Thursday, 12 March 2009

Cream of the crop

Arguably the best deals for summer school teachers in the UK are at universities

From EL Gazette, February 2009

UK University EAP programmes are generally regarded as a much better deal for suitably-qualified teachers than the traditional private summer school EFL market, and EFL teachers who want to aim higher should look into teaching on a higher education English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme. EAP providers, especially in the public sector, where the workforce is unionised and the contracts are regulated, are much clearer than the traditional ‘straight’ English language summer schools onthe actual number of hours you will end up working for your money. This reputation for clarity in stating the deal up-front is confirmed below.

Jonathan White, deputy head of campaigns at the University and College Union (UCU), which represents higher education lecturers, told the Gazette that ‘salaries are obviously important, but we would advise anyone looking to work in the university sector to also consider the full range of terms and conditions, including… the place of EAP courses within the overall academic programme of an institution… Our view would be that once all this is considered, there is no question that you would be far better off working as an employee of a university rather than of a private company.’

Although our questions were specific to summer course employment, most respondents’ replies didn’t restrict themselves to summer courses, and told us about year-round EAP programmes or teaching Applied Linguistics. The lecturer’s trade union sent comments that were aimed more at comparing permanent posts in the public sector with the private sector. While all universities that replied still have EAP summer school vacancies every year, this pre-occupation with year-round, permanent posts may mean that there’s more reliance on permanent staff and less call for temporary teachers for the summer. (We noticed a flurry of activity on job sites for permanent UK EAP lecturing jobs in December, at the time of writing.)

The Gazette emailed 19 full BALEAP members as well as a random selection of our existing EAP contacts, and contacted the press offices of the big private sector EAP providers. At the time of writing, only six providers had responded, all in the public sector. Several others, including Kaplan, had promised to get back to us, but no reply was with us come the deadline. To be fair, several universities excused themselves for being too busy preparing for marketing visits in the run-up to Christmas.

Two universities, both in the Russell Group, agreed to respond on the basis that replies were not attributed to them. Such coyness about salaries, terms and conditions seems a little odd, given that that the details mostly don’t vary too much from those already published for last years’ summer schools, providers are mostly planning to put comprehensive details of their vacancies up on job sites and on their own websites within the next couple of months.

One university asked for an ‘internationally recognised TELF diploma,’ we think they meant to type ‘Tefl diploma.’ There are some universities that offer a way into EAP for the newly qualified.

Several universities asked for a Delta and an MA, which given the global shortage of Dip (DELTA)-qualified teachers and the expense of getting either qualification, never mind both, is pushing their luck. More than one university mentioned a disparity in what qualifications they wanted by way of qualifications, and what they actually got.

Teachers abroad who are returning to the UK to teach EAP in the summer should note that only two out of six respondents did offer subsidised on-campus accommodation at half the normal rent, with one other saying accommodation was available, but at market rents. One anonymous campus university said ‘accommodation is provided if teachers live beyond commuting distance,’ rent was not mentioned.

All universities say that responding to ads on their own website’s vacancies page, as well as and the Education Guardian newspaper (out every Tuesday) is the way to apply for EAP summer jobs. Some of these, of course, will also be advertised on the jobs listing on the EL Gazette website. One respondent told us they ‘wouldn't necessarily discourage well-qualified applicants from sending in their CV at any time of the year, though: we sometimes need extra staff in January.’ Prospective summer EAP teachers should keep an eye out, as vacancies are announced from January all the way through to April.

Tim Marr and Janet Enever, senior lecturers in Applied Linguistics London Metropolitan University said their minimum qualifications were an MA Tesol or similar plus Delta, although they ‘believe that currently a university is able to 'carry' a small percentage of Celta qualified staff.’ Hours are 35 hours a week full-time, of which 15-18 are contact teaching hours. Short term, long term or permanent contracts are available.

Some London Met part-time posts are paid hourly-rate, full-time ones are as per their annual contract. The lecturers we contacted were ‘not aware of current rates’ of pay, and forwarded our enquiry on this to English Language Services. London Met did say that holiday pay a legal requirement.

A Russell Group university that preferred not to be named, said they advertise summer vacancies ‘if they need to in March and April.’. The university’s minimum qualifications were a Degree (‘foreign languages preferred’)and Delta or equivalent – Celta plus a relevant MA being regarded as Delta equivalent. They also need three years’ experience, preferably with some of this in EAP. Hours for their summer courses are ‘up to 18 a week,’ (presumably this means 18 contact teaching hours), with contracts of seven or 11 weeks to cover six-week and 10-week pre-sessional courses. Accommodation is not part of the deal, but university halls of residence are available at around £80 a week. Rates are ‘expected to be £650 a week in 2009,’ including holiday pay.

Liz Austin, pre-sessional programme leader at Essex University, says her programme requires a Delta or equivalent, with an MA ‘desirable’. Essex requires ‘extensive Tefl experience’ and prefers EAP teaching experience in ‘a British HE setting.’ Contracts are 10-11 weeks from mid-July to mid-September. There 24 contact hours a week, including
‘class, tutorials, attendance at lectures, long assignment marking.’ They expect teachers to do ‘class preparation and homework marking’ on top of that.

Essex’s 2008 salary was £5,350 (presumably for the 10-11 weeks) plus 8 per cent holiday pay and a bonus paid to tutors who’ve taught there before. The package includes several days’ induction and workshops during the course as part of salaried hours, and teachers can on free course trips and attend course social events if they want to. Liz describes the Essex pre-sessional as a ‘good starting point for experienced TEFL tutors looking to move across to EAP teaching.. Tutors with less experience in EAP are well-supported by senior staff.’

Another Russell Group university that didn’t want to be named said their minimum requirement is a Celta, though they’ve only ever taken on teachers with a Dip or an MA in ELT and at least three years’ experience in EAP. ‘We pay for 20 hours per week but in fact teachers have 15-17 hours of classroom contact.’ Rates are £3032 per five week phase (including holiday pay).

Ros Richards, Director of the the school of languages and European studies at the University of Reading said advertising starts in February, and advised that ‘quite a few institutions use the jobs section of the BALEAP website.’ Reading needs at least a Dip Tefl or equivalent, ‘but we seek to appoint with relevant MA plus EAP teaching experience.’ Reading’s contracted teaching hours ‘average 19 per week.’ Depending on the nature of the pre-sessional block they’re engaged to teach on, Reading have 11-week, 8-week and five-week courses. They offer 50 per cent off specified University hall accommodation. Their rates for 2008 were £542.55 to new teachers and £558.81 to returning teachers, and these will go up by 5 per cent next summer. An extra 9.21 per cent is paid out in holiday pay.

Euro helps UK EFL buck doom and gloom trend

Not all language schools in the UK are doing so well. This one, at 145 Oxford Street, London W1, appeared to be locked, with mail piling up in the doorway. A notice of eviction served by the property's owners, Prudential, was sellotaped to the door as of early March.

From EL Gazette, February 2009

Mario Rinvolucri, founder of Pilgrims School of English - in Canterbury in the South East of England - told that Gazette that Pilgrims’ own latest figures, and the intelligence he’s getting from across the UK EFL industry, show that ‘receipts are extremely good’ in the UK industry as a result of the record rise in the value of the Euro against the pound. Pilgrims has been picking up a lot of end of season executive courses from the Eurozone (the 15 EU states currently using the Euro currency) in a development which is bucking the general trend towards ‘doom and gloom’ in the recession-bound UK economy.

Mr Rinvolucri conceded that corporate clients were still on 2008 budgets, and it remains to be seen whether the 2009 budgets of corporations will maintain that level of spending in the current global economic climate. The success in recruiting from the Eurozone is also helped by the increasing use of ‘teacher agents, ’ according to Mr Rinvolucri. These are practising teachers in, for example, large comprehensive schools in Germany, who persuade some of their colleagues to come on Comenius courses, or teachers in private EFL schools that offer free taster courses for summer schools at Pilgrims. Teacher agents have all been on Pilgrims summer courses, and ‘are much more teachers and much less agents.’

Vietnam EFL 'out of control'

ENGLISH language schools in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, formerly Saigon) are now proliferating so fast that its private English as a Foreign Language (EFL) sector is ‘out of control,’ according the English language Vietnam news website Vietnam Net Bridge. Nguyen Van Cuong, of the city’s Education and Training Department says that there are now 474 registered private EFL schools under its supervision, and that ‘the task of controlling the quality of English education centres in HCM City is quite a challenge.’

Setting up an ‘international centre’ teaching EFL under an ‘international’-sounding brand name is relatively cheap, and Mr Cuong said that it’s possible with an investment of as little as 2 million dong (£78) in a prime location. Opening another branch of an existing school requires much less bureaucracy than setting up a new school from scratch, so that most schools have two or three branches in the city, with some schools operating as many as 20 branches.

Operating multiple branches means that chain schools can send their existing teachers into several schools, rather than having to spend money on hiring new teachers. Students sign up in the expectation of being taught by ‘highly qualified native-speaking teachers’ only to find that these are often backpackers who are very thinly spread around many different branches of a school. One student complained to Vietnam Net Bridge that he had signed up on the promise of four days a week out of five, but now he gets to be taught by a native speaker only once a week.

Other sharp practices in Ho Chi Minh City’s mushrooming private EFL sector include frequent unsubstantiated claims that schools’ certification is internationally recognised. And complaints about false advertising go beyond claims about native-speaker teachers. One school projected a ‘luxurious appearance’ to a student, named as Minh Nghia,’ when he came to enquire about enrolling, but put that student in ‘small and stuffy’ classrooms. A staff member at the centre gave assurances that his class would have a maximum of 20 students, but the class turned out to have 30 students, with new students constantly added as they enrolled. "The class is too crowded and it’s really hard to listen to the teachers’ words,’ said Nghia.

A language centre director, speaking to Vietnam Net Bridge on condition of anonymity, said that ‘English centres owned by Vietnamese universities inside their campuses, which in the 1990s were very popular, and whose payments were only several 10,000 dong, (just under $4) can barely survive,’ as ‘low-cost English centres are now losing ground to the ones whose fees are in the millions of dong or even in US dollars,’ fuelled by a popular belief that teaching using a high proportion of native speaker teachers automatically translates into higher quality.

Own Brand of teaching

BRITAIN'S most controversial stand-up comedian Russell Brand is currently best known for a recent scandal involving a ‘prank’ phone call in which he left obscene phone messages on the answering machine of a well-known veteran actor. The incident forced his resignation from his BBC Radio 2 show and cost the jobs of several senior BBC executives. Brand’s lower profile in the US didn’t stop him putting a lot of backs up in a rare US appearance at the MTV Video Awards last September, where he taunted the celibate lifestyle of clean-cut teen pop act the Jonas Brothers (from High School Musical).

More of interest to Teflers though, is Brand’s recent revelation on his Russell Brand’s Ponderland TV show that he was previously an EFL teacher on London’s Oxford Street for a year. Using a four-letter scatological reference to describe the quality of his teaching, he admitted that he was the ‘cool, popular teacher’ who, following a time-honoured Oxford Street private EFL sector practice, would occasionally take his students for lessons in a nearby park on sunny days. When Brand started passing a ‘joint’ (marihuana cigarette) among his students, however, he was betrayed by ‘some evil student who actually wanted to learn English!’ The management came to question Brand’s class about this, and Brand recalled desperately preparing his class by getting them to collectively agree an alibi for him. This stratagem failed however, because in Brand’s own words, ‘I was such a s*** teacher that none of them understood me.’

Thumbs down - Korean student who shopped his teacher

From EL Gazette, February 2009

THUMBS DOWN to the male teenage student of an English school in Seoul, Korea, identified only as ‘Master Kim’, who shopped his English teacher to the police for appearing in a porn video, and who seems to have himself escaped prosecution for doing something which is also illegal in that country.

According to Seoul newspaper Kukmin Ilbo, a Korean English teacher at a hagwon (English language crammer school) in Seoul was fined 10,000,000 won (£4,600) for appearing in a pornographic video after one of her students recognised her on a website.

The teacher, identified only as Ms Kim, (a surname shared by a sizeable proportion of the Korean population) had featured several years ago in several porn videos starring herself and her boyfriend while studying in a postgraduate Sociology course in Canada, after running into difficulties keeping up payments on the tuition fees. Appearing in and watching pornography are illegal in Korea, and Ms Kim was unaware that the law includes performance by Korean nationals in pornographic material recorded abroad in countries where such activity is not illegal, such as Canada.

Ms Kim’s vigilant teenage student, named as ‘Master Kim,’ ‘just happened to be surfing porn sites’ when he came across a woman whose face looked strangely familiar. A ‘closer inspection’ revealed it was his English teacher. He tipped off the Seoul Metropolitan Police website, who began an investigation resulting in English teacher Ms. Kim being fined. Commentators on the case on English-language blogs pointed out that the (male) student Master Kim, who was also engaged an activity illegal in Korea by viewing pornography in the first place, received a very different treatment from the police, with no action taken against him.

United nations of ELT

MA students of Tesol and Tefl span the globe and the age ranges. We look at their demographic

From EL Gazette, February 2009

Who are the students on MA Tesol or MA Tefl courses? Are they native speakers studying in their own countries or non-native speakers going to English-speaking countries to study? (We found one MA course in the UK, for example, that had several ‘alien’ native speakers from Canada and the US.)

We put these and other questions to numerous MA Tesol/Tefl (some are MSc Tesol/Tefl) courses in the UK, Canada, the US, as well as a few in Australia, and the only MA Tesol we know of in South Africa. The response rate was low. Numerous respondents said they’d forwarded our surveys to colleagues, who didn’t then get back to us.
Distance students tend to be older, and non-native speakers also tend to be younger than native speakers, although one university that had both distance and on-campus courses said that its distance MA students, whether native-speaker or non-native speaker, tended to be older, while they couldn’t discern much of a difference in age group according to nationality. The gender balance of MA courses suggests that EFL remains a ‘pink collar profession’ overwhelmingly staffed by women.

A vast diversity in countries of origin was common to nearly all MA courses, and it was universities located in less cosmopolitan parts of their country, or in harder (or more expensive to get to) parts of the world that tended to buck this trend, catering mostly for their own nationals as part of their state or national teaching licensing system. Even schools that could only spare time for a very brief phone conversation with us, like SIT in Vermont, USA, noted the great diversity of nationalities in their MA Tesol student body. Several respondents volunteered the observation that the native speaker MA Tesol students - nationals of the country that hosted the course - felt they benefited from being among such a diverse student body.

Virginia Soriano Chico, postgraduate programme coordinator of Aston University’s school of languages and social sciences in the UK, said her department has around 145 students on our distance learning MSc in TESOL suite of programmes and 48 students on our MA in TESOL Studies and MA in TESOL and Translation Studies

Aston’s MSc Tesol by distance has British, Japanese, Greek, Italian, Maltese, German students and many others from Europe, Japan, China, Taiwan, the Middle East, South America and African countries. Ten of the 145 are based in the UK. Aston’s campus-based students are from ‘many countries including the UK, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Poland, Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, China, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey, Iran, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Jordan.’

Their MA Tesol students have a minimum of two years’ teaching practice and are mostly in their thirties with a few in their fifties some work with the British Council abroad, and some own their own schools..The (on campus) MA students tend to be younger – with a few exceptions they’ve just got a Bachelors degree and are in their twenties. Aston MSc students are 58 per cent female, the MA programme has 79 per cent female students.

Istvan Kecskes of the University of Albany (State University of New York) said their MA Tesol course has 45 students, of which three fifths are native speakers born in the US, with the remainder being international students from China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, India, Poland and Spain. Seven out of ten are female, and the age range is from their twenties to their fifties. Albany’s MA intake are all experienced teachers, mostly ‘senior teachers with international experience,’ but with ‘novice teachers’ among them. Albany gets more international MA Tesol students than previously, and sees more students coming into Tesol from other professions.

Half of the MA students at the department of English and language studies at Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK are non-native speakers, from Japan, Korea, Ukraine, Yemen, Pakistan, Turkey and Argentina. 85 per cent are women, ranging from their twenties to their sixties. They have an average of five years’ teaching experience, while at least one has been teaching for 30 years. They are mostly on the course with the aim of becoming a Director of Studies. They haven’t seen any recent changes in the age range, and seem be getting more native speakers from the UK.

At the University of York in the UK, 20 students on the distance MA, all but one who gave their gender were female, UK nationals and native speakers were outnumbered by non-native speakers from Singapore, Greece, Spain and Korea. Asians and Greeks tended to be much younger than the Brits, who were generally in their forties.

Individual distance MA Tesol/Tefl or Applied Linguistics students from the University of Birmingham, also in the UK, distance tended to be male native speakers, in their thirties.

In a random sample of MA Tesol by distance students at the New School New York – one in her sixties, mostly US nationals, one of whom was pleasantly surprised at the ‘diversity of the student body.’

Students from Hamline Graduate School in Minnesota who responded to an earlier Gazette survey were mostly North Americans (US citizens and one Canadian) and in their thirties. One woman aged 50 described her nationality as ‘Scandinavian’ (not a nationality), but given that Minnesota has a high proportion of residents of Scandinavian origin, she may have a US citizen describing her ethnicity.

Liz England of Shenandoah University said of the approximately 200 students enrolled on their MA Tefl/Tesol courses that she was struck by the great diversity of the student body. They’re a mix of native and non-native speakers, the latter from ‘five continents’ including Morocco, Korea, Germany, Japan, Mozambique and the UAE. Women outnumber men. Students range in age from 30 to 70. Most are already employed full-time teaching in EFL/ESL or other fields, and there are Directors of Studies and ministry of education people among them. The student body is becoming ‘more diverse’ with a bigger demand for distance MA courses compared to on-campus courses.

Renaissance of the Gulf

From EL Gazette, February 2009

The numbers of Arabian Gulf nationals studying around the world continue to rise, with little sign of the global recession

Matt Salusbury


Where are students from the Gulf states of the Middle East going to study? The ‘Gulf states’ are members of the Cooperation Council for Arab States in the Arabian Gulf, which are Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, the states of Kuwait and Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE, which including Abu Dhabi and Dubai.)

Some countries have no statistics for enrolments from individual Gulf countries, and lump students from there together as ‘Middle East,’ which includes Turkey and North Africa. Australia is one such country. English Australia’s figures for the EFL sector lists 5,500 from ‘the Middle East’ in 2007, up 60 per cent on 2006. Within this group, enrolments from Saudi Arabia doubled in that year, totalling 7,300 Saudis studying in Australia as of October 2008.

Australia takes recruitment of Gulf students so seriously that a Parliamentary Sub-committee covered the issue back in 2005, urging Australia to capitalise on ‘recent restrictions to student visas and perceptions of the US and the UK as being "unsafe" and "unwelcoming" destinations for students from the Middle East and Gulf’.

New Zealand, helped by a low exchange rate for its currency and the perception of the country as a safe place, is enjoying a surge in Saudi enrolments. There were only 76 Saudi students in New Zealand in 2006, but by 2008 these had almost tripled.

Ireland’s latest (2005) figures show 300 Kuwait students, many of whom were studying in Ireland’s five medical schools. Eight per cent of all medical students are from Kuwait and four per cent of them are from the UAE, making them the fourth and fifth biggest groups in medicine by nationality. There were over 150 Emiratis in Ireland in 2005, with Emiratis outnumbering Saudis.

Ireland has seen a recent increase in Saudis on the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme, Nearly 90 per cent of these are male, and they’re mostly on part-time ‘non-degree’ business or English language courses.

The Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC) told the Gazette that the number of students from all Gulf countries on student visas on Canadian campuses has grown rapidly, with nearly 70,000 fulltime students in 2006. The AUCC said that Arab students are especially numerous at McGill University and the universities of Ottawa and Toronto. The latest (2005) figures show that 23 per cent of Gulf states students in Canada were female, this proportion is 10 per cent more than a decade earlier.

In Spring 2008, Canada relaxed immigration rules on student visa-holders who settle there after a course of study, and Gulf News reported that Emiratis in particular are taking advantage of this change.

Back in 2006, the American Council of Education warned that ‘students from the Gulf States… are choosing to study in Europe, the Middle East, or Asia rather than coming to the United States.’ Their report cited year-on-year declines in enrolments from the Gulf – by one fifth in Oman’s case - and concluded ‘this is part of a larger pattern of decline among Muslim countries’ in the wake of 9/11 and the Afghani and Iraq wars. The recent ‘Obama bounce’ seems to be improving global perceptions of the US, which may encourage Arab students back there.

America’s efforts to entice students from the Gulf states include the State Department’s education arm in the region, AMIDEAST, which opened bigger accommodation with a separate teaching centre in Muscat, Oman, in the summer. Before the move, AMIDEAST’s Muscat operation was already handling 130 visitors and 200 calls a month, all enquiring about studying in the US.

AMIDEAST will open an office in Qatar soon, and is already marketing State Department-sponsored Youth Exchange and Study Program scholarships for Qataris to study in a US high school for a year. Qatar’s ‘Education City’ outside the capital Doha includes five US university campuses, compared to one British university (Herriot-Watt) and one Australian university (Wollongong) in the Gulf, both in Dubai.

America’s 1991 liberation of Kuwait means Kuwait has close ties to the US. The National Union of Kuwait Students said that in 2008 there were ‘1,500 Kuwaiti students studying at universities in the US, Egypt and the UK on scholarships from the Kuwait Embassy. Another 500 Kuwaiti are enrolled privately in American universities.’

Saudi Arabia’s gigantic King Abdullah Scholarship Programme (KASP, see here) is focused on the US, with a target for 25,000 Saudis to be studying in the US by academic year 2009-2010.

The Gulf states don’t just send students to American universities, they (especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) are the biggest donors to US university endowment funds. This facilitates more of their nationals coming to study there.

In the UK, the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show over 3200 Saudi higher education students in the UK in 2007, up 18 per cent on the previous year. Kuwaiti and Qatari numbers were up by about the same proportion, with well over a thousand students from each state, and there were 600 Qataris. Emirati recruitment was more modest (seven per cent up, to over 2200) and Bahraini enrolments were down.

The British Council Kuwait is now starting training and accreditation for local educational agents. UK Trade and Investment recently identified ‘financial and professional education’ in Saudi Arabia and Qatar topping the list of ‘opportunities’ for export to these countries.

Scottish universities seem particularly adept at marketing to the Gulf. Glasgow’s website markets its diverse home city’s large Muslim community, with the most mosques of any city in Scotland. (The University of New South Wales also markets its tolerant and cosmopolitan home city of Sydney, Australia, and its university mosque where 400 Muslim students attend Friday prayers.) Meanwhile, London’s EFL providers are telling the Gazette they're having trouble coping with the influx of King Abdullah Scholarship Programme Saudis.

South African EFL providers report that they’re receiving more Saudis of a younger average age, helped by relatively easy visas. As we go to press, a South African mission to the Gulf states is arriving in Dubai, with the Gulf States acting in concert on agreements with South Africa on tourism, hospitality, leisure and nuclear energy technology transfer, but no mention of education yet. Talks are also about to start on a pan-African trading bloc with the Gulf states, with South Africa as a senior partner.

In Gulf countries that have no elections, national leaders are acutely aware of the need to constantly drive ‘reforms.’ Several Gulf states are committed to reducing their dependence on an expatriate workforce, and on training up their own nationals to replace them. All this will mean continued investment in English-medium education. All Saudi primary schools will teach EFL from 2009, for example, with English as the medium of instruction for all mathematics and science in the Kingdom from 2011.

But there’s still a chance that increased demand from the Gulf could stall. At the end 2008, Saudi Arabia was, according to the Guardian newspaper, ‘expected to cut back on both current spending and adjust ambitious long-term development plans in the light of the slump in (oil) prices.’ Qatari and Emirati government run investments funds have taken a pounding through exposure to US and European share price crashes. Boomtown Dubai is starting to see a slowdown, while Kuwait recently took the extreme step of closing its stock exchange for several days to stop share prices ‘haemorrhaging.’ But the same report re-assures us that even in a global recession, the existing assets of the Gulf states will ‘remain massive.’

Ellie interim report on early adoption of languages

From EL Gazette, February 2009

THE FIRST interim report of the gigantic European Commission-sponsored ElliE report on the early adopting of foreign language learning in European primary schools is out. (See the July 2008 Gazette, p1 and 5.) This first stage concentrates on children aged seven to eight across schools in Poland, Italy, Croatia, Holland, Sweden, England and the Catalan region of Spain. The foreign language they are learning is in most cases English.

The report found that children are highly motivated for learning a foreign language at this age, are aware of their language abilities and show strong preferences for what sort of language learning environment they learn in. The study found a great emphasis on oral production in language teaching aimed at this age group. Children of the target age group could already ‘produce meaningful chunks of language such as greetings and responses,’ and the vocabulary they were producing contained more nouns than verbs. School principals, teachers and the children’s parents are keen on the children starting to learn languages early.

A positive learning environment, access to a variety of materials were among the factors helping the students’ progress and motivation. The report noted a big variation from country to country in requirements for language proficiency among primary school language teachers.

The next phase of the research will concentrate on ages 8 to 9, with a report due out in the final days of 2009.

Mickey Mouse link to China EFL chain

This article first appeared in EL Gazette of February 2008

ENTERTAINMENT colossus the Walt Disney Corporation has opened an English language school in Shanghai, as part of its strategy of entering the Chinese EFL market. The private school caters for children aged two to eleven, using teachers from North America and locally recruited bilingual teaching assistants.

Disney’s market research shows that Chinese parents are willing to spend up to 20 per cent of their annual earnings to enable their children to learn English, and Disney predicts a 12 per cent annual growth in China’s ELT market, which it described in a Shanghai Daily interview as the world’s biggest. Disney estimated that by 2012, China’s estimated US $2 billion spend on language learning for its youth would double to US $4 billion.

· China came third in Computer Weekly magazine’s ranking of top IT ‘outsourcing destinations to watch.’ China was outclassed by Argentina and Bulgaria in the survey, with praise for these countries’ language skills and education systems. The ‘English language capability of Chinese workers’ and its weak intellectual property laws were seen as ‘unsatisfactory.’