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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 website and join our Facebook group, which currently has more than 3,000 members. More practical resources specifically targeted at teachers and teacher educators are also available.


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:

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.

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 here [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:

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 here

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 here [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 version

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 here. Video from original panel discussion here and handouts/discussions The latter will eventually be taken down from the British Council website, so more permanent links are here: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. (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'.

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

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

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 Project (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?. American Institutes for Research under the EQUIP1 LWA.

Australian Universities Teaching Committee (AUTC): Teaching Large Classes Project (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?'. Humanising Language Teaching 3/6 (November 2001).

Pasigna, A. (1997). Tips on how to manage a large class. IEQ project. Institute for International Research.

Shamim, Fauzia. 1993. Teacher-learner behaviour and classroom processes in large ESL classes in Pakistan. Phd thesis, University of Leeds.

SPELT (Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers) Research SIG blog

Watson Todd, R. (ed.): Special issue of rEFLections, on Large Classes (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 China. 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.