being rugged and outdoorsy, is in contention for Macquarie Australian Dictionary’s 2015 word of the year
“He’s the metrosexual with the heavy boots who affects the outdoorsy air,” Mr. Astle told Daily Mail Australia. “You have to wonder when the last time he went rough. Even when they go camping, they go glamping. I don’t know how lumberjack they are but they certainly look the part.”
Mr Astle—who concedes he may be a “nerdjacker”—told the ABC “lumbersexual” could well make it as the Macquarie Australian Dictionary’s top new word.
The word of the year, chosen by a panel of six, will be announced on January 21, with a people’s choice to be open to the public late next month.
Would-be Australian citizens must learn English, says Coalition MP
June 1, 2015—Would-be Australian citizens should be required to take an English-language course and prove basic conversational ability, according to a government backbencher who says many people are acquiring citizenship with almost no English.
The government’s citizenship discussion paper released last week has hit the headlines because of the cabinet stoush over provisions to strip foreign fighters of Australian citizenship, but it also raises questions that Victorian backbencher Dr. Sharman Stone put to the Coalition party room last week.
According to Stone, more people are presenting at citizenship ceremonies in her electorate of Murray unable to speak any English.
“They are often people from Middle Eastern countries and very often women,” she said. “I am particularly concerned about women from cultural backgrounds that prefer them to stay at home, this might be their only chance to be allowed to learn English.
“By not requiring basic English-language skills as a requirement of citizenship I think we are missing opportunities to help these new citizens get the skills that will help them get a decent job, or help their children in school and ultimately we are risking that they become alienated and discontented.”
There is not a separate English-language test under current citizenship requirements, but would-be citizens are required to pass a test with questions about Australia, which requires a basic knowledge of English.
Underperforming nursing students could endanger public safety, academics say
SYDNEY, April 20, 2015—Academics from two of the country’s largest nursing faculties, the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and the Australian Catholic University (ACU), say weak students are being undeservedly awarded nursing degrees, potentially endangering public safety.
A Four Corners investigation has identified significant pressure at Australian universities to pass weak and underperforming students, many of whom are full-fee-paying internationals.
It also found some university administrators have turned a blind eye to rampant academic misconduct.
One senior academic who has taught at both UWS and ACU, said both universities were relaxing standards and ignoring plagiarism.
“There are students that are falling through the cracks, and yes, they could end up being unsafe practitioners,” she said.
“There are a group of students who I honestly believe ... should not be graduating.”
A former senior figure at UWS nursing said the situation had become so dire it required industrial action.
Can education change Japan’s “depressed” generation?
By Mariko Oi, BBC News-Japan
TOKYO, March 23, 2015—Every lesson at Japanese schools starts with a simultaneous bow. “Let’s try that again because your posture wasn’t good,” says a teacher to a room full of six and seven-year-olds.
She then reminds the children to have their pencil boxes, notepads and textbooks on top of each other and placed at the left corner of their desks. The students obey without a single word of objection.
A few hours later, they queue quietly before being served their lunch.
Towards the end of their education this conformist attitude is still evident. Each year, more than half a million university students start looking for work together.
The first step is to perfect a handwritten resume, or CV, because many in Japan believe that students’ characteristics and personalities can be judged by the way they write.
All dressed in a black “recruit suit”, they then visit hundreds of companies. Bold hues of black, navy or dark grey are the recommended colours for their job-hunting suits.
Stripes are not encouraged. According to the teachers and career counsellors, it is considered risky to be fashionable.
For U.S. presidential hopefuls, simpler language resonates
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON, October 20, 2015—When Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign, he decried the lack of intelligence of elected officials in characteristically blunt terms.
“How stupid are our leaders?” he said. “How stupid are they?”
But with his own choice of words and his short, simple sentences, Trump’s speech could have been comprehended by a fourth-grader. Yes, a fourth-grader.
The Globe reviewed the language used by 19 presidential candidates, Democrats and Republicans, in speeches announcing their campaigns for the 2016 presidential election. The review, using a common algorithm called the Flesch-Kincaid readability test that crunches word choice and sentence structure and spits out grade-level rankings, produced some striking results.
The Republican candidates — like Trump — who are speaking at a level easily understood by people at the lower end of the education spectrum are outperforming their highfalutin opponents in the polls. Simpler language resonates with a broader swath of voters in an era of 140-character Twitter tweets and 10-second television sound bites, say specialists on political speech.
“There’s no time to explain in modern politics,’’ said Elvin T. Lim, a professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.
Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore, who are struggling in the polls, are both spinning sentences above a 10th-grade level, according to the algorithm. Ben Carson, who has surged and maintained a second-place standing in the polls, communicates with voters at a sixth-grade level — despite a medical degree and career as a brain surgeon.
Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton’s speeches are just right for eighth-graders; Bernie Sanders’s strong critiques of Wall Street and American capitalism are aimed higher, at the 10th grade.
By every criteria in the algorithm, Trump is speaking at the lowest level. He used fewer characters per word in his announcement speech, fewer syllables per word, and his sentences were shorter than all other candidates.
English language institute hosts Fulbright Foreign Students for orientation
DELAWARE, September 8, 2015—This summer, 32 Fulbright Foreign Students began their academic journeys in the United States with the University of Delaware’s English Language Institute before departing to more than 19 universities across the nation.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education, the Pre-Academic English for Graduate Studies program gave these students, who come from 22 countries around the globe, insight into American life and culture.
In addition, the program prepared each of the young scholars with the essential resources needed to become successful in their new graduate programs.
Throughout the three-week orientation, each of the Fulbrighters attended sessions focused on building academic skills, learning about health and wellness in U.S. graduate programs, networking with peers and becoming familiarized with American society.
Ralph Begleiter, former CNN world affairs correspondent and Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Communication, addressed the students in a TED-style talk on what he called a “Media Earthquake.” During his talk, Begleiter introduced the students to the American business of news and its shift to social media in recent years.
Begleiter’s presentation resonated especially with those Fulbrighters preparing to pursue graduate degrees in media and communications. “This talk is a good reminder to think of that fact that for us, it’s like we have become a generation of headlines,” noted Arda Aghazarian.
The “N-word” is “the most powerful word in the English language”
By Fabienne Faur, Agence France Presse
WASHINGTON, June 25, 1015 (AFP)—It’s loaded and volatile like no other word in America: a legacy of centuries of violent race relations expressed in just six letters.
Here, unless perhaps you are African American, you don’t write it and you definitely don’t say it.
The media and others tread oh so carefully around it, the so-called N-word—”nigger.”
So when Barack Obama—the country’s first black president— came out this week and pronounced it flat out in a TV interview, jaws dropped, eyebrows rose and a vigorous national debate ensued.
Obama spoke as the nation was still in shock over its latest spasm of allegedly racially-motivated violence—the shooting last week of nine blacks in a historic South Carolina church by a 21-year-old white suspect, Dylann Roof.
Roof apparently believed in white supremacy and racial segregation. He used the N-word in a manifesto found on the Internet.
“It is the most powerful word in the English language,” said Geoff Harkness, a professor of economics, political science and sociology at Morningside College in Iowa.
“It’s deeply intertwined with both race and racism,” he told AFP.
In his remarks, Obama said this of America: “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public.”
Anti-”Common Core” activists leak state’s English exam online
NEW YORK, April 23, 2015—A copy of the state’s English Language Arts test that students took last week was leaked online Wednesday in an apparent act of sabotage by anti-testing activists.
More than three dozen photographs of the exam appeared Wednesday morning on the Facebook page “Education is a journey, not a race — USA,” which has posted screeds against Common Core-linked tests since March 2013.
It’s not known who released the test online, as the Facebook page is anonymous — but the post had been shared 163 times by Wednesday night.
Education experts believe the saboteur posted the passages in solidarity with a statewide movement in which thousands of kids opted out of the test. The leak will mean portions of the test will have to be rewritten next year.
“This is a political act and it will be interesting to see whether [test-creation company] Pearson or the state Department of Education understands it as that or goes after them for civil or criminal liability,” said Brooklyn College education Professor David Bloomfield, who called the post an act of “civil disobedience.”
State education officials would not confirm whether they were investigating the leak but said the makeup period for the exam had concluded before the test became public, meaning no one was able to cheat using the leaked exam.
“The real consequence is additional taxpayer dollars and more class time on field tests to replace the exposed questions,” said state Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins.
Lack of English skills haunts Chennai graduates
August 23, 2015—P. Shanmugavel recently graduated with a BE and has been hunting for a job for the past year. Every employer he has visited, however, has rejected him because of “poor communication skills.”
“Until I started hunting for a job, I did not realise how much of a role communication played in the hiring process. I should have learnt English much earlier,” Mr. Shanmugavel said.
According to a recent test, SVAR, conducted by Aspiring Minds, he is not alone. Jobseekers in Chennai performed worse than all the other major cities in the country when it came to knowledge of English.
In the SVAR test, a 15-minute automated phone-based test that measures fluency, pronunciation, listening and comprehension of English language, Chennai had the least mean score in all parameters. “Around 30,000 graduates across the country took the test, and around 35 per cent of the participants from Chennai performed very poorly and 59 per cent could only speak very basic English,” Varun Aggarwal, co-founder and CTO of Aspiring Minds, said.
“Of the total participants from the city, only 0.2 per cent was able to express him/herself spontaneously, fluently and precisely, with the ability to differentiate finer shades of meaning in complex situations,” he added.
Experts in the field seem to agree with these results. According to T. Narayanan from Kings Learning, South, an English language training centre, a majority of candidates from the city are unable to speak fluently or comprehend. “English is not being taught well at the grassroots level, so many of our clients are unable to do more than recite what was in a school or college textbook. We get many clients coming in after eight or nine years of corporate experience who only then realise the importance of learning English,” he said.
India PM urged to make teaching of English, Hindi, local language compulsory
GUWAHATI, June 23, 2015—An international think-tank today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that CBSE schools compulsorily teach three languages including the regional language of the state, Hindi and English.
Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters (FASS), an International think-tank for North East India, in a letter to Modi urged the Centre to ensure that a student should “compulsorily learn the National Language of the country (Hindi) and the regional language of the state where the school is situated, besides English.”
“We have been following the recent debate about Sanskrit and German in the Kendriya Vidyalaya schools and are in complete agreement that a foreign language should not be taught in Indian schools as a third language,” FASS International and Indian Presidents Rajen Barua and Bidyananda Barkakoty said in the letter.
They said foreign languages can be offered by schools in a hobby class if they have the infrastructure or else there will be whole batches of students who will not know either Hindi or their state language properly but will know French or German which is definitely not desirable.
The option in English-medium schools should be English for all students, being the medium of instruction, Hindi or Assamese as either second or third language and if the school wishes, a foreign language can be offered in a hobby Class.
Similar pattern need to be followed in vernacular-medium schools so as to maintain the three-language formula.
Learning English gives competitive edge to students in India
MADURAI, May 18, 2015—English learning enhanced the employability level of students and also provided an edge in any field in a competitive environment, said Ian Cawley, Global Manager, Cambridge English Language Assessment (CELA), a no-for-profit organisation of the University of Cambridge.
Mr. Cawley, who was here to interact with leaders of educational institutions, said that English had become essential for Indian students who were lacking in soft skills. The CELA provided tailor-made modules to learn English to different sections of people at the school and college levels. It worked in partnership with several higher education institutions and governments.
“For the University of Cambridge, one of the oldest universities of the world, which houses the biggest research department, it is an educational mission,” said Mr. Cawley, speaking about the partnerships entered with governments and universities across the world to facilitate reforms in education. In Tamil Nadu, the CELA has 12 centres of excellence that are involved in enhancing the English skills of students. Among them, four – Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai; National College of Engineering, Kovilpatti; Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi, and Kalasalingam University, Krishnankovil – are in south Tamil Nadu.
Referring to a 2014 survey which said that 83 per cent of Indian engineering graduates were unfit for employment due to lack of soft skills, Mr. Cawley said that the CELA had English teaching modules even for corporation schools, using the latest technology.
It was involved in implementation of Society for Creation of Opportunity through Proficiency in English in Gujarat since 2007. The objective of the programme is to develop English language proficiency among the youth, with Cambridge curriculum, through an established network of 630 centres. Such programmes could be launched in other States also, he said.
The CELA through its packages and tests opened doors to higher education and improved employment opportunities.
Students urged to develop reading habits
JEDDAH, December 12, 2014—Many schools are encouraging reading habits to help Saudi students improve their English language skills and to develop accuracy, fluency and vocabulary, which can help them to qualify for the universities.
Fatima Khalid, principal at a government school said, “Since reading is a basic tool to learn any language and the most effective instrument that a learner possesses to achieve success in education and one’s future career, we have organized extra hours for reading. Reading stimulates inquiry, helps in generating ideas and motivates students to think. It supports the curriculum by enhancing language competence.”
“We also use material that would interest students such as newspapers and educational magazines, as one of the tools to motivate reading and later engaging the attained information into some in-class discussion. Such extra-curricular activities not only incline them toward developing English skills, but also help in increasing cultural awareness and their understanding of the world,” she added.
Similarly, few schools are adapting ways and means to instil the love of reading in their students and understanding of the language with its help. However, some schools are also teaching the basics of English and vocabulary more suited to popular courses like mathematics, science and sociology.
Charline Jeff, an English teacher at a private school said, “Many parents complained that their children were struggling to get good grades in English which are much needed as a prerequisite for their degrees…
Korean parents ashamed of their low English proficiency
SEOUL, January 26, 2015—Korean parents consider their English language abilities to be the least desirable aspect of themselves for their children to take after, a survey found Wednesday.
According to a survey conducted by the English language institute Yoons English School, 71.5 per cent of parents with children in elementary school want their children to have higher English proficiency than themselves.
Regarding the level of proficiency they want for their children, 41.2 per cent considered being able to hold a conversation as sufficient. About a quarter of the respondents said that being able to conduct business in English, while 19.4 per cent said that level of English proficiency that would allow the children to get the job they want would suffice.
About 6.1 per cent of the parents said that they wanted their children to be able to become native speakers. Regarding ways to improve their children’s English proficiency, the most popular answer was private education, followed by studying abroad.
Aside from English language abilities, the respondents picked their jobs and salaries as the second-least desirable aspect to pass on, followed by proficiency in a second foreign language, wealth and profession.
Malaysia, Indonesia urged to jointly expand languages
JAKARTA, December 17, 2015—The Indonesian and Malaysian governments should jointly correct the direction of the Malay and Indonesian languages expansion in their bid to become global languages, said Socio-Cultural Advisor to the Malaysian Government Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim.
He said that with the joint efforts, the two countries could preserve the authenticity of their languages so that they would not lose out to English.
Rais said among the challenges faced by both countries now was the absorption of English words in their languages until their beauty was destroyed and nature changed.
“Excessive use of the English language will totally change the nature of the Malay and Indonesian languages. Someday, if we do not correct the direction of our languages, then we will lose their authenticity. If this happens, our race will no longer be recognisable through languages,” he said.
Rais said this in his speech after receiving the Mahaputra Award from Indonesian news agency Antara, here today.
The award is the highest recognition given by Antara to those who have made valuable contributions in language development and the journalism field.
Rais said English has become the language of knowledge in both countries and it was a worrisome development as the Malay and Indonesian languages also have knowledge terms in a variety of disciplines.
Malaysia plans to bring in English teachers from India
KUALA LUMPUR, October 21, 2015—Malaysia plans to recruit trained English teachers from India soon to help improve the competency levels of local teachers in schools in rural areas, Education Minister P. Kamalanathan has said.
Kamalanathan told the lower House of Malaysian parliament—the Dewan Rakyat—yesterday that the teachers would be placed in several rural schools across the country, including the “hot spot” schools, those with low passing rates for the English language paper.
The teachers from India would be recruited in line with the Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening Command of English policy under the School Improvement Specialist Coaches (SISC +) programme.
“It had been on the ministry's agenda to bring in trained teachers from India in the near future, to improve command of the language in rural schools in the country,” Kamalanathan said.
He said with the SISC+ programme teachers would be made aware of effective teaching practices and ways of managing the classrooms more efficiently.
Singapore kids using more English but strong in Chinese, study reveals
SINGAPORE, July 10, 2016—Young Chinese Singaporeans may have moved away from their mother tongue to use more English, but a new study has found that these preschoolers still have a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary and competent oral skills when it comes to the Chinese language.
More than half of them are still bilingual, although they use English more often with their peers and siblings, according to a two-year study by a team from the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL).
The study, which was completed last year and funded by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism, aimed to gain a deeper insight into the use of both languages among young children here.
About 1,300 parents with children from 74 pre-schools were asked about their language use and how much they exposed their children to oral and written forms of Chinese and English. This included time spent reading storybooks, watching television and listening to songs.
The researchers also tested 380 preschoolers, aged five to six years, on their proficiency in character recognition and oral Chinese.
If this trend continues, you can say that the younger generation will eventually speak more English... as they grow up with siblings and peers together.
Bilingualism: From hard slog to rewarding career
By Leong Weng Kam, The Straits Times
SINGAPORE, March 29, 2015—Up till her Secondary One year, Ms. Wong Lee Jeng’s school was a public Chinese-language institution. Then, overnight, all the textbooks - except those in the Chinese language - were changed into English.
This was in 1981, at the former Seh Chuan High School. It was the transitional period when the Education Ministry was developing national schools with English as the language of instruction.
It was the brainchild of then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, an advocate of bilingualism which was introduced in the late 1970s. The thinking behind it was that English would connect Singaporeans to the world and give all races an equal chance while knowing their mother tongue would keep them in touch with their culture.
Ms. Wong, now 47, struggled at first, not knowing that the move would pave the way for her career.
She went on to become a Mandarin radio DJ and television presenter, and is now a translator and trainer as well as bilingual host at public events.
She hosted the ground-breaking ceremony of the China Cultural Centre in 2010 in Queen Street, officiated by then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mr Xi Jinping, now China’s President.
She did the same at the opening of the Confucius Institute at Nanyang Technological University in 2006. It was attended by Mr Lee, then Minister Mentor.
Ms Wong says: “In my first two years in the school, our teachers were still teaching us in Mandarin though our textbooks, especially those for science and mathematics, were in English.”
Translator from China jailed for taking English test for someone else
SINGAPORE, February 26, 2015—An English language translator from China who sat for a language proficiency test here on behalf of someone else was sentenced to five months in jail on Thursday.
Lina Zhang had been promised 7,000 yuan (S$1509) by a recruiter to pass the Dec 6 sitting of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination for someone named Ge Li.
The 29-year-old presented a forged Chinese passport that bore her face and the other person’s details to gain access to the test venue.
The invigilator suspected something was amiss with the passport and sounded the alarm. Zhang pleaded guilty on Thursday to cheating by personation. The details of Ge Li’s identity and whereabouts are unclear.
Thai teachers pose as foreigners to teach English
By Sasiwan Mokkhasen, Khaosod English reporter
BANGKOK, February 10, 2016—Seeing him from a distance, young children call out their Singaporean teacher’s name before sprinting toward him, excited to practice speaking English.
For their teacher, it’s a rewarding moment he says he could never experience if they knew the truth about him: He’s actually a Thai national who pretends he cannot understand every single word they say.
“They will value us less if they know we are a Thai teacher,” said Natthawut, who teaches at a school in the southern province of Hat Yai and asked Khaosod English not to publish his real name out of concern for his employer. “They will no longer be eager to speak English with us.”
Natthawut said he is among more than 200 English teachers, most of whom are recent graduates from Thai universities, working for the same company. For more than four years, the firm he works for has provided English teachers for both public and private schools across the country, especially those with special English programs.
Natthawut was one of three teachers working for the company, Make a Wit, to describe the same arrangement in which they teach children by posing as foreign English teachers. Their names have been changed for this story. After agreeing to be interviewed without reservation, two of the teachers said they did not want to be identified.
There’s nothing illegal about the practice, and all three teachers and a representative of the company described what they do as a valuable teaching technique that forces students to speak because they believe their teachers are foreigners who cannot understand Thai.
China to train 30,000 overseas Chinese language teachers by 2017
BEIJING, December 7, 2014 (Xinhua)—Plans to train about 30,000 overseas Chinese teachers by the end of 2017 were announced on Sunday.
Better curricula, improved textbooks,and standard testing for students are also on the agenda, Qiu Yuanping, head of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council told the third World Chinese Language and Culture Education Conference.
There are more than 60 million overseas Chinese in about 200 countries and regions, and some 20,000 schools of Chinese language and culture overseas. However, many schools lack guidelines, textbooks and financial support.
At the two-day conference, Qiu said the office will help establish 100 demonstration schools by the end of 2017 and support another 200 that are in need or emerging.
The conference, which started Sunday, attracted about 600 representatives from about 50 nations and regions.
English proposed as second language for Taiwan
TAINAN, October 20, 2015—Academics and officials on Sunday discussed a proposal to make English the nation’s second official language at a conference in Tainan, the city that is leading the push.
“English is part of national power,” Shih Chien University professor Chen Chao-ming said at the conference, which was organized by the Tainan-based Flomo Education Foundation. “English proficiency in Taiwan is not just an educational problem, but an important asset for the country’s development.”
“With Southeast Asian countries designating 2015 as the year of English, where are the international talent or people with English proficiency that we need for our ‘Go South’ policy?” he asked.
The ability to communicate in English is a “fundamental skill” that Taiwan should strive for in pursuit of internationalization and greater access to the global market, he said.
It means having “everyone in the country being able to speak English, more or less,” he said.
Flomo Education Foundation chairman Shen Kun-chao said that Taiwan is an export-oriented economy and Taiwanese children face increasing competition because of globalization.
While more than 70 countries across the world have designated English as their second official language, Taiwan’s English education policy is being challenged by a lack of funds and the dispute over its squeezing funds out of the budget for mother-tongue programs, Shen said.
Quebec English community leaders rally against school board reforms
MONTREAL, December 16, 2015—People representing English-language communities across Quebec met in Montreal Wednesday to denounce proposed legislation to abolish school board elections and overhaul the way schools are run.
At issue, they said, is the constitutional right of Quebec’s English minority to control and manage its schools.
“The right to school governance is fundamental,” said the former federal commissioner of official languages, Victor Goldbloom, referring to Section 23 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Bill 86 would eliminate elected school commissioners in Quebec’s 72 boards and replace them with councils of 16 people, most of whom would be appointed.
The councils would include six parents, two school principals, one teacher, one non-teaching staff member and six community members.
The government has said it wants the legislation passed in time for the 2016-17 school year.
Former MP Marlene Jennings, who chaired a recent study on ways to reform school board elections, condemned the consultation process prior to the introduction of Bill 86 last week.
“It makes a mockery of the English-language minority community’s constitutional right,” Jennings said.
Educators promote foreign lecturers' use of English to teach English
HO CHI MINH CITY, August 19, 2015—Students have little opportunity to hear and absorb the language when Vietnamese teachers teach English-language courses using Vietnamese, a training specialist said at a conference ended in HCM City last Friday.
It slows down their proficiency and reduces their confidence as well, said David Persey of National Geographic Learning, which is part of Cengage Learning, a portfolio of quality materials for academic and adult education.
When teachers teach English in English, language learning is significantly accelerated, he said.
One of the key goals of Viet Nam's foreign language 2020 project is to improve students' use of the English language rather than merely accepting passive knowledge.
Extensive training and retraining of teachers are needed to meet the project's goals.
In the past, these training programmes focused mainly on methodology skills and general English proficiency.
Persey said that a new third solution focused on "classroom proficiency" in order to increase communication skills in English.
This is partly accomplished by increasing teachers' confidence to teach English in English.
Also speaking at the conference, Wei Fu of Thailand's Dhurakij Pundit University said that Thai workers who lacked spoken English skills would meet difficulties in the new ASEAN Economic Community..
Thai universities will have to make changes in English teaching curricula to improve communication, he added.
$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.
“Sheng” dims 2011 KCPE performance in main languages
December 30, 2011—A drop in students’ proficiency in English Kiswahili in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations has brought into focus the growing use of “sheng” by students, teachers, corporates and politicians as well as the media.
The 2011 results released this week indicate the overall candidate’s performance in two of the main languages used in the country and in the East Africa region dropped in 2011 compared to 2010, with the Minister of Education, Sam Ongeri, blaming it on increased usage of the slang based language throughout the country.
“Our suspicion is that adulteration of our Kiswahili and even English where even very senior members of our society including top politicians have turned to ‘sheng’ to endear themselves to the youth,” said Professor Ongeri while releasing the examination results.
In the English language exam, students scored an average of 47.1 per cent in 2011 compared to 49.12 per cent the previous year with the highest drop being among female students.
Performance also deteriorated in the English composition paper where candidates scored an average of 42.45 per cent compared to 42.7 per cent in 2010, a uniform drop between male and female students.
The Kiswahili language exam witnessed a drop in performance of 11.3 percentage points to 41.46 per cent compared to 52.76 per cent the previous year but performance improved in the Kiswahili composition paper where students scored an average of 54.68 per cent this year compared to 50.3 per cent last year.
Teacher mentors not coming over pay
By Kenneth Agutamba,
December 12, 2011—The plan to import 4,000 English language teachers from Kenya has collapsed over pay with the Rwanda Education Board (REB) now resorting to recruit locally.
The Rwanda Focus reported last month that REB had dumped Ugandan teacher trainers for Kenyan mentors but it turned out that the Kenyan government failed to attract jobless teachers to take up the opportunities in Rwanda.
The Rwanda Education Board is now receiving applications from interested individuals following an on-line advertisement. The deadline is December 12.
“Under the Rwanda English in Action Programme (REAP) which provides opportunities for English language improvement to primary and secondary school teachers in support of the transition to English as the medium of instruction, REB invites applications from qualified English Language teachers who are not currently in active education service for selection as national-level English language teacher mentors,” reads the introductory paragraph of the advert.
The minimum qualification is a degree or diploma in English language teaching and fluency in the language. Two years of experience with previous work in teacher mentoring is an added advantage.
The demand for a two-year experience in language teaching could be to mean that the education board is now going back to the former teacher trainers who participated in the previous teacher trainings since 2009.
Jakarta drops language requirement for English teachers
JAKARTA, March 24, 2014—Indonesia will withdraw a plan that would force foreign English teachers and other workers to take local language-proficiency exams after protests from investors, two government officials said.
Manpower Minister Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri earlier this month told reporters the government would require existing and prospective foreigners to pass Indonesian language tests to work in the country, a move seen by many foreign investors as protectionist.
Currently, foreigners do not have to speak Indonesian to receive a work permit for Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
“Coordinating ministers agreed last week that the planned regulation should be dropped. The details are now being worked out within the cabinet,” said a government official, with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
A second government official confirmed that the plan for language tests would be withdrawn after “many people complained, including domestic investors who said they needed foreign expertise.”
Minister Dhakiri on Friday denied that the language test requirements would be cancelled. The minister was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
Companies increasingly have raised concerns about the growing difficulties of obtaining work permits for foreign workers, with language exams being the latest example.
Indonesia achieves third-highest English proficiency in South East Asia
JAKARTA, January 30, 2015—General proficiency in the English language in Indonesia has improved, driven by the rising number of fresh graduates and young employees, according to the 2014 Education First (EF) English Proficiency Index.
EF Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Christopher McCormick explained that Indonesia had shown one of the most consistent performances in English proficiency rankings year-on-year, ranking 28th of 63 countries tested for the 2014 index. The index placed Indonesia in the third rank for countries, with a “Moderate Proficiency” category.
McCormick said Indonesia’s performance trend had outstripped the regional average and grown by 7.96 percent in the last seven years.
“By age worldwide, 35-year-old people tend to be the most proficient in English. In Indonesia, it seems that people aged [around] 25 years old fare better. This could be the impact of new job demands, or work opportunities,” McCormick explained at a discussion event in Jakarta on Thursday.
Indonesia’s score on the worldwide ranking was 52.74, making it the third-highest performer in the Southeast Asian region below Malaysia and Singapore. In terms of proficiency, Indonesia scored higher than Thailand and Vietnam, and also placed one position above France.
Despite Indonesia’s performance, McCormick noted that most people with good English proficiency originated from large cities, with Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta scoring the highest proficiency rates in the index, showing an uneven proficiency distribution.
Commenting on the index’s top performers, comprising Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, McCormick said that the excellent performances of those countries showed that they tended to have a clear vision and an efficient resource and skill distribution, such as highlighting the importance of building the capacity of teachers.
Looking for qualified English teachers
By Katarína Koreňová, Spectator.sme.sk
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.
Thais’ poor English to hurt their job prospects in ASEAN community
PHUKET, March 19, 2015—At a luxurious resort in this southern island, Boblyn Pertible from the Philippines is completing a professional internship for her bachelor’s degree in hotel management.
“I will consider applying for jobs outside my country after graduation,” she said in fluent English. “The coming of the Asean Economic Community will definitely open doors to more opportunities for me.”
In December, Thailand and the other nine member states of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations are due to start a single market.
Integration will enable the free flow of capital, goods, services and skilled labour. Workers in eight areas — engineers, nurses, doctors, dentists, architects, surveyors, accountants and tourism professionals — will be able to migrate across Asean borders.
The market is home to more than 600 million people, almost double the population of the United States. The combined economy will be the seventh largest in the world, comparable to that of Britain or Brazil.
Language skills will matter in the new single market, especially in English, the only lingua franca in Asean.
“English will be extremely important as a means for communications in business,” said Treenuch Phaichayonvichit of the Thailand Development Research Institute. “However, Thai students seems to perform poorly. The mean score on national tests in English has always been below 50, which is a failing grade by any standard.”
Kattheleen Joy Patinga teaches English to students at Horwang School is this 2012 file photo. Classrooms in Thailand put too much emphasis on grammar, some foreign English teachers lament. (Bangkok Post photo)
Tougher language testing rules proposed for foreign students
AUCKLAND, April 23, 2015—The Qualifications Authority is moving to stop the abuse of English language testing rules for foreign students.
It has proposed tougher rules and warned seven institutions they will lose the right to assess the English of prospective students.
Trusted institutions can do their own assessments of potential students’ English, rather than through independent tests.
But some have been offering places to students with poor English, and the worst offenders may lose their right to assess language competence themselves.
The Qualifications Authority also proposed a ban on all private institutions and polytechnics assessing students from countries with low approval rates for student visas, such as India.
Rise in number of Indian students in New Zealand “too fast”
March 20, 2015—A surge in the number of Indian students studying in New Zealand has been accompanied by thousands of false applications and problems with English language screening.
In the first eight months of last year, Indian enrolments rose 60 percent to about 16,000 students, and there are early indications that growth is accelerating further with new student arrivals in January 65 percent higher than in January last year.
Chairperson of the language school association English New Zealand Darren Conway said the growth was too fast.
“I think we took the brakes off too quickly,” he said.
“It leaves us too vulnerable to that market overall. It also suggests that there may not be as much quality control over applicants going on as there could be. English language requirements were loosened too much for India.”
The Qualifications Authority said there have been problems with language testing by institutions that are trusted to do their own assessments of potential students’ English.
The authority’s deputy chief executive Jane von Dadelszen said it was investigating concerns that students from India were enrolling in programmes even though their English was not good enough.
“In conjunction with Immigration New Zealand and Education New Zealand, we are examining how providers who are enrolling students from India are applying the English language proficiency testing criteria, and that standards and practices continue to meet NZQA’s requirements and are authentic and reliable.”
Immigration New Zealand was dealing with a spike in the number of fraudulent applications from potential students from India.
English language teaching continues
September 12, 2011—Minister of Education and Science of Georgia Dimitri Shashkin spoke of a “linguistic revolution” to the diplomatic corps, representatives of international organizations and civil society gathered at the Courtyard Marriott on September 9. Presenting the achievements of the program Teach & Learn with Georgia (TLG) the Minister and TLG Program Manager Maia Siprashvili-Lee discussed the annual impact of the program on improving the level of English at Georgian schools.
Shashkin emphasized the importance of the program which according to the Minister has ensured the “success of educational reform” in the country. “We can proudly say that we have made a linguistic revolution at Georgian public schools,” Shashkin said stressing that the Georgian pupils had a wonderful opportunity to learn English from native English speaking teachers, while the Georgian teachers could improve their professional skills. “The fact that two-thirds of university entrants chose English as their second language at the Unified National Exams means that the revolution has been a real success!” stated the Minister.
Strengthening the English language learning process through TLG at Georgian schools is among the main priorities of the Georgian government. The native English speaking teachers with their local colleagues have been teaching the pupils together at public schools all around the country.
The main goal of Teach & Learn with Georgia is to improve English language proficiency through recruiting English speaking teachers for Georgian public schools. The authors of the project also rely on exchange of information, experiences and cultures to create significant ties between Georgia and other countries from different parts of the world…
English language prioritized in Georgian schools
By Salome Modebadze, Messenger.com.ge
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.
With suspension of TOEFL, British Council recommends IELTS for candidates
NIGERIA, November 23, 2013—Following the recent suspension of accredited centres for foreign based Graduate Records Examination (GRE) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in Nigeria, the British Council in the country has urged candidates willing to school abroad to opt for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which it administers.
The council, in a statement issued by its Communications Manager, Desmond Omovie said IELTS is widely recognised as a language requirement for courses in higher education in many countries including the UK, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, among others.
The statement added: “It’s no longer news that the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) administered by the British Council in Nigeria is the leading Secure English Language Test in Nigeria. This feat has been achieved by British Council’s policy of not compromising on quality in the delivery of exams in its 20 years of exams administration in Nigeria.
“And the growth in test numbers also reflects the strong growth in the number of organisations turning to IELTS to meet their needs for language proficiency assessment.”
“Our own experience shows,” President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the 9th International Language and Development Conference on Language and Social Cohesion on Monday, “that language can be an instrument of division and conflict.”
He continued that Sri Lanka is trying use language to bind our people together. The government is committed to securing the language rights of all communities and to transforming the country into a trilingual society, and English was to be used as a link language.
What President’s words entail is the conversion of a multilingual society made up of essentially monolingual communities into one comprised of one multilingual community.
That this is possible is proved by the existence already of multilingual language communities, for instance Bohras, Malays and Sindhis—who, in addition to their mother tongue, speak English, and the two main languages of this land.
Now, the learning of English in Sri Lanka has been fraught with impediments, not the least of which is that caused by myth.
For example, the language policy of 1956 has been blamed for the alleged decline in English knowledge. The truth is that, at that time only five percent of the population were proficient in English, the then official language, whereas the figure was 13 percent two decades later.
Googled Irish leaves language lovers speechless
DUBLIN, November 13, 2014—An Irish government website marking the centenary of the 1916 Rising has left language lovers speechless.
The site marking 100 years since the Easter Rising carried text in the Irish language straight out of Google Translate.
Native speakers called the results “nonsensical.”
Several excerpts contained basic mistakes in the translation from English into Irish.
A spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht confirmed that Google Translate had been used.
The spokesperson said the mistake happened because the government department sent the English text to an external company that was contracted to design the website.
That company used Google Translate to get a draft, or holding version of the Irish text to appear on the page to see how much space it would require, thus enabling the company to design around it.
It should have been replaced by the official Irish translation that was later supplied by the department, the spokesperson said.
This did not happen when the website first went live, but the offending text has now been removed and replaced by the official and correct Irish version.
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 Origo.hu 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.
60 trained in computer assisted language learning
ISLAMABAD, December 19, 2011 (APP)—A series of workshops on Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), organized by English Language Teaching Reforms (ELTR) project of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in collaboration with the British Council, completed training of 60 Master Trainers. The series of workshops concluded in a ceremony held at Karachi today, said a news release received here today.
The first workshop of the series was held at HEC Islamabad. The second workshop was held at Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, while the last course of the series was conducted at HEC Regional Centre, Karachi. Mashood Rizvi, Director (Sindh and Balochistan) British Council was the chief guest in the closing ceremony.
A total number of 60 English Language Teachers from different public sector universities and colleges have been trained through this series of CALL workshops.
In addition to the university faculty, the teachers from colleges also attended these workshops. Nik Peachy was the resource person of the whole series.
CALL course aims to provide the participants the international level understanding of E-Learning.
The course has a multifaceted dimension, in which not only the concept of online teaching and E learning is focused upon, but other computer technologies are also taught.
Brazilian pupils learn English by correcting celebrities’ tweets
July 14, 2013—A Brazilian school is using celebrities to help its pupils learn English, but with a twist: it’s the kids correcting the stars.
The Red Balloon school had children correct grammatical errors in tweets by stars such as Sylvester Stallone, Rihanna and Justin Bieber.
“New experiment of Red Balloon, to show Brazilian kids can speak English better than native speaker celebrities on Twitter!” the school said in a YouTube video showing its “Celeb Grammar Cops.”
In the video posted last June 10, the school said the experiment had children aged 8 to 13 checking their favorite celebrities' tweets.
The school said it decided to do something about the potential threat of social media to encourage bad grammar—it had the children reply to the celebrities.
“The kids would tweet back at the celebrities, explaining politely what was wrong in their tweets,” Buzzfeed.com reported.
Buzzfeed added these pupils appear “definitely the most polite correctors of grammar on the Internet, that’s for sure.”
TESOL research conference slated as QNCC’s inaugural event
September 18, 2011—The Qatar National Convention Centre will host its inaugural event October 1-3: the TESOL International Association’s “Putting Research into Practice” conference. The three-day conference gathers experts from around the region and across the world to focus on key areas of applied research in the field of English language teaching.
The conference is organized by Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) in collaboration with university partners in Qatar, Qatar TESOL, TESOL Arabia and other TESOL affiliates in the region.
“Increased English language proficiency is a strategic goal for Qatar and many countries around the world today. Learning English should not mean losing Arabic, however, and figuring out how to do this in the best way possible requires extensive research,” said conference chair Dudley Reynolds, Ph.D, Teaching Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar and a member of the Board of Directors for the TESOL International Association.
Reynolds continued, “At Carnegie Mellon we feel it is extremely important to the success of our university and Education City that our teachers understand why certain teaching practices work in some situations and different practices work in others.”
Research projects undertaken by Carnegie Mellon faculty have provided opportunities to learn about good practices that enhance students' literacy development.
English language schools warned against aggressive price cutting
By Patrick Cooke, TimesofMalta.com
September 28, 2011—Local English language teaching organisations were cautioned against aggressive pricing strategies at the presentation of the industry’s first benchmarking survey yesterday.
The Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta (Feltom) survey, supported by APS Bank, was carried out by Deloitte and covers 2010.
It will bring “real benefits” to the industry, Deloitte financial advisory leader Raphael Aloisio told stakeholders in his presentation at the Radission Blu Resort in St Julians, as it will help schools to compare their own performances with that of the industry as a whole, enabling them to take timely corrective actions where necessary.
The report highlighted the consequences for the industry of the sharp decline in student arrivals from the peak in 2008. Although student arrivals increased 6.5 per cent last year to 72,695 students, the figures remained 15.4 per cent below the 83,288 students who came in 2008.
In an attempt to boost student arrivals, schools lowered tuition prices, resulting in total school tuition revenue last year being 4.6 per cent below 2009 and 10.6 per cent below 2008.
Reduced student volumes and lower pricing levels also forced schools to cut back significantly on their staffing costs and other expenditure by close to 20 per cent from 2008 levels.
Add oil! The evolution of Hong Kong English
By Dan Bland, South China Morning Post
HONG KONG, June 2015—With all the talk of preserving Chinese dialects, and protecting them from a disapproving Beijing, it may be worth saving a thought for another local language—Hong Kong English.
Historically, Hong Kong generated English words that went on to be used by speakers of the language in other parts of Asia, and even to become part of global standardised English. But many of those words have lost their prominence and are becoming anachronistic, even in Hong Kong.
“It is my general impression that there is a whole category of words that has seen a decline,” says Patrick J. Cummings, co-author of A Dictionary of Hong Kong English: Words from the Fragrant Harbor.
“Ketchup”, a word used in English and worldwide to denote a type of tomato sauce, has its origins in Hong Kong’s mix of cultures and most resembles the Cantonese name for tomato sauce, “ kei zap” (茄汁). Cummings says that interactions between Chinese, Malays, Indians, Portuguese, English and other nationalities in Hong Kong generated words for the English language, and the city’s own distinct dialect.
Cummings and his co-author, Hans-Georg Wolf, a professor studying Hong Kong English at the University of Potsdam, in Germany, say there have been three main sources for the city’s English words: Chinese pidgin English; colonial English; and Cantonese borrowings.
Words qualify for inclusion in the dictionary based on occurrences in public English-language documents, such as court filings, government releases, newspapers and corporate issuances. Cantonese loan words, Cummings says, migrate into Hong Kong English by the standardised Romanisation of their spelling and a lack of dependence on tone; these conditions justify the inclusion of “ chee saw” (“toilet”) and “ bashi hou” (a term for Hongkongers born after 1980) in his book.
Other words in the book include “catty” (a measurement of weight - 604 grams - of Malay origin), “chit” (a bill or small bit of official paper), “praya” (a waterfront) and “walla walla” (a small boat).
Arabezi is neither good Arabic nor good English
SHARJAH, May 17, 2015—In another attempt to avoid the use of Arabic language, many Arab youth have adopted Arabezi — typing in English characters and numbers to phonetically spell Arabic words.
Arabezi (spelt arabezee) was initially invented by the youth to make texting on their phones easier and with the emergence of social media caused the use of Arabezi to spread even further.
Professor Ahmad Ali, associate professor of translation at the American University of Sharjah, said it is very common for many to mix Arabic and English, resulting in a hybrid product that is neither good Arabic nor good English.
“This in actual fact points to the fact that a good command of both languages is missing. This also points to a loss of identity. The speaker wants to belong to a category or class of people who are no longer Arab by language, but cannot be ‘English’ by means of everything else.”
Professor Ali said it is a real complex problem, but to put it in simple terms, Arabic is hit hard when its own speakers are unable to hold a conversation in Arabic only without having to resort every now and then to words of a foreign language.
“If one has lost one’s language and identity, very little is then left for one to be of any worth. Historically, this is what colonialists did first when colonising a nation: changing its language.”
As for today’s students, Professor Ali said the hybrid language, Arabezi, has not only crept into their speech but in their writing as well.
Official use of English as second language recommended
DHAKA, November 22, 2011—Bangladeshi writing in English has mostly remained a step below the international standard, preventing the country’s rich culture and literature from reaching out to an international audience.
The reason, litterateurs told an enthusiastic audience at the Hay Festival Dhaka, is that English has remained an alien language in the country unlike in India where it has been adopted and naturalised into its own unique and separate mould.
Many can read and write well in English, they said, but the problem is writing English that others would want to read.
The views came at a discussion on “Contemporary voices and trends in Bangladeshi fiction,” held at the British Council on Fuller Road in the city yesterday.
“Why don’t we officially accept English as a second language—after all, we are already using it as a second language,” said Prof Kaiser Haq, a poet, essayist and teacher at the University of Liberal Arts.
Haq underlined a need for developing a “critical English writing framework” for South Asia instead of having separate frameworks for each country in the region.
This would help increase readership of Bangla literature within the region, and create interest outside the region as well, he said.
A galaxy of poets, novelists, journalists, filmmakers, musicians, and thinkers from home and abroad participated in the first-ever Hay Festival in the country.
Get this English jargon out of our offices ASAP, say the French
By Henry Samuel
PARIS, May 2, 2014 (Daily Telegraph UK)—English is increasingly being heard in French offices including jargon such as “workshop”, “ASAP” and “brainstorming,” a new dictionary suggests.
The Academie Francaise—custodian of the language that come up with alternatives to Anglicisms—has managed to keep English terms at bay in the bureaucracy, but their linguistic sway over the private sector has proved far less effective.
Already the bane of English offices, French firms are seeing more terms such as “benchmarking,” “bullet points,” and “burnout.”
The Dictionnaire du Nouveau Francais published last week lists 400 neologisms that have entered the French language but not yet been picked up by official dictionaries—and about half of them come from English. In many cases, this simply means stealing the English term, such as drawing up a “to do list” rather than a “liste de choses a faire,” or meeting a “deadline” rather than respecting a “delai.”
The practice has infuriated purists, with Alain Rey, a French linguist, saying: “When there is a possible French translation I admit that I find it completely ridiculous [to use an English version]. This supposedly universal management speak made up of French stuffed full of English or very bad and poorly mastered English does not guarantee clear thought.”
English test canceled in Iran due to banking sanctions
TEHRAN, April 15, 2012 (AP)—Iranian media say a popular English-language test has been canceled because organizers in Iran were unable to pay their British partner due to banking sanctions against the Islamic country.
News websites say Iranian applicants were expected to take the International English Language Testing System exam April 12 and 14 but were told by organizers that the test has been canceled.
The independent news website, fararu.com, quoted Mohammad Hossein Sororeddin, a senior Iranian cultural official, as saying “technical problems regarding the transfer of money” caused the cancellation.
Iran is facing tough economic sanctions from the European Union over its controversial nuclear program.
Speaking in tongues: Role of foreign-language news outlets in the ‘media war’
By Nadis Beard, CalvertJournal.com
LATVIA, Russia, February 6, 2015—When independent Russian-language news organisation Meduza launched its English version on Monday, journalists, Russianists and others weary of a media landscape dominated by a pro-Kremlin voice took to social media in celebration. A young news organisation born from the ashes of Lenta’s former editorial team, Meduza quickly became a symbol of resistance, and one which is expanding to join other Russian news outlets with a foot on the international media ladder. But while the launch of a trusted English-language news source about Russia adds healthy diversity to the media landscape, Meduza’s existence points to a newly prominent feature of Russia-west relations: the proliferation of foreign-language news organisations on both sides of the divide.
It wasn’t long after Vladimir Putin announced that state-backed English-language RT (formerly Russia Today) would receive around £250m from the Russian government this year — up nearly 30% from its funding in 2014 — that RT launched its dedicated UK channel: RT UK, a channel to focus on UK stories and issues pertinent to UK viewers. Around the same time, Sputnik News, a new Kremlin-owned website and radio service headed by controversial state TV presenter Dmitry Kiselyov, was unveiled to reach foreign audiences from its hubs in 130 cities in 34 countries around the world.
Last autumn, with diplomatic ties between Russia and the west showing no sign of détente months after the start of the Ukraine crisis, western hysteria over the reach and resources of Russia’s state-backed media organisations began to reach unprecedented heights. This mood was encapsulated by John Whittingdale MP, the chair of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, who said in December that it was “frightening the extent to which we are losing the information war”. The EU has discussed the idea of launching a Russian-language TV station to combat what it calls “aggressive” Russian propaganda; the Latvian government has decided to allocate funds to a new Russian-language service; and Germany’s state-run broadcaster Deutsche Welle also plans to launch a new service designed “to defy Putin’s propaganda”.
Moscow Metro to test out English language announcements
MOSCOW, January 22, 2015—After decades of mystifying foreign tourists, the Moscow metro system will test out announcing the names of stations in English, news agency Interfax cited the metro’s head as saying Thursday.
English announcements will be tried out on just one line, the metro’s head Dmitry Pegov said, without clarifying which one.
While the metro’s glittering collection of often palatial stations is one of Moscow’s main tourist attractions, its limited use of English has long been a nuisance to foreigners.
Although maps posted within metro cars provide English transliterations of the stop names, much of the signage at the stations does not, and the train announcements can prove incomprehensible to non-Russian speakers.
The metro has begun to address the issue, last year replacing some Soviet-era signs with new ones that offer information in both Russian and English.
The old signage will be entirely replaced in 2015, the metro’s deputy director Yury Degtyarev told city news agency Moskva in December.
Deciding on our children’s language of future
By Jackie May, TimesLive.co.za
ZAMBIA, November 20, 2011—A young boy’s mother has been asked by another parent to dissuade her son from speaking English to his classmates.
The primary school he attends is Afrikaans medium. Although the boy’s father is Afrikaans, he speaks English at home. The school, by all accounts, is a delightful community school and is for many people in its neighbourhood the obvious choice for their children. But not all are happy.
It’s an especially strange response from a parent when you know the school has chosen English as its first additional language for the new policy to be introduced next year.
This story surprised me. We’re living in a fiercely multicultural country. We have an abundance of official languages, and the more we can listen and hear one another, the better we can understand each other.
And what harm is there in speaking English on the playground? Surely it’s not still regarded as the language of the “vyand?”
The fierce emotion around language, hopefully not alienating anybody, was illustrated at my children's school recently.
It is tackling the new language policy and there's a robust debate among the parents about which language to choose. Parents are taking this very seriously. Some parents want Afrikaans, others Zulu.
Naples ESU holds Churchill Dinner to defray English-speaking contest
By Lance Shearer, Naples Daily News
NAPLES, March 7, 2013—The English language complex, frustrating, difficult to master, in which seemingly every rule comes with an exception is nevertheless one of the glories and crowning achievements of our civilization. English unites our disparate nation, and its endless shades of meaning and nuance make possible the expression of ideas from crude to flowery, from sweeping to technically precise.
In Naples, an organization exists which has taken as its mission the recognition and furtherance of that language. The English Speaking Union, or ESU, is the local branch of an international organization founded in 1918, to bind together English-speaking countries with the goal of maintaining and promoting peace.
The Naples ESU branch takes a practical approach to improving English-language skills they start in the schools. On Feb. 23 at Moorings Presybterian Church, the ESU sponsored their annual Shakespeare Competition, in which high school students spoke the words of the greatest writer in English, or perhaps in any language, and vied to win hundreds of dollars and a trip to New York.
The students drew lots to determine which spoke first, and were held in a separate “green room,” so they couldn’t hear the others’ performance, contributing to the tension that built in the room as the competition progressed.
Each of the five finalists performed a monologue from one of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as one of his sonnets they had chosen. Winner Zachary Krietermeyer of Naples High School, coached by English teacher Denise Gosselin-Rubiano, gave a soliloquy by the character Bottom from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He was buoyed by the support of a contingent of his Naples High classmates who showed up to cheer him on.
“It’s inspiring, beyond incredible, what those students do, how those young men and women understand and inhabit the words of Shakespeare,” said ESU Naples branch president Richard Smarg…
Future of English language testing in Arab world discussed
RIYADH, April 27, 2013—Leading experts in English language teaching and assessment gathered in Riyadh with local experts to discuss the best methods for improving the standard of English language training in the Arab world.
The “English Language and Translation Forum” hosted by Prince Sultan University that concluded on Thursday was the first English Language Teaching (ELT) forum held by the university, aimed at increasing the quality of English learning among Arab students.
The conference was supported by the British Council and delegates included experts in the field from within the Kingdom and around the world.
The conference reinforced the importance of equipping Arab learners with excellent English language skills, as the region’s economies become increasingly globalized.
Embedding quality English language training into education systems has been a priority of regional governments who understand the link between graduates with strong English skills and the ability of economies to thrive in a competitive, international market place.
Improving the English language capabilities of school and university leavers also has wider socioeconomic impacts in Arab countries, where graduates with effective English skills are more likely to find meaningful work, and enjoy higher salaries.
As governments in the region pour unprecedented funding into their education systems, many students want to upgrade their educational level and future prospects by learning English.
English posing a threat to local languages‚ say experts
LALITPUR, December 29, 2012—Educationists have expressed worry that increasing use of English as the medium of instruction at school has posed a threat to local languages, including Nepali, and government schools that use these languages as their medium of instruction.
At the third district conference of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association, Associate Professor of the Tribhuvan University, Meera Shrestha, criticised the trend of sending children to English medium schools at the cost of mother tongue.
Asked about provisions governing the selection of medium of instruction, Kathmandu District Education Officer, Baikuntha Aryal, said the government policy allows schools to choose either Nepali or English as the medium of instruction.
“The policy does not bar the selection of English as the medium of instruction, though it also calls for imparting primary education in children’s mother tongue launguage,” added Aryal.
Pointing at the rising trend of using English as the medium of instruction, teacher at Lalitpur-based Mahendra Adarsha Higher Secondary School (MAHSS), Om Prakash Baiba, said his school had to switch to English due to stiff competition.
Out of a total of 286 schools in the Kathmandu Valley, a majority have already switched to English medium, according to DEO Aryal. “However, many schools have to hire teachers on their own as the government-paid teachers cannot teach in English,” added Aryal.
Pope Francis and English as a Second (or Third) Language
By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register
VATICAN CITY, April 4, 2013—Fluency in English and other languages has long been considered a prerequisite for a pope.
Blessed Pope John Paul II arguably set the standard, learning as many as 12 languages and speaking eight of them fluently. Benedict XVI, his successor, was reputed to be fluent in seven and was particularly proficient in French, the first foreign language he learned.
But Pope Francis’ linguistic abilities are, by his own admission, significantly inferior. Apart from Spanish, his mother tongue, he knows German and Italian well, although he admits the former is rusty.
The Holy Father prefers not to publicly speak any languages other than Italian at general audiences, the summaries of which are now read by various officials in the Secretariat of State.
This reluctance was also seen on Easter Day, when, after delivering his message urbi et orbi (to the city of Rome and to the world), he refrained from wishing a Happy Easter in 65 of the world’s languages — a custom begun by John Paul II.
Reasons behind this approach were revealed in a 2010 biography by Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti of then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, called El Jesuita. In it, he explains that he understands the Italian dialect of his father and maternal grandparents who came from the Piedmont region in Italy.
Many new Danish words come from English
COPENHAGEN, February 25, 2015—”Atombryllup,” “eddermame,” “fantomredning,” “dimsedut” and...”walk-in-closet”? An odd collection of words indeed, but actually it is a small sample of the 212 new words that were adopted into the Danish language by the language committee Dansk Sprognævn in 2014.
And according to Pia Jarvad, a senior researcher at Dansk Sprognævn, 15 percent of the words approved last year hail from the English language because Danes are good at taking English words and making them part of their daily language.
“We still inflect English words in Danish and we mix them with our own words, such as ‘hårspray’ and ‘touchskærm,’” Jarvad told Metroxpress newspaper. “English is an important part of our language – it is not a threat.”
Torben Juel Jensen, a lecturer at the LANCHART language change centre at the University of Copenhagen, contended that it is normal for the Danes to adopt foreign words when it comes to technological and cultural things.
That contention is backed up by many of the new words adopted by the Danes last year, including “screenshot,” “selfie,” and “touchscreen.”
He also said that the Danes weren’t as prolific at creating new words from scratch as they are in the English-language speaking nations. In fact, in late December last year, the word of the year in Denmark for 2014 was revealed to be the English word “MobilePay.”
Words that the Danes did manage to generate themselves included a few interesting ones, such as “jesussandal” (jesus sandal), “spaghettigudstjeneste” (short worship ceremony for children followed by a meal together), “regnbuefamilie” (rainbow family – family in which parents are gay), and “drikkebror” (drinking brother).
Danish party wants to scrap courses taught in English
COPENHAGEN, February 13, 2015—The number of students enrolled in further education programs taught in English has shot up by 58 percent from 4,653 in 2009 to 7,376 in 2014. And last year some 30,000 foreign students received SU study grants. Dansk Folkeparti (DF) wants to put an end to this by stopping teaching in English at Danish educational institutions, Berlingske reports.
Jens Henrik Thulesen Dahl, DF’s education spokesperson, explained the party’s position. “The general rule should be that teaching takes place in Danish in Danish institutions,” he said.
“Of course foreign languages should be taught and there should be the possibility of English-speaking guest professors. But education programs that don’t have anything to do with language that take place in English don’t make sense.”
The proposal has been met with opposition – both from some of the institutions concerned and other opposition parties.
Niels Egelund, the chairman of the business academy organisation Danske Erhvervsakademier, claims that it wouldn’t pay to scrap the courses taught in English. “To the best of my judgement it would be shooting yourself in the foot,” he said.
“Firstly, we have had English-language educations since 1992 – and then it is something for many young Danes because it gives the possibility to study abroad.”
Deutsche Bahn aims to roll back use of English
By Jeevan Vasagar, Telegraph.co.uk
BERLIN, June 24, 2013—Germany’s rail operator Deutsche Bahn has launched a campaign to roll back the use of English, issuing staff a booklet of 2,200 German phrases that should be used instead of the corresponding Anglicisms.
The aim is to halt the spread of hybrid German-English – sometimes known as Denglisch – which produces confusing phrases like “Rail & Fly” for a train connection to the airport. The campaign will see coinages like “Flyern” – leaflets or flyers – replaced by the correct German word Handzetteln.
Guidelines for Deutsche Bahn's staff now call for the use of German wherever possible.
A spokesman for Deutsche Bahn said the goal was to ensure that the language used was clearly understood by customers.
“To help employees we have given them a glossary of Anglicisms so that they can take a critical look at their everyday speech and put a brake on the inflationary use of English and pseudo-English,” the spokesman said.
Deutsche Bahn was not exceptional in its use of Anglicisms, he added.
“This is a trend in society that is probably a reflection of increasing internationalisation and globalisation.”
Virtual English-language school “Open English” now worth millions
By Ingrid Rojas, ABCNews.com
June 26, 2013—Yes, you can make your entrepreneurial dream come true even if you only have $700 in the bank. That’s what Andres Moreno did eight years ago in Venezuela when he and his friend Wilmer Sarmiento launched Open English, an online English school targeting Spanish speakers in Latin America, now worth a cool $350 million.
Prior to launching Open English, Moreno, who’s 30 and a college dropout, had launched a traditional English language school in their hometown of Caracas. They would fly recent U.S. college grads down to teach executives of Fortune 500 companies based in Venezuela. But despite the school's success and big name client roster, Moreno and his team realized that the model was not scalable. So he ditched the brick and mortar model and switched to an all-online model, 21st century style.
Raising capital from Caracas was a hard task, however. So with $700 left in his bank, Moreno bet everything on their new idea and traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles. There, angel investors handed him $10,000 and $20,000 checks that allowed them to build a beta site and proof of concept.
Fast forward eight years, Open English is now based in Miami, Florida, has 2,000 employees and has raised over $120 million.
In the process Moreno, also met his future Chief Product Officer and wife, Nicolette, who also doubles as “Jenny” in all their quirky, homemade, commercials.
“No English-language Ibsen in summer embarrassing”—Norway tourism official
OSLO, July 3, 2013—The Ministry of Culture has put aside NOK 1.8 million in an attempt to make Norwegian culture accessible to more tourists, but Norwegian is an enemy of the people.
“It’s embarrassing it’s not possible to experience Ibsen in English in Norway in summer, it should be maneagable,” Hilde Charlotte Solheim, Enterprise Federation of Norway tourism and culture director, told Aftenposten, citing this season’s Munch exhibition.
Norway’s prices, service-levels, lack of choice, and hotel standards have had a tendency to confuse or put foreign visitors off. Some find Norwegians aloof, an Oslo-based academic problematises their missing small-talk abilities.
“One major problem with the Norwegian tourism industry is that we don’t package basic services such as transportation, accommodation, and meals together with the reason for why tourists come here.”
She added that Norway’s tourism and culture sectors must be better at cooperating on an equal footing to attract foreign visitors and mutually benefit from income.
Why is Spain experiencing an English language boom?
BY Anmar Frangoul, New Statesman
MADRID, July 11, 2013—Take a trip on Madrid’s Metro during the morning rush hour and you will be struck by two things: the number of suited commuters burying their heads in English language textbooks, and the amount of wall space taken up by private schools, or academias, advertising English courses.
Twenty-seven per cent of the population is unemployed; that’s over six million people. In a ferociously competitive job market, Spaniards see learning a foreign language as the best way of distinguishing themselves from others. While many here struggle to make ends meet, while angry protests against politicians, austerity and banks take place almost daily, English language schools have never had it so good.
Andalusia has been hit very hard by the crisis. With a local unemployment rate of 35.4 per cent, the demand for English lessons is high. Until last July, Pilar, a resident of Seville who studied law at university, worked for a property development company. “I was there for six years, during the construction boom,” she says. “When I started there were 44 of us. Now there are only two.”
Out of work and applying for jobs, she is investing time (three to four hours a day, not counting homework) and money in an intensive English course. In Spain, this can cost upwards of €600 – a large sum if you are unemployed. “My course is demanding, and expensive,” Pilar says. “But I need to differentiate myself from other candidates. If I have a good level of English, I will have more opportunities to get a job.”
Pedro, a 37-year-old father-oftwo, lives in Dos Hermanas, a 20-minute drive from Seville. He lost his job as a construction manager last year and is struggling to find employment. “The last job I went for, 700 other people applied,” he says.
Jamaica proposes teaching Venezuelans English for oil debt
September 7, 2013—Jamaica will, this weekend, seek to have Venezuela agree to a proposal for the training of Venezuelans in English language as part of a programme to offset oil debts.
Phillip Paulwell, Jamaica’s minister of science, technology, energy and mining, who leaves the island for Port-au-Prince, Haiti, today, said he is expecting a positive response to the proposal.
“By the end of the weekend, I will be able to report on it,” Paulwell told The Gleaner.
Paulwell will be attending the 11th meeting of the PetroCaribe Council of Ministers and the second meeting of the PetroCaribe Economic Zone.
“We are continuing our discussions with Venezuela in relation to trade-compensation mechanism, and we expect a very positive outcome on a proposal that they are contemplating,” Paulwell told The Gleaner yesterday.
Under the PetroCaribe arrangement, Jamaica pays Venezuela only 60 per cent of the cost of the oil it receives. The remainder is set aside as a loan, which is payable over 20 years at an interest rate of one per cent.
Since 2005, more than US$2.3 billion has accrued to Jamaica under the arrangement.
President says Gambia to shift from English to local language
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Gambia's president said that he wants to implement a policy change that would shift the country's language from English to a local language.
“We no longer subscribe to the belief that for you to be a government you should speak English language. We should speak our language,” President Yahya Jammeh said during the swearing-in ceremony of Gambia's new Chief Justice that aired on state-run Gambia Television Services on Friday.
The announcement comes months after the West African country announced it is withdrawing from the Commonwealth, a collection of 54 nations made up largely of former British colonies, saying it would “never be a member of any neo-colonial institution.”
The United Kingdom recently warned its citizens of rising anti-British rhetoric from the president, who last year accused the former colonial power and the United States of organizing coup attempts in the West African nation. The allegations were denied.
Though a popular destination for British tourists, Gambia has also been criticized by the U.K. for human rights abuses, including when it executed nine death-row inmates by firing squad in August 2012. Rights groups such as Amnesty International have also criticized Jammeh's government for cracking down on dissent and targeting political opponents and sexual minorities for arrest and detention, among other alleged abuses.
Gambia is at loggerheads with the European Union as the bloc threatens to suspend its aid if the country's human rights situation is not improved.
Colombia launches new program to promote English as 2nd language
By Daniel Medendorp Escobar,
July 10, 2014—Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos launched a new program called “Colombia Very Well,” on Thursday, with the intention of promoting bilingualism in Colombia.
According to a press statement released by the Office of the Presidency, the program is intended to promote bilingualism in Colombia, stating, “Today, only 9,000 high school graduates have an intermediate level of English. Our goal is to increase that number to 185,000 in ten years.”
In addition to promoting English among students, the project also aims to mobilize workers in the private and public sectors with the knowledge of English, and to strengthen a culture that values bilingualism as part of education.
The bilingualism initiative is slated to include immersion programs in San Andres – an English/Spanish-speaking island-state of Colombia northwest of the mainland – and in other countries with the creation of phone and tablet apps, in addition to delivering six million English textbooks to facilitate the program, according to Santos.
This policy is intended to be one of the highlights of the Santos educational policy in his second term, according to Colombian economic newspaper La Republica.
Deported Mexicans find new life at call centers
By Elliot Spagat and Omar Millan, Associated Press
TIJUANA, Mexico, August 22, 2014—Henry Monterroso is a foreigner in his own country. Raised in California from the age of 5, he was deported to Mexico in 2011 and found himself in a land he barely knew.
But the 34-year-old Tijuana native feels right at home as soon as gets to work at Call Center Services International, where workers are greeted in English. Monterroso supervises five employees amid rows of small cubicles who spend eight hours a day dialing numbers across the United States to collect on credit card bills and other debts.
He is among thousands of deported Mexicans who are finding refuge in call centers in Tijuana and other border cities. In perfect English — some hardly speak Spanish — they converse with American consumers who buy gadgets, have questions about warrantees or complain about overdue deliveries.
At Monterroso’s office in one of Tijuana’s tallest buildings, managers bring meals from Taco Bell in nearby San Diego to reward employees because the fast-food chain has no outlets in Mexico. Workers are off for the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving but labor on Mexican holidays.
“The end of your shift comes at 6 and you get hit by reality out there: You’re not in the U.S.,” Monterroso said above the din of buzzing phones. “While you’re here, you still get a sense that you’re back home, which I like very much.”
Many workers spent nearly all their lives in the U.S. and still have family there, which is a major selling point for Mexico over English-language industry leaders like India and the Philippines. They can chat comfortably about the U.S. housing market and Super Bowl contenders. They know slang.
Still, the sudden change is a shock. Monterroso’s weekly pay of less than $300 is a humbling drop from the $2,400 he made in San Diego real estate at the peak of the U.S. housing boom in the mid-2000s. And back in Mexico, the deportees are often ostracized for off-kilter Spanish or seen as outsiders.
Language as a passport
OSLO, Sweden, October 2, 2014—The European Day of Languages, celebrated since 2001 to promote multiculturalism, was observed at the University of Oslo, Friday, in a lecture entitled “When your language becomes your only passport: Language as an indicator of origin for asylum seekers.”
Hosted by the Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, this event was the second annual Einar Haugen Lecture, a series named for Norwegian-American linguist Einar Haugen (1906-1994), recognized for his landmark book in bilingual linguistics, The Norwegian Language in America.
The speaker was Professor Monica Schmid of the University of Essex, Department of Language and Linguistics, one of the largest academic departments of its type in the world.
Herself multilingual and binational (German and Swiss), she brought lively presence to a theme increasingly crucial in the asylum and immigration issues on the agenda across Europe.
In Norway, for example, there now are more than 400 asylum seekers officially classified as “stateless” – which means they lack documentation of their countries of origin. In some cases, that lack may be fraudulent. But it’s situational in most cases: the asylum seeker had not yet acquired official identity before having fled his/her home country, or in escaping had discarded identity papers for fear of being caught and killed by aggressors.
Social media affecting English of students
ACCRA, September 30, 2014—Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has stated that the advent of social media is negatively affecting the writing and speaking of English language among students in the country, especially those in the Senior High School (SHS) level.
According to Mr. Ablakwa, even though social media has been very helpful when it comes to communication among friends and families, students are transferring their ways of writing on social media platforms into the examination rooms and the way they speak as well.
The North Tongu legislator said this when he officially launched a National Essay Competition instituted by the UBA Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in Accra.
He noted that English and Mathematics subjects are the major challenges in examination among students, reiterating that it is now easy and common to see most students using short-hands during examination.
Applauding UBA for initiating the competition geared towards providing Senior High School students in Ghana a stage to demonstrate their writing and speaking skills, Mr Ablakwa called on Ghanaians and corporate institutions to assist the government in lifting the image of the educational sector in the country.
The minister noted that last year the government spent GHc5.7 billion in the educational sector, which represented 6.1% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“Ghana has already achieved the UNESCO educational record of 6%, and that is a plus for us as a country,” said the minister.
Tajiks turn to Hollywood to push English
January 9, 2015—Tajikistan’s state broadcaster has started airing Hollywood and Bollywood movies without dubbing or subtitles in an attempt to improve English language learning among school and university students in the Central Asian country.
The idea behind the move, initiated by the former Soviet republic’s First Channel last autumn, is to encourage viewers to pick up English from watching films they love.
The initiative, on Thursdays and Sundays, has proved so popular that two other state channels, Safina and Bahoristan, are now also airing English-only movies two days every week.
Komro Safarov, the deputy head of First Channel, told Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, or RFE-RL, that in Soviet times many young Tajiks learned Russian from watching films broadcast from Moscow.
As English becomes ever more popular, but opportunities for speaking or listening to native speaks remain very limited, movies shown in their original language can help promote and support learning, complementing the work of language centres and universities in teaching English.
“It is through watching and hearing people speak that one accelerates the learning process for a foreign language,” Safarov told RFE-RL.
The initiative is sorely needed in a country that, nearly a quarter of a century after independence, remains the poorest of the former Soviet Union.
In an economy characterised by a low-skilled workforce and massive labour oversupply, only 5% of the population speak English. As many as 740,000 of the country’s eight million people work abroad, mostly in Russia, sending home US$3.5 billion a year – in 2012 equal to over 45% of GDP.
Tajikistan turns to Hollywood for English lessons
December 9, 2014—Mehrangez is a university student in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, who says she has few opportunities to talk to native English speakers. She didn’t expect to understand much when she watched the 2013 Hollywood remake of The Great Gatsby on Tajik television recently, and she was right.
Now that state broadcasters no longer voiceover or dub many of the English-language movies they show, Mehrangez had a difficult time following the dialogue.
“I only understood two words,” she says. “They were ‘hello’ and ‘madame’.”
Still, she watched the film to the end, convinced that one day she will be able to understand English-only movies as easily as she and most other Tajiks understand Russian-language movies today.
“I already have watched many American films [on Tajik TV], and the one which I think is the best of all is The Great Gatsby, the new film,” she says. “I think [watching] English films, American films can improve our English.”
Tajik state television began airing English-language films in their original versions just a few months ago. With three channels now showing Hollywood and Bollywood films without any translation help on Sundays and Thursdays, the films are already carving out a space for English in Tajik life that it has never occupied before.
Komro Safarov, the deputy head of the country’s First Channel, says the new initiative is based on the idea that young Tajiks of earlier generations learned Russian precisely because films in that language were not translated when they were broadcast across what was then the Soviet Union.
Do you speak Uglish? How English has evolved in Uganda
By Maeve Shearlaw, Guardian Africa Network
December 22, 2014—Please don’t dirten my shirt with your muddy hands.
Stop cowardising and go and see that girl. Don’t just beep her again, bench her.
Typos? No, we’re speaking Uglish (pronounced you-glish), a Ugandan form of English influenced by Luganda and other local dialects, which has produced hundreds of words with their own unique meanings.
Some will be immediately obvious to English speakers: dirten, meaning to make dirty; cowardising, to behave like a coward.
Others offer small insights into youth culture: beep – meaning to ring someone but to hang up quickly before the person answers. Benching – meaning to drop by on someone you may have a romantic interest in, having evolved from university slang.
Now, Bernard Sabiti, a Ugandan cultural commentator has recorded these colloquialisms in a new book which attempts to unlock what he calls “one of the funniest and strangest English varieties in the world”.
Working as a consultant for international NGOs, Sabiti kept being asked “what kind of English do Ugandans speak?” He felt it was time to “dig deeper and sum-up with something standardised to explain the strange way of speaking.”
The result? A definitive guide to Uglish, from its evolutions to a glossary of hundreds of words.
Nordic countries lead Europe in English-taught programmes
HELSINKI, February 24, 2015—The Nordic region has the greatest proportion of English Taught Programmes (ETPs) in Europe at HE level, according to a recent study by the Academic Cooperation Association.
These countries boast the highest proportion of students enrolled in ETPs, at 5 per cent
The report, English-Taught Programmes in European Higher Education, found that 61% of higher education institutions in the Nordic region are offering Bachelor’s or Master’s programmes taught entirely in English. This is compared to 32% offering the same in 2007.
And the proportion of study programmes that are provided entirely in English is at 20% in the Nordic region.
These countries also boast the highest proportion of students enrolled in ETPs, at 5%, compared with the 1.3% average European enrolment rate.
All five Nordic countries have ranked in the Top 12 ETP “leaders” after looking at three factors: the proportion of HE institutions in the country offering ETPs, the proportion of ETPs of all programmes, and the enrolment of ETPs compared with the country’s total HE enrolment.
Markus Laitinen, vice president of EAIE and head of international affairs at the University of Helsinki, told The PIE News that ETPs are necessary to attract international students to study in Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
“International relations and international students are a definite quality aspect when it comes to higher education. Not only do you want to measure against everybody else in the field, but also you want to increase the diversity of your campus life,” he said.
In 2014, there were 8,089 programmes taught in English; a significant increase from 2,389 seven years ago “We cannot really expect to do anything significant in this respect if we rely on our domestic languages, Finnish and Swedish, because they are hardly spoken outside our borders or the general area, so the only way for us to really make a dent when it comes to the number of international students is to use English.”