After the success of our 20th Anniversary edition of the IH Journal last time out, we’re picking up where we left off to keep the momentum going. The journal reaches ever more readers with each iteration and the response to our call for papers this time was hugely encouraging. Almost 50 teachers from all over the world expressed interest, a number we had certainly not anticipated. It speaks volumes of the journal’s reach and quality that so many people should want to contribute and so I hope you enjoy the diverse selection of articles this time round.
In our younger learner section, Kylie Malinowska’s excellent column suggests many practical ideas to jazz up the coursebook. Elna Coetzer, a YL teacher trainer, explores the zeitgeist through sharing ways to help younger learners ask ‘chubby’ questions to develop their critical thinking skills. For help with listening, Maria Conca has some advice for how to teach children the ‘Cinderella Skill’ effectively. Last but certainly not least, Maria Badia’s thoughtful article shares teaching ideas based on Oxford Owl, a web archive of free graded readers.
Our biggest section this month is teacher training and development, with five articles in total. Regular columnist Jamie King has two insightful pieces, the first warning of the dangers of dumbing down teacher education with parroted jargon, and the second looking at some ways to avoid this and promote positive change. CELTA tutor Lee Mackenzie picks up the baton and explores issues in promoting meaningful learning on initial teacher training courses. Moving more into development, Dana Taylor generously shares the outcomes of a research project using an experimental peer observation system in a tertiary education institution, with conclusions useful to all schools. James Egerton, drawing on his experience of being both observed and the observer, applies insights from Mindset Theory to teacher observations and suggests some simple questions that we can all ask ourselves to make the most out of the observation process.
In technology, Shaun Wilden returns with some apps-based ideas for engaging learners in reading activities. Those of us who remember ‘choose your own adventure stories’ will be particularly interested. Continuing the apps theme, teacher trainer Marianne Jones has some highly practical advice for using apps to create classroom projects, while Jonathan Donnellan, Didem Beyazoglu, and Hande Gunel collaborate to show how they’ve successfully used social media apps in their classes in a Turkish university. Sandy Millin also recommends, among other things, an app to promote learning a little of a language every day. After all, starting the routine is perhaps the hardest part of studying and so using your phone to help is a good idea.
Another part of successful study is practice and this is a theme that repeats in this edition of the Journal. David Petrie of IH Coimbra uses his Examinator column to discuss what kind of practice is the most useful in exam classes, sharing some perhaps surprising research and conclusions. Natalia Polishchuk, writing about the teaching of Russian, explores how to change “boring grammar exercises into meaningful communicative activities” to provide practice. In reviews, I look at Danny Norrington-Davies’ welcome new book, From Rules to Reasons, which contains some important conclusions about the nature of useful classroom practice exercises. Danny’s line manager at IH London, Maureen McGarvey, devotes her academic management column to teacher well-being, suggesting managers ‘practise’ teacher meetings by rehearsing them in advance. On a related note, Hall Houston reviews How to Write and Deliver Talks, by Lewis Lansford, recommending it for new and practised ELT presenters.
We also introduce a new section this time – Voices – which contains opinion and experience from teachers exploring less talked about themes. Starting this section off with an arresting article, Karin Harvey, working in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, shares her experiences of the challenges teachers face when working with teens and younger learners in conflict zones. Moving to broader themes, Emily Hird deconstructs gender representation in YL materials and Katy Simpson looks at
wider societal issues in feminism that are perhaps more acute in ELT. The internet being the place that it is, however, feminist writing online is never without risk of an unacceptable reaction in some quarters. I am thus particularly proud to support the insightful pieces that Emily and Katy have written for this edition and hope there is something to consider for all our readers.
And so there you have it, twenty articles to give everyone in ELT something to think about and ideas to take into class. Thank you to all who expressed interest in writing for us this time and thanks in particular to those published in the following pages. We couldn’t do it without and wouldn’t want to anyway. Our next edition will be out in the autumn, so until then, happy reading!