Building ELT research capacity in India

Richard Smith, University of Warwick

In late July I completed a week-long consultations tour at the invitation of the British Council India, visiting two locations – the English and Foreign Languages University (EFL-U), Hyderabad, and the Central Institute of Education, Delhi University.

The aim of my visit was to initiate a three year (2013-16) project plan for an ELT Research Survey of India, adapted from the UK ELT Research Directory (a British Council funded initiative for which I have been the primary consultant). The proposed Survey will, for the first time, bring information about ELT research in India onto a single, fully-searchable online platform. While The British Council is the prime mover behind this project, work is in progress regarding a multilateral partnership between Warwick University, EFL-U and Delhi University in the first phase, and growing in subsequent phases with British Council contribution and management tapering off in a planned manner.

Consultations with EFLU and other South India-based ELT academics

Consultations with EFLU and other South India-based ELT academics

Consultations in Delhi

Consultations in Delhi

This visit follows on from a preliminary desirability and feasibility study that I undertook in February 2012. During the trip just completed we made very substantial progress in terms of:

  • securing firm commitments from key partner organisations and individuals
  • formation of an academic core team with participants from EFL-U and Delhi University
  • project planning for all three years of the programme.

This visit included consultations with over 30 leading academics in ELT from seven key ELT and Education organisations across India (with two joining the Hyderabad consultations and the other five the Delhi one).

Debanjan Chakrabarti, Head of English Research and Publications for the Council in India, also secured an important meeting with Dr Jagdish Arora, Director of INFLIBNET (the library network that connects all HE institutions in India). He immediately saw the merit of the project and offered to host it on the INFLIBNET server, subject to a MoU /contract that is also ratified by his organisation.

In addition to the core project consultations and planning, I also conducted a series of capacity building and mentoring symposia – two in Hyderabad (one for 40 Ph D and M Phil students, and one with research supervisors) and one in Delhi, jointly with Professor Rama Mathew, Dean and Head of the Department of Education / Central Institute of Education, for 30 PhD/ M Phil students and academics.Prof Mathew and I had previously made the final recommendations for the first ELT Research Partnership Awards, the results of which were publicly announced on 29 July.

The talk has been recorded and will be edited and shared on the British Council India website as part of capacity building support for ELT research and also to provide guidance for the next round of ELTRP Award applicants.

Hyderabad's iconic Charminar

Hyderabad’s iconic Charminar

It was evident from my consultations with academics and other leading ELT professionals, from evaluating the ELTRP applications and from conversations with research students in ELT and Education that there are pressing needs for support and research capacity building in the field of ELT in India which the British Council is beginning to fill.



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2 thoughts on “Building ELT research capacity in India


    The initiative of the British council in Building ELT Research capacity in India with a three year Project is a welcome development for the teachers of English in India. The need for such a project is the need of the hour as it will bring to light all the work of research in ELT carried out in India. Though efforts have been made to work for this project with EFLU, Hyderabad and CIE, University of Delhi, it would be more appropriate if the work done in the area of ELT, Applied Linguistics is documented in this project from all the other universities in India – for instance the Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies of Central University of Hyderabad has a lot of pioneer work in the field of Applied Linguistics and other areas of language teaching and teacher training. There are several other state universities/central universities where research work is being undertaken in the area of ELT and related fields. Also, there are ELTIs in India where a substantial research in the area of ELT is being carried out in India. The research work in the field of ELT at the ELTI’s also need to be incorporated in the project.There is a need to send communication to all the Indian universities ( as per the list available with UGC/ Association of Indian Universities) to send all the details of the work carried out in the area of ELT research and other allied areas of language teaching/applied linguistics. When the study is comprehensive, the project of British Council in Building the ELT research capacity in India will be complete in its all respects and would be useful reference guide to all the teachers /researchers of English at various levels. Research studies need to guide the classroom teaching and also the research undertaken by some teachers by way of action research also need to be documented.


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