Thursday, January 05, 2006

Predictions of Trends in ELT for 2006: What to Expect in the Upcoming Year

English Language Teaching and learning methodology and didactic approaches have been in an almost constant state of flux since the advent of the Grammar – Translation method documented by German-American anthropologist Franz Boas and the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen during the early 20th century. From these beginnings through a range of audio-lingual, interactive and communicative methods to CALL and ESP, there has been a virtually continuous research and development in English language acquisition and learning. What though, are some further developments we might look forward to during 2006 considering recent trends in ELT?

Prediction of ELT Trends for 2006
In view of both past and recent trends in ELT, the following aspects would seem to be imminent for the upcoming months of 2006 and beyond. These may include:

An increase in online ELT resources – With costs soaring and many economies slowly crumbling, lowered teacher – student contact hours will mandate an increase in online facilities for both teachers and students

Incremented use of vlogs and blogs as teaching / learning tools – Technology continues to race ahead with greater resources, hardware and software developing at increasingly lower cost allowing us to do far more at much less cost than ever before. Websites and the need to extensive knowledge of programming and software are being rapidly replaced by weblogs (blogs) and video animation web logs (vlogs) which allow inclusion of full audio-video applications in e-mails and online postings at little or no cost. Resource and cash - strapped institutions of learning will now be able to produce and maintain high-quality materials online.

Continued virtual education expansion – Already making serious headway at many previously resistant institutions of language learning, virtual courses and online learning will continually expand as its cost-effectiveness will aid schools to get or stay competitive

A general reduction in teacher – student contact hours – To reduce costs and boost profitability, many institutions are adapting reduced teacher to student contact hours with more student time spent online or in a virtual environment.

Expanded use of web quests - As efforts to create more autonomous learners develop, increased use of task-based learning online such as web quests will see a dramatic rise in implementation

An increase in the production of regional and locally focused EFL texts and materials – In many economies, materials produced in “first world” conditions and costs but marketed in “third world” economic environments are simply unaffordable to students. To circumvent the inability of learners to acquire commercially-produced text materials, local publishers and institutions will prepare, produce and publish materials designed specifically for the needs of their students.

Smarter, better-prepared, more savvy teachers and programs that will derive greater market share – Better educated, better prepared, more qualified teachers will attract the lion’s share of the available student market to those institutions which produce the best results, that is, prepares learners to immediately to advantage of and apply their knowledge and ability to use English. 20% of the institutions in a given market may well capture more than 80% of the available learners creating a market imbalance in their favor.

A shift in student enrollment into more practical vocation-based ESP courses and programs – As economies continue to shrink and tighten, conditions will favor those institutions of learning which provide practically applied language learning courses and programs. That is, English for specific career / employment application – using English as an integral part of a field, career or job function that will give learners greater prospects and employability will attract and hold a greater number of enrolled students.

An even greater focus on English language qualifying exams for teachers and students – How do you tell who’s “good” and who’s not? How do you know where you stand in relation to other teachers, other students or other institutions in the general scheme of things? That is, without trying to compare apples to avocadoes? One answer of course is using globally-based standards and evaluations. Exams, evaluations like the IELTS and TOEFL will see greater application for both teachers and students. Administrators can instantly evaluate and compare English language knowledge and skills of their teaching staff. Teachers can gain a much deeper insight into the English language knowledge and skills of their students at any stage of the course or curriculum.

Greater use of multi-modal teaching methodology and didactics – No two students or teachers are alike. Reaching Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students can be an especially difficult challenge even for the best, most experienced teachers. One approach that can help to minimize the difficulty is the use of a multi-modal approach. As such it will be more widely adapted. It also promotes greater flexibility and a broader range of activities in the classroom promoting student interest, language acquisition rates and participation.

An increasing acceptance of different varieties of English – What is “correct” English is a question which has been under heavy dispute for a number of years. Is British English “better” than American English or other varieties of English? Is the Spanish of Spain (i.e., Castellano) “better” than the Spanish of Latin America? With increasing globalization, like it or not, will come greater acceptance of different varieties of English.

Broader acceptance and integration of the Common European Framework standards for English language teaching, learning and evaluation and testing – As the need for global standards in teaching, testing and evaluating English become necessary, the CEF standards should fully emerge as a beacon to guide a multitude of approaches toward a commonly shared goal.

In the article “Past Trends in ELT: How We Got to Where We Are” previous ELT trends were discussed. In the months ahead, we should look to be spending less time with our students, helping them to develop greater autonomy in their language learning, using multiple approaches and methodologies with each group of language learners to provide an expanded total learning environment. We’ll see more latitude in acceptance of what is considered to be “correct” English language and usage. Teachers and students alike with strive more for globally accepted skills and abilities in the English language.

Prof Larry M. Lynch is a certified English language teacher / trainer, bi-lingual copywriter, expert author and photographer specializing in business, travel, food and education-related writing in South America. His work has appeared in Transitions Abroad, South American Explorer, Escape From America, Mexico News and Brazil magazines. He teaches at a university in Cali, Colombia. To read more or get additional original, exclusive language education based articles and content for your newsletter, blog or website contact him at:

1 comment:

Thorby said...

Good day, Sir

You mention the following:

"An increase in online ELT resources – With costs soaring and many economies slowly crumbling, lowered teacher – student contact hours will mandate an increase in online facilities for both teachers and students."

Right now there are around 5 strong firms offering online classes (CALL). The first one that comes to mind, because it seems to me to use the best method, is Rosetta Stone.

Even though it's method looks really good, I am not all sure that a student will find it easy to persevere with the program until achieving competence. Also, it may not be complete enough since there is no real communication. An English chat system fixes some of that, but, still leaves a student missing much real-life interaction.

What do you think regarding this issue?