Penny Ur, English Language Trainer and Creator


“By the grace of God, I didn’t. I’m nonetheless right here,” she tells The PIE. Nevertheless, the expertise permits Ur to empathise with these dipping their toes within the ELT water for the primary time.

“For a younger trainer starting their first yr, the primary yr is all the time robust. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t go as brilliantly as you hoped.

“Loosen up. It’s not simply all about you. It’s concerning the college students,” she advises.

Initially from England, Ur emigrated to Israel to start her profession as an elementary trainer, nonetheless, she discovered that there was an actual want for English academics.

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than she began writing articles on the topic and in 1981, Ur revealed her first guide with Cambridge, whom she continues to be publishing with at present, together with having written a number of bestselling methodology titles for Cambridge College Press & Evaluation.

She appears to be like again fondly on seeing her title in print for the primary time, and admits she has now misplaced rely of what number of titles she has written.

Throughout her skilled lifetime, the sector has advanced and for Ur one of many largest adjustments has been an enormous swing from English as primarily the language of the English-speaking nations to the language being a instrument of worldwide communication.

When pressed on the significance of English as a lingua franca, Ur highlights that she prefers the usage of the acronym EPIC – English for functions of worldwide communication.

“I believe this expresses what English is doing at present and that who makes use of it doesn’t actually matter a lot, whether or not they’re coming from one of many English-speaking communities or they’re coming from one of many communities who communicate different languages. The purpose is that English is being utilized by all people primarily for worldwide functions fairly than intra-national functions.

“I believe it’s actually vital that academics are conscious they’re instructing worldwide English, fairly than any one of many native varieties.”

Equally, Ur appears to reject the time period ‘English as a Overseas language’, as a substitute preferring the usage of ‘English as an Worldwide language’.

“Immediately English doesn’t belong to another person. It belongs to all of us”

“The phrase ‘overseas’ implies that it belongs to another person and at present English doesn’t belong to another person. It belongs to all of us.”

Ur, retired, continues to be based mostly in Israel nonetheless finds herself being rewarded for her contributions to the sector. In 2013, she was awarded an OBE and extra lately in 2022, she acquired the award for Excellent Achievement on the British Council’s ELTons Awards – each of which she describes as profession highlights.

“The good factor about each of these awards was how many individuals have been blissful about it. There was a lot of sharing of enjoyment.

“Folks all the time ask me if I’m proud about it. I believe proud is the mistaken phrase. No false modesty, I believe I earned the awards pretty. However on the similar time, I’m conscious that there are lots of different individuals on the market in ELT who’ve contributed at the least as a lot as I’ve and a few of them extra who ought to have gotten precedence over me maybe earlier than. I’m conscious of that similtaneously I’m grateful for having acquired the awards myself.”

For these extra skilled academics, who need to emulate the success and longevity of Ur’s profession, “maintaining it contemporary” is the important thing, she says.

“I’ve met academics who hold their lesson notes yr after yr and train the identical factor yr after yr. That’s not the best way to maneuver on.”

Deal with every lesson as a brand new one, search suggestions from college students and study from different academics, advises Ur.

The digital transformation of the ELT sector is occurring, and though Ur embraces the quantity of supplies available to academics, she advises them to proceed with warning and take into account which instruments are successfully elevating the usual of English instructing.

“Generally I get the sensation that some academics are doing issues simply because they’re updated and never as a result of they’re essentially good for the learners.

“Find out about all you possibly can however then having realized the brand new strategies, the brand new digital instruments, you might want to take a look at them with a chilly beady eye and and ask ‘Is that this going to assist me? Is that this going to achieve success? Is that this going to assist my college students study or isn’t it?’

“Utilizing digital instruments isn’t a price in itself. It relies on how you utilize it. It relies on the way you select it.”


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