Innovation with English Language teacher education

Contributed by:
Through this stream of our work, we work with local and international partners with the aim of providing an evidence base for interventions and innovations that work in language teaching and teacher education.
1. Innovation in English Language
Teacher Education
Edited by George Pickering
and Professor Paul Gunashekar
Selected papers from the fourth
International Teacher Educator Conference
Hyderabad, India
21–23 February 2014
2. Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
Selected papers from the fourth International Teacher Educator Conference
Hyderabad, India
21–23 February 2014
Edited by George Pickering and Professor Paul Gunashekar
ISBN 978-0-86355-765-1
© British Council 2015
British Council
17 Kasturba Gandhi Marg
New Delhi 110001
2 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
3. Michael Connolly 7
Paul Gunashekar 9
George Pickering 13
OVERVIEW: Innovation in English language teacher education
Teacher research for professional development
Simon Borg 23
Teacher development as the future of teacher education
Rama Mathew 29
Innovation in the provision of pre-service education and
training for English language teachers: issues and concerns
Julian Edge and Steve Mann 38
THEME ONE: Innovations in Continuing Professional Development
for English language teacher educators and teachers
The House of Dos and Don’ts: teachers, self-access and
learner autonomy
Andy Keedwell and Sayed Najeem 49
Generating content through online collaborative writing: a study
Arindam Sengupta 56
Using Web 2.0 tools for teacher professional
development: a case study
Santosh Mahapatra 65
Professional development programme for British Council
Training Consultants – KELTEP 2013
Shefali Kulkarni and Allwyn D’Costa 73
Mobile embedded self-study materials for CPD: the use of
English language for teachers (EL4T) in Bangladesh
Farhan Azim and Mir Md. Saifur Rahman 79
‘The Jamaican Fragment’: using video to add a new
dimension to the lesson
Ravinarayan Chakrakodi 87
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 3
4. THEME TWO: Learning from experience
Critical reflection for Continuing Professional Development:
using the SOAP strategy to analyse pedagogical experience
Padmini Boruah 97
Tasks as tools to trigger reflection in pre-service teachers
K. Padmini Shankar 105
Using evaluation criteria to plan writing performance: a study
of pre-service teachers of English
Lina Mukhopadhyay 116
Facebook Interaction (FBI) and essay writing pre-task: Yemeni
EFL students’ perceptions, attitudes and challenges
Mohialdeen Alotumi 125
Assessment literacy for teachers: how to identify and write
a good test
Elaine Boyd 134
Innovations in pre-service second language teacher
education for the elementary level in West Bengal
Kuheli Mukherjee 140
The role of printed materials in promoting reflection in
distance ELT teacher education programmes
Pranjana Kalita Nath 148
Developing academic reading skills through strategy training
Sruti Akula 156
Reciprocal teaching in a pre-service teacher education context
Susmita Pani 164
Modifying ELT tasks to include the blind/visually impaired:
an exploration at the tertiary level
Shree Deepa 170
English language teacher educators’ feedback experience
as a teaching-learning tool in Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria
Alice Udosen and Wisdom Jude 176
The use of observation – feedback cycles as a method of teachers’
continuous professional development in the context of TE:ST
Joy Townsend 184
Defossilising the errors of ESL learners through feedback
Sanjay Arora 192
4 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
5. Teaching ESL beginners effectively using corpus linguistics
and the lexical approach
Adam Scott 199
Teaching science through co-operative learning strategies
Geetika Saluja 213
THEME THREE: Technological resources for language education
The Pedagogy of Collaboration: teaching effectively within
an evolving technology landscape
Dawn Bikowski 223
Digital literacies
Nicky Hockly 232
Do online group tasks promote effective collaborative
learning experiences? Teacher perceptions
Meera Srinivas 237
Reflective feedback using video recordings in ELT
pre-service teacher training programmes
Bose Vasudevan 249
Using audio lessons for the visually impaired in inclusive
classrooms: an exploratory study
Priyank Varma and Madhavi Gayathri Raman 254
Testing reading abilities of the visually impaired using
Ramraj M 261
Technology-mediated language teaching through a Kindle-based
mobile learning initiative in India: the access experience
Raashid Nehal 267
Exploring whole class to one feedback and revision using
technology in a writing classroom
Akhil Jha 275
Contributors 284
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 5
6. 6 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
7. Michael Connolly, Assistant Director English Partnerships,
British Council India
The theme of the 2014 edition of the Teacher Educators Conference was
'Innovation in English Language Teacher Education'. In the field of English language
teacher education, any innovation has to be practical. It has to meet the needs
of the teacher educators it is aimed at, but more importantly it must develop
skills and knowledge which will improve the quality of teaching in the classroom
and ultimately impact on learner outcomes. Innovation can be revolutionary and
abrupt, but more often it is part of an evolutionary process: small, forward-thinking
changes that cumulatively have a big effect.
Though I have worked for the British Council for over 13 years, and in countries
as varied as Jordan, Japan and Spain, I often tell colleagues that I had two distinct
careers: one before I arrived in India and the other one which started the moment
I landed in Delhi. When I arrived in India in 2011 I was thrown into the deep end,
developing the concept of what would become the Bihar Language Initiative
for Secondary Schools (BLISS) – a teacher education project funded by the UK
Department for International Development (DfID). This has grown to be one of our
most high-profile projects, thanks to the work of local colleagues and the support
we receive from the Bihar state government and DfID. Working on BLISS, I have
not only experienced the real India first hand, with all its excitement, diversity and
challenges, but also saw from close quarters both revolutionary and evolutionary
innovation at play.
At the start of the project, fewer than 5% of our teacher educators had email
addresses. Very few had access to the Internet, mediated by clunky desktops,
expensive laptops and landline-based modems in a region with variable power
Within a short few years, our team witnessed almost every teacher educator going
online thanks to the sweeping changes brought in by the smartphone revolution
in India. Teacher educators – and much of Bihar’s population as a whole –
leapfrogged intermediate technologies and started speeding along the information
highway on their handheld devices.
This change allowed us to make a number of innovative changes to the way that
we communicated with the teacher educators. We started communicating key
project information by text message and began a Facebook group, bringing the
geographically dispersed team together in an online community. Knowledge
and information sharing became much easier. Technology also enabled us
to assess and evaluate the impact of our training more effectively as teacher
educators shared their experiences more quickly and we experimented with using
technology to collect monitoring and evaluation data.
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 7
8. But innovation is not always centred around technology. As a teacher and teacher
educator, I firmly believe that every lesson and every training session has the
potential to be innovative as each lesson or session is unique. Each lesson builds
on previous knowledge and introduces something new. Many of the papers
presented at the 2014 Teacher Educator Conference were focused on sharing
experiences and delegates and speakers alike debated the merit of different
approaches and collected ideas to fuel their own innovative practices.
At the same time, it’s important to recognise that innovation cannot be thrust
upon unwilling participants. Often, there is good reason for participants to resist
top-down initiatives, however innovative their proponents believe them to be. This
is particularly so in education. Participatory events such as this year’s conference
can go some way towards ensuring a feeling of ownership as the participants
construct their own knowledge and understanding of innovation as a concept, and
the potential for innovating within their own sphere of work.
One obvious measure of the relevance of the theme of a conference is the
participation of the target audience during the event. By that reckoning, our 2014
conference was an unqualified success with over 110 speakers delivering sessions
attended by 1,200 delegates from 27 countries. Our webcast sessions reached a
further 3,012 viewers from 104 countries across the globe.
The choice of the conference theme and the decisions around the relevant
sub-themes were made along with our colleagues at the English and Foreign
Languages University, Hyderabad, without whom not only this but previous editions
of the Teacher Educator Conference would not have been possible.
We have published select presentations from all three previous Teacher Educator
Conferences. However, this publication is not merely one more in a series, but part
of the British Council’s ongoing and expanding work in English language policy,
research and publications, a critical area of our activity in India and worldwide.
Through this stream of our work, we work with local and international partners with
the aim of providing an evidence base for interventions and innovations that work
in language teaching and teacher education.
All our publications, including this one, are freely available for download from our
I would love to hear from you and your colleagues about this volume and our other
8 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
9. Paul Gunashekar, Professor, The English and Foreign
Languages University, Hyderabad
Innovations can cover a very broad range of areas – some of which may
include methods for systematic assessment of student learning, improved
teacher training, innovative pedagogies in the classroom including those
that leverage technology in the classroom, supplemental instruction for
first-generation learners, methods for improving teacher motivation and
effectiveness, and methods for leveraging resources from third parties for
improving education (Twelfth Five Year Plan Vol 3: 65).
I am delighted to be associated with the publication of a select clutch of papers
presented at the Teacher Educator Conference 2014 (TEC14), co-hosted by the
British Council and my university, EFLU. The theme of the conference – Innovation
in English Language Teacher Education – was an excellent choice because it
has been an essential attribute in the profile of both institutions and in teacher
education enterprises across the country.
The National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (2009) in India
posits: ‘Any system, in order to be forward looking, must be bold in encouraging
experimentation and innovation and also be involved with [a] constant review
of the outcomes of such efforts. The field of teacher education should be no
exception’ (p. 83). By choosing innovation as its central focus, TEC14 hoped to
provide a forum for teacher educators and teachers of English to showcase
their innovative practices in the training classroom and the language classroom
respectively. Given the extraordinary diversity of teaching contexts in India, the
practices and experiences that were highlighted at the conference would have
equipped the delegates with skills and strategies to deploy creatively in solving
common classroom problems that they as practitioners regularly confront.
English in India represents a wide range of use and ownership: from a foreign
language through to a second language and a first language. Consequently, the
contexts in which English is taught reflect this range and diversity, and have
implications for the teacher’s linguistic proficiency and professional competence.
In this regard, the National Focus Group on the Teaching of English Position Paper
(2006) envisions the route teacher education should take: ‘Teacher education
needs to be ongoing and onsite as well as preparatory. Emphasis must be laid
on teacher proficiency in or familiarity with the language, as the teacher is
often a role model […] Proficiency and professional awareness are equally to be
promoted, the latter to be imparted where necessary through the teachers’ own
languages’ (p. 14). The National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education
(2009) elaborates this national vision of teacher education by foregrounding five
principles that should inform the enterprise: the integrative and eclectic nature
of teacher education; its liberal, humanistic and non-didactic underpinnings; its
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 9
10. multicultural and context-sensitive facets; the necessity for it to be transacted in
a diversity of learning spaces and curriculum sites apart from the classroom; and,
most importantly, reflective practice to be its chief aim. ‘Pedagogical knowledge
has to constantly undergo adaptation to meet the needs of diverse contexts
through critical reflection by the teacher on his/her practices’ (pp. 19-20). TEC14
was therefore a suitable occasion for the delineation of the five principles.
Of the 39 central universities in India, EFLU is unique in its conception and
function: a university that has over two hundred faculty members across three
campuses, all of whom have specialised in different aspects of language study and
language education. From small beginnings 56 years ago as the Central Institute of
English, we have now become synonymous with Indian ELT. A key mandate of EFLU
is to train language teachers in methods and approaches appropriate to the Indian
context, and it has been in the vanguard of teacher education enterprises and
research since its founding. This is an opportunity to highlight the more innovative
work that the university has been doing in the area of teacher education and
language teaching.
EFLU innovative practices
ELTI Support Scheme
The English Language Teaching Institutes Support Scheme (ELTISS), a Government
of India sponsored project, was launched in 1985 at the beginning of the seventh
Five-Year Plan and has continued since. English Language Teaching Institutes
are set up by the state governments; however, central assistance is provided to
augment state resources for teacher development at the school level. Currently,
there are 15 State Institutes of English and two Regional Institutes of English.
EFLU monitors the academic programmes of the 17 ELTIs, and provides academic
support to them in the form of syllabus design, materials development and train-
the-trainer courses.
District Centre Scheme
Begun in 1985, the District Centre Scheme (DCS) is a UGC-sponsored programme
that aims to impart saturation-level training to teachers of English in secondary
schools so that a qualitative improvement can be made in the teaching of English
across the country. At present there are 14 centrally-funded and 15 state-run
District Centres spread across the country. These centres are staffed by resource
persons who have received specialized training at EFLU.
CELT in Sri Lanka
In 2009 India and Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish
the Sri Lanka-India Centre for English Language Training (SLICELT). Under the MoU,
the Government of India appointed EFLU as the technical consultant for the project
and funded the deputation of two experts from EFLU to SLICELT for a period of two
years. In addition, a Digital Language Laboratory was set up in Sri Lanka with the
assistance of the Government of India.
10 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
11. CELTs in other countries
EFLU has been identified as the nodal agency for setting up permanent centres
for English language training abroad. As part of this initiative, CELTs have
been established in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam with the objective
of equipping teachers of English, students, civil servants, professionals and
businesspersons in these countries with adequate English language and
communication skills. Two experts were deputed from the university to each of
these centres for two years to launch turnkey projects.
International Training Programme
In the last decade the university has developed into a renowned training centre
for foreign professionals seeking to improve their proficiency in English. It has set
up an International Training Programme (ITP), which offers the course Progress
to Proficiency three times a year. ITP receives its impetus from ITEC/SCAAP
scholarships offered by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, to
developing countries in Africa, South Asia, South-East Asia, Central Asia and South
Teacher education programmes
For the last three decades, EFLU has regularly organized teacher education
programmes for teachers of English in schools affiliated to national and state
organizations: the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangatan, the Navodaya Vidyalaya Sangatan,
the Andhra Pradesh Residential Schools Society, the Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare
Residential Educational Institutions Society, and the Andhra Pradesh Tribal Welfare
Residential Schools Society. The university has signed an MoU with the Kendriya
Vidyalaya Sangatan to train a large number of teachers of English and develop
teaching and training materials.
EFLU-British Council partnership
I cannot overestimate the immense potential for an abiding partnership between
the British Council and an institution that has a stake in languages and language
education. Of immediate relevance is TEC14 as well as the Directory of ELT
Research in India – both outcomes of the close ties between the two organizations.
Research into English language teaching is visibly on the increase in India.
However, there has been little attempt to compile information about and ascertain
the value of the research that is being undertaken. It is therefore gratifying that
the two organizations and the University of Warwick have initiated a partnership to
engage in a survey of ELT research in India from 2005 to date. An EFLU team has
compiled a directory of ELT research that was carried out at the university itself
between 2005 and 2013. This initiative is a step towards the larger survey planned
and is the first tangible output of the collaborative project.
In this regard, I am underlining the prospective opportunity for even closer
collaboration with the British Council on the basis of two factors. Firstly, the
rich source of ELT research in India as demonstrated by EFLU’s contribution.
And secondly, the findings of the British Council’s timely online study titled ELT
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 11
12. Partnerships in India that was conducted recently. If our endeavour to establish
sustainable collaboration does succeed, the results will be most rewarding. As the
British Council online study has established, the impact on the ELT practitioner
would manifest itself in terms of academic and professional development while
the impact on the institution would be demonstrated in terms of capacity building,
professional networking, and increased understanding of different cultures.
The initial funding for the Central Institute of English came from the Ford
Foundation, and, notably, faculty support from the British Council in the form
of Bruton, Barron and George – the big three of British ELT at the time. We are
therefore delighted that 56 years later the relationship between the university and
the British Council continues to flourish. The landmark TEC14 conference and this
ensuing publication are a celebration of the many successes in teacher education
that we have enjoyed, and a timely reminder of what remains to be done.
In Five Minds for the Future (2008), Howard Gardner indentifies innovation and
creativity as central to education. He describes the disciplined mind and the
synthesizing mind before introducing the creating mind. He says that in the future
anyone who aspires to success will need to master at least one discipline and learn
to work steadily over time to improve skill and understanding. The synthesizers
will need to be able to obtain information from disparate sources, understand
and evaluate that information objectively and put it together in ways that work for
themselves and for other persons. Using discipline and synthesis as the base, the
creating mind ‘puts forth new ideas, poses unfamiliar questions, conjures up fresh
ways of thinking, and arrives at unexpected answers’ (p. 3). Happily, TEC14 brought
together a host of creating minds.
Gardner, Howard (2008) Five Minds for the Future. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard
Business School Publishing.
Government of India (2012) Twelfth Five Year Plan. Available at: http://
National Curriculum Framework 2005 Position Paper: National Focus Group on the
Teaching of English (2006) New Delhi: NCERT.
National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (2009) New Delhi: NCTE.
12 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
13. George Pickering, Education Consultant and Academic Lead
Consultant for the TEC14 Conference
This publication is born out of the ongoing shared interest and partnership of the
British Council India and the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
in exploring the key role of teacher educators in English language teaching
and learning. Previous collaboration, with the support of IATEFL (International
Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) and ELTAI (English
Language Teachers’ Association of India), has led to three previous conferences
and publications related to teacher education issues (2011-2013).
One of the key issues confronting policy makers, academics, teacher educators
and teachers is how to plan, implement, evaluate and sustain effectively innovation
from the policy to the classroom levels. Nicholls (1983) defines innovation as ‘an
object or practice perceived as new by an individual or individuals, which seeks to
introduce improvements in relation to the desired goals, and that is planned and
deliberate’. Despite the passage of time this definition remains valid today. Edge
and Mann (2013: 5) point out that a new idea is in itself not an innovation:
Innovation demands concentration on process; it demands that we pay as
much attention to how we teach or train as to which topics get covered
along the way, or the tools that we employ.
They go on to suggest that whether an activity counts as an innovation depends
on where and when that action takes place. An activity can count as an innovation
if it is new-in-context, so the introduction of peer observations – an established
practice in some contexts – might be considered as an innovation in a situation
where it has not taken place previously.
The 2014 Teacher Educator Conference – ‘Innovation in English Language Teacher
Education’, held in Hyderabad from 21 to 23 February 2014, sought to examine the
concept and practices of innovation from different perspectives.
The principal themes explored at the conference were:
1. Innovations in Continuing Professional Development for English language
teacher educators and teachers
• technology and CPD
• social media and networking for CPD
• online and face-to-face mentoring
• teacher motivation through technology
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 13
14. 2. Learning from experience
• reflection as a tool for growth
• classroom-based research
• alternative practices in assessment and evaluation
• feedback as a teaching-learning tool
3. Technological resources for language education
• m-learning in teacher education
• online teacher education
• interface of technological and traditional resources
• digital course design and delivery
• technology for inclusive and special education
• technology enabled in-service teacher training (INSETT).
The challenges confronting educators in effecting innovations is well documented
(Waters 2009; Wedell 2009). Rather than focusing on learning lessons from
the sometimes catatastrophic, sometimes heroic past failures of innovation
in education, the conference sought to highlight the examples of successful
good practices and effective implementations that might have applications
and implications for innovation attempts elsewhere. The conference was an
opportunity for leading academics, teachers, students, managers, teacher
educators, researchers and policy makers to discuss and debate their
perspectives and experiences on innovation through a variety of conference
forums, including a keynote address, plenaries, featured talks, panel discussions, a
debate, presentations, workshops, poster presentations and informal networking.
Many of the conference sessions were web broadcast to a wider audience who
could contribute to conference discussions through tweets and Facebook posts.
The collection of papers in this publication reflects the diverse backgrounds,
contexts and perspectives assembled at the conference. One of the most notable
features of many of the papers is that they are based on bottom-up, grass roots
research conducted by practitioners in their own classroom contexts. As Waters
(2014) has pointed out, this kind of research is often not captured in the formal
innovations literature. In many cases practitioners, whose research is reported in
this publication, experimented with a new methodology or technology using an
action research methodology and recorded the results of their interventions for
the benefit of themselves, their students and other stakeholders.
Fullan (2007) and others have viewed innovating as comprising three broad
1. initiation (deciding to go ahead with an innovation),
2. implementation (attempting to put the innovation into practice), and
3. institutionalisation (seeking to achieve sustainability).
Most of the papers in these proceedings fall into the first two categories.
14 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
15. The contributions to this publication have been classified into four parts:
The Overview section presents the plenary talks which address themes that
cover more than one sub-theme of the conference including teacher research,
CPD practice and research in India and elsewhere and innovations in pre-service
INSETT. Simon Borg’s paper, based on his keynote plenary talk at the conference,
examines teacher research as a strategy for professional development which
teachers can apply in their working contexts. The key questions he seeks to
address are:
1. What is teacher research?
2. What does doing teacher research involve?
3. Why is teacher research a valuable activity for English language teachers?
Rama Mathew examines the extent to which education policies support teachers’
continuing professional development (CPD). She reviews some models of teacher
development that are in use in and outside India. She then revisits some of the CPD
work she has personally been involved in. Her examples help to indicate what kind
of CPD work is meaningful to teachers and what is sustainable. She believes that
an approach that creates opportunities for reflection and theorising from practice,
while continuing to learn about language teaching/learning and about teacher
development, is satisfying and sustaining.
Julian Edge and Steve Mann reflect on how successful innovations have been
in ELT in their paper entitled ‘Innovation in the provision of pre-service education
and training for English language teachers: issues and concerns’. They explore
the meaning of the notion of innovation and discuss some of the themes of their
recent book on pre-service innovations. The authors also invite us to reflect on our
role as teacher educators and whether or not we are reviewing our own practice
and location in a world of hegemony.
Theme one discusses various aspects of innovations in CPD for teacher educators
and teachers.
Andy Keedwell and Sayed Najeem review the introduction of self-access systems
in two contexts, Ethiopia and Afghanistan, where self-access and autonomy
remain unfamiliar concepts. They propose ways in which the potential obstacles to
effective implementation can be mitigated through systematic CPD and examine in
depth the rationale, design and impact of a CPD programme designed to support
all involved with self-access systems.
Arindam Sengupta reports on a project he conducted in a government
Bengali-medium school in Kolkata. Language learning content was generated
by encouraging a group of young ESL learners to write in an online students’
magazine. His findings indicate that, by engaging with the collaborative writing
task, the learners generated content through a relevant lexical search and
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 15
16. writing coherent paragraphs to describe and/or interpret the artworks. Santosh
Mahapatra outlines a case study of an online teacher development programme
that focused on familiarising a group of ESL teachers located in diverse contexts
with Web 2.0 tools for language teaching purposes. One of the most important
pedagogical implications of the study is that Web 2.0-enabled online teacher
education holds great potential in ESL contexts like India, but that it should be
conducted carefully and in consultation with teachers.
Shefali Kulkarni and Allwyn D’Costa outline an innovation in continuing
professional development for British Council training consultants working on
the Karnataka English Language Teacher Education Project (KELTEP) and review
its impact on their development. The paper aims to motivate both individual
practitioners as well as heads of institutions to think of collaborative and individual
tasks for the development of training consultants. Farhan Azim and Mir Md. Saifur
Rahman report on their research into the suitability of self-study materials used by
teachers in a CPD programme for primary school teachers involved in the English
in Action educational programme implemented in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Ravinarayan
Chakrakodi discusses teacher motivation through the use of a video film that was
prepared on a particular text used in the Grade VIII English textbook being used
in government schools in Karnataka. The impact of the video on the teaching-
learning processes in the classroom was analysed and presented in the paper.
Theme two explores learning from experience including reflection as a tool
for growth, classroom-based research, alternative practices in assessment and
evaluation and feedback as a teaching and learning tool.
Padmini Boruah reviews the SOAP procedure (Subjective/Objective/Analysis/
Planning) as an effective model for critical reflection that makes practitioners
analyse their experience by revisiting it critically and referring it to research in
the field before planning the next step in their development. She argues that
critical reflection helps professionals question their pedagogical practices
through objective procedures, thus leading to healthier classroom interaction and
continuous professional development. K. Padmini Shankar reviews the role of
tasks in triggering reflection in pre-service teachers. Four tasks related to critical
moments in the classroom are used to encourage trainees to reflect on the actions
that they would take. Her findings indicate that tasks related to critical classroom
moments have the potential to trigger reflection and prepare pre-service teachers
to face challenges in their future careers.
Lina Mukhopadhyay’s contribution explores the use of evaluation criteria as a
scaffolding device to help adult ESL learners plan their writing performance. Her
findings indicate that if teachers design, share, and train learners to use evaluation
criteria to plan their performance, then learners will be more likely to experience
academic benefits. Mohialdeen Alotumi investigates Yemeni EFL students’
perceptions, attitudes and challenges on integrating Facebook Interaction (FBI)
to improve their essay writing. The teacher researcher conducted their study to
16 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
17. uncover what would allow students to improve their writing skills in a Yemeni EFL
Elaine Boyd’s reflective paper is designed to help teachers identify and write
good tests. The paper describes the importance of validity, reliability and impact
and considers their relationship to ethical practice and how this impacts on the
teacher’s responsibility to their students.
Kuheli Mukherjee reviews a recently revised curriculum for the Diploma in
Elementary Teacher Education in West Bengal designed to improve the quality
of English teaching. The researcher investigates the current reality of Second
Language Teacher Education (SLTE) at the elementary level to explore the
conditions necessary for successful implementation of the innovations. The paper
discusses three areas: content, approach and the evaluation of elementary SLTE,
where innovations have been proposed.
Pranjana Kalita Nath’s paper focuses on promoting reflective skills among
trainee teachers for their professional growth in distance ELT teacher education
programmes. It is an attempt to analyse how activities in print materials in such
programmes can be designed effectively to stimulate reflection, as these are still
the dominant medium of instruction in distance ELT programmes in India. The
paper offers some suggestions on how teacher support can be built into distance-
learning print materials to encourage trainees to reflect.
Sruti Akula argues that explicit strategy training can be used to develop the
higher-order academic reading skills of adult learners. She reports on research in
which college students were asked to read a range of texts and guided to match
strategies with reading purposes. The learners used a variety of strategies such
as predicting, re-reading, underlining and listing key ideas to comprehend texts
at both factual and inferential levels. Susmita Pani also refers to the reading
problems that many students have at the university level, as they have very limited
experience of engaging with texts directly. The paper presents a study that was
conducted in Odisha using reciprocal teaching as a classroom procedure. The
scaffolding inherent in the procedure and later the clear role distribution involved
in reciprocal teaching ensured learner participation and appeared to make this
procedure effective.
Shree Deepa points out that tasks used in the language classroom normally
have visual inputs and that such tasks exclude blind/visually impaired students
as they do not perceive them fully. An attempt is made in this paper to explore
the possibilities of changing tasks so that the goal of inclusiveness is realised.
The study has implications for minimising the exclusion of blind/visually impaired
students and facilitating their participation in the tasks with modes that are
meaningful and useful.
Alice Udosen and Wisdom Jude’s study, conducted in the Akwa Ibom state of
Nigeria, sought to explore English language teacher educators’ knowledge of
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 17
18. feedback, and the type and quality of feedback they utilised with their teacher
trainees. The results of the study indicated that teacher educators’ perceptions
of what constitutes feedback were different from those of their trainees. The
researchers recommend that teacher educators be exposed through workshops
to understanding what constitutes feedback and how they can implement it as
an innovation to achieve the aims of teacher education. Joy Townsend explores
the use and effectiveness of observation and feedback in the context of TE:ST
(Total Evaluation:School Transformation), an evaluation service conducted in a
school. The TE:ST process involved an initial evaluation of the school, including
observations of teachers with feedback, interviews, questionnaires and evaluation
of documents. A subsequent report with recommendations was then fed into the
formulation of a school development plan.
In his paper Sanjay Arora proposes ways of defossilising the errors of ESL
learners coming from rural backgrounds in Rajasthan through using a variety of
classroom strategies. The concluding part of the paper reviews some strategies
that may work in other situations beyond the one mentioned above.
Adam Scott’s paper outlines the findings and practical applications of his action
research project with ESL beginners in a language school in Brighton, UK. The
research investigated the effectiveness of teaching corpus-driven content
delivered using a lexical teaching approach and found that this resulted in faster
language acquisition and more successful interaction, enabling learners to make
quicker progress to elementary level and beyond.
Geetika Saluja presents a study carried out to implement the principles of co-
operative learning (CL) structures in the curriculum transaction of Science in
grade VIII students and to study its effect on achievement in Science as well as
any changes in communication and interpersonal skills. The results indicated that
students who studied by the CL method had a higher level of achievement than
students in the control group.
Theme three covers various aspects of technological resources for language
Dawn Bikowski’s paper outlines a framework that guides educators in using
technologies in ways that meet students’ communicative competence and
digital literacy needs. Resources and guidelines for integrating them into the
classroom effectively are discussed and the framework she offers consists of
ten guiding principles, which she outlines in the paper. Nicky Hockly’s paper on
digital literacies reviews the theory underpinning them, explores how teacher
training courses can address them, and considers the challenges involved in
operationalising digital literacies in the low-resource classroom. Hockly argues,
among other things, that institutions would be well advised to allocate 80% of
their budgets to teacher training and development and 20% of their budgets to
18 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
19. Meera Srinivas investigates whether the participants of e-teacher courses
consider their experience of participating in group tasks to be collaborative. Based
on the author’s own experience of participating in a course, and the perceptions of
e-teachers obtained through a survey questionnaire, the paper argues that, while
there are a few factors that promote positive interaction in the discussion board
tasks, certain factors impede effective collaboration and learning in small group
projects. The paper discusses these factors and the implications for the design
and implementation of collaborative tasks in online teacher education courses.
Bose Vasudevan posits that video recordings of the micro teaching of ELT teacher
trainees can help them reflect on their own teaching. The paper, which was based
on research conducted with a group of ELT teacher trainees at the Institute of
Language Teaching, Jamnagar, presents the possibilities of using video recordings
of sequences of teaching language as tools for reflection to assist trainees to
become insightful and realistic about their own teaching.
Priyank Varma and Madhavi Gayathri Raman explore the possibility of making
print materials, specifically the language textbook, more accessible to visually
impaired learners who attend mainstream classes. Three lessons from the English
textbook used by schools affiliated to the Andhra Pradesh State Board syllabus
were presented in an audio format to eleven visually impaired learners from nine
schools. Their analysis indicates that the target group performed better when
provided with the necessary support using advancements in the print media and
audio technology. Ramraj M’s paper highlights that whilst reading is a complex
and cognitively demanding process that requires chunking, visually impaired
learners have to read a text word by word whether read out by a scribe or with the
use of technology. The researcher compares the differences in the performance of
sighted and visually impaired students using three parallel reading comprehension
texts, read out by scribes and by technology, with and without numbering and
indication of answer location.
Raashid Nehal documents a pilot study project funded by the Regional English
Language Office (RELO), American Centre, New Delhi and facilitated by the
Academic Staff College of the Aligarh Muslim University as part of the Kindle Mobile
learning initiative in India. The paper is based on the use of Kindle technology by
337 young learners enrolled in four English Access Microscholarship programmes
at Aligarh, Bhubaneswar, Kochi (Aluva) and Kolkata. Akhil Jha reports on research
into developing the the writing skills of first year engineering students at the Indian
Institute of Technology, Indore. Through ‘peer group writing’, students with better
writing skills provided a scaffold for learners who did not have appropriate writing
skills. Secondly, technology was used to enable peers and the teacher to provide
opportunities for whole class feedback and revision.
It is hoped that this publication will feed into the current and growing literature on
innovation in English language teaching and teacher education in diverse contexts
(Edge & Mann 2013; Hayes 2014). Waters (2014) has recently argued for the
research agenda on innovations to include:
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 19
20. 1. investigations concerning the further application of established theoretical
2. others involving concepts from innovation theory which have not yet been
applied to English language education (ELE); and
3. research into under-researched aspects of ELE innovations.
We very much hope that this publication stimulates others to become more
involved in this agenda.
The editors would like to express their sincere thanks to the contributors to this
publication for conducting their innovations and for communicating them so
eloquently to others. We are very grateful that so many of the authors have agreed
to provide their email addresses so that individuals can follow up specific points
with them.
We hope that readers will find that the range of practices and perspectives
encompassed in this publication will encourage them:
• to reflect on their own experiences of innovation
• to carry out their own research and
• to identify ‘bright spots’, examples of best practices, often carried out in
challenging contexts (Heath and Heath 2011).
The British Council and the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
welcome your responses to this publication and to the ongoing development of
research, planning, implementation and the institutionalisation of innovation in
English language teaching and English language teacher education.
Edge, J. and Mann, S. (Eds.) (2013) Innovations in Pre-Service Education and
Training for English Language Teachers. London: British Council.
Fullan, M. (2007) The new meaning of educational change (Fourth edition).
Abingdon: Routledge.
Hayes, D. (Ed.) (2014) Innovations in the continuing professional development of
English language teachers. London: British Council.
Heath, C. and Heath, D. (2011) Switch. London: Random House.
Nicholls, A. (1983) Managing educational innovations. London: Allen & Unwin.
Waters, A. (2009) ‘Managing innovation in English language education’. Language
Teaching 42/4: 421-458.
Waters, A. (2014) ‘Managing innovation in English language education: A research
agenda’. Language Teaching 47/01: 92-110.
Wedell, M. (2009) Planning for educational change: putting people and their
contexts first. London: Continuum.
20 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
21. Overview: Innovation in
English language teacher
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 21
22. 22 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
23. Teacher research for
professional development
Simon Borg, ELT Consultant
Conventional notions of teacher development are based on training models which
very often take teachers away from the classroom. This paper examines teacher
research as a strategy for professional development which teachers can apply in
their working contexts. Key questions I address are:
1. What is teacher research?
2. What does doing teacher research involve?
3. Why is teacher research a valuable activity for English language teachers?
My aim here is to demonstrate that teacher research is a feasible and valuable
professional development strategy that English language teachers can engage
in and which can contribute to improvements in the quality of the educational
experience they provide for their learners.
Teachers spend the bulk of their time in the classroom, yet professional
development typically involves activities that occur away from the classroom,
such as workshops, lectures, courses and conferences. There is of course value
in all such activities; however, exclusive reliance on external opportunities for
professional development has several drawbacks, summarized in Table 1:
Table 1: External teacher development
Infrequent Teachers cannot attend external events on a regular basis
Costly Teachers or their schools must pay to attend
Disruptive Teachers are taken out of school and lessons must be rearranged
Generic External training may not address individual teacher needs
Decontextualized Learning is not situated in teachers’ classrooms
Receptive Teachers receive knowledge from more ‘expert’ trainers
Not ‘owned’ Teachers have minimal say in decisions about the training
Teacher research provides an alternative to external training and in the rest of this
paper I will explain what it is and what doing it involves.
Teacher research
Teachers often react negatively to the suggestion that they can use teacher
research to support their professional development. These reactions are caused
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 23
24. by misconceptions of what research is and Figure 1 shows six common ideas about
research that teachers often have. Research very often does have one or more of
these characteristics; however, none of them are defining features of research. For
example, although teachers often see research as an activity that is academic (i.e.
done to obtain a degree or by someone working in academia), research can also
be done by teachers to support their professional development. And, to take two
further examples, while research may be large-scale and statistical, it can also be
small-scale and qualitative. In introducing teacher research, then, it is important to
ensure that research is not being conceived of by teachers in ways which make it
appear to be an unfeasible and irrelevant activity. Research should not be defined
with reference to its scale, its methodology or the status of the researcher; rather, I
find it useful to see it more generally as planned, systematic, purposeful, empirical
inquiry which is made public. This definition of research is an appropriate way into
a more specific definition of teacher research, which can be distinguished from
other forms of research in three particular ways:
1. It is done by teachers – i.e. teachers are the researchers.
2. It takes place in teachers’ working contexts – the site for teacher research is
the school or classroom.
3. Its purpose is to enhance teachers’ work – teacher research allows
teachers to understand themselves, their teaching and their students; such
understandings can also contribute to the growth of the organization teachers
work in.
Figure 1: Six misconceptions about the defining features of research
24 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
25. It is important to stress that teacher research is not simply research done by
teachers; a teacher doing research for their MA degree who studies other teachers
(e.g. through a questionnaire) is not doing teacher research because the focus
is not on themselves; similarly, not all research done in the classroom is teacher
research – e.g. an academic who visits a school to collect classroom data is not
investigating their own teaching but studying others in the way that research
conventionally does – this is not teacher research.
Doing teacher research
The process of teacher research is typically visualized as a cycle of some kind
(this is especially true in the case of action research, which is one particular type
of teacher research). Figure 2 highlights key elements in the teacher research
Figure 2: Components in teacher research
The starting point for teacher research is a question of some kind – an issue
that the teacher wants to learn more about or understand better. Although this
initial question is often driven by a problem, teacher research is not simply a
strategy for solving problems. For example, teachers may want to develop a better
understanding of something that works well. The questions that drive teacher
research will also be very practical, stemming from teachers’ experiences in the
classrooms. How can I integrate pair work activities into my lectures? What kind of
feedback on writing do my students prefer? How do my learners react to the use
of self-assessment? These are examples of questions teachers have investigated
using teacher research (see
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 25
26. research-practical-relevant-classroom-inquiry/ for more examples of the kinds of
questions teacher research can explore).
Returning to Figure 2, once teachers have a question the next step is to act –
to collect some information (or data) relevant to it. This is a central part of the
process – teacher research is empirical (i.e. it relies on the collection and analysis
of data). The information that is collected needs to be analysed and evaluated,
and teachers then use the insights emerging from these processes to make
pedagogical decisions. The cyclical nature of the diagram implies that the process
is an ongoing one; this does not mean that teachers will be doing teacher research
all the time, but more generally the idea is that it is not a linear process through
which definitive solutions or answers will be discovered after one cycle of inquiry.
Figure 2 also highlights four additional processes which can enhance teacher
• reflection, because teacher researchers are by definition being systematically
thoughtful about their work in an ongoing manner;
• reading, because it can be useful to know about what others have already
written about the issues teachers are interested in (there is no suggestion
here, though, that teacher research should involve the kind of reading that
would be required for an academic degree);
• communicating, because by talking to colleagues about their inquiries
teachers can receive useful feedback and advice and also motivate others to
engage in inquiries of their own;
• and finally, collaborating, because teacher research will be enhanced when
teachers work together on a shared project rather than alone.
As noted above, teachers need to collect data to help them examine the questions
they are pursuing. Various strategies for data collection are available to teachers
– e.g. journal writing, surveys, drawings and photos, video, observation, interviews,
class discussions, student work, and lesson plans. One key consideration which
should influence which options teachers employ is feasibility – teacher research
must be feasible, as it is an activity which teachers do as part of their normal
teaching duties; data collection, then, should be integrated as far as possible into
teachers’ regular work (as opposed to creating large amounts of extra work for
The further reading listed at the end of this paper includes many examples of
published teacher research projects.
Benefits of teacher research
Numerous benefits of teacher research have been identified in the literature.
For example, teachers engaged in teacher research have said they feel more
confident, motivated and autonomous; they also feel they are more knowledgeable
and have a better understanding of their students. Where teacher research is
collaborative, teachers have also reported improvements in their relationships
with colleagues. Teacher research allows teachers to be more optimistic; as one
26 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
27. teacher I worked with said, “I look upon problems as challenges to be overcome
through research not hurdles to cry about”. Renewed enthusiasm is another
benefit that teachers derive from teacher research, as illustrated in this comment:
“We have been teaching the same way we taught ten years ago but now we have
an urge to experiment with new ideas in our teaching”.
It is clear then that teacher research offers many potential benefits to teachers;
their students also benefit from more informed pedagogical decisions while
organizations can benefit too where a culture of teacher research exists across a
school. As evidence of these many benefits grows, teacher research is becoming
increasingly visible as a professional development strategy for teachers. For
example, Cambridge English and English Australia run a teacher research scheme
for ELT professionals in Australia; Cambridge English and English UK run a similar
scheme for teachers of English in the UK; while Cambridge University Press has
also recently launched its own teacher research scheme. The British Council is
also supporting teacher research, as for example in the project I facilitated with
teachers of English in Pakistan in 2012-13 and which resulted in a publication
containing the reports of teachers’ work (see further reading below).
I started this paper by arguing that exclusive reliance on external forms of
professional development has several drawbacks. In contrast, teacher research
provides an option which allows professional development to be ongoing,
inexpensive, integrated into teachers’ routine work, personalized and practical.
Teacher research also gives teachers a strong sense of ownership in shaping the
direction their professional development takes. I am not of course suggesting that
teacher research is the right or only option for all teachers – teachers in different
contexts and at different stages of their career will benefit in varying ways from
different approaches to professional development; however, where the conditions
are appropriate and teachers have suitable skills, knowledge and dispositions,
teacher research has significant transformative potential.
Further reading
Allwright, D. and Hanks, J. (2009) The developing language learner: An introduction
to exploratory practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Altrichter, H., Feldman, A., Posch, P. and Somekh, B. (2008) Teachers investigate
their work: An introduction to action research across the professions (Second
edition). London: Routledge.
Borg, S. (2006) ‘Conditions for teacher research’. English Teaching Forum 44(4):
22–27. Available at:
Borg, S. (2010) ‘Language teacher research engagement’. Language Teaching,
43(4): 391-429.
Borg, S. (2013) Teacher research in language teaching: A critical analysis.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 27
28. Borg, S. and Liu, Y. (2013) ‘Chinese college English teachers’ research
engagement’. TESOL Quarterly 47(2): 270-299.
Borg, S. (Ed.) (2014) Teacher research in Pakistan: Enhancing the teaching and
learning of English. Lahore: British Council.
Brindley, G. (1991) ‘Becoming a researcher: Teacher-conducted research and
professional growth’ in E. Sadtono (Ed.), Issues in language teacher education.
Singapore: RELC.
Burns, A. (2010) Doing action research in English language teaching. A guide for
practitioners. New York: Routledge.
Burns, A. (2011) ‘Embedding teacher research into a national language programme:
Lessons from a pilot project’. Research Notes 44: 3-6.
Carter, K. and Halsall, R. (1998) ‘Teacher research for school improvement’ in R.
Halsall (Ed.), Teacher research and school improvement: Opening doors from the
inside. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Davies, P., Hamilton, M. and James, K. (2007) Practitioners leading research.
London: NRDC. Available at:
Ebbutt, D. (2002) ‘The development of a research culture in secondary schools’.
Educational Action Research 10(1): 123–142.
Halai, N. (2011) ‘How teachers become action researchers in Pakistan: Emerging
patterns from a qualitative metasynthesis’. Educational Action Research 19(2): 201-
Oolbekkink-Marchand, H. W., van der Steen, J. and Nijveldt, M. (2014) ‘A study of
the quality of practitioner research in secondary education: Impact on teacher and
school development’. Educational Action Research 22(1): 122-139.
Rickinson, M., Clark, A., McLeod, S., Poulton, P. and Sargent, J. (2004) ‘What on
earth has research got to do with me?’ Teacher Development 8(2/3): 201-220.
Rust, F. and Clark, C. M. (2007) How to do action research in your classroom. New
York: Teachers Network. Available at:
Sharp, C. (2007) Making research make a difference. Teacher research: a small-scale
study to look at impact. Chelmsford: Flare.
Wyatt, M. (2010) ‘Teachers researching their own practice’. ELT Journal, 65(4): 417-
Zeichner, K. M. and Noffke, S. E. (2001) ‘Practitioner research’ in V. Richardson (Ed.),
Handbook of research on teaching (Fourth edition). Washington, D.C.: American
Educational Research Association.
Visit for a
list of free sources of language teaching research, including several volumes of
teacher research.
28 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
29. Teacher development as the
future of teacher education
Rama Mathew, Professor, Department of Education, Delhi
University, Delhi
Available evidence about teachers’ professional development generally paints a
rather gloomy picture, especially in India. While some pockets can be identified
where good teacher development practices are in operation, reports from
schools and school boards indicate a contrary view: hardly any provision for
teacher development, either in terms of time given to the teacher for his/her own
development or any acknowledgement of how some teachers are making efforts to
develop on their own.
In this paper, I would like to first examine whether and to what extent education
policies provide for teachers’ continuing professional development vis-à-vis its
actual realisation in school contexts. Then I would like to look at some models of
teacher development that are in use outside India. With this as the backdrop, I
would like to revisit some of the CPD work I have been involved in to understand the
nuances of this construct. The examples I discuss indicate what kind of CPD work
is meaningful to teachers and more importantly what is sustainable. I would like to
suggest that an approach that creates opportunities for reflection and theorising
from practice while continuing to learn about language teaching/learning and about
teacher development is satisfying and sustaining.
Teacher Training (TT), Teacher Education (TE) and Teacher Development
It is necessary to understand key terms such as TT, TE and TD before we go
on to discuss Teacher Development. Training, according to Widdowson (1983)
and Richards and Nunan (1990), deals with familiarising student teachers with
techniques and skills to apply in the classroom whereas education involves
teachers in ‘developing theories of teaching, understanding the nature of teacher
decision making and strategies for self-awareness and self-evaluation...’ (Richards
and Nunan ibid: xi). TT is one-off, usually short-term and compulsory for getting a
job. On the other hand, TD is seen to be a voluntary process, ongoing, bottom-up,
since the starting point is the teachers’ own experience where new information is
sought, shared, reflected on, tried out, processed in terms of personal experience
and finally ‘owned’ by the teachers (Ur 1997). For the purpose of this paper, TT
is an officially mandated programme that may or may not have elements that
promote TD. When development is not required on a TT programme, it becomes
a goal which a teacher engages in of his/her own volition; and understandably
not many teachers will want to take on anything ‘extra’. Regardless of low
salaries, inadequate resources and lack of incentives, some teachers set up a
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 29
30. developmental agenda and engage in activities because they see personal value in
it (see Head and Taylor 1997 for a discussion of this point).
Teacher development: a policy perspective
This section attempts to provide a brief summary and a critique of what various
committees and commissions have recommended especially for CPD of teachers.
This is done in order to understand the policy perspective that informs school
education vis-à-vis CPD in India.
Beginning with the University Education Commission (1948-49) which emphasised
the need to supplement experience with experiment, the different advisory bodies
have continually stressed the importance of different aspects of in-service teacher
education (Secondary Education Commission 1952-53, Education Commission
1964-66, Yashpal Committee 1993, National Commission on Teachers 1983-85,
National Curriculum Framework for School Education 2000).
Experts seem to agree that teacher education is a continuous process and that
its pre-service and in-service components are inseparable. However, there seems
to be some confusion/contradiction in the way TE has been conceptualised: on
the one hand, terms such as CPD, sharing of practice, need-based programmes,
self-learning and independent thinking, and on the other, notions such as training,
reorientation of teachers, equipping which implies a skill-based approach, are
interchangeably used. The more recent policy frameworks, e.g. the National
Curriculum Framework (2005) and the National Knowledge Commission (2006-
2009) see CPD as the most important measure to bridge the gap between
pre-service and in-service TE. The Commission also recommends peer feedback,
especially in rural areas, as a support system for TD.
The National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), a statutory body of the
Government of India, has made specific recommendations about in-service
TE (1998, 2009). One of the aims of CPD programmes according to the 2009
document is for teachers to ‘break out of intellectual isolation and share
experiences and insights with others in the field, both teachers and academics
….’ (p. 65). For this, the need to create ‘spaces for sharing of experiences of
communities of teachers’ (p. 66) is emphasised.
In sum, the terms training and development have been interchangeably used, as
a result of which even short, expert oriented, one-off in-service programmes are
seen as TD activities. The earlier recommendations saw a need for CPD but did
not articulate its ramifications clearly enough for implementation. The more recent
ones seem to spell out more details that render CPD achievable in more concrete
terms in school as well as in TEIs (Teacher Education Institutions), but do not
have a corresponding provision in school-practice. There are several unanswered
questions: How is the space to be created in the teacher’s busy schedule for
teacher reflection, sharing, mentoring and learning from one another? Who should
create it? What is the role of a TEI in CPD? Is there a provision for acknowledging
30 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
31. teacher’s own efforts at engaging in CPD activities? Can NCTE, school boards and
TEIs work collaboratively to make this policy a reality?
CPD in schools: what do teachers say?
A small questionnaire-based study of some thirty teachers in Delhi, with school-
teaching experience of 2 to 20 years, was carried out to find out their perceptions
of what their job entailed and of possibilities that exist for their professional
development. For a few it was a profession of their choice; for the rest it was by
accident or the last option as a career. However, if they were to make a choice
now, almost all of them felt that they would choose this profession; one of them, in
fact, said, ‘I wish I had become a teacher sooner’.
The study revealed that most teachers had settled into the profession even though
it may not have been their first choice. They do not like non-academic activities,
but derive a lot of satisfaction when students show interest in learning. They would
like to be up to date in their subject, but in-service programmes don’t seem to help
them with this, nor with how to become better teachers; they have to themselves
find ways of doing this. Clearly they have not heard of TD and long for a forum
and an outlet where they can express and share their experience with each other.
Thus, while in policy there is a strong suggestion for creating space for teachers
to share experience with peers, from what obtains in schools, it seems clear that
except for short, discrete programmes which are mandatory, there is nothing that
helps teachers to keep themselves alive or motivated in their busy schedule. Many
of them have learnt to ‘survive’ in their own ways, since there is no system-support
for ongoing professional development.
Some success stories around the world
There are quite a few initiatives elsewhere that not only visualise comprehensive
models for developing education professionals but also ensure that these models
are implemented in actual practice. The TE model for the 21st century (TE²¹)
suggested by the National Institute of Education in Singapore comprises various
components unified by the overarching purpose of equipping teachers with
competencies that will enable them to respond proactively to the responsibilities
of the classroom and the school. The TE²¹ model takes into account the entire
spectrum of TE from the stage of initial teacher preparation through to the
continuing journey of teacher professional development (see National Institute of
Education 2009 for details).
The Professional Standards for Teachers (2007) designed by Ofsted (Office
for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) in the UK is a basic
framework within which all teachers should operate from the point of initial
The five stages identified are:
• Qualified Teacher Status
• Core
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 31
32. • Post Threshold
• Excellent Teacher
• Advanced Skills Teacher
Appropriate self-evaluation, reflection and professional development activity
are critical to improving teachers’ practice at all career stages. The standards
demonstrate clearly the key areas in which a teacher should be able to assess
his or her own practice, and receive feedback from colleagues. As their careers
progress, teachers are expected to extend the depth and breadth of knowledge,
skill and understanding that they demonstrate in meeting the standards
appropriate to the role they are fulfilling and the context in which they are working.
Stages in Professional Development conceptualised by the British Council’s new
CPD framework focus on the level of understanding and ability that teachers have
in different areas of their professional practice. These stages are articulated as:
• Awareness
• Understanding
• Engaged
• Integrated.
These are only a few examples that offer a roadmap for teacher development. We
do not have in India a roadmap that delineates the different stages of development
let alone provides accreditation and acknowledgement to a teacher who traverses
the path of development. The next section discusses briefly examples of work
done in India and tries to understand what lessons we can learn from them.
Some examples from India
Here I would like to draw on work that I have been part of in the last twenty years
to highlight as well as critique some of the key features in in-service TE and CPD
The CBSE-ELT Curriculum Implementation Study (1993-1998)
This aimed to monitor and evaluate how the Interact in English books at Grade 9
and 10 levels within a communicative curriculum were used in actual classroom
contexts across the country and to provide ongoing support with a view to
strengthening the curriculum. This phase involved many teachers in studying their
own and colleagues’ classrooms in a research-based way and conducted need-
based workshops whenever the ongoing feedback indicated it. Teachers took on
different roles: i.e. that of researcher, resource person, materials writer, assessor
and mentor. This phase, that lasted five years, clearly indicated that an insider-
oriented monitoring and evaluation phase supported by ‘outside experts’ was
indeed meaningful to teachers and sustainable. By the end of the project, it was
clear that a top-down as well as a bottom-up approach to curriculum renewal is
important to bring about change in schools. However, the project had a finite time-
line and funds and therefore had to end.
32 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
33. The tracer study
I undertook this to evaluate the project’s impact after three years and addressed
the following questions:
1. the nature and extent to which the communicative curriculum introduced in
1993 continued to be communicative and learner-centred, taking into account
the kind of support available in school;
2. the nature and extent to which the teacher-research approach to ongoing
curriculum renewal and professional development had been sustained.
The findings from the tracer study revealed the following: the role of teachers-as-
researchers during the monitoring and evaluation phase gave teachers a broader
perspective on the curriculum in different contexts. Before the project, they
merely taught the ‘lesson’, did the exercises, and conducted tests and were happy.
Now their work did not end with a class. They could observe colleagues’ classes
in a non-judgemental way and it ‘worked wonders’ (in a teacher’s own words) with
colleagues. Many of these teachers managed these ongoing professional activities
in spite of the school’s (unwritten) rules and conventions. There were ‘silent
innovators’, albeit very few, who did things that they felt needed to be done, in
spite of school constraints. This study underlined the need for building on existing
school/Board structures to support the teacher in her ongoing professional
development (see Mathew 2006 for details).
Case study (six teachers)
I undertook a case study of six such ‘silent innovators’ (2003). The study explored
the following questions:
• How does the pedagogical understanding of teachers develop and change
over time?
• What personal and professional influences impact teachers’ pedagogical
• What kind(s) of inputs are self-sustaining and generative?
• How do teachers build on these inputs to become ongoing learners?
Four important themes that shape teacher development emerged from the case
study (see Mathew 2005 for details):
1. Certain personality traits that enable the teacher to see teaching as a vocation
2. A propensity for reflective thinking
3. The need for ongoing professional development activities, and
4. The importance of school support.
Mentoring in Delhi schools (2008–2010)
This project in in-service education aimed to arrive at a model of mentoring and to
create a community of teachers who support each other, keep growing and help
bridge the gap between teacher education institutions and schools (Mentoring in
Delhi Schools 2010).
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 33
34. We supported the teachers by developing a self-instructional handbook on
mentoring, giving them a hands-on orientation to how they could observe each
other’s classes and discuss them, and enabling them to read and discuss some
articles/papers in the area. Of the 80 teachers in 11 schools that participated in
this CPD project, we found the following:
• About 25-30 managed to do most of the things and saw value in it. There were
mainly two kinds: where, because of school managements and leadership,
a model of CPD already existed; and where, in spite of a not-so-supportive
environment, teachers engaged in the work because they saw meaning in it.
• About 25 of them gave it a try with different degrees of success.
• The rest were non-starters: not volunteers, inadequate school support, not
motivated enough.
The project revealed that a framework for CPD was clearly necessary for teachers
to first of all take on work beyond their regular schedule and then to continue with
it. Self-motivation alone was not sufficient to pursue CPD.
Diary study with teachers
Ten volunteer teachers in Delhi took up a diary study that involved writing diaries,
looking at each other’s diaries and commenting on them in a non-judgemental
but a critical way. This three-month study resulted in the presentation of a paper
based on it at TEC12 and a subsequent publication in the British Council’s CPD
book (Mathew 2013). The diaries indicated that although quite a few of them began
at the descriptive reflection level, over the three months of diary writing they had
reached the dialogic level; there were also instances of critical reflection (see
Hatton and Smith’s (1995) stages of reflection in the Appendix).
These teachers wanted to do diary writing and contribute chapters to a book on
teachers’ voices and professional development. Now we are working on a project
involving young learners as researchers (in collaboration with Warwick University)
and hope to write a book on our work.
The work during the last twenty years shows that some things about CPD
have indeed changed: while the policy on TE appears to have become more
sophisticated, schools make heavier demands on teachers’ time, thus neutralising
the implementation of the policy. For example, the work on CCE (Continuous
Comprehensive Evaluation) has increased tremendously reducing the teacher to
the status of an assembly-line worker. Clearly school boards and policy makers
need to collaboratively arrive at a workable model for CPD. If not, while a few
teachers will struggle to stay growing and motivated, the large majority who do not
have the will and/or the energy to struggle give up and settle down to a ‘normal’
34 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
35. Where do we go from here?
I recommend the following:
• We need to encourage teachers to theorise from their practice and articulate
their understanding in their own words and not pursue a theory-first-and-
then-practice approach. The school’s agenda and TE policy provisions seem
to by and large contradict. While good initial TT programmes can well initiate
teachers to take on the path of CPD, unless (i) drastic changes are made to
the existing TT programmes with corresponding improvement in teacher
educators’ competence resulting in more learner-centred approaches to TE,
and (ii) schools put in place a strong CPD model and make it work, this will
remain a distant dream.
• On our part, we need to accord the status to teachers as knowers, as
producers of legitimate knowledge, and as capable of constructing and
sustaining their own professional development over time.
For this to happen, we need to have a support system in schools which means that
they are given time and space to reflect, observe each other’s classes, engage in
a professional dialogue, read and write about education, share their experience
in seminars/workshops and carry out a host of other professional activities. The
stages of professional development, as envisioned by Ofsted, NIE’s TE²¹ or the
British Council, will need to chart the pathways for professional development and
lay out clear benchmarks to achieve and appropriately reward those teachers
who achieve those targets. Such a scheme will alleviate the problem of teachers
attending in-service programmes because their Principals asked them to or
because they will get a show-cause notice. It will encourage teachers to take
charge of their professional growth and will help them to plan and organise
their learning in a way they can manage what is meaningful to them. After all,
development is a highly personal experience and each of us derives benefit from
opportunities that we encounter/create for ourselves in ways that are meaningful
to us. And intriguingly, we should have the choice not to develop if we don’t wish
to; the only question is, what is the proportion of developing and not-developing
teachers that a school system can afford? Clearly it is imperative that we put in
place a workable model that helps teachers to keep growing. We need to create a
workable CPD model that makes teaching a profession of choice.
The following observation provides a befitting endnote to what I have tried to say
In order for change to become self-sustaining, teachers must begin to
engage in practices that have built-in support for the changes they have
made; otherwise, the changes are likely to erode over time…for change
to become generative, teachers must engage in practices that serve as a
basis for their continued learning
(Franke, Carpenter, Fennema, Ansell and Behrend 1998: 67).
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 35
36. References
CBSE-ELT Curriculum Implementation Study (1993-97) Final Report 1997.
Unpublished. Hyderabad: Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages.
Education Commission (1964-66) Govt. of India, New Delhi,
Franke, M.L., Carpenter, T., Fennema, E., Ansell, E. and Behrend, J. (1998)
‘Understanding teachers’ self-sustaining, generative change in the context of
professional development’. Teaching and Teacher Education 14/1: 67-80.
Hatton, N. and Smith, D. (1995) ‘Reflection in teacher education: Towards definition
and implementation’. Teaching and Teacher Education 11/1: 33-49.
Head, K. and Taylor, P. (1997) Readings in Teacher Development. Oxford:
Mathew, R. (2005) ‘How do teachers continue to learn and grow? Understanding
teacher development’ in A. Pulverness (Ed.), IATEFL 2004, Liverpool Conference
Selections. IATEFL.
Mathew, R. (2006) ‘Tracing the after-life of teacher development programmes:
Reopening closed chapters’. English Language Teacher Education and Development
9, Winter 2006: 21-38.
Mathew, R. (2013) ‘Diary writing as a tool for reflective practice’ in R. Bolitho and
A. Padwad (Eds.), Continuing Professional Development: Lessons from India. British
Mentoring in Delhi Schools (2010) A UKIERI In-service Project, Central Institute of
Education, University of Delhi, Delhi.
National Commission on Teachers (1983-85) Govt. of India, New Delhi. Available at:
National Curriculum Framework (2005) NCERT, New Delhi. Available at: www.ncert.
National Curriculum Framework for School Education (2000) NCERT, New Delhi.
Available at:
National Institute of Education (2009) TE21: A teacher education model for the 21st
Century. Singapore: National Institute of Education. Available at:
National Knowledge Commission (2006-2009) Govt. of India, New Delhi. Available
NCTE (1998) Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education. New Delhi. Available at:
36 | Innovation in English Language Teacher Education
37. NCTE (2009) National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education: Towards
Preparing Professional and Humane Teacher. New Delhi. Available at: http://www.
Richards, J.C. and Nunan, D. (Eds.) (1990) Second Language Teacher Education.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Secondary Education Commission (1952-53) Govt. of India, New Delhi. Available at:
University Education Commission (1948-49) Govt. of India, New Delhi. Available at:
Ur, P. (1997) ‘The English teacher as professional’. English Teaching Professional
1/2: 3-5.
Widdowson, H.G. (1983) Learning Purpose and Language Use. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Yashpal Committee (1993) ‘Learning without Burden’. Govt. of India, New Delhi.
Available at:
Stages of Reflection (Hatton and Smith 1995)
• Descriptive, factual writing: Not reflective.
• Descriptive reflection: Reflective, not only a description of events but some
attempt to provide reason/justification for events but in a reportive way.
• Dialogic reflection: Demonstrates a ‘stepping back’ from the events/actions
leading to a different level of mulling about, discourse with self and exploring
the experience, events and actions using qualities of judgement and possible
alternatives for explaining and hypothesising.
• Critical reflection: Demonstrates an awareness that actions and events are not
only located in, and explicable by, reference to multiple perspectives but are
located in, and influenced by, multiple historical and socio-political contexts.
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 37
38. Innovation in the provision
of pre-service education and
training for English language
teachers: issues and concerns
Julian Edge, University of Manchester, UK
Steve Mann, University of Warwick, UK
Innovation: some issues from Steve
The British Council has invested some serious energy in the last decade in
promoting innovation. Taken as a whole, most of these efforts have been
worthwhile. Some might think that the ELTON awards (awards for innovation in ELT)
are a pale imitation of the Oscars but they are the closest that teachers, publishers
and those involved in teacher education will ever get to a red carpet and some
kind of recognition! The ELTONs are the only international awards that recognise
and celebrate innovation in the field of English language teaching. What is good
about the ELTONs is that they promote ideas that are new and above all ideas that
are practical and usable. This is the kind of philosophy that Julian and I adopted
for our Innovations book (Edge and Mann 2013). We wanted accounts of practice
which foregrounded practical steps and procedures. This is also the rationale for
other contributions in the Innovations series (British Council 2013).
How successful have innovations been in ELT?
I now want to focus on innovation. The first question to consider is how successful
innovations have been in ELT. Obviously in an article of this length we have not
time for an exhaustive survey but, although innovation in ELT has grown apace
in recent years, much of it has been unsuccessful (see, for example, Waters
2009). Wedell (2009) argues that this is because of a failure to take into account
lessons from innovation theory. He is referring to thinking about who will use the
innovation, how they will use it and what barriers there might be in successful
adoption of an innovation. In simple terms, he is talking about who is likely
to be using these innovations and under what conditions. This consideration
of innovation and its relation to context is ‘situated’ and therefore should be
concerned with the development of an appropriate methodology (Holliday 1994).
Innovation in PreSETT
At this point in the article, it might be useful to tell you more about the British
Council publication we have been involved in. Edge and Mann (2013) includes
14 different articles that feature an innovation in a PreSETT context. Initially
there were over 150 proposals (showing a huge level of interest in the project),
confirming the British Council view that there were plenty of practitioners who
would like to share practice in this area. When we sent guidelines to the authors
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39. we asked for specific detail of the innovation. In other words, we wanted clarity in
description of the procedures and process. It was also important that we heard
from those on the receiving end of the innovation: What were their views? How
had it gone for them? In addition, we wanted practitioners to be reflexive about
the process; that is: What had they learned? How had they changed? What is
important in the accounts we chose was that they provide the detail of innovation
and evaluation in a context of reflective practice (RP). This is important because
it gives a detailed, situated view and it also makes possible replication, or at least
informed action, on the part of other practitioners.
The importance of context
Innovations are not easily generalisable, because each context has its own
constraints, affordances and dynamic. This is why an in-depth appraisal of the
innovation context is vital before introducing an innovation. The ‘hybrid model’
(Henrichsen 1989) provides a thorough system for identifying contextual factors
likely to facilitate or hinder the change process and this gives us a good start in
responding to Holliday’s (1994) call for the recognition of the importance of a
detailed, ethnomethodological understanding of the innovation situation in making
judgements of appropriacy. The idea of being ‘appropriate’ chimes with ideas of
‘situated learning’. If we embrace the ideas of appropriate methodology both in
what we are aiming to get our teacher-trainers to achieve and in what we aim for
it, this moves us away from ideas of generalised ‘best practice’ towards ‘praxis’.
This is essentially where we currently ‘live’ in a period of ‘post-method condition’
(Kumaravadivelu 2001). This is a time when there needs to be a renewed and
corresponding recognition of the importance of situated learning and appropriate
Developing situated or appropriate tools
In order for appropriate and situated methodology and learning to happen, tools
need to be sufficiently flexible that they can be tailored to specific contexts and
facilitate the kind of up-close professional understanding that RP was originally
designed to foster. This is why some of the accounts in Edge and Mann (2013) are
important. For example, Kurtoglu-Hooton (2013) shows that RP can and should
be taught on pre- and in-sessional teacher education programmes but in a more
systematic way. Her tools enable close-up and data-led attention to teaching.
New in context
One of the key ideas of Mann and Edge (2013) is that a new idea is not the same
as an innovation. Innovation demands that the practitioner concentrates on
process; it demands ongoing self-evaluation and reflection; it asks that we pay
as much attention to how we teach or train as to which topics get covered along
the way, or the tools that we employ. This is why we asked contributors to make
clear the steps and detail of introduction, implementation and evaluation of their
efforts, because it is the realisation of an ‘idea in action’ that constitutes ‘genuine
innovation’. Mawa Samb’s (2013) article on formative assessment would not be
seen as a new idea in most contexts. However, it is an innovation in Senegal.
Innovation in English Language Teacher Education | 39
40. Likewise Lesley Dick’s (2013) work in Sri Lanka may not immediately sound like
a headline-grabbing innovation. We have all used ‘top tips’ haven’t we, with our
teacher-trainees? However, the innovative aspect of Dick’s work is that these top
tips are an outcome of a bottom-up process of discussion. They are renewed and
revisited with each new group. We get a sense from Lesley that the reflective
process (stepping back) has established the nature of the task itself:
I have used Top Tips in input sessions and in teaching practice feedback
sessions for years but have never really taken a step back and queried why
it worked and what it did. (Dick 2013: 143)
There is a Japanese concept that is used in management and business called
‘kaizen’ and I think it is useful as a metaphor for the kind of innovation that we are
promoting in this chapter. ‘Kaizen’ can be translated as kai (“change”) and zen
(“good”) and, taken together has the meaning of something like “improvement”.
Its intended effect on the ‘workforce’ is to engage all workers in the continuous
improvement of design. The ‘workers’ are not only encouraged to engage in
a process of continuous evaluation and potential improvement but they are
empowered to feel that they have both a voice and input. lf we apply the same
concept to teaching and teacher training we can focus on the following:
• The practice of continuous quality improvement within one’s teaching;
• Innovation is based on many small changes rather than radical changes;
• Ideas for change and improvement come from teachers and students
• Teachers take ownership for their work and related improvements.
For me this is a potentially powerful way of looking at innovation. For most of us
it will not be eureka moments that make a difference to quality. Rather it will be a
series of much smaller-scale modifications and small changes. I remember Jane
Willis once talking about the importance of small tweaks in task-based learning
and teaching. These kinds of tweaks are very much what the concept of kaizen
Icarus and Narcissus
Having explained that I think kaizen can help us characterise innovation as a
reflexive process of small actions, I want to pause and share with you the central
comparative metaphor in Julian’s most recent book. It is called The Reflexive
Teacher Educator in TESOL (2011). You probably know the individual stories of
Icarus and Narcissus. Icarus had wings and flew higher than he should. Narcissus
stayed too long observing himself and put down roots. They are both seen as
failures. However, Julian argues that they represent a dynamic and inevitable
tension that propels us forward in our professional practice, where ‘the mutually-
shaping interactions between our roots and our wings, our self-knowledge and our
environmental knowledge’ provide awareness so that we can ‘commit ourselves
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