And just like that… another year has passed and it’s been a full one. Central to this academic year has been the concept of cultural development in an era where the speed and diffusion of technology are challenging teachers and trainers alike in terms of what content is delivered and how that content is delivered, analysed and processed. And I was once again struck by the expression ‘back to the future’ as I consider how important cultural and associated studies are to us.
I’ve collaborated on some very interesting projects this year, including teacher training which has been a wonderful experience, being surrounded by those who share the same profession as myself, and exchanging with them the experiences and approaches adopted in terms of enhancing the learning and as a consequence teaching experience.
Another project was a reading night instituted, to make more accessible those authors who are considered by many as distant and unreachable in terms of possible difficulty. We tried to simplify that process through the analysis of short stories by writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway and a few other less well-known jewels, and the engagement was rewarding for those who prepared and those who took part in the events.
Certification has also been a constant this year from B2 to C2 levels as well as IELTS preparation for both 15- 25 -year-olds as well as those professionals needing certs for professional development. On the whole, objectives have been reached and it’s been interesting to push individuals to the limits of their abilities and pass on some exam management techniques.
And last but not least the adult professional and business English sector which makes up such a large part of what I do. I’ve been actively looking at and challenging the traditional A1 – C2 pathway where almost everyone gets stuck in the B1 zone and stays there for a long time. Those levels are often remarkably narrow in terms of how they are evaluated and the content proposed is usually very poor.
What constitutes good speaking, presentation and communicative ability? What constitutes listening ability, the invisible and poorly taught language skill? It’s been fun challenging the existing models and guiding learners to a position where so called limits become opportunities, and a seemingly problematic language issue suddenly becomes a solution. The only thing I ask for from the perspective of teacher and trainer is commitment and determination. If you don’t have either of those characteristics then I’m probably not right the person for you.
I was reflecting on the above when I came across the presentation of Elon Musk’s most recent company Neuralink. He is also the founder of PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and the Boring complany; in other words, he makes things happen. Neuralink involves Artificial Intelligence, planting a chip in the brain, eventually replacing what we know as the smartphone interface and the long-term possibility of communication without any language at all. I’ve embedded a reduced video of the presentation. The language is American and challenging too. Just how I like it!
It’s been fun. Bring on another year!