Mark Hancock's Map of ELT - APAC audience comments

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See the map and an article about it here. Here are a couple of queries from the audience and responses:

Noureddine  Azmi suggested that the learner should be at the centre of the map rather than the teacher. This is perhaps a response to the perjorative resonance of "teacher-centred". This is not how the centering of the map is intended though. A teacher can strive towards a learner-centred classroom, but she is still a teacher nevertheless. Having a student-centred attitude doesn't therefore make her one of her students. Being at the centre of the map is the vantage point - the world of ELT as seen through a teacher's eye. If you looked at the world of language learning through a learner's eye, it would be completely different - most learner's worlds don't feature cities like CEFR or Corpus!

Luke Prodromou commented that, to judge by a lot of what he sees at conferences nowadays, technology seems to be trying to colonize the entire map, displacing any focus on learning theories, linguistics or syllabus issued. I think that's true, or put another way, the peninsula in the South East of the map is a real attention magnet because of its glamour and novelty value, leading to a neglect of the other three corners of the map. Perhaps these corners seem rather dull and dusty by comparison? But the thing is, no matter how cool your tools, you still need to have theories about how students learn, or how the language is structured etc. And if you don't have a theory, the theory will have you. Meaning to say, if you don't conciously take a position on how people learn, then you will fall back on a default theory - one that you have not conciously critically examined. You will therefore be condemned to repeat all of the mistakes of ELT history, only in digital format!

Another member of the audience who is a trainee teacher wondered about classification. She gave the example of ICT and motivation. These two cities are in different corners of the map, and yet ICT can be motivating, so shouldn't they go together? In response to that, I would say that motivation relates to learning psychology and so belongs in the learning corner of the map. ICT is obviously not a psychological concept, but a tool we might use. It may, incidently, be motivating, but it remains a tool, and thus belongs in the South East corner. On the bigger question of difficult classifications: yes, it's not always possible to locate a concept unambiguously. But it's worth the try, because the thought processes employed in doing so are useful. For instance, I put 21st Century Skills in the North East, because of the 'skills' element - these are abilities which students will need, so they go in the 'needs' corner. However, the '21st Century' part of the label is partly due to the new technology element, eg digital literacy, and it might be tempting therefore to locate this whole concept in the South East near ICT. It was a difficult call, but in the end, my feeling was that the main thrust of the idea, as expressed by its proponents, is about preparing students for their future NEEDS. My point is: whichever way the decision went, the mental processes which led to it were useful. One might, of course, draw lines linking concepts, as we're accustomed to doing with mind maps. On the map metaphor, we could call these motorways, railway lines, flight routes or whatever. I had considered doing this but opted against in favour of clarity/simplicity.

Thank you to all who attended!


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