Vicki Hollett, Lewis Lansford and Gareth Rees: 21st Century Skills for ELT

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The Pearson signature event focused on three of the four Cs; communication and collaboration; creativity; and critical thinking.


Each panelist shared their views as to why each C was the most important.


1. Communication and collaboration


Vicki Hollett focused on communication and collaboration. Vicki noted that the degree of collaboration in the modern technological world is much greater than before.


She noted that it is now important not only to speak English but more importantly to be likeable in English. She also suggested that this would require a shift towards more focus on discourse.


This may be possible through…


- Provision of more context,

- Aim for clarity above accuracy,

- Explore ambiguity.


The essence of interpersonal communicative competence is to ‘be human’.


2. Creativity


Lewis Lansford discussed creativity. He addressed three questions:


Who is creative?


We associate creativity with the arts: most people would characterize an office job as something creative.


Why should this be so? Creating something like a financial report is equally creative, as it is a human quality shared by all of us. Consequently, everyone is


What is creativity?


It involves making something that has value. In language teaching terms, it is about producing language.


Do we need to include it in our teaching?


Yes, it’s all about taking the tools of grammar and the material of vocabulary and making it something new.


3. Critical thinking


Gareth Rees looked at critical thinking, which involves questioning, analysing and evaluating, which he sees as all being inherent to language learning.


How does it appear in classes?


- Explicit skill focus / development

- Learning about critical thinking


Gareth argued that it enhances acquisition as it involves…


- Eclectic contextual approach,

- Communicative meaningfulness,

- Learning styles / affective factors

- Cognitive involvement

- Clear linguistic role


Critical thinking is the foundation for other skills.