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Current Issues & Trends in English Language Learning

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

As an ESL teaching candidate, your concern is regarding whether you are aware or not of current trends and issues in English language learning. This lesson gives you an overview of the key issues and trends so that you can be prepared.

Why Current Issues and Trends?

Patricia is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching candidate who receives an invitation to a conference on English language teaching to discuss current issues and trends. Patricia wonders what can be current since teaching ESL requires a number of specific approaches that do not change overtime.

While Patricia is right about this, there are some current aspects of ESL teaching that she needs to be aware of when her time to teach begins. Let's review those key issues and trends, which are important because public policy (educational laws) change to take them into account.

The primary goal of English language teaching is to help students succeed at learning the language. For this reason, from the time you are a candidate for English language teaching, you can begin to prepare yourself for the new challenges the field poses. Here are the main trends and issues, which come together. Let's get started.

The Core Curriculum Issue

Patricia learns that English language learners might be academically behind their peers. This is partly because English language teaching does not concentrate widely in the core curriculum subjects like reading, math, and science. If a student is trying to learn basic English while at the same time learn the specific terminology that accompanies the different subjects in the core curriculum, the student can certainly feel overwhelmed.

Therefore, a newer trend in English language teaching is becoming more actively involved in guiding students not only in English itself, but in the context of the core curriculum.

While research in the field continues, authorities in charge of updating educational laws begin to consider that the core curriculum language must be aligned with classes of English as a Second Language. For instance, public schools are evaluated based on the academic achievement of students in the core curriculum.

The Culture and the Language

As a native speaker of English, Patricia thinks that the most interesting topics to discuss in her future career have to do with American culture, since she is American. She imagines that it would be fun to teach her students about American food, music, holidays, etc.

Patricia is right because one of the issues that concerns the field of English language learning is to teach not just language in isolation but along with the culture that is attached to it. The trend is, therefore, to encourage ESL teachers to teach culture. The argument is that as students become interested in the culture, language learning becomes easier and more enjoyable.

With this new trend, it would not be surprising if policy makers include intercultural competency as a quality of educators in this field.

The Technology Aspect

As part of her training to become an English language teacher, Patricia creates a blog on what she is learning as a candidate. Just as like new teachers learn by using the most current technology tools, English language learners can too. As technology improves, there is a growing trend of using it to benefit this field.

Language interactions through the use of technology engages learners at a high level and makes the learning easier to remember. This means that teachers need to be up to date with technology language tools that are available. Patricia can begin with the most basic ones such as online grammar exercises and move on to virtual language exchanges or language learning apps for more advanced students.

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