Cover of current issue of English Teaching ForumEnglish Teaching Forum is a scholarly journal published four times a year (January, April, July, and October) by the U.S. Department of State and distributed abroad through U.S. embassies for the benefit of overseas teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL). It is also available online through the State Department’s American English Web site.

Most of the authors published in the Forum are classroom teachers. These are some of the types of information that have appeared over the years:

  • Stories and articles about American history and culture
  • News of English-teaching activities around the world
  • Technical articles about linguistics
  • Practical information about classroom techniques, including lesson plans and other suggestions
  • Information about language labs, programmed learning, and other methods of study
  • Discussion of specific language-learning problems
  • Games, puzzles, songs, skits, and other activities for learning and practicing English
  • Reviews of relevant books and software
Popular topics of the day are often used as starting points for language practice.

History

In 1953, President Eisenhower established the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) to promote U.S. policies overseas through news publications and broadcasts, as well as through educational and cultural exchange activities. Taking advantage of the burgeoning postwar interest in learning English, which was turning into the quasi-official language of modern democratic principles and the free market system, USIA began to sponsor various projects to promote the study of the English language in foreign countries and to improve the skills of EFL teachers. Many people teaching English in foreign countries had limited knowledge of the language themselves and little or no training in how to teach it.

In 1962, USIA experimented with publishing three issues of the English Teaching Newsletter, which contained scholarly research articles, teaching guides, and lesson plans prepared by English teaching professionals. So enthusiastic was the international response that the agency committed itself to publishing a regular quarterly journal of “facts and ideas for the teacher of English as a foreign language,” entitled English Teaching Forum, beginning in March of 1963.

Forum soon became the leading professional magazine in its field, evolving from the quaint black-and-white issues of the 1960s into a glossy, full-color magazine frequently enhanced with inserted supplements such as wall-size posters and vinyl flexi disc phonograph records. At its peak of popularity in the 1990s, Forum circulation reached a high of approximately 125,000 readers.

The USIA was abolished effective October 1, 1999, and its exchange and non-broadcasting information functions were transferred to the newly created Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Issues of Forum published from 2001 to the present are available online through the State Department’s American English Web site, which also features many other resources for EFL teachers and students. Paper issues are still available overseas through the local embassy, and within the United States through the Government Publishing Office (GPO), but copies are no longer distributed to depository libraries, and circulation of the hard copy version has dwindled. Still, over 85,000 copies continue to be distributed, in more than 130 countries.

Sample issues of English Teaching Forum, with sample of vinyl flexi disc record.

Availability

English Teaching Forum was primarily intended as an overseas publication and a tool for furthering American diplomatic relations, so copies haven’t always been made consistently available within the U.S. Our collection at UNT has one large gap and is also missing several individual issues.

Paper copies at the UNT Libraries

The Government Information Connection @ Eagle Commons Library has paper copies of the earliest issues, from March 1963 to March–May 1967, under call number IA 1.17:[vol./no.] .

There is a lengthy gap in our collection until October 1980, by which time President Jimmy Carter had combined the USIA with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational Cultural Affairs to create a new agency called the U.S. International Communication Agency (USICA). Because of this agency reorganization, our issues from October 1980 to July 1982 are shelved under call number ICA 1.11:[vol./no.].

The name of the agency was changed back to the U.S.Information Agency in August 1982. Our paper copies from October 1982 to January 2000 are again shelved under call number IA 1.17:[vol./no.]

Online copies

After the demise of the USIA, English Teaching Forum was published by the U.S. Department of State. We have issues from July 2000 to January 2011 under the call number S 21.15:[vol./no.]. No paper copies have been received at UNT since the first issue of 2011.

Articles from 1993 to 1999 are available at the defunct USIA Web site, which still available as an archive but is no longer maintained or updated. Several features of the paper publication, including the Idiom Page (examples of idioms related to a theme in the issue), the Lighter Side (humorous anecdotes, jokes, and fun with language), Teacher Resources (book and software reviews), special inserts and posters, and articles or sections of articles that include copyrighted material, are not available in the online version.

Issues from 2001 to the present are available at the Department of State’s American English Web site. To find a particular article or issue, select the year it appeared, search by keyword, or browse by pedagogical category, skills, or type of content. The site also includes alternative formats such as audio and video files, posters, and puzzles and games.

Scanned copies of selected issues (minus the multimedia supplements) can be found in the HathiTrust Digital Library. Select “this exact phrase” and search “English Teaching Forum” in the Title field.

Article by Bobby Griffith.

Comments are closed.