English Grammar in Schools: the English Experience
Englicious, a resource for teaching English grammar, is an example of how academics might reach out beyond the universtiy. Guest talk by Professor Bas Aarts (University College London)
Professor Bas Aarts, University College London, prime mover in the creation of Englicious
Englicious is an entirely free online library of original English language teaching resources! Check it out at http://www.englicious.org/
A key team member is Bas Aarts, Professor of English Linguistics; Director, Survey of English Usage; and current Vice-Dean for Enterprise at University College London.
One of the catchwords in academia today is accountability. This refers to the idea that universities should not just be teaching students and doing research, but they should also account for how they do so, and how successfully they do it. For a long time the UK has had a Research Excellence Framework (REF) by which all university departments are judged for the quality of their research output. Now there’s also a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), by which departments will be judged for their teaching quality, and soon there will be a Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF).
The REF has a component which assesses whether universities are making an ‘impact’. This refers to the extent to which their research makes a difference in the wider society which they are part of, as opposed to the impact they make within academia. What this means is that universities are expected to make an impact on the economy, public policy, culture and/or the quality of life. When the REF was first announced many academics were unhappy that they had to deliver impact. Many said that they were appointed to do teaching and research, but not to make an impact on society. What’s more, they argued that it is difficult to assess impact. Given the nature of academic research, for many academics it is not always easy to think of ways of making an impact, but it is crucially important, because from the next REF in 2021, 25% of the income that university departments receive from the central government will depend on their impact scores.
In my talk I will argue that delivering impact is not as daunting as it seems, and that there are interesting opportunities for academics to make their work more widely known outside their institutions. I will discuss how a team of linguists at the Survey of English Usage at UCL (University College London) have addressed the impact agenda by developing the Englicious project (www.englicious.org). This is a freely available web-based platform designed for UK school teachers to help them teach English grammar. It contains lesson plans, exercises, projects, videos and professional development materials, and it uses authentic examples from a corpus. In my talk I will demonstrate the functionality of Englicious, and how it can be used in educational settings, including universities.