English and Academic Research: A Growing Need

AuthorDamian Ross
Senior Consultant, Teacher Education and Development, British Council

Dr Al-Khatib in the call for papers presents us with an alarming picture; a ‘rapid decline’ in enrolments in English language degrees, humanities heading ‘over a cliff,’ the prioritisation of career over education combined with a lack of opportunities for English graduates, all leading to a loss of purpose. We are offered two paths; diversification or attrition. We can’t, however, ignore the fact that the English language plays an important part in maintaining and propagating the globalised, market-driven worldview which is so damaging, not just to studies of the humanities, but to perceptions of the role of education itself, and which is contributing to the decline in studying English at this level. In my view, rather than succumbing to these market forces and participating in an impoverished approach which promotes a sterile, functional version of English only useful for competing in a global job market (or indeed globalised academia), we should instead be advocating more research and wider academic engagement to keep up with, understand, and in many cases mitigate, the role of English at global, and, especially, local levels in a changing world, and the why, how and what of its place within education systems and the educational sciences.

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The future of English in global higher education: Shifting trends from teaching
English to teaching through English

AuthorDr Heath Rose
The University of Oxford
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Abstract: Over the past 100 years we have seen a boom in the number of people who can speak English. We have also seen English creep into a number of political,economic, commercial, and educational domains. The British Council (2014) lists at least 88 countries where English has an official status. It is also often the working language for international diplomacy and international organizations (Crystal, 2003).The English language is ubiquitous with academic scholarship and is the dominant language of science, medicine, and technology, and for academic scholarship (Galloway & Rose, 2015). Due to this changing role of English, the 21st century has already witnessed a huge shift in the way that English is used in education—a trend that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. English is the “most widely taught foreign language, with over 1 billion English learners worldwide” (McKay, 2012, p.28), cementing it as the world’s foremost lingua franca. Despite this upward trend in English language learning, English departments—with a traditional focus on foreign language learning through literature studies—have been experiencing a decline in student enrolment. In order to reconcile these two realities, this paper will explore the historical changes in English language education around the world, then discuss the current trends in terms of the way English is positioned in higher education. From this historic standpoint, it will predict future directions in English language teaching in global contexts, and discuss current and future opportunities for English language learning in higher education, particularly in non-Anglophone university contexts..

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Challenges of Teaching English in Tertiary Education in the Arab World

AuthorProfessor Kassem Shaaban
American University of Beirut
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Introduction: A critical look at the current state of English language teaching (ELT) in the Arab world shows that because the teaching of English starts in the first grade or even earlier in most countries, one would expect that by the time learners reached university, they would have no problem pursuing their studies through the medium of English. However, expectations are one thing, and reality is another. On the ground, there are frequent complaints from all stakeholders in the education process (students, parents, teachers, and school administrators) about the low proficiency levels attained by learners as they exit high school. University English language proficiency tests, such as TOEFL, IELTS, AUB-EN, and SAT, show that only about 20-25 percent of applicants to universities get the required scores for joining regular study programs, and the remaining admitted students would have to join an intensive English remedial course before they could take major courses (Shaaban, 2013). The recent trends in the field of education in response to the demands of the globalized job market placed great emphasis on the development of what came to be known as ‘21st-century learning skills’ such as critical thinking and problem solving, intra- and inter-cultural communication, creativity and innovation, digital knowledge, effective oral and written communication, and collaboration and teamwork (Scott, 2015; Suarta et al, 2017). These new educational expectations have added to the burden of language communication educators, a burden that could be made lighter only through restructuring of curricula and teaching practices in order to primarily provide these practitioners with the proper training to help them sharpen and redirect their goals, skills, attitudes, and practices in order to fulfill their mission adequately...

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Assessing the State of English Departments in Lebanon

AuthorDr Rula Yazigy
Head of the English Department
The Lebanese University – 2nd branch
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Abstract: Some studies in the United States (such as Schalin 2015 a & b; Bunch 2010, 2013; Bailey and Butler 2003) reported that the number of students studying English as their major has declined. It is significant to see whether the Lebanese context where English is a foreign language is comparable. All universities in Lebanon offer degrees in English language and literature and expect graduates to become teachers of English. The paper aims at finding out whether English departments at universities in Lebanon are at the risk of witnessing a serious decline, and to what extent is English as a major chosen by high school students. Data were collected to find out recent enrollment in four English departments and high school students’ opinions about choosing teaching English as a career. The results are presented and compared to those in the review of literature and recommendations are made.
Key Words English departments, Humanities, student enrollment, future career

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Challenges and Opportunities for English Literature Majors in the New Century

AuthorDr. Laurence Ajaka & Dr. Rabih Nabhan
Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
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Abstract: Today’s working market has been shifting dramatically every few years, and thus many majors such as the English language find themselves struggling to find thriving working opportunities.English proficiency has long been linked to success or failure in other subjects such as mathematics and science. Thus, lack of proficiency has a detrimental effect on the academic performance of students. With the globalization of commerce and businesses, and English being the undisputed international language, it has come to become a cornerstone in reaching out and understanding the needs and cultures of others. It is also a necessity for entrepreneurs that are opening their small businesses in order to cohesively deliver their innovations. Furthermore,human immigration in the northern American continent set record heights during this century creating one of the biggest waves of integration in history. With English being the recognized official language for two of the biggest countries in the world, there is a real need for these immigrants to become part of their new communities. So even though the English language graduates have witnessed a diminishing role in purely academic pursuits, other opportunities have emerged that require high efficiency in the English language.
Key Words English, international language, HR institutes, entrepreneurship, immigration,

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The Status of English Departments in Lebanon: Enrolment and Suggestions for Enhancement

AuthorDr. Anny Joukoulian
The Lebanese University
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Abstract: Although English has grown to be the dominant language of the century, recent studies reveal that the percentage of students in the English department has declined. This paper gives an overview of the situation of the English departments in general and in Lebanon in particular.It examines some of the problems they face. It also shows whether college students are interested in studying English as a major or not. The paper also highlights the importance of English graduates in a globalized world. Several heads of English departments of different Lebanese universities are interviewed for the purpose of finding out more about their departments-percentage of enrolment, problems and solutions. The paper also tackles the issue of career possibilities after graduation. More importantly, it puts forward a list of suggestions and some enhancements that could help attract more students in the future without bringing in any serious changes in the material taught.
Key Words English as a global language, problems of English departments, enrolment in English departments, English language and literature major, career paths

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