News Release

Primary foreign language teachers to get digital development

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Reading

The University of Reading, in partnership with the University of Southampton, will be working on a research project over three years to improve the language and teaching skills of primary educators.

One of Reading’s researchers on the project, Professor Suzanne Graham said: “In a post-lockdown world, we want to take advantage of the digital connectivity that was created during that time and integrate it into professional development for primary school language teachers.”

The ‘Digital Empowerment in Language Teaching’ project will investigate the potential for digital technology to improve teachers’ knowledge of foreign languages, enhance their classroom skills, and support them to promote their learners’ language and literacy skills.

A Digital Professional Development programme is being established and tested in England and Scotland. The plan is to roll it out to all four nations, as a scaled-up, peer-supported version of the programme.

It will also be important to establish the mechanisms through which any changes for teachers and learners happen. The project also aims to do this.

Led by Dr Alison Porter (Southampton), the project team also includes Dr Pengchong Anthony Zhang from the University of Reading.

This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and forms part of the ESRC Education Research Programme. The programme aims to explore new approaches to attracting and developing teachers, and the use of technology for teaching and learning. It is expected to produce knowledge that informs policymaking and teaching practice, with a view to improving outcomes for children and their families.

Professor Gemma Moss, Director of the ESRC Education Research Programme, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the education research community to work in partnership with other stakeholders and find new ways of tackling some long-lasting challenges in school-based education.

“The programme recognises the devolved nature of education in the UK and in this context is looking to develop stronger links between research, policy and practice that can generate new insights relevant to local contexts."

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