Mexican government makes lemonade out of deportees

Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has the ambitious plan of making all Mexican students billingual within 20 years. The plan is ambitious for obvious reasons, but also because the country already is lacking enough English language teachers.

So a very clever plan has been hatched. At least three flights of deportees fdrom the United States arrive in Mexico every week; this number is expected to increase soon as Trump’s orders are more fully executed. The sitation is tragic in many ways, but the Mexico City Citizens’ Council has hatched a fairly clever plan to make the most of this situation: they will encourage and support many of these deportees to become English teachers! ‘We send one or two generations of people to the US and now we are receiving them back with education, two languages, international experience and a high immigrant work ethic’, Council president Luis Wertman explained.

Read more in the EL Gazette.

Random anti-technology mini-rant, Part I: Laptops lower grades

We here at English Central are not anti-technology by any stretch of the imagination. We like to think that we take a mindful approach: use the best technology (be it an online study module or a pen and paper) to suit the situation and the aims. We do believe that there are a lot of educators and administrators who have lost their minds in that they seem to think that absolutely everything must be in the most digitized form possible in today’s education system. We will probably attack this from different angles in the coming months because this is a real pet peeve for us.

In the meantime, we thought we would point you to a new study coming out of the US that shows that students who use laptops to take notes typically score a half letter grade lower than their peers who favour the old pen and paper. Laptops are particularly draining on the brains of male and poorer performing students. There are no definite reasons offered for the negative influence of laptops, but “cyber-slacking” (a wonderful and self-descriptive term) is suggested as the most likely problem.

Read more in the Times Higher Education.

The “Trump Effect”: more international students for Canada

This is not news so much (we have blogged on this before), but there is more reporting out there that since Trump became POTUS, international student applications to US post-secondary institutions while applications to Canadian schools has increased over 20%. Interestingly, the largest increases are from the U.S. (up 80%), Turkey (68%), Mexico (63%) and India (59%).

39% of surveyed U.S. colleges have reported a decline in international applications for the fall, but we will have to wait a bit longer to know how low actual enrollment numbers will end up being. Furthermore, there are other factors that probably have something to do with Canada’s swelling numbers, such as immigration policy changes that make citizenship easier to acquire after completing a degree from a Canadian institution. However, it would seem that there is undoubtedly a “Trump Effect” when it comes to international students and this effect is negative for America and positive for Canada. Sad! (For the U.S. at least!)

Read more in IHE.

Diversity in international student base a smart move for schools

We have all heard of ghost towns and know the lesson they teach: it is never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket. And so the University of Alberta has decided that they are on unstable ground seeing as nearly 75% of their international students are Chinese. Student tuition (30% being from international students) is the second largest contributor to the university’s coffers, and so they would clearly be, as my mother would say, in hot mucky poo if suddenly the relationship with China soured for one reason or another.

Perhaps even more interesting than the story in the Edmonton Journal is the comments on the article. English Language Teaching Professionals such as ourselves know full well that international students are used as cash cows to help keep post-secondary schools in the black. The general population is clearly not aware of the realities and so happily engage in commentary and outrage of Trumpian ignorance. It is not just our students we need to educate!

Read the story and comments in the Edmonton Journal.

Workshop with Lindsay Clandfield, March 9th

We are proud to announce that our old friend Lindsay Clandfield will be giving a workshop at our Toronto showroom titled What we talk about when we talk about interaction. Lindsay will explore “interaction” – what it means, what forms it can take (in the classroom and online) and its implications for the classroom. For more details, please see the link below.

To register, please call 416-850-0833 or email us at Space is limited, so if you are interested, please RSVP ASAP!


If you entice students, will you find a place for them to live?

Real estate has gone insane in mamny parts of North America over the past 8 years or so because of low interest rates. Some cities consequently have extremely low vacancy rates. As provincial governments in Canada are quite preoccupied with coming up with plans to entice more international students to their educational institutions, it would make sense that they would consider all of the variables. Not just how to get students, but where to put them once they arrive.

Some claim thatas far as rental vacancy rates go, Vancouver is not just the worst city in Canada, but in the whole world! And so some bristled when the BC government boasted on Monday that BC had enticed more international students per capita (interesting claim anyway) than anywhere else in Canada. The ones bristling were irate that the government was ignoring the fact that the vacancy rate is 0.7% and that rental prices are soaring as a consequence.

Read more in The Vancouver Sun

International student in Nova Scotia? There’s an app for that

Nova Scotia Community College is currently looking to develop an app to support international students who are or who wish to study there. The idea is that students are all using smartphones and so it would make sense to provide students with all the information they are looking for (information on study permits, tuition, and health insurance, for example) through the streamlined source of a single app.

Read more in The Chronicle Herald.

What international students want from their professors

This is a survey that any professional in our field should be interested to hear about.

ELS Educational Services recently surveyed 662 international students at 26 American colleges and universities to ask them what they would like their professors to do differently. Here are some of the results:

  • 35% wanted more feedback
  • 33% would like professors to better understand international students’ perspectives
  • 32% would like professors to make classroom materials available after class
  • 32% would like more examples of completed assignments
  • 28% would like professors to use non-US examples
  • .

    Read more in Inside Higher Education.

    Really, Dorothy? Where is home for an international student?

    An interesting new study has come out of the University of British Columbia and argues that International students’ concept of what and where home is shapes their personal plans for where they settle after their studies. “Our study shows that migration plans for international students are far more complex than this binary of stay or return,” said study author Cry Wu.

    Read more.

    TESOL Convention 2017: March 21st to 24th in Seattle

    TESOL approacheth again! We are super excited that it will be in Seattle this year, just down the road from the Pike Place Market. Hello tasty seafood! Of course, we are looking forward to the conference as well.

    This year we are taking an exciting (to us at least) new (to everyone) approach to our booth. We will also be giving out free copies of our new game, Jetstream and Turbulence, so be sure to check us out. We also hope you will join us for one or both of our workshops (if you respond to bribery, let us tell you that you will get a free book if you come).

    Title: Take your students to TASK: the Key to Success!

    Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Time: 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM

    Location: 615

    In this session we will examine how carefully designed activities in The Transferable Academic Skills Kit give students the skills that they lack but sorely need – such as critical thinking, presenting, researching and referencing – to succeed not only in their post-secondary studies but in their future careers as well.

    Title: Students and Learning: the Whole Experience

    Date: Friday, March 24, 2017

    Time: 9:30 AM – 10:15 AM

    Location: 614

    Do you think your students would be better off if they were fully engaged in class, learned really useful and natural language, gained cultural awareness and became more fluent speakers? Find out why it is not as tall an order as it sounds: join us in exploring Jetstream.