This time last year, I wrote a post on what 2023 might bring for the ELT world. Making predictions about anything is a bold move, so I enlisted the help of other ELT professionals to ensure I stepped outside my own ELT bubble.
The top trends of 2023, as outlined in my post, were:
- Green ELT
- DEIB: Diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging
- Virtual reality
- Life skills
- Task-based teaching, learning & assessment
Overall, I feel these trends in ELT were indeed hot topics throughout 2023, especially in terms of climate care and inclusion. I noticed a lot of conferences that I spoke at had themes related to inclusion or the environment.
You may notice that one huge trend was missing!? Any ideas?
The trend I missed!
As I mentioned, predicting anything can be an impossible task, and I don’t think anyone could have predicted the impact artificial intelligence has already had on our industry.
ChatGPT was released shortly after I submitted my post. I missed it! But in some ways, I like that the biggest trend of 2023 didn’t make it to the list. I feel like its omission makes it stand out more and it makes me wonder what 2024 will hold—and what I’ll have missed in this post!
So, here are some potential trends for 2024 that some wonderful participants of the ELT Professionals LinkedIn group, which I highly recommend joining, and I are tentatively predicting.
Trends to watch in 2024
1. Artificial intelligence
There’s no denying that AI will continue to thrill, bamboozle, and delight us in 2024. Around the world, ELT professionals are using it to prepare lessons, create activities, and reduce workload wherever possible. Language learners are also using AI to support their learning via intelligent translations, linguistic advice, and checking (and hopefully not doing) their homework!
Humanity & Technology in ELT was the ElliiCon theme this year, so if you’d like more info and tips on using AI in the classroom, here are some useful links:
- ElliiCon2023 YouTube Playlist
- How to Prevent Students from Cheating with AI
- 10 Practical Ways Teachers Can Excel with AI
- Developing Learner Autonomy with AI
It seems that Ellii has their finger on the pulse when it comes to ELT trends. ElliiCon has covered a lot of both AI- and well-being-related topics.
In many ways, well-being and emotional intelligence are part of the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging trend, which continues on from 2023. Classrooms that are accessible, celebrate diversity, and allow self-expression make students feel welcomed and promote mental health.
I couldn’t agree more with Philip Saxon’s comment that AI is "not more important than Emotional Intelligence or Mental Health." Students learn better and teachers teach better when they feel good. Language learning is more successful with positive well-being.
Here is a sketchnote from Dr. Katie Welch’s ElliiCon2022 session on addressing social-emotional needs.
You can watch the full session here.
Here are some previous blog posts on the topic, which contain links to lesson ideas, activities, and other useful resources:
- The Importance of a Growth Mindset for Language Teaching
- A Quick Activity to Boost Confidence and Well-Being
- 5 Ways to Promote Mental Health in the English Language Classroom
3. Diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging
DEIB remains a hot topic. As language teachers, it’s important that we make our learning spaces as accessible as possible to all our learners.
Diversity: Our learners are diverse! We teach students from all over the world. Our learners bring a delightful variety of languages, cultures, beliefs, religions, world views, and interests to class. It’s important that we celebrate these differences and value each and every individual.
Equity: While equality is treating everyone the same, equity aims to support those who need it most in order to achieve an equal outcome. In the classroom, this means providing additional support or making small adaptations for learners with specific learning differences or those with developing literacy or digital skills.
Inclusion: The UK Equality Act 2010 has nine protected characteristics: age, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, disability, race, religion/belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
The act aims to prevent discrimination against each of these differences. In class, it’s important to be aware of these differences and ensure each is included and represented within the learning materials. This promotes understanding, empathy, and respect.
Belonging: Creating a welcoming atmosphere where students feel included, respected, and represented ensures a feeling of belonging. This in turn boosts confidence, well-being, and a desire to get involved in classroom life and learning.
Here are some additional resources that may be of interest:
- How to Value Every Learner’s Holidays
- Supporting Students with ADHD
- Supporting English Learners with Dyslexia
- Supporting Blind & Low-Vision Learners
4. Green ELT
This topic continues to trend in ELT. Organizations like ELT Footprint, Renewable English, and Green Action ELT are doing a wonderful job of raising awareness and a platform for teachers to share resources and teaching ideas.
Around the world, we are seeing unprecedented extreme weather, pollution, and rising temperatures. This directly impacts the lives of many of our learners and can induce climate anxiety.
Including environmental matters in the ELT classroom can help educate learners on social responsibility and give them the skills to discuss sensitive, real-world, global topics.
Complementary to green issues, we are also seeing more discussions and resources around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals aim to make the world more sustainable in terms of preservation of natural habitats, climate change, education, health, and wealth distribution.
Here are some posts and resources that may interest you:
5. ELF pronunciation
English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) is not a new concept, but it seems to be growing in popularity in recent years. It refers to the usage of English as a common language for communication.
Over 80% of communication in English takes place between so-called "non-native" speakers. For example, someone whose first language is German speaking to someone whose first language is Arabic.
ELFpron refers to using pronunciation that is globally intelligible as opposed to aiming to sound like a "native" speaker. It uses a range of language models to support learners in understanding diverse accents from around the world.
I use the terms "native" and "non-native" in quotations, as there is some discussion around what these terms really mean. Am I a "native’" speaker even though I had to modify my language from regional Scots to a more globally intelligible form of English when I first started teaching? Is my Polish best friend a "non-native" speaker although she has lived in the UK for 20+ years, speaks with a Northern Irish accent, and has completed a degree at a UK university?
In many ways, ELFpron is the inclusive way to teach pronunciation. It allows students to embrace their accents and the diverse accents of English language users all over the world.
Here are some resources to use in class:
- Pronunciation Rules: Hard & Soft G
- Pronunciation Rules: Hard & Soft C
- Phonics Stories
- TESOL 2023 Takeaways on Teaching Pronunciation
6. ELT careers
As remote teaching is growing, there is also a growth in teacherpreneurs. More teachers are going solo and creating their own businesses delivering online classes or providing resources for other teachers.
There’s also a lot more discussion online about teacher equity, fair working conditions, and having a clear path for development and progression.
Business coaches such as Rachael Roberts and Ola Kowalska are leading the way in supporting ELT professionals to succeed in their freelance and entrepreneurial journeys. Nicola Prentis aims to help demystify financial planning and support teachers to make their money work for them.
The TEFL Workers' Union is also building its audience and membership as it strives to enhance the working conditions of TEFL professionals around the world.
What are your thoughts on these ELT trends for 2024? What have I missed this time around? We’d love to hear your ideas.
If you'd like to read or contribute to the LinkedIn thread, you can access it here.