Senior Academic Advisors:
  • Donald Freeman, University of Michigan, United States
  • Anne Burns, Aston University, United Kingdom, and University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Anne Katz, The New School, United States

A word on research references: We are aware that there is a wide range of research-- both in general education and in ELT-- that bears on the design of ELTeach. In an effort to keep this document manageable, we have chosen to limit the citations here to published workl using the following criteria:

A) is based on empirical studies
B) has appeared in refereed journals of international standing
C) dates since 2000, and preferably within the last decade, and
D) captures a geographical variety of contexts

We have also tried to balance citations in both general educational and ELT-related research.

  • A Research-Based Design

    ELTeach is anchored in research on how teachers learn to teach and on what makes that teaching effective for student learning. This research is summarized in the following six principles, which are the program’s research foundation. Each principle is supported by specific research literature, and the application to the ELTeach program is discussed.
    #1. The central role of the teacher:
    The classroom teacher is the key to student learning.

    ELTeach develops teachers’ skills in English and in teaching. Teachers gain confidence to conduct their classes in English, which has been shown to improve student learning. ELTeach also gives teachers the professional knowledge they need to support student learning.


    Darling-Hammond. L. & Richardson, N. (2009). “Teacher learning: What matters?” Educational Leadership, 66 (5), 46-53. 

    Fishman, J., Marx, R., Best, S., & Tal, R. T. (2003). “Linking teacher and student learning to improve professional development in systemic  
    reform”. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19, 643–658. 

    Greenwald, R., L. Hedges, & R. Laine. (1996) “The effect of school resources on student achievement”. Review of Educational Research,
    . (3). 361-396.

    Rowe, K, (2004). “The importance of teaching: Ensuring better schooling by building teacher capacities that maximize the quality of teaching
    and learning provision – Implications of findings from the international and Australian evidence-based research”.

    #2. Efficacy:
    Teachers develop competence through professional confidence.

    ELTeach builds teachers’ confidence by drawing on their prior knowledge, allowing them to manage the time spent on learning tasks (through the web-based learning environment), and by providing a clear measure of what they have done through a summative assessment. In this learning sequence, teachers build their professional confidence and sense of efficacy, which can translate into increased competence in the classroom.


    Chacón. C.T. (2005). “Teachers’ perceived efficacy among English as a foreign language teachers in middle schools in Venezuela”.
    Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 257-272.

    McDonald, R., & Kasule, D. (2005). “The monitor hypothesis and English teachers in Botswana: Problems, varieties and implications for
    language teacher education”. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 18. (2), 188-200.

    Tschannen-Moran, M., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2001). “Teacher efficacy: Capturing an elusive construct”. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17.

    Zakeri, A. & Alavi, M. (2011). “English language teachers’ knowledge and their self-efficacy”. Journal of Language Teaching and Research,
    2. (2), 413-419.

    #3. Prior knowledge:
    Teachers learn most effectively when they start with what they know.

    In ELTeach, learning is grounded in the experiences that teachers bring to teaching, both as students and as teachers. These experiences give meaning to new ideas and anchor how teachers understand them. Moving from what is familiar to what is new provides the appropriate support for effective changes in classroom practice. 


    Desimone, L. (2009). “Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures”. Educational Researcher, 38 (3). 181-199.
    Mann, S. (2005). “The language teachers’ development”. Language Teaching, 38, 103-118.
    Szesztay, M. (2004). “Teachers’ ways of knowing”. ELT Journal, 58. (2), 129-136.
    Symeonidou, S. & Phtiaka, H. (2009). “Using teachers' prior knowledge, attitudes and beliefs to develop in-service teacher education courses for inclusion”. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25 (4), 543–550.
    van den Berg, R. (2002). “Teachers’ meanings regarding educational practice”. Review of Educational Research, 72 (4), 577-625.

    #4. Time-on-task:
    Teachers build professional confidence through practice.
    In ELTeach, teachers have multiple opportunities to practice new material at their own pace. This allows them to integrate what they are learning into their existing skills and knowledge. Confidence comes when teachers recognize how these new ideas and skills can be incorporated into their current classroom practices.


    Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). “Teacher education and the American future”. Journal of Teacher Education, 61 (1-2). 35-47.
    Grenfell, M., M. Kelly, R. Allan, C. Kriza, & W. McEvoy . (2004). The European Profile for Language Teacher Education.
    Lamotea, C. & Engels, N. (2010). “The development of student teachers’ professional identity”. European Journal of Teacher Education, 33 (1), 3-18.
    Walkington, J. (2005). “Becoming a teacher: Encouraging development of teacher identity through reflective practice”. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 33. (1), 53-64.

    #5. Feedback:
    Feedback that is explicit and timely promotes teacher learning.
    As a program that integrates learning materials and assessments, ELTeach provides two kinds of feedback. The materials provide ongoing opportunities for teachers to receive feedback (e.g. on their oral production through speech recognition and through regular self-check activities). The independently developed assessments, which are closely connected to the learning materials, provide descriptive feedback on teachers’ understanding of the course content.


    Carless, D. (2006). “Differing perceptions in the feedback process”. Studies in Higher Education, 31. (2), 219-233.
    Larrivee. B. (2008). “Development of a tool to assess teachers’ level of reflective practice”. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives. 9. (3), 341-360.
    Wang, Y, Chen, N-S & Levy, M. (2010). “The design and implementation of a holistic training model for language teacher education in a cyber face-to-face learning environment”. Computers and Education, 55. (2), 777–788.
    Ypsilandis, G. S. (2002). “Feedback in distance education”. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 15, (2), 167-181.

    #6. Connection to local classroom practices:
    Teachers deepen their understanding of new materials when they can apply that learning to their own classrooms.

    ELTeach recognizes and supports the critical connection between the global ELT knowledge-base and local classroom practices and curricula. It provides new language to express that knowledge in the local educational context.


    Borko, H. (2004). “Professional development and teaching learning: Mapping the terrain”. Educational Researcher, 33. (8), 3-15.
    Malcolm, J., Hodkinson P. & Colley, H. (2003). ”The interrelationships between informal and formal learning”. Journal of Workplace Learning, 15. (7/8), 313 – 318.
    Hodkinson, P. & Hodkinson, H. (2007). “The significance of individuals' dispositions in workplace learning: A case study of two teachers”. Journal of Education and Work,17. (2), 167-182.
    Tigchelaar, A. & Korthagen, F. (2004). “Deepening the exchange of student teaching experiences: Implications for the pedagogy of teacher education of recent insights into teacher behaviour”. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20. (7), 665–679.

  • English-for-Teaching

    Research on the English needed by teachers in EFL contexts (Elder, 2001) has led to a different model of language competence, which we refer to as English-for-Teaching. English-for-Teaching defines this language competence as the English needed in the specific context of the classroom. The focus is on how language knowledge is used in classroom teaching situations. This involves knowledge about a specific content, which is pedagogical: How to present and practice the required curriculum in English (Rossell, 2005). Thus, English-for-Teaching focuses on the language structures and classroom vocabulary, drawn from general language competence, which are used to teach curriculum content in classroom situations. It the English a teacher needs to get the job of classroom teaching done.



    Descriptions of the language that teachers use in classroom instruction (Cazden, 2001; Gibbons, 2002) have provided an empirical base for defining the language competence that English language teachers need to teach in English. Like other descriptions of English for specific purposes (Douglas, 2000), teacher language competence-for-teaching is dynamic. It acknowledges that local differences—in the purposes and emphases of instruction, the needs of learners, as well as curricula and materials—will determine the level and kind of language competence-for-teaching that a teacher will need to teach English in English in a particular classroom situation (Butler, 2004; Sešek, 2006). In this way, language competence-for-teaching links language and content knowledge so that teachers can authentically use English during instruction.


    Butler, Y.G. (2004). “What level of English proficiency do elementary school teachers need to attain to teach EFL? Case studies from Korea, Taiwan, and Japan”. TESOL Quarterly, 38. (2): 245-278.

    Cazden, C. (2001). Classroom discourse: The language of teaching and learning. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    Douglas, D. (2000). Assessing languages for specific purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Elder, C. (2001). “Assessing the language proficiency of teachers: Are there any border controls?” Language Testing, 18. (21), 149-170.

    Rossell, C. (2005). “Teaching English in English”. Educational Leadership, 62. (4), 32-36.

    Sešek, U. (2006). “English for teachers of EFL: Toward a holistic description”. English for Specific Purposes, 26. 411-425.


  • Professional Knowledge for English Language Teaching

    Professional knowledge for English Language Teaching (ELT) develops from many complex and interrelated sources: teachers’ experiences in pre- and in-service teacher training programs (Lortie, 1975), their opportunities for reflection on what they do, as well as their own language learning backgrounds, beliefs and experiences (Morine-Dershimer & Kent, 2002). This knowledge develops over time and is related to teachers’ increasing exposure to new ideas (Watzke, 2007), how they accommodate these ideas within their beliefs and practices, and how they apply the new knowledge in their own classrooms and schools (Gatbonton, 2008).

    ELTeach builds teachers’ professional knowledge by introducing key elements of the global knowledge-base of English language teaching, identified from international and national professional standards. These elements may be new or they may be familiar to teachers. However, here teachers meet and work with them in English, in terms of their own classrooms and teaching experience. Moving through this cycle of professional learning in English helps to deepen pedagogical reasoning (Shulman 1987) and to connect teachers to the global ELT community (Fraga-Canadas, 2011).


    Developing Professional Knowledge in a Global Context

    A.  Elements of Global Professional Knowledge

    Teachers need specific elements of professional knowledge to be effective in the classroom. These elements include knowledge of content, knowledge of students, and knowledge of teaching (Ball, Thames & Phelps, 2008). In ELTeach these theoretical concepts reflect fundamental and current thinking in the field. Core teaching practices and the foundations of professional knowledge are grounded in teacher education standards at the international, regional, and national levels. This ensures that effective teaching is defined from a global perspective.

    B.   Anchored in Local Practices

    Enacting these concepts is a complex undertaking. Pedagogical training can often be highly theoretical and removed from the classroom, and can lead to discouragement and skepticism if teachers find that what they know and do on a daily basis is disconnected from the more generalized professional knowledge-base (Ball, 2000). When theoretical ideas can be anchored in local contexts and practices, however, they have been shown to be more effectively implemented (Ingvarson et al, 2005). ELTeach recognizes that the development of professional knowledge must be closely tied to teachers’ local conditions (Park & Oliver, 2008) and to the way they perceive the needs of learners in their own classrooms (Ng et al, 2010). This process of ‘localizing professional knowledge’ is central to teachers’ ability to select and apply effective teaching methodologies within their own teaching situations. In this way, ELTeach is built on a ‘glo-cal’—global + local—blending of global professional knowledge with local conditions of use (Westbury et al, 2005).

    C.  Expressed in English

    There are benefits for both students and teachers when teachers develop their capacities to use English to participate in a global professional community. By introducing key professional concepts in English and enabling participants to relate this knowledge to their own teaching contexts, ELTeach enhances language skills in combination with professional knowledge. Professional development in ELTeach emphasizes the importance of building on what teachers know, thus connecting them with the wider professional community (Orland-Barak & Yinon, 2007). These links depend fundamentally on English as the vehicle for global professional participation.


    Ball. D. L. (2000). “Bridging practices: Intertwining content and pedagogy in teaching and learning to teach”. Journal of Teacher Education, 51. (3). 241-247.
    Ball, D. L, Thames, M.H., & Phelps, G. (2008). ”Content knowledge for teaching: What makes it special?” Journal of Teacher Education, 59. (5), 389-407.
    Carless, D. (2004). “A contextualised examination of target language use in the primary school foreign language classroom”. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 27. (1), 104-119.
    Gatbonton, E. (2008). “Looking beyond teachers' classroom behaviour: Novice and experienced ESL teachers' pedagogical knowledge”. Language Teaching Research 12. (2. 161-182.
    Ingvarson, L. Meiers, M. & Beavis, A. (2005). “Factors affecting the impact of professional development programs on teachers' knowledge, practice, student outcomes & efficacy”. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13(10).
    Kang, D. (2008). “An exploratory study of university EFL students’ participation in CBI”. English Language Teaching, 21. (1), 19-40.
    Lortie. D. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    Morine-Dershimer, G. & Kent, T. (2002). “The complex nature and sources of teachers’ pedagogical knowledge”. Science and Technology Education Library, 6. 21-50.
    Ng, W., Nicholas, H., & Williams, A. (2010). “School experience influences on pre-service teachers' evolving beliefs about effective teaching”. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26. (2). 278–289.
    Orland-Barak, L. & Yinon, H. (2007). “When theory meets practice: What student teachers learn from guided reflection on their own classroom discourse”. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23. (6), 957–969.
    Park, S. & Oliver, J.S. (2008). “Revisiting the conceptualisation of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK): PCK as a conceptual tool to understand teachers as professionals”. Research in Science Education, 38. (3), 261-284.
    Shulman, L. S. (1987). “Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform”. Harvard Educational Review, 57. 1-22.
    Watzke, J. L (2007). “Foreign language pedagogical knowledge: Toward a developmental theory of beginning teacher practices”. Modern Language Journal, 9.
    (1), 63–82.
    Westbury, I., Hansén, S., Kansanen, P. & Björkvist. O. (2005). “Teacher education for research-based practice in expanded roles: Finland's experience”. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 49. (5), 475-485.
  • The Development Process

    ELTeach was developed through a uniquely 21st century process of consultation and collaboration. The program is anchored in two global frameworks, one for English-for-teaching and the other for Professional knowledge for English language teaching. Each framework is articulated in learning materials and documented in assessments. The frameworks that drive ELTeach serve to align the two parts of the program and to anchor the learning materials and assessments in relation to one another.


    The two frameworks were developed in parallel, through a three-step process.



    Standards Review

    In Step #1, we reviewed various sets of national and regional standards, as well as those from international professional organizations, to identify common elements in what teachers need to know and do. This review resulted in a draft framework for professional knowledge in ELT.

    Global Knowledge-base

    In Step #2, we wanted to test the draft framework, which had been derived from policy documents, against a consensus on professional knowledge. To identify such a knowledge-base, we worked with the professional publication book list from Heinle-Cengage. The premise was that these books, which included 32 titles published over a span of 26 years, had been both peer reviewed as manuscripts for initial publication, and have continued to influence the global ELT community as knowledge statements. We analyzed these books at the chapter level, tagging the content to the categories of the ELTeach draft frameworks. This work resulted in an elaborated framework that corroborated the initial categories, identified some additional ones, and added detailed exemplars.

    Global Professional Panels

    In Step #3, we convened two review panels, one focusing on English-for-teaching and the other on Professional knowledge for English language teaching. The panels, made up of 19 members from 11 countries, included ministry of education officials, university professors involved in pre- and in-service teacher education, professional materials writers, and educational researchers. Each panel met virtually four times over a three-month period to produce a ‘final’ version of the framework. The English-for-teaching framework was supported with a ‘language bank’ of functional English used in teaching, drawn from national curricula, student materials, and relevant classroom-based research. The Professional Knowledge framework identified and distilled nine core areas, three of which were designated as core knowledge and six of which addressed teaching skills.
    Together these two frameworks served to anchor the parallel development of the learning materials and the assessments. The resulting closely aligned system underpins the core claim that ELTeach supports classroom teachers to teach more confidently within the guidelines and expectations of their national curriculum.

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