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ELT classes need more critical thinking: OUP

ELT teachers should incorporate more global skills into their classes as the subject’s communicative and interactive focus makes it “especially well-positioned to do so”, according to findings from an Oxford University Press report.

Global SkillsELT course are well positioned to incorporate global skills content. Photo: Pixabay

This isn’t going to require a massive mental shift

According to the report, global skills training encourages competencies in communication and collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, intercultural competence and citizenship, emotional self-regulation and wellbeing, and digital literacies.

“We’ve talked for a long time about 21st-century skills, but the term doesn’t fit anymore”

“We’ve talked for a long time about 21st-century skills, but the term doesn’t fit anymore,” Sarah Mercer, professor of foreign language teaching and head of ELT methodology at the University of Graz, Austria, told The PIE News.

Mercer – who was one of the experts consulted for the report – has noted a shift in learning towards skills that are “desirable in the workplace”.

PISA, for example, announced last year that its next round of examinations will include a creative thinking component.

Advocating a variety of measures to promote global skills in ELT, the report advises teachers to incorporate activities such as exploring social issues and media, creating extensive reading blogs, diaries and portfolios into their teaching.

“Many language teachers are using some of these skills already, so I don’t think it’s a massive stretch for them to start doing more and perhaps more consciously. This isn’t going to require a massive mental shift in rethinking their role,” Mercer added.

“It’s about consciously and explicitly expanding that role and finding ways to make it sustainable for a teacher. If it feels like another additional add on, then I just don’t think most teachers will do it.”

The demand for courses that incorporate more than just language learning and test preparation is on the rise. A range of providers now offer “English plus” courses that mix language learning with a hobby, professional skill or cultural program.

British Study Centres, for example, offers courses that include English and cookery or English and visits to local festivals.

According to a report by online course provider Coursera, two-thirds of the global population are falling behind in terms of skills, particularly in developing economies. It also noted that regions such as the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America have high skill inequality.

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