PRELIM 3 update: working with teachers around the world to create the materials they need
The British Council-funded scheme partnering accredited language schools with English teacher associations around the world is beginning to create classroom resources.
The 15-month PRELIM 3 (Partnered Remote Language Improvement Project) which runs in 25 countries to March 2024 is intended to support student engagement in their English lessons.
PRELIM 3, run in a partnership of the British Council with English UK and IATEFL, also aims to develop the capacity of the UK schools and their international partners to create, distribute and evaluate engaging and locally appropriate classroom materials. The materials will eventually be rolled out nationally.
Most of the 25 partnerships are working on the early secondary curriculum, with two focusing on primary teaching and one at foundation level.
The first months of the project have focused on building strong partnerships and carrying out needs analyses to inform resource creation, with all participants encouraged to join online communities of practice.
What do teachers need?
Martyn Clarke of PRELIM's managing consultants, NILE (the Norwich Institute for Language Education) said the project had got off to a very positive start.
Needs analysis and discussions with the English teacher associations had shown listening skills were often an issue, either because of a lack of resources or because they weren't strongly featured in the curriculum.
Several projects are supporting the development of teacher voice in listening, sometimes with interactive practice activities to incorporate into existing materials.
"You don't need to be trained to use the materials - we aren't introducing new paradigms - it's about what would help the teacher on a Monday morning to teach more effectively or creatively. Whatever is being produced has a teacher guide and support so that the materials are sustainable," he said, explaining that some of this is being created as a video, and sometimes teacher guidance is also being translated into their mother tongue.
The materials will be owned by the associations so that teachers can use and adapt them as they wish. "That's a very important part of this," he said.
The other major area of materials development is in support of differentiated learning in the classroom and the adaptation and amendment of materials to do this. "It's not just about what level someone is on the CEFR but about learner needs and diversity and understanding their backgrounds."
Getting teachers involved
Martyn and his colleague Rose Aylett are pleased with the levels of engagement with classroom teachers who in "a positive step" are being consulted more than was anticipated in the project design phase. Many partnerships use focus groups for needs analysis and pilot the materials as they are being written.
Most of the partnerships are creating supplementary materials to existing curricula, focusing more on skills-based learning. A smaller number are creating stand-alone materials with cross-curricular themes such as tourism, work and digital culture, and global citizenship. Materials include lesson plans, resource packs, frameworks for coursebook adaptation, student books for the classroom and a searchable database of input resources.
How will teachers access the new materials?
The projects are also considering how the materials will get into the hands of teachers. Most are considering creating downloadable PDFs housed on the ETA website, with some use of audio recordings or "teacher as resource" to support the use of the materials. Some partnerships are exploring the idea of using teachers involved in materials development to run introduction events and workshops to disseminate them.
The next stage, from September to March, will see the materials being trialled in the classrooms before further focus group discussions inform further development.
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