Testing Training in Skopje

Rob went to Skopje in September at the invitation of the British Embassy Defence Section, working with the STANAG Testing Team. Rob helped the Team moderate items for listening and reading tests at Level 1 and 2. They also discussed design issues with computer-based tests of listening and reading and compared computer-based delivery with pen and paper tests. Last week he returned to work with the Centre for Foreign Languages on their new curriculum. The Centre is realigning their curriculum and courses to the STANAG descriptors as part of North Macedonia’s joining of NATO. Rob also explored some more ideas of how to integrate IT into lessons with the Centre’s teachers and a teacher from the Military Academy, building on Claire’s earlier work with the teachers. At the same time, Hamish provided distance advice to the Team on approaches to online testing.

Military English Tactical and Peacekeeping Operations

Rob’s book, Military English Tactical and Peacekeeping Operations, is now available.

This is a new pre-deployment course for Army personnel who are to be sent on multinational peace support operations, or on training courses in an English language speaking country, or are to be trained by English-speaking instructors. It is an Intermediate | B1 | STANAG 2 Level course.

The course is designed to teach soldiers (enlisted men, NCOs and junior officers) how to operate effectively in multi-national tactical and peacekeeping operations. There are four components to the course: Coursebook, Workbook, Teacher’s Book and Electronic Resources. The Coursebook [378 pages] has 200 lesson-units, providing over 200 hours of study materials including vocabulary learning tasks, reading and listening tasks, briefings, role plays and other speaking tasks. The book is printed in black and white to save costs but there are over 800 colour photos and maps to download. You can buy it from a number of websites including Amazon.

Claire in Cuba

Claire has recently returned from a two-week trip to Cuba, where once again she was working alongside Alan Pulverness from TransformELT (https://transformelt.com/) on the annual ELT Roadshow. The Roadshow was organised by the British Council Cuba as part of their collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education to support their new English language policy, which aims to improve the level of English that is attained by university students upon graduation. This year the focus was on the CEFR and on the assessment of speaking and listening.

This year, Alan and Claire presented their plenaries and workshops at University ‘Marta Abreu’ of Las Villas, Santa Clara and University Enrique José Varona University of Cuba, Havana. They were joined by Tom Connelly (TransformELT) and Robert Williams (University of Westminster), who ran parallel sessions in University Oriente in Santiago de Cuba and University of Holguin.

In addition to the 50-tertiary level, highly qualified and experienced English teachers, who attended the three-day events at each university, this year’s plenaries were also attended by junior and senior high school teachers, and undergraduates, which made for an interesting dynamic. Claire would like to thank all the participants for their enthusiasm and participation during the sessions. She would also like to thank all those involved in the planning of the Roadshow, which is a significant undertaking, and the universities for their kind hospitality.

Rob at the University of Civil Protection in Minsk

Rob was back in Minsk last week, working with twelve English language teachers from the University of Civil Protection of the Ministry for Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus, which trains fire-fighters and other rescue personnel. The course was based on the British Council CiVELT course and had a focus on the training of emergency call operators as Belarus is gearing up for the 2nd European Games which will be held in Minsk at the end of June. Rob was most impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of the English teaching team at the University. The course was organised by the British Council in Ukraine and the British Embassy in Minsk.

In Rabat and Liverpool with Claire

Claire has had a busy couple of weeks. She paid a return visit to Rabat to work with the same group of Middle and High school English teachers on the LearnEnglish Teens (http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/) mapping project. During the two-day workshop they finalised mapping the content from Teens to their Year 9 & 10 coursebooks. The teachers also created lesson plans to accompany the Teens content that they will pilot with their students later this month. They designed some excellent lessons and Claire wishes them every success with the trial.

After Rabat Claire travelled to Liverpool to attend the 53rd International IATEFL Conference (https://conference.iatefl.org/). She focused her attention on sessions related to teaching with technology and trainer development and came away with a couple of ideas to pursue! Best of all she caught up with a number of former colleagues and friends. She was especially delighted to meet the Cuban team, who she had worked with last year with her colleague Alan Pulverness, TransformELT namely, Yailet Landrove, British Council, Dr Santiago Rivera Pérez, Ministry of Higher Education, Dr Eduardo Garbey, University of La Habana, and Zoe Dominguez, University of Matanzas.

Training in Tashkent and Skopje

Claire has recently returned from Uzbekistan, her third trip in six months, where she had been running the fifth in a series of NILE led workshops for teachers at the National Guard Institute, as part of a British Council managed teacher development project. This time her focus was developmental lesson observations designed to support the teachers in their work with Campaign, which was introduced in November. She was delighted to observe them in action and to see first-hand how well they are coping with the coursebook. Claire was really impressed by the amount of preparation they put into their lessons, their openness to constructive feedback, and their willingness to act upon it immediately, adapting their techniques by the very next observation.

She would like to thank the National Guard Institute for their warmth and hospitality, and the teachers for their friendship and generosity. Last, but not least, she would like to thank the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Mr Christopher Allan, for presenting the certificates on the final day, and the British Defence Attaché, Wing Commander Andrew Strefford for accompanying him.

Rob was also out and about last week. He was back in Skopje, Macedonia, working with the STANAG Testing Team, writing and moderating Listening items for Levels 2 and 3.

Updated Publications

We’ve updated our publications on the McIlwraith Education website. It now has the thirteen books we have had published, a range of over twenty articles in books and journals and samples of our conference presentations. The books include Rob’s latest in The English Ideas Project series and Claire’s co-authored book on Blended Learning in ELT. Apart from the books I’ve edited, I have also included research that our former colleague, Alistair Fortune, now retired, and I carried out into the Primary and Secondary education systems in Egypt as well as two non-ELT books. The first of these is an oral history of the crofting community in North Uist in the Western Isles of Scotland and my self-help book, Coping with Bereavement.

The articles range from the use of the e-Delphi technique in ELT research to Language-in-Education planning in Tunisia and the Common European Framework.

The presentations include investigations into Blended Learning and English Language Policy Implementation in Egypt and Colombia.

http://www.mcilwraith.org/the-team/team-publications/

Congratulations to Rob and Claire

Congratulations to Claire and Rob for successfully completing the Professional Certificate in Human Capital Investment Planning course, which they studied online with abdi Ltd.  This means they are now accredited ‘in the leading methodology for planning, measuring and reporting the performance and impact of projects, programme and activities of all kinds tracked through human effort and performance’ (www.abdi.eu.com/services-overview/). They would like to thank their tutors Jeremy Harrison and Jane Massey for their excellent sessions and support, and are looking forward to putting their new found skills into practice.

Claire in Rabat

Claire recently paid a flying visit to the beautiful and fascinating city of Rabat, Morocco’s capital. She was there to run a two-day workshop for English and subject teachers from Middle and High schools on the British Council’s LearnEnglish Teens website (http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/). The aims of the workshop were to familiarise the participants with the website’s extensive content and to present a template for them to map, in a principled way, this content against their English language coursebooks for Years 9 and 10. The teachers also had the opportunity to practise mapping the digital content, a task that they will complete post workshop in readiness for a short pilot study during which they will use LearnEnglish Teens with their students.

Claire would like to thank the participants for their hard work and insightful input during the workshop and to wish them every success with the pilot study.

North Macedonia Signs NATO Accession Agreement

Congratulations to North Macedonia on the signing of the NATO accession agreement in Brussels yesterday. This is the first step towards full NATO membership, and now all NATO countries need to ratify the agreement. Greece will go first.

Coincidentally, Rob is in Skopje this week working with the STANAG Testing Team on their level 2 and 3 speaking and writing tests, as reliable STANAG tests scores are a key component for interoperability within NATO at all levels, and for selecting the right personnel to take part in multinational peace support operations worldwide.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47139118