English Next

You can already download from the British Council site English Next 2006 (pdf file), a provocative report on the changing nature of English as a foreign language written by David Graddol, British applied linguist and researcher.


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Reports on Summer School

All reports written by the summer school participants and the recorded interviews can be consulted from links on one page of the British Council ELT community website.


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Blogging from Scotland

Interspersing and sharing some of my own findings while surfing.

MFLE is the online service from Learning and Teaching Scotland and Scottish CILT which supports anyone working with modern languages in Scotland, from foreign language assistants and trainee teachers to teachers and principal teachers.

They have published a good introduction to blogging in education.

You may also want to check out Ewan McIntosh’s edu.blogs, where he shows how blogs and podcasts aren’t just a gimmick: they can be used to provide powerful learning in Scottish schools.

An interesting article in the Guardian: “How blogs make the link”


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After the party in Sao Paulo, I slipped to touchbase with the family so I missed the sessions on Saturday. Andrea Calvozo, from SP and Nahir Aparicio from Venezuela posted their conversation about what happened on the ELT forum. You can also listen or download podcast of the interviews Sara and Mike did with various participants.

When I arrived on Sunday noon, Julian Wing had given a talk on how important it is to keep up the network through the ELT community. Rafael reports on his own blog and Julian describes in more detail how the day went on the ELT spotlight.

I tried to invite people to join the Worldbridges event being broadcast, however, it was difficult to make anyone stay in the conference room  as this competed with an exceptionally sunny Sunday. pool

People were longing to lizard in the sun, splash in the swimming pool before joining others for an informal chat, caipirinhas and barbecue at the restaurant.

 Santos2006-01-09_004.JPGlunchby the pool

The nice thing about podcasts is that if you missed the live event, you can download and listen to the 45 min. recording of the EVO Kickoff Teleconference when you have a little time to spare.

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Evo 2006 Opening Session

The Evo 2006 6-week free workshops online are about to start. If you have not yet signed up, please do so until tomorrow (deadline). The session announcement briefly describes each session. By clicking on the link of the session, you are given the schedule and you can sign up at the bottom of each  (blue button Join this Group). All sessions start in a Yahoo Group, so you need a Yahoo account to be able to sign in.

On behalf of the EVO Coordination Team, I would also like to invite you to participate in the Evo 2006 Grand Opening Session this Sunday (January 15th) from 13:00 to 14:00 local time. The session will be broadcast live at Worldbridges.

Moderators will chat, talk a little about each of the sessions, and invite people to join them. So you can listen to the session and if you have Skype, you can log into the live session at Worldbridges to ask questions.
Skype: ‘worldbridges’ 
Phone: 1-402-756-9000, access code #537267 [works fine with a cellphone]
There is also a text chat if you aren’t quite ready for voice.

Do not miss this opportunity to witness and learn how technology can be used interactively!


If you missed the event, you can listen to the 45 min. recording of the EVO Kickoff Teleconference at WorldBridges. 


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David Graddol’s conference

Julian Wing “blogged” David Graddol’s video-conference on the BC ELT Forum while Shaun has posted his impressions on his own blog. I am looking forward to your comments.

Later in the evening, Mike and Barbara Thornton hosted a diner party at their beautiful house in Pinheiros to welcome the Hornby Summer School participants and tutors, who came to Sao Paulo for the Graddol’s conference and some shopping.  We spent a most enjoyable time weaving connections, drinking and being merry 🙂

Check Ines’ and Isa´s report on the day.

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Intercultural Competence

Margit introduced the Intercultural Competence strand this morning with 4 questions for reflection and organized a number of awarenes raising activities to illustrate these points.

  1. What is intercultural competence?
  2. How do we develop intercultural competence in our classrooms?
  3. How do we challenge stereotypes?
  4. How can we give our students a taste of different world English cultures?
    I’d like to share with you some of the projects I have conducted with my students in class 

    Europe in Brazil – 70 students 8th grade students introduce themselves for a classroom twinning activity and talk about their roots. At a first moment, in groups they write a paragraph in 3rd person about one of the colleagues in the group (discovering the other and writing about him) and on another occasion, they write about their own family origins.
    Personal narratives of this kind could also be done individually on Photo Story 3, using photographs, narration and music, like the one I prepared for this Summer School.

    You can have a look at this lesson plan on stereotypes and the result of a classroom twinning on stereotypes conducted on forums with students from countries all over the world.

    For Vanessa’s strand on Global Issues, there are links of how activities were developed in class on my project page under the This is Our Time category and also a reading comprehension exercise online on tolerance. As for critical reading, have a look at the Meaning Behind the Logo page.

    Check Nella’s and Chris Lima’s report on the BC site.

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Happy birthday

Today WordPress gave Sergio a birthday gift by sending him the long-awaited password so he was able to make his first post on the newly created blog. A date and an event to remember 🙂

Happy birthday, Sergio and wishes for a long blogging life!


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The role of language and critical literacy 2

Notes taken during Mario T. Menezes Souza presentation on the role of language and critical literacy.

Critical Literacy

  • Literacy as Social Practice and not as decodification of alphabetic script
  • Reading as social practice – texts are read in contexts
  • Each context is socially constructed and defined and has its own genres of texts and practices of writing and reading: academic, journalistic, advertising, scientific, entertainment, literary, legal, etc.
  • Each social context havs its own,iteracy (uses texts in particular ways)
  • Which literacies do we need to teach our classes?

Scholes, R (1985) Textual Power: literary theory and the teaching of English

Three stages of reading from reading to criticism:

1. Reading (primary, the most basic form of literacy) – as much as knowlege as it is a skill, skill of reading based on knowledge of linguistic and cultural codes used to compose of text and the historical situation in which the text is/was composed

Reading is unconscious activity, the reader shares author’s codes

Pedagogy for reading – reader produces text within text (retell, summarize, expand)

2. Interpretation

  • depends on failure of reading, feeling of incompletness activates the interpretative process (ex. words uknnown to reader, or non-obvious levels of meaning)
  • interpretation is active and conscious, occurs when reader does not share author´s codes, or when these codes are intentionally concealed by the author, to provoke interpretation (as in poetry), i.e. interpretation occurs when there is excess meaning of efficient knowledge

Pedagogy of interpretation – reader produces text upon text (read and discuss other texts about or on the “primary” text, and bring them to bear on the “primary” text)Interpretation is incomplete without the extension into criticism.

3. Criticism:

  • whereas interpretation may be individual, criticism is always collective or social, done in relation to as set of values, an ideology, of a group or collective to which an individual subscribes.
  • Pedagogy of Criticism – reader produces text against text (need to question the “naturalistic attitude”, neutrality or objectivity, need to understand how points of view are constructed and made to seem natural, and how our own points of view have been constructed by the groups to which we subscribe)

“Our job is not produce readings for our students, but to give them tools for producing their own…our job is not to intimidate students with our own superior textual production. It is to show them the codes upon which all textual production depends, and to encourgage their own textual practice (Scholes 1985, p. 24-25)

Need to see Language and Culture as always local and situated and not global and universal.

There is no whole picture

   Escher fish and birds

Sergio and Sara report on the BC site.

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The Role of Language and Critical Literacy 1

Notes taken during Mario T. Menezes Souza presentation on the role of language and critical literacy.

Lynn starts the talk by asking us to revise our pre-conceptions of education, culture and projects a picture of Robison Crusoe and Good Friday kneeling at his feet.

He cites Chakrabarthy´s book Provincializing Europe and stresses the need for provincializing the universal/global

He points out that the concepts we have of education are not universal but come from somewhere, they are embedded somewhere, have an origin somewhere.

The two main points of his talk will be to situate where the taken for granted assumptions come from and then move on to what critical literacy is.

People have being accustomed to being told in the ELT to look at the native-speaker model (an ideal non-existen universal speaker) whereas we should try to see “a native that speaks”.

The concept of the native speaker is based on projections of one’s own language, we one see values as superior to those of others. There is a projection of the local as universal, excluding difference.

These are the conceptions that have changed

Provicializing Europe

We usually do not question or re-conceptualize the concept of culture itself. We need to understand, contextualize the origins of concepts of (single) language and (single) culture.

Modern school and modern education come from European Enlightment of the 18th century, according to the values of a hegemonic social class who were interested in constructing a single homogenous nation. Linguistic and cultural diversity were seen as a threat and it was necessary to impose order on chaos, reason over unreason. (inheritance of enlightment can be seen on the motto of the Brazilian flag  – ordem e progresso)

Globe Brazilian flag

Language and culture of the hegemonic class was seen as unmarked and neutral ie. not limited to certain contexts (their cultural values as standard and their educational system was imposed on the their own population and later on the rest of the world in colonial times). Different cultural values, languages were a threat and the official school was given the responsibility of carrying out the process of civilizing and ordering chaos. School was the place for dissemination of norms and the elimination of the local. There you were taught how to speak in an educated fashion, to acquire a certain knowledge – those people who did not identify with this were marginalized, eliminated (decontextualized). In order to be part of the mainstream, At the time, to be modern, civilized, you needed to approach as much as possible the universal model. Heterogeneity of language and culture seen as signs of anti-modernity and barbarism – eg. Bernard Shaw’s flower girl’s language as opposed to Professor Higgins’.

Homogeinization was based on imposition of norms/grammars of language and culture. Canons of literature; grammars of language; encyclopedias of knowledge were developed. These are the products of the 18th century enlightment

Myth of modernity

Modern (European) civilization sees itself as most developed, superior civilization and feels obliged to civilize/uplift/educate/develop lesser (barbarian) cultures. The path to development is known and must be followed, obstacles/resistance has to be removed at all costs, recourse to violence is justified, if necessary. The violence is symbolic and ritualistic and hero and victims participate in redemptive sacrifice. The victim is always in the state of guilt and redemptive, emancipatory symbolic violence is necessary.

This is the posture many teachers still adopt in their classrooms.

(Mignolo, W 2000 Local Histories Global Designs, p.117)

Questions to be asked – Whose grammar? Norm? Language? Culture? Whose perspective? Whose point of view? Is there a happy middle point?

The universal is the local of someone. If homogenous norms are based on a hegemonic, dominant, perspective of language and culture, there is no neutral perspective.Other perspectives have to cease being excluded. Diversity has to confront normativity.

All the words, text and images,on one hand, just as concepts, meanings and objects are signs which belong to a given context (culture, history, social class, gender, age group) The meanings do not come inside words and what we use but are understood from the viewer´s, reader´s own complex perspective and system so part of the process of reconceptualizing should be asking the questions “who are we, what context are we speaking from?. Homogeneity and normativity have to be recontextualize in language and culture just as diversity and difference have to be contextualized.From normativity to acceptability

  • (not anything goes – but from the perspective of a new notion where correctness is seen in a context – formal x informal,)
  • context defines acceptability – eg. rules (grammar) are contextual – not static but dynamic. Meanings of words change and so do grammar rules.
  • normativity has to be seen as contextual and local and universal or neutral
  • instead of simply right or wrong, language has to be inserted in a context
    • Speaker or writers of language are always located/speak from somewhere (situatedness).

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