English in Action (EIA) was a ground-breaking, technology-enhanced development programme that transformed the English language communication abilities of 30 million adults and children across Bangladesh. As part of a consortium led by Mott MacDonald, The Open University (OU) led the school-based Teacher Professional Development component, which aimed to improve the quality of student learning in English by improving teaching and learning practices in classrooms.
The blended learning programme allowed teachers to learn flexibly in their own classrooms, and to incorporate their learning into practice instantly. The “Trainer in the Pocket” developed by the OU was central to the programme. It was accessible offline through teachers’ own low-cost mobile devices using SD cards containing mediated video and audio learning and teaching resources in English and Bengali. Resources were aligned to the national curriculum and demonstrated highly practical activities delivered in contexts similar to the teacher’s own classroom. It combined this with face-to-face support for reflective practice in teachers’ own localities, building on existing government structures. Processes for support from peer teachers, head teachers, and local education officials were built into EIA’s TPD model to ensure that teachers would use and reflect on the activities and incorporate them into practice.
From 2008-2018, EIA reached 43,000 primary (21% of total) and 11,000 (49% of total) secondary English teachers, impacting the learning of 7.8 million schoolchildren. It achieved great impact:
- From near zero, primary school children now talk in English for 25% of lessons and secondary schoolchildren for 20%.
- From near zero, 91% of primary and 85% of secondary teacher talk is in English.
- Over 90% of teachers report that EIA has an impact on the way they teach.
- The proportion of primary and secondary students who can use basic English increased from 36% to 70%, and 40% to 80%, respectively.
- A 2017 study evidenced over 6 months a 15-16% increase in English spoken in class, and improved student learning outcomes.