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Professor Richard Smith's Inaugural Lecture

Teaching in Difficult Circumstances revisited – again?!

‘Teaching in difficult circumstances’ – a phrase often used to denote the sort of large-class, low-resource (English language) teaching situation which is common in public education settings across the Global South – took on a more general as well as deeper resonance during the pandemic. In this lecture, I looked back at my research and teaching at Warwick over the last 23 years, with a particular focus on my work supporting teachers of English in different African, Asian and Latin American contexts. I considered some wider aspects and lessons of this work, as well as possible future directions and implications for the field of ELT.

Professor Richard Smith has taught at Warwick since 2000, when he joined the Centre for English Language Teacher Education, precursor of the present Department of Applied Linguistics. Aside from teaching on the MA TESOL (Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages) programme, he has supervised 25 students to successful completion of a doctoral thesis, and he now also teaches first year undergraduates on the BA English Language and Linguistics programme. His research and professional interests lie in two main areas: history of language learning and teaching, and English language teacher development. To nourish the former area, he founded the Warwick ELT Archive ( in 2002 and an international research network ( in 2015. In the latter area, he is known for his leadership of international initiatives involving Exploratory Action Research, an Enhancement Approach to teacher development, and the engagement of ‘teacher-learner autonomy’, all of which also informed his recent work as co-leader of the WIHEA Learning Circle on Pedagogic Research in Higher Education. His most recent publication – Decentring ELT: Practices and Possibilities, co-edited with Amol Padwad – was published in April by AINET Association of English Teachers (India) with the A.S. Hornby Educational Trust.

Further details of Richard’s activities and publications are here:

This event was co-hosted by the Warwick International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA) and the Department of Applied Linguistics.