In the world we live in nowadays, it has become increasingly harder to distinguish fact from fiction. In such a scenario, language is an invaluable and powerful tool, and being able to use it in one’s favour and analyse it critically has become more important than ever. That is the conversation that the book Language Education in a Changing World – Challenges and Opportunities by Rod Bolitho and Richard Rossner (published by Multilingual Matters, 2020) will hopefully start.
Part of the series New Perspectives on Language and Education, the title is a brilliant source of reflection and practical examples for teachers, teacher educators, researchers, and the ones in leadership positions at schools. It shines a light upon different perspectives in English teaching and learning and the impact of languages on the educational process as a whole.
Organized into 3 parts, the book begins by bringing an overview of key aspects of both language education and the role of languages in education, that is, the language spoken by the community or country in which the institution is located. The initial chapters are ideal for getting familiar with, or revisiting, important principles of education. A historical perspective of the growth of language teaching as an industry is also featured, as well as a discussion about the changes that have been made in school curriculums to accommodate more time for English, a movement also noticeable in Brazil. As the authors explain, this growing demand usually does not meet the supply of teachers prepared to teach in this new context.
Part 2 focuses on teacher education, encompassing pre-service education, initial training, and the qualifications teachers should have in some European countries. The importance of continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers is also presented with considerations on the roles of the institution and the teacher. The authors defend that CPD programmes should also promote the development of cultural sensitivity and intercultural awareness. Another relevant point is that the increased demand for English teachers has established quicker ways to get into the profession, and there is an emergent need to create (and observe) minimum standards of language and teaching competence among novice teachers.
Part 3 analyses the expectations of stakeholders involved in language education (learners, parents, employers, teachers, ministries of education, publishers, suppliers of official examinations, etc.) and their influence on policy development and implementation. A ‘participatory approach’ contemplating all stakeholders takes time and effort, but it is the key to educational success in any context.
Many cases are presented throughout the publication, with most examples focusing on the UK and European countries. All chapters are followed by insightful questions for reflection and discussion. I strongly recommend you share some of them with your community of practice and add your own voice and context to the mix.
The discussion of such questions can lead to a broader understanding of language education so that we can provide our students with a learning experience in which they can develop the language awareness and communicative competence they need to take part in our increasingly diverse world.