Global practices in teaching English to young learners: 10 years on

Funded by The British Council.

Collaboration with Aston University.

Just over ten years ago, we designed a project, funded by the British Council, to investigate global practices in teaching English to young learners. In 2009, teaching English to children was something of a Cinderella subject in the academic literature, with few books on the subject and only a small number of peer reviewed articles published. At the same time, the number of children learning English globally was growing as more and more countries introduced learning English to primary schools. The research team was interested in this phenomenon and how teaching English to children in schools around the world was practised. Our project (Garton, Copland and Burns, 2011) suggested that while there were significant disparities between contexts in terms of, for example, resources and class sizes, teachers around the world had much in common, including the many of the activities they used, as well as a desire for training in teaching English to young learners, struggles with teaching speaking skills and maintaining discipline. Ten years on, research interest in the field has greatly developed. A number of scholars are now researching in the area and it is no longer unusual for journals to publish work focusing on early English language learning. Even more children are learning English and from younger ages. This project investigates what has changed in the intervening years. Is training still limited for teachers? What activities do teachers introduce in class? Are the challenges they face the same? What can teachers learn from each other?
Drawing on data from a global survey and case studies of primary schools in fourteen countries, the project aims to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the main learning and teaching activities that teachers use in their day-to-day practices and have they changed over the last ten years?
  2. How do teachers teach speaking, manage large classes, practise differentiation, enhance motivation and maintain effective discipline?
  3. What are TEYL teachers’ perceptions of their roles and responsibilities, including the challenges they face? Have these changed over the last ten years?
  4. Which local solutions to pedagogical issues have potential for global relevance?
  5. Who is teaching young learners and what training do they receive?
  6. Are recent research findings reflected in how EELL is practised? Findings from the project will be published in the Autumn of 2021 by the British Council.

Total award value £19,489.00


Professor Fiona Copland
Professor Fiona Copland

Professor, Education

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