Challenges in Teaching English to Young Learners: Global Perspectives and Local Realities

Fiona Copland, Sue Garton, Anne Burns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on data from a recent research international research project, this article focuses on the challenges faced by teachers of English to young learners against the backdrop of the global rise of English. A mixed-methods approach was used to obtain the data, including a survey, which was completed by 4,459 teachers worldwide, and case studies, including observations and interviews with teachers, in five different primary schools in five different countries. A number of challenges emerged as affecting large numbers of teachers in different educational contexts, namely, teaching speaking, motivation, differentiating learning, teaching large classes, discipline, teaching writing, and teaching grammar. Importantly, some of these challenges have not been highlighted in the literature on young learner teaching to date. Other challenges are more localised, such as developing teachers' English competence. The article argues that teacher education should focus less on introducing teachers to general approaches to English language teaching and more on supporting teachers to meet the challenges that they have identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-762
Number of pages25
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


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