In response to the pressing need to improve the quality of teaching and learning outcomes for all and to support government plans to improve English First Additional Language (EFAL) teaching, the British Council partnered with the South African Department of Basic Education since 2012 to design and deliver the Language in Education Collaboration Programme (2012-2019). The programme acknowledges the need for an immediate, system-wide intervention to make impact at scale and ultimately reach 400,000 EFAL educators - as of December 2018, the programme had reached over 130,000 educators.

Programme approach and methodology

The key methodologies of the programme are learner-centered and communicative language teaching pedagogies introduced through teacher training initiatives. In order to reach the target of 400,000 educators, a cascade training model was adopted, mirroring the DBE’s own model of teacher training. Adopting a model already embedded in the education system ensured sustainability, effectiveness and efficiency.

To mitigate the potential dilution effect of the cascade model, quality assurance measures and mitigation strategies are in place, including: a focus on experiential and reflective methodology in training; training that is open to reinterpretation; the diffusion of expertise throughout the system; the involvement of a cross-section of stakeholders in the preparation of training materials; and the decentralisation of responsibilities throughout the cascade structure.

Programme Design

The programme consists of a number of projects which together form a holistic, systemic approach:

CIPELT / CISELT: The Certificate courses in Primary and Secondary English Language Teaching aim to provide teachers with learner-centered communicative pedagogies to develop EFAL skills from grades R-12.  

LEAP: The Learn English Audio Project aims to provide training, audio resources (on SD Cards) and lessons plans for 500 grade R-4 teachers responsible for teaching the most disadvantaged and vulnerable learners. The EFAL lessons link to government-provided learner workbooks and develop the listening and speaking skills vital for the development of foundational literacy. 

Establishment of English language teacher associations: The associations promote the professional development of language teachers through the formation of professional collaborative networks. The target is one national association and nine provincial associations of English teachers.

Support and professional development for policymakers and sector leaders: In order to ensure sustainability of the programme, a targeted intervention for policymakers as seen as essential, including the provision of MA in ELT scholarships at Warwick University and international conference attendance.