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April 2024 - Year 26 - Issue 2

ISSN 1755-9715

Down the Memory Lane

This year Humanising Language Teaching (HLT) is 25 years old! How the time flies! It seems only so recently that late Jim Wright, Principal of Pilgrims, contributed his text 20 Years of HLT.

Humanising Language Teaching was founded in February 1999 by Mario Rinvolucri, co-founder of Pilgrims which was the hotbed of teacher training and teaching in an innovative way. At that time Pilgrims had been operating for 25 years during which it had made its mark and sent ripples through the EFL world. Also our sister magazine, The Teacher Training Journal (TTTJ) edited by Tessa Woodward was already making its mark on the ELT scene.

In his first editorial Mario defined the missions statement in the following words: “The humanistic movement is gathering strength, and this new Pilgrims initiative is a further sign of the times. The magazine succeeds if it becomes a genuine humanistic forum.”

Mario, who was one of the leading trainers and a key Pilgrims figure initially harvested articles form the people knew personally - people he published with or who were Pilgrim’s trainers or just friends of Pilgrims. The names in the first issues are Paul Davis, Micheal Rundell, Jane Arnold, Bonnie Tsai, Simon Marshall, Seth Lindstromberg, John Morgan, Mike Lavery, Christine Frank just to name a few. They in themselves spell the history of EFL and Pilgrims.

Gradually the circle of contributors widened and the HLT authors were now also teachers who attended Pilgrims courses or teachers he met during his uncountable trips overseas. During breaks or at meals you could see Mario in intense conversations with conference goers or course participants, most of which ended with the words: Why don’t you write it up for HLT? I suppose if you tried hard you could trace what courses Mario delivered at Pilgrims, what conferences he attended or training sessions or courses he delivered worldwide. HLT was making ripples.

With the years passing and Mario gaining momentum with the magazine, the size of the mag grew from around 10 contributions to 20 or more. In some way, Mario was the victim of his own success. I believe, with all Mario’s engagements the mag became too absorbing and too time consuming to keep up the standard and run this high-quality magazine up to the mark.

So, in the summer of 2005, he had this serious conversation with me in which he offered me the job of HLT editor. He said he felt I was “his soul sister” and that HLT would be in safe hands with me. After some serious thinking and seeking colleagues’ and friends’ advice I consented. In March 2006 I published the first HLT issue I edited. In his part of the editorial Mario introduced me and explained his reasons why he handed over to me. But he did not disappear from the scene; initially he read every issue of HLT I edited, commented on it and was outright in his praise or criticism.

In his editorial he wished me “success as editor over the next few years”. The next few years have become seventeen years. In my hands the magazine has changed several times both in the terms of layout and organisation, but the biggest change was in August 2018. The less visible change was the gradual shift in who the contributors have been, the size of the magazine and the number of hosted issues - hosted by teachers’ organisations, universities, countries, or regions. Overall, we can say that HLT has been very effective animating teachers and encouraging them to grow and develop. (See article by Stefan Rathert and Zühal Okanon published in ELTJ: Writing for publication as a tool in teacher development).

Now we are celebrating HLT’s 25th birthday. It comes in times when humanism in language teaching may look threatened by AI and various uses of ChatGPT. Can we defend humanism against the invasion of machines? I believe, one of the missions of the mag and all of us teachers is to save humanism. I am sure you have an idea or suggestion. So as Mario used to say: Why don’t you write it up for HLT?

Note: A version of this text appeared in TTJ.

  • Congratulations to HLT Magazine
    Till Gins, Lead Officer, Pilgrims

  • Happy 25th Birthday to Pilgrims Humanising Language Teaching from the Pilgrims Teacher Trainer Journal
    Phil Dexter, UK

  • Down the Memory Lane
    Hanna (Hania) Kryszewska, Poland

  • Humanism in Language Teaching: Roots and Practices
    Rod Bolitho, UK

  • Humanizing the Teacher
    Carol Griffiths, New Zealand