Learners in a Greek primary school showing off their work

Teaching English to Young Learners, revisited

A while ago I wrote a blog post where I expressed my reservations about Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) in Greece. In that post, I mentioned some research about the Greek TEYL project (PEAP), which had been kindly brought to my attention by one of the project members, and I noted that the findings of that study did not align well with my own empirical data.

At the time, I noted that “the PEAP findings have yet to be published in full, so much of the discussion in this section is speculative”. I am happy to say that the findings on the PEAP project have been published in the ELT Journal Special Issue on TEYL. The full citation for the article (unfortunately behind a paywall) is:

Karavas, E. (2014). Implementing innovation in primary EFL: a case study in Greece. ELT Journal, 68(3), 243-253.
doi: 10.1093/elt/ccu019

Some relevant findings, as reported by Karavas, seem to be the following:

  • The teachers, whose continued employment depends on the success of the project, reportedly have very positive views about its impact (p. 248).
  • Because most teachers were initially ill-prepared to deliver TEYL classes (p. 245), “an effective, cost efficient, and contextualized training [programme]” was devised (p. 250). The programme does not appear to have been formally evaluated.
  • There was initially very strong resistance to the project by most stakeholders (p. 246). However, an awareness-raising intervention is claimed to have had a dramatic impact on societal attitudes towards TEYL. This claim is made on the strength of surveys among 17,000 participants (p. 249). I stand by my reservations on the methodology of these surveys, which I noted in my original blog post.
  • Accommodating to the needs of teachers, and increasing their ownership of the project seems to have been a central concern of the project team. The article does not contain information on how empirical data were used to ascertain the learners’ linguistic and affective needs when the project was being planned, and whether attempts were made to accommodate to them as well.
  • The creation of an online teacher support network is claimed to have been crucial in involving teachers involved in the project, but unfortunately no metrics are provided to help readers independently evaluate its actual impact. Most of the content of the website around which this online community is built appears to be password-protected. Contributions to this network are described as “personal reflective and very touching accounts”, but it is not clear whether this there was any qualitative analysis of the data or if the project team only engaged anecdotally with them (pp. 248-249).

Sadly, the article does not address the linguistic impact of this foreign language education project, which presents itself as an interesting opportunity for future inquiry.

Some more content about TEYL

Our IATEFL panel: A summary

This post is a summary of the 2015 IATEFL panel discussion about Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL), in which I was involved, along with Vicky Loras, Juup Stelma, Magdalena De Stefani and María Muniz.

About this post: This post was originally published on 13 June 2014. It was last updated (reformatting) in July 2020. All content, including the cover photo, are my own work.

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