Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Inspiring teachers

January 2012 - May 2013

Many of us can remember a teacher at school who inspired us to learn, who changed our relationship to a subject, and who persuaded us to invest effort in learning it, inside and outside school, over the long-term.

In the era of communicative language teaching, there is plenty of published advice for practitioners on how to make classes stimulating, and there is also an emerging line of research which examines the ‘motivational strategies’ that teachers use in class. But genuine competence in a foreign language only develops through sustained effort over many years, and we need to know what kind of teaching can inspire such a lasting commitment.

This project used an online survey to elicit learners’ views on what makes ELT ‘inspiring’ in two Asian state education systems, China and Indonesia.

In the first part of the project, we analysed these responses and produce a broad description of the features of inspiring English teaching, those common to the two national contexts and those distinct within each one.

In the second phase, we used the survey to identify eight actual teachers acclaimed by past pupils as inspiring. We then visited each of these teachers in their schools, observing them teach and talking to them about their practice and beliefs and how they have evolved over the course of their careers.

The final output was portraits of seven inspiring English teachers who might serve as an inspiration to other state school English teachers worldwide. 

Project Publications

  • Lamb, M. & Wedell, M. (2013) Inspiring English teachers: A comparative study of learner perceptions of inspirational teaching. London: The British Council.
  • Wedell, M. & Lamb, M. (2013) Portraits of inspiring English teachers in China and Indonesia. London: The British Council.

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