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Publications - Teaching English in Large Classes / Difficult Circumstances

This site is maintained by Dr Richard Smith for the TELC (Teaching English in Large Classes) research and teacher development network. If you are interested in issues of large class teaching / teaching in otherwise challenging circumstances in developing country contexts, please see also the main TELC network websiteLink opens in a new window and join our Facebook groupLink opens in a new window, which currently has more than 3,000 members. More practical resources specifically targeted at teachers and teacher educatorsLink opens in a new window are also available.


Banegas, D., Bullock, D., Kiely, R., Kuchah, K., Padwad, A. & Wedell, M. 2022. 'Decentring ELT: Teacher Associations as agents of change'. ELT Journal 76/1: 69–76.

Smith, R. 2022. 'Mentoring teacher-research: from situated practice to global guidance'. In Wyatt, M. & Dikilitas, K. (eds.) International Perspectives on Mentoring in English Language Education. Palgrave Macmillan, 229–247

Smith, R. & Rebolledo, P. 2022. 'Exploratory Action Research for enhanced teaching and learning'. London: British Council.


Anderson, J., Padwad, A. & Smith, R. 2021. 'Language teaching in difficult circumstances' In Coombe, C. & Mohebbi, H. (eds.) Research Questions in Language Education and Applied Linguistics: A Reference Guide. Springer, 111–116.

Dipika Gode, Shekhar Khomne, Raju Lingala, Kuheli Mukherjee, Nurjahan Naik Khwaja, Vinayadhar Raju Prathikantam, Manjusha Sagrolikar and Gajanan Tayade. 2021. Connecting eight effective ELT classrooms: Contexts, challenges and solutions. Delhi: AINET

Sowton, C. 2021. Teaching in Challenging Circumstances. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gnawali, L., Laudari, S., & Shrestha, S. (eds). (2021). Exploratory Action Research: Stories of Nepalese EFL Teachers. Kathmandu: NELTA.


Smith, R. 2020. 'Mentoring teacher-research: challenges and benefits according to Nepali mentors'. British Council Community of Practice for Teacher Educators Research Report Online


Kuchah, K. and Smith, R. 2018. 'An invitation to Teacher Association Research'. English Language Teacher Education Journal. 21: 64–71

Smith, R. and Rebolledo, P. 2018. A Handbook for Exploratory Action Research. London: British Council.

Kuchah, K. and Shamim, F. (eds) 2018. International Perspectives on Teaching English in Difficult Circumstances: Contexts, Challenges and Possibilities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Smith, R., Kuchah, K. and Lamb, M. 2018. 'Learner autonomy in developing countries' In Chik, A., Aoki, N. and Smith, R. (eds). Autonomy in Language Learning and Teaching: New Research Agendas. London: Palgrave Pivot.

2006–2017 publications by network members

Ajjan, M., Saleem, M. and Smith, R. 2012. Thematic Bibliography on Large Class Teaching / Teaching in Difficult Circumstances (2002 onwards), 2nd edition. Online:

Anderson, J. 2015. Teaching English in Africa: A Guide to the Practice of English Language Teaching for Teachers and Trainees. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers. Further information

Coleman, H. 2006. 'Darwin and the large class'. In Gieve, S. and I.K. Miller (eds) Understanding the Language Classroom. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 115-135.

Ekembe, E. 2016. 'Do ‘resourceful’ methodologies really work in ‘under-resourced’ contexts? In Murphy, A (ed.). New Developments in Foreign Language Learning. New York: NOVA Science.

Khathi, A.R. 2010. 'Exploring common expectations from students in large multilevel secondary level English classes'. Journal of NELTA 15/1-2: 98-105. Online: opens in a new window

Kuchah, K. and Smith, R. 2011. ‘Pedagogy of autonomy for difficult circumstances: From practice to principles’. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching 5/2: 119-139. Free access.Link opens in a new window

Kuchah, K. with S. Blok. 2017. Teaching ELT in challenging circumstances: an interview with Harry Kuchah Kuchah. TESOL International Association Blog. Online.

Loo, A. 2007. Teaching and Learning Modern Languages in Large Classes. Aachen/Germany: Shaker. ISBN 978-3-8322-6609-7.

Loo, A. 2010. 'Large Language Classes'. Tapestries 4: 47-66 (Mingchuan University, Taiwan).

Phyak, P.B. 2011. 'Teaching English in large multicultural classes: a narrative enquiry'. In Pattison, T. (ed.) IATEFL 2010 Harrogate Conference Selections. Canterbury: IATEFL.

Phyak, P. 2015. 'From ‘schooled pedagogy’ to ‘pedagogy of disaster’: The role of EFL teachers in the super-difficult circumstance of post-disaster Nepal'. ELT Choutari (July 2015). [The entire issue is devoted to 'EFL Teachers in super-difficult circumstance'].

Pinter, A., Mathew, R. & Smith, R. 2016. Children and Teachers as Co-researchers in Indian Primary English Classrooms. London: British Council. Online (Open Access).

Rebolledo, P., Smith, R. and Bullock, D. 2016. Champion Teachers: Stories of Exploratory Action Research. London: British Council. Online (Open Access).

Shamim, F. 2010. 'Plenary: Teaching and researching English in large classes'. In Beaven, B. (ed.) IATEFL 2009: Cardiff Conference Selections. Canterbury: IATEFL, pp. 36-47. Associated talk hereLink opens in a new window [currently unavailable].

Shamim, F. and Kuchah, K. 2016. 'Teaching large classes in difficult circumstances'. In Hall, G. (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of English Language Teaching. Abingdon: Routledge.

Shamim, F., Negash, N., Chuku, C. and Demewoz, N. 2007. Maximising Learning in Large Classes: Issues and Options. Addis Abbaba: The British Council. Available online: opens in a new window

Smith, R. 2008. 'Taking the bull by its horns: Zakia Sarwar's pro-autonomy approach to large classes in Pakistan (Part I)'. Independence 44: 7-13. pdf hereLink opens in a new window
Link opens in a new window

Smith, R. 2011. 'Teaching English in difficult circumstances: A new research agenda'. In Pattison, T. (ed.) IATEFL 2010 Harrogate Conference Selections. Canterbury: IATEFL. Pre-publication version here. Video of original conference presentation hereLink opens in a new window [currently unavailable].

Smith, R. 2014. ‘Transformations in ELT: Agents, contexts and opportunities’. In Shrestha, P.N., Dhakal, K.R., Ojha, L.P., Rana, L.B., and Rawal, H. (eds) NELTA Conference Proceedings 2013. Kathmandu, Nepal: Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association, pp. 12-22. Pre-publication versionLink opens in a new window

Smith, R. 2015. ‘Exploratory action research: why, what, and where from?’ In Dikilitas, K., Smith, R. and Trotman, W (eds). Teacher-researchers in Action. Faversham: IATEFL, Chapter 3 (pp. 37-45). Online (Open Access).

Smith, R. 2015. 'Teaching English in difficult circumstances: a conversation'. NELTA ELT Forum (July 2015). [The entire issue is devoted to 'Teaching English in difficult circumstances'].

Smith, R. and Kuchah, K. 2016. 'Researching teacher associations'. ELT Journal 70/2: 212-221.

Smith, R., Padwad, A. and Bullock, D. 2017. Teaching in Low-resource Classrooms: Voices of Experience. London: British Council.

Smith, R., Negash, N., França, V., Wang, Q., Phyak, P., Ajjan, M., Kuchah, H.K., Saleem, M., Sarwar, Z., and Coleman, H. 2012. 'Investigating large classes' (panel discussion). In Pattison, T. (ed.) IATEFL 2011 Brighton Conference Selections. Canterbury: IATEFL. Pre-publication version hereLink opens in a new window. Video from original panel discussion hereLink opens in a new window and handouts/discussionsLink opens in a new window The latter will eventually be taken down from the British Council website, so more permanent links are here: 1Link opens in a new window. 2.Link opens in a new window 3.Link opens in a new window 4.Link opens in a new window 5. Link opens in a new window6. Link opens in a new window(pdf)

Strawson, H. et al. 2013. 53 Ways to Deal with Large Classes [with contributions by Mais Ajjan and Richard Smith]. Newmarket, Suffolk: The Professional and Higher Partnership.

TELC discussion papers

The following unpublished papers/notes have been contributed by TELC committee members for information / as a basis for discussion:

Coleman, H. 2009. 'Some recent thoughts on class size issues'Link opens in a new window.

Sarwar, Z. 2011. 'Project-based learning: overview and activities for large classes'Link opens in a new window (handout for TELC panel discussion at IATEFL 2011).

Wang, Q. and Zhang, N. 2011. 'Teaching large classes in China - English as a foreign language'Link opens in a new window.

Smith, R. 2019. Handout for Panel Discussion on 'Teacher Agency in English Language Teaching in Difficult Circumstances'. IATEFL 2019.

Other links

Institute of Education (London) Class Size Research ProjectLink opens in a new window (1996+)

Benbow, J., Mizrachi, A., Oliver, D. and Said-Moshir, L. 2007. Large Class Sizes in the Developing World: What Do We Know and What Can We Do?Link opens in a new window. American Institutes for Research under the EQUIP1 LWA.

Australian Universities Teaching Committee (AUTC): Teaching Large Classes Project Link opens in a new window(2001)

Hywel Coleman: Learning and Teaching in Large Classes (including Large Class Bibliography, to 2002). New site under construction:

Maley, Alan. 'The teaching of English in difficult circumstances: Who needs a health farm when they're starving?'Link opens in a new window. Humanising Language Teaching 3/6 (November 2001).

Pasigna, A. (1997). Tips on how to manage a large classLink opens in a new window. IEQ project. Institute for International Research.

Shamim, Fauzia. 1993. Teacher-learner behaviour and classroom processes in large ESL classes in PakistanLink opens in a new window. Phd thesis, University of Leeds.

SPELT (Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers) Research SIG blogLink opens in a new window

Watson Todd, R. (ed.): Special issue of rEFLections, on Large ClassesLink opens in a new window (King Mongkut's University of Technology, Thonburi, Thailand; Vol. 9 (2006))

Xu, Z. (2001). Problems and strategies of teaching English in large classes in the People's Republic of ChinaLink opens in a new window. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Expanding Horizons in Teaching and Learning. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 7-9 February 2001. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.