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Has ‘re-entry anxiety’ led to ‘flexi-schooling’?

New words for a new academic year and tips for learners and teachers

Parent teaching child at home
'flexi-schooling' - the teaching of children partly at home, usually by their parents, and partly at school

September signals the start of a new school year for millions of learners and teachers around the world. Over the last year, the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent shutdown of schools, colleges and universities globally has had a huge and unprecedented impact on the teachers, learners and researchers we serve. 

As many people are returning to a face-to-face learning environment this term, we’ve taken a look at some of the education-related new words that have been emerging. Our Cambridge Dictionary editors regularly monitor publications, the news, and social media to track new words and meanings that could eventually be added to the dictionary. Some of these include: 

•    flexi-schooling noun [U]
the teaching of children partly at home, usually by their parents, and partly at school

•    flexcation noun [C]
a holiday during which parents spend some of the time working from home and children are homeschooled, allowing the family to go away for a longer period than usual and at a time of year when they would not normally be able to go on holiday

•    microschool noun [C]
UK /ˈmaɪ.krəʊ.skuːl/ US /ˈmaɪ.kroʊ.skuːl/
a private school with a very small number of pupils in each class

One word that featured on the new words blog in July 2020 and has subsequently been added to the Cambridge Dictionary is hyflex (noun /ˈhaɪ.fleks/), defined as ‘a way of learning in which some students are physically present in class and others join the class at the same time via the internet’. Hyflex is short for hybrid flexible. 

“It’s always fascinating to see the way that language changes in response to events,” says Cambridge Dictionary publishing manager, Wendalyn Nichols. “The Covid-19 pandemic has driven the need for flexible learning environments and hybrid education models, and we can see this reflected in these new words.”

Our editors are also tracking new words and phrases about life returning to normal after Covid-19:

•    re-entry anxiety noun [U]
UK /ˌriːˈen.tri.æŋˌzaɪ.ə.ti/ US /ˌriːˈen.tri.æŋˌzaɪ.ə.t̬i/
a feeling of stress or worry about returning to normal life after the restrictions caused by COVID-19


•    lockdown foot noun [U]
UK /ˌlɒk.daʊn.fʊt/ US /ˌlɑːk.daʊn.fʊt/
a condition resulting from someone having spent lockdown at home in bare feet or slippers, allowing their feet to change shape and making it difficult or painful to wear normal shoes again


•    home separation anxiety noun [U]
UK /ˌhəʊm.sep.ᵊrˈeɪ.ʃᵊn.æŋˌzaɪ.ə.ti/ US /ˌhoʊm.sep.ərˈeɪ.ʃᵊn.æŋˌzaɪ.ə.t̬i/
a feeling of worry and fear about being away from home, especially as a reaction to having spent so much time at home during lockdown

It’s not just students who might be nervous about going back to school. Even the most experienced teachers can find starting a new year with new learners daunting, so our English Language Teaching team have been exploring ways to make returning to the classroom a little easier with some simple icebreaker ideas for teenage language learners. These include a get-to-know-you ‘Three truths and a lie’ game, working together on a new ‘class contract’ and exploring your coursebook through a fun quiz.

Whether you are in school, teaching from home, or adopting a blended approach, our education team have curated a range of tools and resources to help you deliver effective teaching and learning. These tools are designed to help identify any gaps in learners’ knowledge, measure their progress and highlight strengths and weaknesses.

For those starting university this year, our Cambridge Student Panel, made up of higher education students from around the world, have been sharing their 5 top tips on how to motivate yourself to study:
1.    Think about the bigger picture and how it will feel when you reach your goals
2.    Set up a study area without distractions to make it easier to focus
3.    Consider your daily and weekly routines and how you can still find time to fit in activities you enjoy 
4.    Reward yourself after completing important tasks/assignments
5.    Join a study group to connect with peers 

We’ve also carefully curated a selection of books covering a wide range of topics to prepare university students for the year ahead. The Good Student collection features almost 200 titles spanning 25 different subject areas. 

Have you used any of the new words above? Let us know by tweeting us at @CambPressAssess to join the conversation.

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