LANGUAGE & EDUCATION (12)

Illuminate Education Featured

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Global Educator David Nunan Featured

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Teaching to the Heart and Head

In teacher education seminars and conferences, a common warm-up task is for the workshop leader to ask participants to take a few minutes to think of an inspirational teacher that they had in school or elsewhere, to identify what it was that made this person inspirational, and pinpoint what qualities that person had. I feel uncomfortable when I get asked to do this task. I can readily remember a lot of uninspiring teachers, but not very many inspirational ones.

GLOBAL EDUCATOR DAVID NUNAN

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Transforming Education Through the Virtual Classroom

"...learning can, and does, occur wherever we happen to be."

THE title of this column is "David Nunan's Global Classroom." But what does this really mean? How can a classroom be “global?” Before we address this question, we need to decide what the word “classroom” really means. To paraphrase the dictionary definition, it refers to a room, typically in a school, in which a group of students are taught. If this is the case, then adding the adjective “global” before “classroom” would seem odd, or even downright contradictory. In this article, I want to argue why we can no longer think of a classroom in the traditional sense as a space simply defined by four walls, a ceiling and a floor, inhabited by a teacher and students, and created for the purposes of acquiring knowledge.

Instructor or Educator

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David Nunan's Global Classroom

Instructor or Educator: What’s the Difference?

Think of all the terms that are used to describe someone who works in the world of learning: teacher (the most commonly used term), instructor, tutor, demonstrator, professor, educator... The list goes on. In this article I want to explore the distinction between “instructor” and “educator.” Let me begin with a story.

Third-Culture Kids

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David Nunan's Global Classroom

Third Culture Kids

My two children were born in Australia and grew up in Hong Kong. The elder went to university in England, where she has lived ever since. The younger graduated from university in the United States, where she lived for five years, before returning to Hong Kong to live. Between them, they have studied a range of languages other than their native English including French, Mandarin, Spanish and Cantonese. Both of them are global citizens, comfortable inhabiting different cultures, and living, studying and working in different countries around the world. They also fit the definition of the ‘third culture kid.’

How I Speak is Who I Am

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How I Speak is Who I Am

EVERY now and then, I have a conversation that goes something like this:

New Acquaintance: So, where are you from?
Me: Australia.
New Acquaintance: And How long have you lived in Hong Kong?
Me: Around 20 years.
New Acquaintance: Wow! And you haven't lost your Australian accent.

I'm never quite sure how to respond.

My Language Creates Me

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My Language Creates Me

By David Nunan

I’VE never met Costica Bradatan, but I would like to. I recently came across a newspaper article he wrote in the International Herald Tribune. I like the International Herald Tribune even though I usually only get to read it when I come across a copy left in a coffee shop or when it is distributed for free on an international flight.

On this occasion, I was flying from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. The flight attendant handed me a copy of the International Herald Tribune and I began leafing through it while waiting for the in-flight movie to begin. But then I came across an article by this man I’d never met or heard of and I immediately forgot about the movie. The article was called “Born Again in a Second Language.” In it, Bradatan talks about what it is like to write in a second language. He begins his article by quoting a French philosopher, activist and writer who wrote: “For any man [or woman] a change of religion is as dangerous a thing as a change of language is for a writer. It may turn out to be a success, but it can also have disastrous consequences.” He goes on to argue that a language is a way of experiencing the world. “The world reveals itself in a certain manner to the Japanese writer, and in quite another to the one who writes in Finnish.” A writer’s language is more than just a tool. It’s a part of who they are. The implication here is that in order to write in another language you have to become a different person.

Dispelling Myths

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Dispelling Myths

By Dr. David Nunan

ONE of the things that I enjoy doing is dispelling myths. My chosen field, TESOL, abounds with myths such as “You can only boast that you speak a language if you sound like a native speaker” or “You can never learn to speak a language to a high level of proficiency if you don’t start learning at an early age.”

The myth that I want to dispel here is common in Japan, and one that I come across time and time again. This is the notion that Japanese are somehow genetically predisposed not to be able to speak languages other than their own with any degree of proficiency. A related belief is that foreigners can’t learn Japanese.

Nelson Mandela

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Mandela Reveals the World’s Most Powerful Weapon

By Dr. David Nunan

SOME of the best teachers are not professional educators. On the surface, this statement might seem a paradox. Educators are defined by their work as teachers. I’m not trying to suggest that the many people who make their livings as educators aren’t great teachers. It is that some of the most instructive lessons I have learned about living and learning haven’t come from people with formal teaching qualifications nor from people who have worked as teachers, but from people who have nevertheless changed the world. One such person is Nelson Mandela: a great teacher, a great leader and one of the most powerful people of the modern era. Mandela valued education above all else. He once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In an interview, when asked what is the single greatest problem facing the world right now, he replied at once, “Poverty and lack of education – these two problems combined. It is important for us to ensure that education reaches everyone.” (Interview in the Reader’s Digest, July 29, 2013.)

Online Education: Solution or Problem?

By Denise Murray


I CAN hardly open a magazine or newspaper without reading about some new course being offered online. The latest surge has been in MOOCs (massive open online courses). Several for-profit and non-profit companies have emerged to offer these courses across a range of subjects. They collaborate with universities around the world to offer their courses online. Anyone can sign up for the course, but they won’t receive academic credit, only a certificate of participation.

Why do institutions offer online courses? And why do students enroll?
The answers to both questions are complex. Online courses actually have their origins in distance learning (DL), developed to provide education to students who could not travel to a brick-and-mortar institution. DL was first offered as paper-and-pen lessons via mail. It then developed to use taped materials. Next came video. All of these modes of delivery still exist, depending on the resources of a particular country or region.

Institutions offer online programs and students take them because of time and distance constraints. For example, my home state in Australia is huge. When I was college-age, there was only one university in the capital city. I began teaching at a school 1,300 miles (2,092 km) from the capital. But I wanted to continue my bachelor’s degree.



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