15th August was an important day for me and for a number of English teachers from around the world who are involved in a project to motivate fellow teachers to read more literature in English – this was the day when the ELT e-reading group was officially launched.
This project sort of started more than a year ago when Julian Wing and I were brainstorming ways of bringing together ELT and Literature. Then after moderating the Literature, Media and Cultural Studies SIG forum on the BC/IATEFL Aberdeen Online in April this year the whole picture became clear to me. There I had the opportunity to meet teachers from all over the world who are also passionate about literature and believe there is a place for it in ELT. Thanks to the amazing support given to me by these teachers and by Juliet Wragge-Morley from the BC Arts department, who offered to host the initiative on the enCompassculture website, we could make this idea become a reality.
English Language teachers and educators have always been concerned with the level of literacy among learners; however, very seldom have we considered how reading is important to teachers themselves. The special conditions in which some English language teachers and educators work all over the world made us consider the creation of an online reading group which would facilitate teachers’ access to texts and offer a space for discussion.
We are especially concerned with teachers with very little access to libraries and books in English and who cannot afford to buy books themselves; teachers who work in remote areas or conflict zones where it is almost impossible to guarantee safety and the right to public gatherings; teachers who work for institutions where teacher development is not a priority and who cannot count on support and/or do not have enough connections to start a reading group in their workplace.
Our objectives are
– To encourage English language teachers to read literature in English, creating opportunities to get in contact with texts from different countries, periods and authors;
– To promote debate and an in-depth engagement with relevant issues through the discussion of works literature;
– To provide opportunities for teachers to talk to each other online underpinning the reading habit and building an ELT community of readers;
– To help English language educators to see other points of view connecting them to a wider world, other philosophies and new ideas building bridges between, and insight into, other cultures thus contributing to build tolerance and intercultural competence;
– To create opportunities for English Language teachers to develop their own language skills, increasing vocabulary, improving pronunciation and increasing their understanding of idiom and expressions as well as their command of the language as a whole.
The e-Reading Group for English language teachers will be open to all ELT professionals who want to join it. To make the reading material widely accessible, the texts will be chosen from online sources created and/or supported by the British Council itself, such as New Writing, Crossing Borders, BritLit and Poems on the Underground. Teachers are invited to post their comments to the group discussion board at the British Council enCompassculture website at the discussion board.
Hope to meet you all in the forum.