In this talk, Sugata Mitra will take us through the origins of schooling as we know it, to the dematerialisation of institutions as we know them. Thirteen years of experiments in children's education takes us through a series of startling results – children can self-organise their own learning, they can achieve educational objectives on their own, they can read by themselves. Finally, the most startling of them all: groups of children with access to the internet can learn anything by themselves. From the slums of India, to the villages of India and Cambodia, to poor schools in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, the USA and Italy, to the schools of Gateshead and the rich international schools of Washington and Hong Kong, Sugata's experimental results show a strange new future for learning.
Plenary session: David Graddol. English and economic development The extraordinary growth in the learning of English around the world has largely been premised on the economic rationale that English will help make its speakers and those countries which invest in it richer. In this plenary I will critically explore the idea that English brings economic benefits. Is the economic rationale just disguising a new kind of linguistic imperialism? Or does it genuinely bring benefits to those investing in English? In this presentation I will explore critically the role English now plays in different sectors of the economy, especially the growing services economy, and the implications of this for educational policy. For example, is the current trend towards teaching English in primary schools a necessary consequence of economic globalisation? What target level of proficiency should be set at key stages in education? Is it necessary for everyone to learn English? Or to learn it to the same level? Using the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) to identify functional proficiency levels, I will discuss some recent global educational and employment trends. Drawing on my recent work in India, China and Brazil I will explore some of the shared issues that have arisen with regard to English language education in these emergent economies, as well as some of the key differences. Finally, I will address what I think is a key issue: does the economic rationalist argument for the massive push for English teaching around the world really make sense? Is it delivering the supposed economic benefits? And what are the potential social, cultural and other costs? - See more at: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2014/sessions/2014-04-02/plenary-session-david-graddol#sthash.LRGdUGKK.dpuf
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Old approaches, new perspectives: the implications of a corpus linguistic theory for learning the English language
Two major figures in English Language Teaching are Michael Lewis and Stephen Krashen, but both have come under heavy criticism. I shall briefly describe the major claims of both as well as outlining some of the criticisms that have been levelled against them. I shall then seek to demonstrate that their claims are compatible with current corpus-linguistic research, which is itself supported by long-standing and robust psychological research. What corpus-linguistic and psychological studies in fact suggest is that we need a very different model of the way language is organised; Lexical Priming theory is an attempt to provide such a model of language. I shall describe the main claims of the theory and provide evidence for these claims. Finally, the talk will offer provisional evidence to support the view that Chinese has the same lexical properties as English. This is important because it suggests that my own work and that of Lewis and Krashen are as likely to be relevant to the learning and teaching of Chinese as they are to English. Perhaps more importantly, it also suggests that two apparently very different languages like Chinese and English are more alike in major ways than is usually assumed; this has important implications for the teaching of English, some of which will be discussed.
"The cost of assuming that foreign customers will learn your language, and never bothering to learn theirs, is certainly a lot greater than zero. The world isn’t learning English as fast as some people think. One optimistic estimate is that half the world’s people might speak English by 2050. That leaves billions who will not, and billions of others who remain happier (and more willing to spend money) in their own language."