Rebecca Durose-Croft, Managing Director, Westchester Education UK
Jennifer Cole, Content Director, Literacy, Humanities, and Languages
In this episode of Westchester Words, Rebecca Durose-Croft and Jennifer Cole explain how a global perspective is beneficial when developing content to meet the specific requirements of English Language learners.
Learn more about the WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards Framework that is discussed during the podcast.
[00:07] Nicole Tomassi: Welcome to Westchester Words education, Ed Tech and Publishing. I’m Nicole Tomassi, and in this episode, I am pleased to welcome back Rebecca Durose-Croft, managing director for Westchester Education, UK, and Jennifer Cole, director of humanities for Westchester Education Services. Today’s topic is going to be on English language teaching and how it requires a global perspective to bring outcomes of student success. Rebecca and Jennifer, welcome back to Westchester Words.
[00:35] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Hi, Nicole.
[00:36] Jennifer Cole: Hi Nicole.
[00:37] Nicole Tomassi: Great to have both of you back here today. So to begin with, I want to go a bit high level here and examine what are the trends that you’re seeing in ELT Publishing and what are the potential impacts this could have for educational content. How about we start with you, Rebecca?
[00:53] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Of course, that’s fine. So, just to clarify, to begin with, then, that when we say ELT, this also refers to ELL, so this conversation covers both. I think at the moment, I’m seeing a particular drive, quite rightly, to produce content that is diverse and inclusive. I think publishers and educators are realizing that it’s not appropriate to create content in a vacuum, and that’s true for ELT, but also across all subject areas, and that instead we should be creating content that’s diverse. So when I think back to when I was teaching English to adult learners, I had an incredibly diverse class from all corners of the globe, from hugely diverse backgrounds, and I would have really benefited from having teaching resources that had a global feel and reflected that global audience. So I think that’s what the market’s asking for at the moment, and we get a real feel for that. On the UK side,.
[01:46] Jennifer Cole: Yeah, I absolutely agree with what Rebecca said. And on the US side, when we’re talking about materials for ELs, it’s not limited to diversity culturally or diversity regionally, but also that linguistic diversity that you get when you’re looking at something from a global perspective really brings a lot more meaningful instruction into the materials that we’re creating.
[02:09] Nicole Tomassi: When we’re talking about the diversity of perspectives and the diversity that’s included within the learning materials, do you find that that cross cultural information helps lead to better insights for teachers and learners and therefore to better outcomes?
[02:25] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, just to echo what Jen just said, each market has its own pedagogy and its own approaches, its own teaching methods and learning styles. And we see this particularly here in Europe, in Spain, and I’m sure on Jen’s side, in other Spanish speaking countries and also in Southeast Asia, we see that a lot. So I think working cross culturally, our teams can then share those insights and experiences. We then foster that really authentic collaboration to enrich the development of those teaching and learning materials. So those insights can really lead to the creation of more effective instructional strategies, better resulting in better learning outcomes for the English language learners.
[03:05] Jennifer Cole: Spanish is a great language to think about when we’re talking about global perspectives, because the Spanish used in Spain and the Spanish used in Mexico, while they are still Spanish, and they are certainly similar, there are huge differences. And so this is something that by coming to the products with this more global view, we’re able to really hone in on what our clients are looking for, for the student outcome, like Rebecca said. And then also we’re able to bring all of our different experiences to the table so that we’re starting from, I think, a more informed point of view when we’re developing instructional materials.
[03:43] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Yeah, definitely.
[03:44] Nicole Tomassi: When you are working on these projects, it sounds like you’re bringing in or have on staff individuals who have backgrounds that bring in these perspectives from having lived in that particular culture. Is that correct?
[04:01] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. So we would place, as Jen mentioned, Spanish in Europe is very different to Spanish in Mexico. If we were to have a Spanish speaking product for, say, Andulsia, we would place that with someone who had knowledge of that area, of those cultures, of the pedagogy and the approaches in those schools. We’re not just creating content, as I mentioned before, out of a vacuum. We’re really thinking about how that works for the local culture and the learners.
[04:28] Jennifer Cole: And it’s also something like Rebecca said, being able to have individuals who as their home language and as their home culture, are able to bring that perspective to materials that we’re either creating from new or a lot of times, you know, we’re doing a translation or we’re doing a transadaptation of existing materials for ELs. And so being able to say, oh, I know that I really want to include a cultural note here about the way that this letter pair is pronounced. Or this particular sound spelling might be difficult for certain students because this is not how this is pronounced in their home language. All of those things just really make the products that we work on stronger and also more interesting, I think.
[05:14] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Yeah, and that’s interesting you touch on transadaptation there, Jen, because that’s really when we’re thinking about translation, we don’t just take the content and move it from one language to another. It’s really about localizing that language and making it absolutely relevant for the market.
[05:29] Jennifer Cole: Yeah and being able to start there with materials for students who are requiring English is a huge advantage because so many times we’re looking at products and the EL portion is just kind of an add on, and that’s not what we want to do and that’s not what our teams do. We really want to create authentic materials from the outset that are going to speak to students where they are so that by the time they’re done using this product, the achievements are recognized and they really are well on their way to success.
[06:04] Nicole Tomassi: What you’re doing is you’re taking a global approach on the content, but tailoring it to the needs of the specific market and the specific users within that market. That’s what I’m hearing, is that correct?
[06:18] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Yeah, absolutely. So what we don’t want is for global approach to be taken as a kind of one size fits all approach because that’s not what it is. It is exactly as you say, Nicole, it’s looking at it from further back and saying, okay, globally we’ve got the resources to make sure that we’re placing this content creation with the right person for that market. So as Jen said from the get go, those students have got tailored materials for their first language so that they can succeed in English language learning.
[06:46] Jennifer Cole: I agree.
[06:47] Nicole Tomassi: So are there further benefits clients realize since they are not creating these resources in house and using a provider such as Westchester to create those resources for them?
[06:58] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Yeah, I mean, I think it starts with making those connections, you know, making the connections with the people, the content developers and the teachers in the right countries to make it tailored as we touched on. So a clear benefit is that our global team can bring those networks together, but we can also bring our own experience from different countries and different backgrounds, so we get that really diverse range of linguistic and cultural expertise all in one place. As I touched on before, we can also localize that content. So it really caters to the learners from various regions and adapt that material to reflect those regional language variations as well as, of course, as Jen touched on those cultural references and also links to their local education system.
[07:41] Jennifer Cole: To add to what Rebecca was saying and to just touch on one point. I think when you look at the different learning standards of the various countries that our clients publish materials, one of the great things about globalization, like Rebecca said, is that we can really understand not only the academic requirements in an instructional way, but also the standards. And in the US. pretty much every state has standards, whether they’re using the Common Core State Standards or their own individual state standards. And then we also have organizations that are dedicated specifically to the enhancement of education for multi language learners, organizations like WIDA who put out their own standards. And so one of the things that we can do by working together and collaborating is we have this richer understanding of what all of these standards look like. And so that brings more or it enhances the materials in a way that I think that we don’t get when we’re focusing solely on a European market, solely on a North American market, solely on an Asian market. And we are really fortunate that we have teams that when you put our teams together, you get this larger worldview.
[08:55] Nicole Tomassi: I’ll ask one final question to each of you about this subject. How do you find that working in the manner that you do promotes continuous improvement in the materials and for our clients?
[09:07] Rebecca Durose-Croft: That’s a good question. So I think collaborating across our teams in the UK and with Jen’s team in the US. I think that in itself fosters a continuous improvement because we have that regular communication, we have that regular knowledge sharing, and through that, our teams can identify any emerging trends we’re seeing in the market, address evolving educational needs, and incorporate those new methodologies into the learning materials. So I think it comes quite naturally just through the way that we collaborate. And I think that collaboration also extends to how we work with our clients and how we work with our network as well.
[09:43] Jennifer Cole: Yes, the only thing that I’ll expand upon is our network, which every time that we start a new project, we are looking for those folks, like we mentioned before, who have that experience culturally and linguistically with the materials that we’re working on. And so every time that we expand our network, we’re all bringing a little bit more into our knowledge base. And that combined with everything that Rebecca just said, really makes it interesting to work on these materials.
[10:13] Rebecca Durose-Croft: I absolutely agree, Jen. And it goes back to that original idea of not working in a vacuum. We need to collaborate, we need to talk to each other, and that’s know as Jen touched on that’s in house speaking with each other, that’s talking to our clients, it’s talking to our network, it’s talking to teachers who are in the classroom now, which is really important. So I think yeah, expanding and talking to each other, I think is one of the most important things.
[10:36] Nicole Tomassi: Thank you both for taking the time to join me today and explain a little bit more for our listeners about English language teaching and what the benefits can be, both for English Language learners as well as individuals who are creating those cross-cultural understandings and helping improve communication for everyone.
[10:56] Jennifer Cole: Thank you. This was a lot of fun.
[10:58] Rebecca Durose-Croft: Yeah, it was good fun.
[11:02] Nicole Tomassi: Thank you for listening to this episode of Westchester Words. If you’re looking for previous episodes or want to read additional content that has been shared by some of our guests, please visit our websites westchesterpublishingservices.com and westchestereducationservices.com. For an international perspective, check out our sister podcast, Westchester Words, UK and International, available on the Westchester Education UK website, westchestereducation.co.uk, or wherever you stream podcasts. We love hearing from our listeners and welcome your emails at email@example.com. Tell us what you enjoy hearing on our podcast or suggest topics that we can cover in future episodes. Speaking of future episodes, I look forward to having you join us for the next episode of Westchester Words, when we’ll be having another engaging conversation about a topic of interest to the education, ed tech, and publishing communities. Until then, stay safe, be well, and stay tuned.
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