I just came back from my last trip this year – a week-long tour in Austria from Vienna to Graz to Innsbruck. (By the way, what do you do if you’re travelling with four other people and you all miss the last train from Vienna to Graz where you have an event the next day and it’s too late to cancel the hotel booking there? Well, you rely on your local colleague to call the Vienna airport for a reasonably priced ‘people-carrier’ to take you and all your bags there to get in at around 2 o’clock—a.m.) I was doing the opening plenary talk at Cambridge Days in those three cities, speaking on the English Profile programme and particularly on the English Vocabulary Profile.
Now, English Profile is — as I’m sure you know, especially if you read my earlier blogs — a collaborative research programme involving Cambridge University Press, Cambridge ESOL, the British Council, the University of Bedfordshire and English UK designed to enhance the learning, teaching and assessment of English worldwide by using corpora to create a ‘profile’ or set of Reference Level Descriptions for English lexis, structures and functions linked to the Common European Framework (CEF).
English Vocabulary Profile is the aspect of the programme which is the furthest along and with the Austrian teachers we looked at how it will show which words and phrases learners know from A1 to C2 and assign CEF levels not just to the words themselves but also to each individual meaning or ‘sense’ of the word.
I was touring Austria with entre autres Leslie Anne Hendra, one of the co-authors of English Unlimited, a course whose vocabulary has now been mapped to the English Vocabulary Profile and for which you can download wordlists, as well as Vocabulary Extra worksheets, with English Vocabulary Profile tagging to be used in class or as homework to revise, to practice and to extend lexical sets from each level of the course.
At the end of each talk in Austria I offered the teachers—and am also offering you— an end-of-the-year or a Christmas present from Cambridge and the English Profile partners: a free subscription (for a limited time only) to the A1-B2 English Vocabulary Profile. I also invited the Austrian teachers – and am inviting you— to give a present to Cambridge and the English Profile partners by becoming an English Profile Network Partner. Get involved in data collection to help English Profile develop its new corpus of both spoken and written learner English produced by students worldwide!
Speaking of presents, I think I ‘m going to give myself a Christmas present from Cambridge: a copy of the new Duels and Duets: Why Men and Women Talk So Differently by John L. Locke which has apparently caused a lot of media buzz since it purports to reveal the real ‘evolutionary’ origins of communication differences between men and women. Maybe I’ll risk writing about that controversial subject in a blog post … next year.
Season’s greetings to those of you for whom this time of the year is special — and all the best to all for 2012!
Gary Anderson, Cambridge ELT International Teacher Trainer