There is much talk about the future of education. It reminds me of when I was in primary school, learning about life in 2000. From the Jetson robot housekeeper, Rosey, to Marty MacFly’s flying Delorian, a lot has changed since then, especially in the past few years.
How do educators prepare for the next disruption?
The first thing that has changed over the past few years is that there seems to be more emphasis on technology. Students have become more comfortable using technology as part of their learning process, so there has been an increased demand for digital resources. These are not always available from traditional textbook publishers or other online resources such as YouTube videos or free websites and apps like Duolingo or Memrise. The second significant change has been increased student-centered learning, where learners are encouraged to engage through games, activities, and discussions around topics. We must consider how these trends evolve if we want to predict what lies ahead for us as English teachers.
From the rise of MOOCs to the emergence of other forms of online learning, it has been an exciting time for teachers. And although many of us may not agree with everything that is happening, it seems that this is just the beginning, and there is more change to come! But how will these changes affect our profession? How do you see yourself fitting into this new landscape?
English teachers are also changing. We have seen an increase in qualified teachers teaching English as a foreign language. People trained and certified as TEFL teachers have jumped in number, leading to more competition among teachers, especially for jobs requiring native speakers. The demand for English teachers is increasing around the world. As more countries see value in learning English as a second language, there will be greater demand for English teachers who can provide instruction at all levels and settings.
So here are some predictions for what the future might look like for English teachers:
1) The role of English teachers will become more specialized, meaning that teachers are expected to teach more than just language; they will need to teach culture, history, and even politics as well. Instead of just teaching grammar rules or vocabulary, they must become experts in these areas and languages. So if you want to consider yourself “future-Proof,” it will take more than just knowing how to conjugate verbs!
2) There will be less emphasis on teaching grammar rules (alleluia)
3) The rise of online learning and its becoming mainstream. Nowadays, people take online courses on just about everything: cooking, languages, business management, etc. Online learning is also becoming more popular among kids and teens looking to learn English as a second language or improve their pronunciation skills without hiring a private tutor or taking classes at school.
4) Video lessons instead of audio lectures to attract more students and make English learning more accessible for everyone worldwide, many language schools offer video lessons.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE CLASSROOM?
The traditional classroom has changed too, with smartboards becoming increasingly popular in classrooms worldwide. These interactive whiteboards allow teachers to plan more engaging lessons for their students and interact with language in new ways through live polling or interactive dictionary searches.
Smartphones are also having an impact on how we learn English outside of the classroom, too. There are apps available that allow learners to practice their pronunciation at home or using speech recognition technology.
Today’s youth (Gen-Z) are early adopters of technology. Products & services must meet the needs of this audience (we will talk more about this in part 2)
IS ONLINE TEACHING HERE TO STAY?
With the advent of online and blended learning, a whole new world of English teaching has opened up. Language academies are now offering online and blended classes, and many students prefer online lessons rather than the classroom. This trend will continue with the increasing number of websites providing English teachers with their services and apps. They promise students that they can learn a language by practicing on their phones during their lunch break. Whether these new teaching and learning methods can be as effective as traditional classroom teaching remains to be seen, I think it’s safe to say that we are still at an early stage when using technology for language learning purposes. In contrast, some studies have shown that mixed-method classrooms (where students use traditional face-to-face teaching and other forms such as distance learning) can be as effective as traditional classrooms. There is little evidence showing whether this will be true for online lessons alone.
ARE THE MACHINES COMING TO REPLACE TEACHERS?
Another popular forecast for the future of English education is that algorithms developed by machines will someday teach humans(This is how Duolingo operates). It adjusts depending on how well you accomplished the prior activity. While this is a fun approach to practice and may help you acquire a few prepared phrases and vocabulary words, it is unlikely to replace professional teaching. Instead, the content we use may adapt to the kids’ level in the class — something publishers are now working on. However, an instructor will be required to assist the students through the course. So, NO – Teachers will not be made redundant but will take on a new role, more of a facilitator who can expand learners’ understanding by sharing their own experiences during the teaching process.
Overall, the future for English teachers is likely a combination of the two. However, to prepare our students for their digital-driven futures, we will need to understand better how technology impacts unique personality traits and learning styles. Technology is moving faster than ever before, affecting our students’ learning process. We will need to reflect upon this new landscape to equip students with the necessary reading and writing skills to succeed in their future careers and lives. And as Jeremy Harmer once said,
“Change is slow… until it isn’t”.
The Future of Education Is All About the Experiences We Create….stay tuned