HSS: highlights

I thought it’d be a good idea to summer up the things that so far have really made me reconsider a number of suppositions related to the nature of English and their implications for classroom practice.

I’ll start with David Shepherd’s presentation on internet genres, not because I’m particularly interested in working with the internet , but because I’m really into working with different text genres and I believe the idea of helping students to find common patterns of text construction and common lexical fields in given types of texts can be a amazingly empowering tool. 

Then Lynn Mario’s presentation on critical literary, which, personally speaking, was a turning point. I confess that I was impressed by the way he conducted his presentation. It’s not commom to see a speaker presenting his/her thoughts in such a clear, balanced and lucid way. Besides that, it seems to me that critical literacy is something that should be developed  by each one of us and I also believe that we, as teachers and educators, have the opportunity and the means to bring our students to participate in this process of critical analysis of any text to which they have contact with.Then we had this video conference with David Graddol yesterday. First of all, I’d like to say that I do believe that if, in the future, we will be able to look back in time to that day there at the British Council office, we will probably realise that we have taken part in a historical moment. According to Graddol, his previous book The Future of English? intended to make predictions about what would happen to English globally whereas his next book has been written focusing on what’s going on with the language in this particularly historical moment we are living in.

His statement that the boundaries between ESL and EFL been now blurred and that this distinction is no longer relevant seems to have huge implications for the way we see English nowadays. His prediction that in a medium-term future English will be considered as a skill – such as literacy, numeracy and computer skills- will probably bring along a repositioning of English, being no longer considered a subject in itself, but a medium through which other subjects are taught. 

I particularly liked his introduction on the topic of English as a Global Language and that we should ‘not see this as a forth chapter in the history of English’. In my point of view that is implied here that the first three chapters, namely Old English, Middle English and Modern English, were written by the people of Britain and the colonies whereas this next chapter is actually being written by all English users all over the world.

It’s really a lot of food for thought.

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