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Welcome to the TEFL News page. Here you will find the latest news from the world of TEFL/TESOL, updated whenever a newsworthy story appears.

Here you’ll find items about TEFL, teaching English around the world, teachers of English around the world and news which affects teachers and students of English around the world.

And of course, please feel free to contact gen@icaltefl.com if you have news to add to this area!

Can English save Taiwan?

Taiwan is hoping to save its economy and raise its global rankings by making English a second official language in the country.

That’s the theory at least and a number of academics and officials have put forward the idea to help Taiwan in the international market.

The plan is that within 10 years everyone in Taiwan will have a decent knowledge of English. But how this…

IELTS Scores withheld in China

Some Chinese students have had their IELTS score “permanently withheld” by IELTS.

According to reports, IELTS have decided to withhold the scores for some students. They have declined to tell the student their score and refused to pass on any information about the score to anyone outside the organization.

Those students involved are understandable angry and frustrated. IELTS are refusing to tell them anything about their…

English School to begin at 4

A new report from the Dutch government recommends English teaching to begin at 4 years old when children first start primary school.

As is well known, the earlier someone starts, the easier it is to pick up a foreign language. Beginning English at 4 will give Dutch children a headstart when it comes to speaking English and will lead to a more employable and competitive global workforce…

Racist TEFL Church Ad for teachers in Hong Kong

A church school in Hong Kong has come under fire after posting an advert asking specifically for a “Caucasian” English teacher in their school.

The blatantly racist ad was pulled after a barrage of criticism was directed towards the church school who beat a hasty retreat with an “apology” which seemed half-hearted at best.

They said the ad has been removed and then clarified they were…

Pronoun Panic in Tennessee

People are panicking in Tennessee.

They are panicking about pronouns.

It all began when the University of Tennessee posted on its website a guide to what pronouns were acceptable at the university. This included the usual suspects of course plus a few extra pronouns which are commonly used amongst some transgender people.

(Those last ones, in case you are not familiar with them, are invented…

New Opportunities for TEFL Teachers in Cuba

It is only recently that diplomatic relations have been restored between the USA and Cuba and the consequences are already being felt.

Granma, the Communist Party newspaper, reports that teaching English is to become a priority for Cuba in the very near future with schools restarting language programs which were effectively halted in the 1970s when Cuba switched foreign language teaching from English to Russian.


Korea to Cut English Lessons

The Education Ministry in Korea wants to reduce the number of English language lessons in state schools by 30% within the next couple of years.

The ministry claim that the current workload for school students is just too much and wants to reduce it with English lessons being their main target along with Korean and Math. However, the plan is drawing a lot of criticism from educators and businesspeople…

Thailand to recruit 4,000 new English teachers

The Thai government plans to recruit some 4,000 Filipino English teachers to head to Thailand and teach English there.

The idea will be discussed when Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha visits the Philippines.

Many of the teachers will be working in schools opened to help prepare for the ASEAN Economic Conferecne taking place there at the end of the year.

For more, see here…

TEFL Teachers deported from China

According to the CRI news agency, two TEFL teachers have been deported from China after they were found to be working illegally in Shanxi province.

Police arrested the two – a 59 year old American woman and a 25 year old Pakistani man – after raiding an English school which was not certified to employ foreigners and later deported them, banning their return to China.

Thai Schools Check Teachers for Sex Offenses

A number of foreign teachers with records for sex offenses back home are working in Thailand as teachers of English, often teaching children.

The British Embassy in Bangkok recently approached the Thai Ministry of Education with names of suspect British teachers and since then the ministry is warning schools to be on the lookout for teachers with records of sex offenses in other countries working…

TEFL Teacher Fighting for Life in Taiwan

On June 26th this year, Alex Haas, an American TEFL teacher working in Taiwan, was badly injured in an explosion at a theme park in Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan.

Alex, along with some 500 others, was the innocent victim of a terrible accident when colored powder sprayed into the crowd suddenly burst into flames. He is suffering second and third degree burns on…

Morocco Urged to drop French for English

A major Moroccan think tank has urged the Moroccan government to drop French and bring in English in schools throughout the country.

The Rabat Center for Political and Strategic Studies understands that for any country to compete in the modern world it needs to have a strong base of English and Morocco – a former French colony – will not be able to compete without it…

Under Qualified English Teachers in Japan

Almost half the English teachers in Japanese high schools are not advanced speakers of English.

The education ministry has released a survey which shows that almost 50% of English teachers in high schools do not have advanced levels of English.

And the situation is even worse when it comes to junior-high schools with less than 30% qualified as advanced level speakers of English.

By 2017…

Open English: teachers needed for USA

According to recent news reports, Open English, one of the major players in online English learning based in South America, is moving into the USA market.

Looking to target the 53 million Spanish speakers in the US, Open English has raised over $120 million to fuel the expansion and this means they are looking to employ more teachers for their online courses.
This is good news…

China – a crisis point in getting new teachers

China is facing a crisis in English teachers this upcoming year.

With over 4,000 teachers needed in China, recruitment companies are finding it harder and harder to get well qualified and committed teachers.

There are two main reasons cited for the problem.

The government and teaching authorities are raising the standards required of foreign teachers, sometimes asking for as much as 5 years previous experience…

Get Ripped Off to teach in North Korea

You may have seen the ad in today’s press: North Korea has decided it needs to exploit some naive TEFL teachers to work in the country and teach tour guides how to speak to the hordes of visitors the country is expecting sometime in the future.

For this they approached Juche Travel Services (JTS) in the UK who are promoting the idea for them. However, despite insisting…

How to Murder your Teacher

Brain of the Day: An English teacher in Maryland, USA, has been forced to apologize after setting her English class an assignment where they had to use “3 gerunds, 3 infinitives, and 3 participles” to describe how they would kill her.

As anyone with any sense might have guessed, when parents discovered the topic they reacted immediately and badly. The teacher, Patricia Lorenzen, issued an immediate apology…

Korean Students Unhappy with English Classes

Almost 70% of Korean high school students are unhappy with their English lessons, according to the results of a new survey.

They typically say that what they are being taught is not what they need to learn and that they are leaving school without the essential tools to engage in the international sphere.

The study asked almost 1,000 students about their English lessons and the results…

Politics Cut from ELT Materials

In Japan, the Osaka board of education has cut material from its online course deeming it too political.

The board found the material objectionable and said it promoted the image of the mayor of Osaka to first year Junior High students.

The material was to be used for practicing the third person singular and included statements like these:
My name is Toru Hashimoto. I work hard…

HK Universities Snub Mainland China in English

In a move bound to upset mainland China,  2 top Hong Kong universities have rejected the Chinese CET test in favor of IELTS.

In future, the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong will ask for student applicants to present their IELTS score instead of their Chinese based CET score.

The College English Test or CET is a foreign language test used…

Buddhist Monk slaps English Teacher in Thailand

A Buddhist monk has slapped an English teacher across the face on a train in Thailand leading to questions about the spirituality of some monks.

The event was recorded on video and was posted online.

The facts are these. Jeff [last name not given] was traveling on a train between Bangkok and Phitsanulok in Thailand a few days ago when he was approached by two women who asked…

Saudi to Sack All English Teachers

According to an Emirates expat site (link below) the Saudi government is preparing to sack all native English teachers from state schools.

This is part of the ongoing plan to nationalize teaching jobs.

The government will not extend the job contracts for all foreign English language teachers in the next scholastic year as part of Saudization of teaching jobs in the country the Okaz Arabic language newspaper said…

Irish teacher denied job in Korea due to “Irish Alcoholism”

Are you a well qualified English teacher? Great. Are you Irish? Not so great. You must be an alcoholic.

An experienced English teacher has been denied a job in Seoul simply because she was Irish and the school decided that all Irish people are alcoholics.

Katie Mulrennan (26) is an English teacher from Ireland with 3 years experience teaching English abroad in Spain, the UK and…

“Incapable & Unfit” English Teachers

The Malaysian Education minister recently revealed that two-thirds of the English teachers in the country were either “incapable” or “unfit” to teach in schools.

Following the revelation there’s been a lot of soul searching in the country as to where the blame lies and what can be done about it.

On one side the teachers themselves are being blamed. Reports of appalling grammar, barely recognizable English…

Advanced Learning to be Banned in Korea?

The Korean parliament is set to decide on a Bill to ban all private education outside the state system in Korea.

The private education market is worth around 18 billion dollars, but it is at odds with the Korean President’s policy of promoting the state education system.

The Bill, if passed, would ban so-called “advanced learning” (or private tuition) of the state curricula which would include English…

English Language Tourism Booming in Malta – hopefully!

English Language Tourism is a booming industry in Malta. Kermenu Vella, Minister for Tourism, said that 1 in 18 visitors to Malta were there to study English.

Estimates also put spending by students at €145 million in 2013 – a rise of €10 million from the previous year. The minister was speaking at the AGM of FELTOM – Malta’s primary organization of English language schools. This year FELTOM marks…

Five Million New Teachers needed Around the World

A United Nations report published this week says that at least 250 million school aged children cannot read and that over 5 million new teachers are needed to teach them.

This follows a goal in 2000 of giving every child a primary school education by 2015. A goal which has been utterly missed with children still working, begging and lacking decent basic school opportunities.

Roughly half of those…

Learn English through the Quran

A new book just published aims to teach English to students using the Quran, the holy book of Islam.

Written by Zahra Agha Mohammad and published in Iran, the book is aimed at students of Religious Studies who need to learn English.

Entitled, Teaching English Grammar Through the Holy Verses of the Glorious Quran, through 14 sections it teaches grammar through studying the Quran with exercises and grammatical…

English Teacher Humiliates Students

An English teacher is under investigation after allegedly humiliating two year-4 students, forcing them to wear bells and mocking them as cows.

The incident took place in Sungkai in Malaysia. The two year-4 children failed to bring in their English homework so their teacher firstly made them wear bells around their necks; then called them cows; then pulled out handfuls of grass and tried to make them eat it, threatening…

Basketball Legend Promotes English Teaching in China

Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming has joined up with a teaching agency in China to help provide English teaching and hopefully give the students opportunities they badly need.

“Lots of places in China’s west are indeed short of educational resources … The lack of teachers is a particularly serious problem, which cannot be solved within one or two years,” said Yao. Part of the deal will be to offer…

Jailed in China: an American English Teacher

An American English teacher at a university has been jailed in China for stealing over $14,000 from a colleague.

Foster, an American teaching English in Guangzhou in China, broke into his colleague’s room where he stole over $14,000 in cash and travellers checks in April this year.

The following morning, Foster was arrested. The money was returned to the victim who reportedly said, “I have been in China…

US Teacher Jailed in China

An American English teacher at a university has been jailed in China for stealing over $14,000 from a colleague.

Foster, an American teaching English in Guangzhou in China, broke into his colleague’s room where he stole over $14,000 in cash and travellers checks in April this year. The following morning he was arrested. The money was returned to the victim who reportedly said, “I have been in…

English Teacher turns to Crime

An English teacher in Hong Kong turned to crime to recover some $10,000 HK ($1,200 US).

Jesse Leigh James (24) from South Africa, a kindergarten teacher, claimed he was owed money by Australian James Dawson after they had organized a party together. Initially Dawson claimed he had no money to pay so James ignored the debt. Until, that is, he met up with Russian computer programmer Sasha Palatnikov (24)…

Turkish Teacher of English Denied Entry to Britain

An English teacher married to a Scottish native has been denied entry into Britain because allegedly she has no proof that she has “a basic grasp of the English language”.

Turkish native Jilda Clark and husband of 22 years, Scottish academic Dr Philip Clark, had been planning to emigrate to Scotland with their two children in order to be closer to Dr Clark’s elderly parents but this plan now…

UK Relaxes Rules For ESL Immigration

Following a U-turn in UK immigration laws it will now be considerably easier for foreign students and workers to come to the UK.

The previously strict rules surrounding immigration were highlighted recently with the case of Jilda Clark, a Turkish national whose application to move to the UK with her family was rejected due to alleged insufficient evidence of English language skills despite having worked as an English teacher…

Western Style Kindergartens in China

According to the CRI English website there is a rapidly increasing demand in China for a “Western” style kindergartens.

Adele Bai, General Manager of Kids and Teens Education First, stresses the growing value of English language teachers in the country, especially at kindergarten age (between 3 and 6 years of age), when children are most receptive to learning an additional language.

However, the equal importance of the quality…

Fugitive TEFL Teacher Arrested In Brazil

An Irish solicitor living in hiding in Brazil was earning a modest living teaching the English language.

Michael Lynn who fled Ireland in 2007 after an 80 million euro property fraud had gone from a high-flying and high-earning lifestyle to a considerably more modest one as he accepted just 650 euros a month teaching English at Brazilian high school part time.

Apparently Mr Lynn integrated so well into…

ELTons Awards 2014

Applications are now being accepted for the ELTons 2014 awards and are inviting entries for categories such as Excellence in Course Innovation and Local Innovation.

Sponsored by Cambridge English Language Assessment (formerly Cambridge ESOL) and Macmillan Education the awards encourage new faces in English language teaching expertise to come forward and earn the chance to win a prize of and to see their work in publication. 2013 winners included…

Failure in Liberian University Entrance Exams

This year’s entrance exams to the Liberian university system have passed not a single candidate.

Yes of some 25,000 students taking the exam precisely 100% of them failed.

According to university officials the applicants lacked enthusiasm and did not have a basic grasp of English. The President decided that having no university students was a bit awkward so she persuaded the universities to take in the…

Surge in Demand for TEFL in Turkey

According to the Huffington Post UK, Turkey has seen a recent dramatic surge in potential English teachers wishing to work in the country.

Almost certainly helped by the sharp rise in tourism, there has been an increasing demand for the English language, thereby making it easier than ever before for native English speakers to find employment in Turkey. Despite enduring many troubles in the past, from which it is…

Anouncements of nominees for Star Awards

Study Travel Magazine has announced the nominees for the Star Awards. The awards recognizing English language schools are not being held by STM this year but include plenty of nominees such as ISI Ireland, UIC London, Cape Studies South Africa, Languages Internation New Zealand and The Language Academy USA.

Nominees for Star Chain Schools include Embassy English and ILSC Educational Group and sponsors of the awards include International House…

American Teacher deported from Bahrain

Erin Kilbride, an English teacher from the US and working in Bahrain, has been deported from the country after writing a series of articles critical of the Bahrain leadership suggesting they supported the recent overthrow of the Egyptian president whilst cracking down on democracy in their own country.

Officially it was stated that she was being deported for “working illegally as an unaccredited journalist while employed as a teacher.”…

Bad English saved the Japanese Economy!

The Japanese finance minister, Taro Aso, made an interesting leap of logic last Friday. He essentially said that the reason why Japan is not suffering as much as other nations in the current global economic crisis is because Japanese bankers aren’t very good at English.

His reasoning goes like this:

The American banks sold dodgy financial products (such as the sub-prime mortgages) to banks around the world…

Croatia in the EU – what it means for English teachers

Croatia has joined the European Union.

For English teachers this means that it will be harder for non-European teachers to find work there. The labor laws mean that teachers with a passport from a European country will find working in Croatia much easier than teachers from outside Europe.

In the near future there is also likely to be a clampdown on non-European teachers already in Croatia.
Useful Links…

American TEFL teacher killed in Egypt

An American TEFL teacher was killed on Friday during anti government violence in Egypt.

Andrew Pochter, 21, was killed near the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria which had earlier been set alight during violent clashes in the city. An Egyptian man was fatally shot during the same clashes with another man also killed.

Some reports say Pochter was shot whilst others say he was stabbed whilst…

British Passport Renewal – Greece, Italy, Spain, etc

If you need to renew your British passport and live in Greece, Italy, Spain or some other European countries you will need to change the way you renew it.

The UK government have just announced that whilst in the past you sent your passport to France for renewal to cut costs you must now send it to the UK for renewal.

To find out exactly how…

Telling Parents about Rubbish Students?

A teacher in China has been forced to apologize after sending a mass text out to the parents calling their children “garbage”.

Ok  so maybe the teacher was at the end of his tether, but is this ever justified? Would you ever tell a parent that their child was rubbish?!

For more, see here…

The Economist sues English School in Korea

The British Economist magazine has filed a lawsuit against DYB Choisun Language Institute – a major South Korean language school – over the school’s unauthorized use of its articles. Apparently the school pulled together over 50 articles from the Economist, bound and published them, and then sold them the school’s top level students.

A member of the school staff told a local newspaper that the accusations were…

Over 6.7 million taking online course in the USA

More than 6.7 million students in the US are taking at least 1 online course; this is up over half a million from last year

32% of higher ed students take an online course
77% of academic leaders rate online education as equal to or higher than face-to-face education
over the past 10 years growth has remained constant and is predicted to rise
MOOCs are…

Some Statistics: students & teachers

According to the BBC (see link below) there are 1.55 billion learners of English around the world and it’s estimated that there are 10.2 million English teachers.

How many students does that make per teacher?

Assuming an American billion (not an English one) it’s 152 students per teacher. Which seems quite a lot to me.

So 10.2 million teachers is just a few less than the number…

More than 1m UK pupils speak English as a second language

According to the Telegraph (link below) more than 1 million school students in the UK speak English as a second language. This means about 1 in 6 students on average with about 1 in 8 at high school. In some parts of London about 75% of pupils don’t speak English as a first language.

This is putting a huge strain on the system where teachers specializing in ESL aren’t…

Google blocked in China

According to reports today (see link below) some Google services (including gmail) are being blocked in China. If you are a teacher there and are having problems remember you may be able to use a proxy server to get around these restrictions. If you check out our article on watching TV from back home it explains how to bypass local filters and access websites from all over the…

Macmillan Abandons Printed Dictionaries

Problems already!

So Macmillan have announced that they will no longer print dictionaries and from next year they will be available only online.

Somewhat inevitable, I suppose, but here’s a screenshot of part of their front page today where they announce this news: and you’ll see it’s completely messed up due to technical problems. Call me cynical but they should get their website in order before…

Teaching English in Prison

There’s an interesting story in the Chicago Tribune newspaper about a teacher teaching English in a local prison in order to help the inmates when they are released.

The classroom becomes here not just a way to learn English but for the inmates a safe place where they can prepare themselves for a much better life.

“Educational or vocational programming is the best way a jail…