Filling the Gap in Research into Teacher Education for YL Language Teachers

We recently published Early Language Learning and Teacher Education edited by Subhan Zein and Sue Garton. In this post Sue explains the inspiration behind the book.

Up until recently, I think it is fair to say that Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) was very much a neglected area of research in English Language Teaching (ELT) and Applied Linguistics. It was even more neglected if we look at languages other than English. Fortunately, as Fiona Copland and I noted in our introduction to the 2014 ELT Journal Special Issue, that has changed quite rapidly over the last few years, for English at least, to the extent that we can perhaps say that the field has experienced something of a coming of age. This can be seen, I think, in such milestones as that ELTJ Special Issue as well as a Language Teaching’s 2015 State-of-the-Art article by Yuko Butler reviewing research in East Asia from 2004-2014 and the recent Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners published last year.

However, in all this very welcome activity, one area that still seems to attract less attention is that of teacher education for teachers of young learners (YLs), and it is this lack of attention that was the inspiration for this volume. There are, of course, some very notable exceptions, such as Helen Emery’s 2012 report for the British Council, and the work of my co-editor, Subhan Zein. However, the body of published research remains limited and yet the education, development and training of language teachers in primary schools is of paramount importance.

So that is why we decided the time was ripe for a volume of research into teacher education for YL language teachers. Note here that we say ‘language teachers’ not ‘English language teachers’. From the start, we were committed to preparing a volume that recognised that language teaching is not only English language teaching. Chapters about English teaching dominate because that is the reality we live in, but there are also chapters about teacher education for teachers of French, German and Spanish in the UK and for teachers in bi-lingual/multi-lingual education in Turkey (Turkish-Italian), Kazakhstan (Kazak -English–Russian) and the USA (Spanish–English). A global perspective was also important to us. Following my involvement in the 2011 British Council project on Investigating Global Practices in Teaching English to Young Leaners, I was ever more strongly convinced of the relevance of the local to the global and the importance of the idea of resonance – that the experiences of teachers and teacher educators in one context can resonate strongly with those in an apparently very different context, and that we can all learn a lot from each other. That is why we have chapters from Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK, the USA.

The diversity and variety of the chapters in the book are, I feel, one of its biggest strengths and, although this might seem contradictory, its biggest unifying factor, and we sincerely hope that the research presented will resonate with readers both in similar contexts and in very different ones.

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Early Instructed Second Language Acquisition edited by Joanna Rokita-Jaśkow and Melanie Ellis. 

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