Research that is relevant to teaching and learning has always been an important feature of the Centre for English Language Communication (CELC) ever since its early inception as the University’s English Language Proficiency Unit (ELPU) formed in July 1979. Early research in ELPU particularly focused on materials development, the teaching of English, and profiling the students’ perceptions of their English Language needs for study, in everyday general situations, and in the workplace (Annual Report, 1979-80).
Working Papers on Language and RELT
In 1986, ELPU launched the Working Papers on Language (WPL) which published research articles on English linguistics and language teaching. WPL was in circulation until 2001. In 2001, about five years after ELPU was renamed CELC, the journal Reflections on English Language Teaching (RELT) was born. RELT, an international-refereed publication, aimed to “explore the range of issues of current concern to those who teach and do research in the field of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and as Second Language (ESL) in Asia and other regions.”
RELT published papers with sound theoretical frameworks and clear pedagogical implications and/ or applications in the following areas: new materials and materials preparation; classroom practice and activities that are innovative and motivating; testing techniques and/ or evaluation; needs assessment; curriculum design and development; learning/ teaching strategies with application of IT; impact of language / educational policies on classroom practice; second language writing and reading; and cultural dimensions of language teaching and learning. The journal consisted of two sections: a section for full research articles and another that contained classroom-based reflections called “Voices from the Classroom”. RELT’s circulation ended in 2011.
In 2009, while RELT was still in circulation both in print and online (in static Portable Document Format accessible through the CELC webpage), English Language Teaching World Online: Voices from the Classroom (ELTWO) was launched. ELTWO marked the Centre’s shift from print to an interactive online platform in disseminating research as well as in cultivating and leading a community of scholars in English language and communication teaching in the region.
Like RELT, ELTWO was a practice-based international-refereed journal, except that it was published in an interactive blog platform. Like its predecessor, ELTWO provided an opportunity for English Language Teaching (ELT) and communications skills practitioners to share innovative teaching ideas that maximize the potential of print, audio-visual, and web resources, and to present their views on teaching resources, materials development, syllabus and curriculum design, assessment, and related topics.
ELTWO consisted of several content sections: Features (research articles), ELT Lives (biographical sketches of people in the field with noteworthy contributions), Innovations (articles on effective teaching practices), Language Court (expert opinions on issues in the field), and Media Reviews (reviews on media resources relevant to ELT practitioners and students including websites, software programmes, audio-visual materials, and book). The interactive blog platform enabled readers to comment on the articles. ELTWO was in circulation from 2009 to 2016.
In 2016, CELC established this academic blog, which was later referred to SoTL Matters. The objective was to encourage English language educators to examine their pedagogical approaches. This Blog features various reflective pieces on pedagogy and resources related to SoTL.
Through the promotion of scholarly inquiry into the teaching of language and communication, the Blog remains committed to principles of SoTL. According to Felten (2013), the principles include: demonstrating an inquiry-based approach on student learning; employing context-sensitive teaching approaches, as well as those that are drawn from empirical studies; recognizing the value that students bring to the teaching and learning context; and contributing to the wider understanding of teaching and learning. The Blog also delves into other issues concerning international students and higher education (e.g. Madge, Raghuram, & Noxolo, 2015), the use of technology for teaching and learning (e.g. Kessler, 2018), and the changing nature of assessment (e.g. Cox, Malone, & Winkle, 2018).
Teaching English and Communication in Higher Education
In June 2021, the CELC Blog was revamped to be more multimodal, with the inclusion of videos and podcasts. Various talks by external and internal practitioners were also featured.
Annual Report of University of Singapore, 1979-1980. University of Singapore.
Cox, T. L., Malone, M. E., & Winke, P. (2018). Future directions in assessment: Influences of standards and implications for language learning. Foreign Language Annals, 51(1), 104-115.
English Language Teaching World Online Submission Guidelines. 2009-2016. Centre for English Language Communication, National University of Singapore
Felten, P. (2013). Teaching and learning inquiry. The ISSOTL Journal, 1(1), 121-125.
Kessler, G. (2018). Technology and the future of language teaching. Foreign Language Annals, 51(1), 205-218.
Madge, C., Raghuram, P., & Noxolo, P. (2015). Conceptualizing international education: From international student to international study. Progress in Human Geography, 39(6), 681-701.
Reflections on English Language Submission Guidelines. 2001-2011. Centre for English Language Communication, National University of Singapore.
By Dr Gene Navera (Deputy Director, Senior Lecturer)