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Trends and Innovations in the Teaching of English for 2020

Technological innovation and new ideas permeate every business and industry, but the world of education is particularly ripe for these evolutions. Many trends don’t stick for various reasons, whereas others will have a profound effect on how English is taught and learned by future generations.

Here are just some of the trends that we can expect to see continue well into 2020 and beyond as the way in which English is learnt and taught continues to be revolutionized.

The blended learning approach

This certainly does not register as a typically new innovation, but we can expect blended learning to continue to be favored well into 2020 and beyond.

That’s because all the research and evidence suggests that this is, indeed, the very best way to teach, and therefore learn. A combination of face-to-face learning in the classroom, or in a practical environment, combined with online learning, ticks nearly every box available when it comes to effective learning approaches.  

Daniel Barber’s articles are a good guide to the practicalities and benefits of a blended learning approach to teaching English, while Lindsay Clanfield and Jill Hadfield’s paperback, Interaction Online: Creative Activities for Blended Learning is a must for teachers looking to employ more interaction in their online courses.

A number of well-regarded institutions such as King’s College London espouse the benefits of this approach, and run courses accordingly. Expect blended learning to continue to grow in prominence.

The prominence of mobile learning

Mobile technology just has to be at the forefront of technological innovation in learning, as with all other fields, because of its ubiquity. Recently mobile overtook desktop as the number one location for online activities, so failing to adapt English learning accordingly would be a huge mistake.

Online providers have reacted accordingly, with the likes of FluentU now offering interactive mobile versions of their product. Likewise, the Duolingo app has proved immensely popular with new learners, while Babbel offers mobile-delivered, bite-size English lessons.

It’s the nature of the world today that every moment promises an opportunity to learn. So expect eager students to be tucking into their learning on public transport, in the park, in coffee shops, and many other places besides

The gamification of learning

A trend which looks well and truly set to follow on into the 2020s is gamification, and why not? Learning must be, above all, fun, and the gamification of the learning process has proved attracted to learners of varying ages and abilities.

Word games to build vocabulary, pronunciation apps which reward correct production and help young learners understand English phonics, and varying types of visual entertainments have made the process of learning English an attractive proposition.

And the options here do not only apply to bona fide English-learning sites, with the likes of lyricstraining offering music fans the ability to complete the missing lyrics: this type of activity is also vastly beneficial for language learners.

There are also sites such as Quizizz which allow teachers to create their own games for students, with teachers’ own innovations proving central to the learning theme.

Creating and sharing content

Learning will continue to be focused around quality content that can be easily accessed and shared. There are innumerable content-creation sites out there to choose from, but the rise of writing assistants and grammar/vocabulary checking tools, such as that offered by Linguix, are rising in prominence and will see further growth in adoption rates over the course of the next few years.

The Linguix tool allows users to easily access definitions and synonyms of words that are discovered online, with this type of content adding serious value to the learning process.

Visual content creation will remain a major stimulant, especially in the case of younger learners. Websites including Canva are great for facilitating individual creation of online and real-life content which aids the learning process.

Inquiry-based learning (enquiry-based learning – U.K.)

Not all English learners have the benefit of time and the freedom to learn all aspects of the language, as others find themselves in situations where English is needed to solve very real problems which they may come across urgently in their lives or careers.

Inquiry-based learning is an approach where correct, formal English is learned as a secondary element to the need to communicate and find solutions. The use of TEDTalks to learn any number of concepts (delivered in English, with sub-titles as required) and  the Pearson-BBC developed Wider World encourage the learning of English through the posing of real-world problems that require solutions.

This new approach contrast to the traditional teacher-lead approach to learning, where facts, rather than questions, are presented. The inquiry-based approach stimulates creative and critical-thinking skills which have been targeted as core competencies in the twenty-first century.  

Learning and teaching management platforms

Just as central management systems are facilitating the dissemination of relevant information in enterprises, learning and teaching management systems are supporting the age-old concern of teachers of proving engaging course content, and managing the distribution and access of relevant materials, as well as class attendance, and the satisfaction of class targets.

Sites such as Teachable and Moodle are facilitating this online revolution, and can support courses developed by individuals teachers to accommodate literally thousands of students based anywhere in the world.

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