Learn English in the UK or in your own countryspacerUK courses and qualifications in the UK or in your own countryspacerThe best of British arts, media and designspacerPromoting British expertise in science, engineering, technology, environment and healthspacerGovernance and the rights of peoplespacerLibraries, information centres, seminars,  knowledge networks and the information society
What is the British Council?spacerVisit our worldwide network of officesspacerRead all about our collaborative workspacerFind our services, departments, libraries, personnel, etc.
The British Council home page
  Worldwide survey of primary ELT

Review the findings of the survey

List of countries | Public sector | Private sector

About the survey

This is a survey of what is happening in teaching English as a foreign language to Young Learners (children under the age of 11 years) at the levels of public policy, beliefs and practical implementation. The survey was designed by Shelagh Rixon, from the Centre for English Language Teacher Education, University of Warwick.

A common experience for those interested in this area has been that there are sources available for theoretical perspectives, but that it is more difficult to discover what exactly is happening on a day-to-day basis in schools and teacher training institutions in different countries. Most information has come through journalism, personal experience and anecdotes. We decided to collect information from more authoritative sources and to display it in a way that allows it to be updated rapidly as situations change.

We feel that reliable information on Young Learners teaching is of considerable practical importance in the following ways:

  • Course providers such as universities, colleges and language schools need accurate information when they tailor teacher education courses to the needs of Young Learners teachers from different countries.

  • There is a very widespread public faith in the 'Younger = Better' equation. Faith, rather than experience, seems to be a strong factor in the decision in many countries to lower the age at which English or another foreign language is taught. It could be beneficial for those in countries thinking of embarking on a new project to teach English to young children to have information on the decisions taken in other places, and on some of the practical consequences they have had, both positive and negative.

These issues are starting to become of more concern at a public level in a number of countries. A measure of this concern is the number of enquiries seeking expert advice on YL made to British Council offices worldwide. These have often come from senior government officials, from a Minister of Education's private office for example, sometimes after an introduction of Young Learner teaching has not brought the publicly desired swift results, or for reasons such as a change of government and a desire to re-evaluate the activity in terms of its cost-effectiveness. Some have come from countries wishing to make a start and to teach EYL in the most effective way possible.

The audience for the results of these investigations is, therefore, a professional as well as an academic one, and the questions include facts and figures and practical issues that may be of use to decision makers.

The information summarised on the web pages was collected by means of a questionnaire. The informants were contacted via British Council offices or relevant professional associations and were selected for their local knowledge and professional standing in the field of teaching English to Young Learners. Every attempt has been made to supply accurate and up-to-date information, but the British Council cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of the data gathered. To facilitate interpretation of the information on each country page, the date at which the information was collected or last reviewed can be found at the end of the page.

We want to share our findings with language teaching professionals, and all those involved in decision making in this area. We would like to acknowledge here all those who have contributed to this survey.

Expanding the survey

If you would like to contribute data for us to add to the survey, or have more information or enquiries, please contact ELT Group.

We would be particularly grateful for assistance with information on countries for which so far it has not been possible to collect data; the questionnaire may be downloaded for this purpose. (Please select Word or Rich Text format.)

Futher informaion

Key questions about EYL
Articles about EYL

Back to the top | Back to English home page

© British Council. The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for educational and cultural relations. Registered in England as a Charity.  Our privacy statement.