Transitions between Primary and Secondary Schools for Young Learners of English

This study aims to respond to the British Council’s interest in the learning and teaching of English at younger ages and in teacher education and training. It also intends to build on the findings of the recent ELTRA project, Global Practices in Teaching Young Learners (Garton, Copland & Burns, 2011) which revealed the challenges facing teachers of young learners and the local practices they employed. This study will examine the issues which arise when learners move up the educational system and how curriculum policy and teaching practice can bridge any potential gaps.

In many countries around the world English is now compulsory in primary education. However, curricula and practices that support children as they move from primary levels (Level 1) to secondary levels (Level 2) are often realised in an ad hoc way because there is little research to inform policy decisions. This study will take a first step towards addressing key factors in transition by looking at international policy and practices, in order to answer the following questions:
  1. How do ELT curriculum/policy documents inform transition from primary to secondary levels?

  2. What are the main teaching and learning issues that primary and secondary teachers perceive about transition?

  3. What are ELT teachers’ perceptions of their roles and responsibilities in relation to transition and what challenges do they face?

  4. What similarities and differences in transition issues can be identified across different international contexts?

The answer to these questions will contribute towards answering two further questions:

  1. What local solutions to transition issues have the potential for international relevance?

  2. How can these solutions be used to inform teacher education and training for transition?


If you teach young learners at the transition levels, we are interested in your experience. Please tell us about your experiences by completing the following survey. This survey is completely confidential.

Transition in ELT Survey.

The results will be published to inform good practice in ELT teaching. If you wish to receive the results of the study, please indicate at the end of the survey.

If you complete the survey, you have the opportunity to win a book prize: Burns, A. & J.C. Richards (2012). Tips for teaching listening: A practical approach.

Research Team  

Professor Anne Burns

Dr Muna Morris-Adams

Dr Sue Garton

Dr Fiona Copland

Dr Juliane Schwarz