views updated May 18 2018

ELT, short for English Language Teaching. A British term for TEACHING ENGLISH to non-native learners, often used in recent years either interchangeably with EFL (English as a Foreign Language) or as a cover term for EFL and ESL (English as a Second Language). Some commentators, such as Peter Strevens, have classified it as part of FLT (Foreign Language Teaching) in general. The term is not much used in North America, and tends not only to be the British term for the subject but also to be the term for the British approach to the subject. The organized teaching of English to foreign learners in England dates from the 16c. During the 17–19c self-instruction manuals were published throughout Europe to meet the needs of travellers and traders, and while mother-tongue teaching in the schools was bound up with parsing, translation, and literature, there was more emphasis in such books on immediate results and on oral rather than written production. The reform movement of the late 19c slowly moved foreign-language teaching both within and outside the formal systems of education towards a greater emphasis on speech and spontaneous use. It also represented a systematic attempt to derive methods of LANGUAGE TEACHING from the precepts of the developing science of linguistics.

Individuals and institutions

As the language spread with general EDUCATION and the evolution of the British Empire into the COMMONWEALTH, ELT became a major element in the emerging post-colonial school systems. At first, syllabuses deriving from the teaching of English as a mother tongue predominated, with a strong literary emphasis, but the work of such 20c practitioners as Harold Palmer, Michael WEST, and A. S. HORNBY built on the reformers' direct method and moved techniques away from traditional literature-based approaches. West concentrated on the use of graded vocabulary in reading programmes and Palmer and Hornby developed syllabuses based on limited ranges of grammatical structures. The work of West in India and Palmer and Hornby in Japan continued through teacher trainers like John Bright and Lionel Billows in East Africa until well after independence from colonial rule.

The BRITISH COUNCIL, from its foundation in 1934–5, played a significant role in ELT research and development throughout the world. British publishers throughout the years after the Second World War expanded their ELT production, and a superstructure of teacher-training courses, research programmes, and professional associations developed. The Institute of Education at the U. of London trained EFL teachers from 1932, and had a chair in the subject from 1948 (its chair in teaching English in Britain being founded in 1976). The School (later Department) of Applied Linguistics at the U. of Edinburgh was founded in 1956, expressly to support high-level work in ELT, and the Association of Recognized English Language Schools (ARELS) was founded in 1960 to introduce professional controls on private English-language schools in UK.


Academically, the 1960s saw a swing away from work aimed at the COMMONWEALTH, to freelance and non-state-funded work throughout the world. The transfer of money to the Middle East resulting from the oil revolution of 1973 created a massive market for advanced education and thus indirectly for the English language that gave access to teachers and textbooks in major technical areas. English for specific purposes (ESP), providing access to academic English for education or job-specific English for training, became a major area of development. GENERAL ENGLISH, at lower levels in the educational systems, was neglected in the 1970s until the desire to humanize what was perceived as an aridly scientific emphasis brought back into consideration many traditional practices such as literature teaching and TRANSLATION. At the same time, approaches deriving from various psychological therapeutic models, such as the Silent Way, Counselling Learning, and Suggestopedia, became popular, particularly in the US, as another means of humanizing language teaching. While very different in the techniques and strategies adopted, these shared a concern to develop the full psychological potential of individual learners.

In the 1990s, the relationship between language and personal identity is a major issue for ELT theory, as the social and cultural implications of the role of English as an international language are assimilated. See EXAMINING IN ENGLISH, LANGUAGE LEARNING, TEFL, TEIL, TESD, TESL.


views updated May 17 2018

ELT Physics effective Lagrangian theory
English language teaching (for foreign students)
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