PRELIM project enters stage two
3 February 2021

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PRELIM project enters stage two, as partnered-research leads to innovative solutions to meet local challenges

By Martyn Clarke, NILE Consultant Trainer

The Partnered Remote Language Improvement project (PRELIM) is a unique initiative, supporting the development of over 2,000 English language teachers across the world.

Supported by English UK, British Council, and IATEFL, 17 English language centres in the UK & Ireland are working in partnerships with English language teacher associations in 20 countries, from Guinea-Bissau to Palestine, from India to Nicaragua, to deliver tailor-made online courses which seek to raise teachers' language confidence.

Stage one: finding innovative solutions to the many challenges of the local contexts

Stage one saw collaboration between teaching professionals and their UK partners, to identify target participants and the key features of their local contexts. For the UK institutions this has proved to be a valuable learning process.

For Abby Croucher (Lewis School of English, working with colleagues in Honduras) 'it's been incredibly insightful to find out more about their context, the challenges they might face and how to overcome these.' Grazzia Mendoza, her colleague in HELTA (Honduras) agrees, '…our partnership with Lewis School has run smoothly and it has been a continuous collaboration.'

This initial partnered-research stage has resulted in a wide range of innovative solutions to the many challenges of the local contexts. Remote location and restricted internet access have been met with delivery via Edmodo, WhatsApp, Zoom, YouTube and dedicated websites. These multi-platform activities range from synchronous live sessions to asynchronous tasks and group project activities.

Paola Lopez Cano (ABIPA Argentina) reports 'One particular asset we fully appreciate is the sensitivity to local teaching contexts as attention to situated teaching and learning is woven into every single exchange.'

'The mentors share such interesting methods and experience'

Instructor roles for the UK partners are found in direct online teaching, small group mentoring, and reflective facilitation. For many of the course participants this interaction has proved useful. Manana Rusieshvili (ETAG in Georgia working with Languages United, Bath) shared some feedback from members of her association on the course: 'The mentors share such interesting methods and experience; they are so competent and friendly that I feel an urge to be like them. The challenge of course design is creating new skills within the English UK institutions' Neil Harris (CELT, Cardiff, working with CABITA in Cameroon) notes, 'The CELT team has experience of teacher training and in Europe, but this was the first time any of us have delivered a course working with an English teacher association in Africa and where many of the teachers participating use mobile phones as their main device.'

An important feature of the PRELIM project has been the development of a community of practice among the 17 English UK partners. Facilitated by the Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE), this community enables the sharing of ideas and experiences on the channel-based business communication platform Slack and through regular Zoom video meetings in which the issues of initiative are explored together.

As Patricia Alvarez Martin (St Clare's, Oxford, working with Argentinian colleagues) shared, 'It's great to see we are all going through similar processes and steps - very exciting to be part of it all!'.

Stage two: project partnerships growing stronger

It's now stage two, and the 20 courses are up and running in their various formats. The project partnerships are growing stronger. We are looking forward to the next two months and the continuation of this incredibly positive start into future friendships, collaborations and possibilities.

Here's Neil Harris again, 'This has been an exciting departure and we have learnt a great deal as a result.' Hopefully this will '…allow us to offer our teacher training services to other countries where before we lacked the profile and experience to be contenders'.

In this period of such difficulty for many ELT professionals around the world, PRELIM is certainly offering something a little more positive.

English UK member centres taking part are:

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