English in Action (EIA) won the Local Innovation category of this year’s prestigious ELTons award at a ceremony in London. The British Council award is known informally as ‘the Oscars of English Language Teaching’. English in Action is using mobile phones, television dramas and tailored printed materials to help 25 million people in Bangladesh learn English. This provides a route out of poverty as it improves their chances of finding work and bringing home a salary that can support their families.
The project supports teachers by providing them with audio-visual classroom resources and professional development tools on their mobile phones, via a micro SD card, as well as associated printed materials. These are linked to the national textbook, English for Today, making it easy for teachers to incorporate activities and practices into their lessons.
The new resources have been welcomed by pupils as well as teachers. “When our teacher enters the classroom with the mobile phone and speaker, I know we will have a joyful class now. I enjoy being in the English class more than any class,” enthused Snigdha, a class four student in Kustia.
DFID Bangladesh Country Representative Sarah Cooke said, “When done well, blending education with technology increases the impact of language teaching. English in Action’s innovative design supports and motivates teachers and really brings the language to life. They have got the context exactly right here.”
Johan Bentinck of EIA, said, “The award signifies the innovations the English in Action programme has brought to the classrooms across Bangladesh. The project is not only about use of new innovative technologies, but especially on achieving a sustainable learning impact, changing how teaching and learning takes place in the classroom.”
EIA is a nine-year programme already working with 4,500 teachers, rising to 12,500 teachers and 1 million students by 2014. By its conclusion it will have reached 75,000 teachers and 10 million pupils. It also works closely with the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education and Ministry of Education, with the expectation that by 2017 the government of Bangladesh will take over the EIA schools programme within its regular education structures.
The Local Innovation category of the ELTons recognises and celebrates innovation in English language teaching. It is awarded for successful products and services designed to meet the needs of learners within a specific local, national or regional context.