PRELIM 3: materials in classrooms around the world
15 January 2024

Angola Y10 students playing conversation game 600x230

PRELIM 3: materials in classrooms around the world

The third and most ambitious Partnered Remote Language Improvement Project (PRELIM) has been running for almost a year and the materials and resources created are being trialled in 25 countries.

The 15-month project consists of partnerships between accredited UK language schools and English Teacher Associations (ETAs) which are working together to create and disseminate bespoke classroom resources to support teachers in English language classes. Funded by the British Council, it is run in partnership with English UK and IATEFL, with NILE (the Norwich Institute for Language Education) as managing consultants. Its predecessors were much shorter projects designed to improve the confidence of teachers of English around the world.

"What's exciting about it is that the materials are getting into the classrooms. We're getting some student voices and some teacher voices and for the UK language schools I think it was very much theoretical until you heard back from people using the materials," said Martyn Clarke of NILE. "It's a tremendous motivational shot in the arm to hear back from teachers saying this was great, the kids loved it or that it was really helpful.

Unexpected outcomes

"Something I wasn't expecting to come out of this is how in some cases the ETAs and the UK language centres worked together to create teacher support materials. In one case they created short simple videos of teaching techniques such as elicitation and feedback. They're really well produced and beautiful," said Martyn.

"The other nice thing we are seeing the language centres reporting how exciting is to be working in such a different context that might be quite radically different to your own in terms of possibilities, class sizes, priority of education. What's interesting is that they feel they are learning a lot, questioning beliefs. You have to go back to the basics of 'what do I believe is a good learning material?' and engaging with this in contexts which have different limitations and governing variables. It's been a great exercise in self-reflection and a learning experience."

As well as supporting classroom teachers teaching in English to create lesson resources, the project aims to develop the capacity of the partners through creating and distributing contextually-relevant ELT resources, which will have lasting impact and benefit for the teachers who use them.

Bespoke materials, custom approaches

Martyn said there is a tremendous variety and creativity in the materials being trialled: they include everything from PDFs distributed online or through flash drives, interactive websites where students can do homework, downloadables and also audio files for listening. He is impressed by the creative use of existing networks in many countries where the ETAs are distributing the materials, sometimes through a launch event or conference.

"We have teachers who have seen or used the materials, discussed them in a safe environment like a workshop, then gone out and talked to colleagues in those areas. They have ownership of the materials, they say they've used them and they're great. They can help teachers mediate and negotiate the use of these materials in their classrooms so where we've had events and workshops, be it online or in-person, it's a real fillip to the process and was really good."

Spreading the word

A positive aspect of PRELIM 3 has been the dissemination grants which each partnership can apply for. Martyn believes this has enabled much of the creativity he has seen such as conferences and messaging. Different partnerships have used focus groups, conferences, workshops and USBs for areas with limited internet.


Challenges for PRELIM 3 have included variations in contextual realities and requirements for the partner countries over time. The length of the project can also make it tricky to align work cycles between UK language centres and primary and secondary schools in the different countries. "It's to the credit of the partners involved that they've managed to maintain momentum – it can be a tricky thing to do and has been a challenge for many to maintain levels of engagement over such a long period. The fact they've done it very impressive."



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