The ES(O)L SIG is one of the most recently established IATEFL SIGs: it was formed in 2002 to give IATEFL members with an interest in the teaching of English as a second or other language the opportunity to focus on the specific concerns that arise when working with language learners who have come to settle permanently in an English-speaking country. This means that teachers in this field work predominantly with government-funded classes that can include learners from a rich diversity of backgrounds: members of settled immigrant communities, refugees, people seeking asylum, and migrant workers from Europe and all over the world.
Many forces affect this part of the ELT world; government and state policies, curricula and assessment frameworks, the learners’ own cultural and educational backgrounds and the range of spiky skills profiles that a typical class can contain, are perhaps the most striking . These raised issues that affect ES(O)L teachers and learners globally. We knew there was an opportunity to link expertise from all corners of the world and to offer opportunities to achieve this with the SIG.
Linking members working in ES(O)L all over the world can be a little bit confusing because of terminology: ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) is used in the UK and Ireland, ESL (English as a Second Language) predominantly in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. This explains the bracket in our name! Although terminology is as different as the local situations teachers face, our concerns are frequently and perhaps inevitably the same. Exploring the different solutions colleagues around the world have chosen puts our own teaching context into perspective and provides new ideas for the classroom and to meet our learners’ needs.
There is much going on around the world in terms of ESOL teaching and it is with this in mind that we hope to broaden our SIG reach to incorporate the diversity of ESOL teachers and learners worldwide.
We really welcome your comments and thoughts, so please get in touch and let us know what is happening in your part of the world.
You can also find the IATEFL ESOL SIG on Facebook.