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.
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.
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.