Achilleas Kostoulas

Applied Linguistics & Language Teacher Education

Pupils and teacher in class in a school in Bali

On the ELT J debate, continued

A while ago, I wrote about this year’s ELT J debate, titled “This house believes that Primary ELT does more harm than good”. Janet Enever, who spoke against the motion, has since written a post outlining some additional ideas that bear on the topic of the debate. I think it is only fair to present a summary of the argument here, considering that I only described the case against Primary ELT in my previous post.

In summary, Enever’s post covers three thematic areas:

  • Empirical evidence: Reference is made to a recent study in Germany, which suggests that Primary ELT was beneficial to half of the participants. Readers are also referred to a document produced by the State Government of Victoria, Australia, where much research is cited, from Languages Other Than English (LOTE) programmes that took place in highly-developed polities.
  • Political buy-in: Anecdotal examples are cited, from Bangladesh and Poland, suggesting that introducing Primary ELT has been politically and pragmatically challenging. The implication, as far as I could understand, seems to be that Primary ELT is not politically motivated, therefore its spread must be attributed to educational benefits.
  • Balancing language learning provision: There is some discussion of whether it is possible to support primary students in learning several languages. It is acknowledged that, in view of the global spread of English, other languages seem less important, and that balanced bilingualism is an unlikely outcome of such instruction (given the contextual constraints present in many settings). However, it is suggested that such teaching is educationally valuable.

The full text of Janet Enever’s post can be accessed from the link below:

Janet Enever reflects on the ELTJ Debate at IATEFL 2014

Image credit: ©  Australonesian Expeditions @ Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND]


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