EF English Proficiency Index 2017 now available

The seventh edition of the EF English Proficiency index has some interesting things to tell about English as an international language. Which nationality is the most proficient? The Dutch. Which country has slipped to last place in Europe for English proficincy? Italy (thereby putting France in second-last place).  And while European countries overall are more proficient than other parts of the world, there are interesting facts on all continents. Also interesting are the profiles of English language teaching initiatives in 20 countries.

Check it out for yourself.

Wish list: time travel edition

Over the past year, there have been numerous occasions when we at English Central were looking at a book and genuinely thought, “I wish my teachers had used this with me.” Now it is too late for us, but it is not too late for your students. Nicole, Calin and Anahita want to tell you about what would have been on their wish lists if the books had existed when they were students.

Calin Stefan, Sales & Marketing Coordinator, writes:

When I started university, I quickly discovered that high school had not prepared me for post-secondary academic writing or the expectations of my professors. Hamburger-style essays and unsupported claims simply would not do in this new context—this is why I truly wish I’d been given Contemporary Academic Writing (CAW) to use a resource both before and during my undergraduate degree.

CAW is a hard-hitting, concise crash course in academic writing. For me, it checks all the boxes, including those that aren’t necessarily visible in the finished written product. Most importantly, it frames writing as a process; and as every student eventually learns, typing words onto the page happens at the end. How to research effectively, how to plan the structure of an essay, how to craft a thesis statement—these were hard-earned skills for me, but they don’t have to be for new undergrads!

Anahita Eftekhari, the newest English Central team member,  writes:

It’s only every day that I struggle against the ever tricky zip, unzip, load, code, and all the sharing of mischief that pops up online. At work, at school, and in all areas of life, ICT skills are key. Need to make an items inventory? Easy… If you’ve got sharp Excel skills. Presentation on Leonard Cohen? If you want it memorable and catchy, you’ve got to know your PowerPoint down to a T. And everyone’s got hobbies. Us Millennials use ours as side gigs to help pay the rent. But to be a professional anything nowadays, you need a fancy website. Plus the navigation skills to do online commerce and advertise. Not easy.

Now imagine a December oh so many years ago when I could boost my performance at school and at work, and get my side gig to hit a boom. All I need is one wish—cue Mariah Carey’s famous words—all I want for Christmas is… Binary ICT Skills.

(Email us for more information on our computer skills books.)

Nicole Graham, the lady who has been chained to English Central for 15 years, writes:

When Garnet Education published the first edition of the Transferable Academic Skills Kit (TASK) a few years ago, it was such an unusual publication that I decided to work through the book myself to better understand it. It wasn’t too far into the Critical Thinking module that I was overwhelmed by the realization that I would have gotten so much more out of my university studies if I had worked through TASK before hand.

TASK does not teach language skills (though I probably could have benefitted from that too); instead it teaches the academic skills – such as critical thinking, researching and referencing, numeracy, teamwork and presentation skills – that all students need in order to succeed in their post-secondary studies. TASK was written with the international student in mind, though, and takes into consideration the extra hurdles that they face. In the second American edition, the publisher was also kind enough to take on board a number of changes/adjustments that English Central had to make the book particularly relevant to the North American context (that’s why our logo is on the cover!). If you teach EAP (or native teenagers planning to go on to college or university), you really would be doing your students a favor if you introduced them to TASK.

Another deal to entice international students

We read an article yesterday suggesting that Canada needed to spend more on marketing to international students if it wanted to continue increasing its numbers. The article mentioned that Canada only spends $5 million in marketing while New Zealand spends $40 million (if memory serves). At the time, we thought that New Zealand has a pretty small slice of the pie as it is and they might have to work (or spend) harder.

However, something else that Canada likes to do to attract international students is to waive work and even immigration enticements under the noses of potential students. “Spend tens (or a hundred or so) of thousands of dollars on tuition in Canada and you can become a citizen after.” Something along those lines, although it also seems that each province and even some individual educational institutions come up with their own deals.

And so we report that Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia recently announced that they had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University that will allow students to study and work in BC. In this paticular deal, student would study for two years in the Indian university, then transfer to TRU for two more years of study. Upon completing their studies, students would receive a three year work permit.

Read the TRU press release.


A new ELT publisher: Innova Press

Recently the launch of Innova Press was announced. The Press will have offices in London and Reading, while it is a joint venture by three powerful Chinese companies. The largest foreign languages publisher in China has partered with the largest non-state language training provider China as well as a successful online learning provider to create this new press. Innova will create ELT and CLT (that is Chinese Language Teaching) materials for the global market.

Richard Peacock, formerly the man in charge at Garnet Education, is the president of the press and had the following to say:

We are indeed privileged to be working with such influential and cutting-edge partners. As I believe the Chinese saying goes, all things are difficult before they are easy, and the coming year or two will involve a lot of hard work and many challenges. But with the support and good will of our partners, we are confident that we will achieve our goal of becoming a leading and truly innovative international publisher.

Innova, as the name would suggest, is committed to innovating language learning materials. We can expect titles to become available in 2018 and you  can bet that English Central will bring them to you.

In the meantime, if you have an answer to the question “Why does the world need a new ELT Publisher?,” send an email to terry@innovapress.co.uk.

New international student enrollments in the US on the decline

Sadly, it is of no surprise to anyone teaching in a IEP anywhere in the US, but international student numbers have been declining over the past year. Some blame is pointed at Trump, some at the currently difficulty obtaining visas and then there are a few other factors involved too.

For an incredibly detailed article on what is hapenning with international students in the US right now, read this article in Inside Higher Ed.

Melania takes issue with an English language school

There is more than one Trump who takes themselves too seriously.

A private language school in Croatia recently ran ads on five billboards. The billboards featured a large photo of melania Trump standing in front of an American flag with the caption “Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English.” The first lady took this as a slight and the school was threatened to take the billboards down or face legal action. The school seemed quite surprised and said their intention had been to present her as a role model.

Read account in the EL Gazette.

From seaturtle to seaweed

Chinese students who study abroad used to get the nickname “seaturtle” once they returned home. These days, their new nickname is “seaweed”.

According to an article in the EL Gazette, there are increasing doubs among the Chinese of the value of studying abroad. Chinese students who have studied abroad are finding that their job prospects are not improved once they return home.

Read more in the EL Gazette.