Case study

English language teaching in the Middle East

Our English language teaching work in the Middle East is largely funded by the ringfenced funds resulting from our merger with the Alexandria Schools Trust (AST) in 2014. We are committed to fulfilling the former charity’s mission, promoting and maintaining teaching of the English language in the Middle East.

The challenge

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, there are currently 6.3 million Syrian refugees worldwide, and most of them have sought refuge in five host countries in the Middle East. In these host counties, there are around 2 million school-aged refugees, and 35% have no access to schooling. There are a number of challenges associated with education for refugees in host countries and foreign language learning and medium of instruction is one of them. Our current English language teaching work in the Middle East builds upon the existing skillsets of teachers of refugees and school leaders in the teaching of English and subjects taught in the medium of English.

Our approach

We are working in two host countries – Lebanon and Jordan – to improve teachers' English skills.

Improving English skills in Jordan
Education Development Trust and the Queen Rania Teacher Academy have been delivering the Improving English Skills project in Jordan aimed at improving the English language teaching skills of public-school teachers of refugees since January 2017. The project also builds the capacity of education supervisors in coaching skills and in the use of evidence to inform their practice, certifying them with our Certificate of Professional Practice in Evidence-Based Supervision. 

Empowering refugee teachers with language skills for teaching in Lebanon
In Lebanon, we have been supporting NGOs delivering non-formal education to Syrian refugee children since October 2017. Our objective is to build the capacity of teachers to increasingly and more effectively use English as a medium of instruction, better preparing refugee children to enrol in Lebanese schools and universities where the medium of instruction is often English. We have supported the development of an English curriculum used by the NGOs, delivered teacher and school leader training and are delivering a customised language courses for teachers. Additionally, we build the capacity of teachers to facilitate teacher learning communities (TLCs), as an ongoing sustainable means of teacher professional development.

Our impact

By the end of the third phase of the Improving English Skills project in Jordan (June 2019), we will have reached about 40 supervisors, 500 teachers of English and an estimated 40,000 refugee children. Our case study evaluation found that supervisors now provide more effective feedback to teachers, teachers now use more varied strategies to teach English and enthusiasm for learning among students has improved. 

Working in non-formal education in Lebanon, this academic year, we are working with three NGOs, reaching approximately 1,800 refugee students. Through our impact evaluation, we found that teacher language proficiency has improved and teachers are using more English in the classroom. Additionally, teachers and school leaders reported that the teacher learning communities have led to improved collaboration in schools.

About the Alexandria Schools Trust

The Alexandria Schools Trust (AST) was established as a charity in the 1950s by the former British owners of three schools in Alexandria which became Egyptian National Institute schools: El Nasr Boys’ School, El Nasr Girls’ College and Victory College. In 2006, Education Development Trust began working in partnership with AST, supporting teacher professional development projects in Alexandria. In 2014 AST merged with Education Development Trust and the AST charitable fund now belongs to Education Development Trust.

Through the AST fund, Education Development Trust delivers projects and programmes which:

  • focus on improving the teaching of the English language and other subjects taught through the medium of English;
  • apply to the Middle East and other countries in the region;
  • reach school-aged children and young people as ultimate beneficiaries;
  • promote cultural relations between the United Kingdom and the countries concerned.

Through our AST fund we have previously:

  • developed and delivered a middle leadership pilot project in Alexandria building the leadership capacity of senior teachers of English to lead teacher professional development within their schools, in partnership with University College London (UCL) Institute of Education (2016-2017)
  • trained teachers of English from across the 40 Egyptian National Institute schools, focusing on building local capacity through developing cadres of teacher trainers (2014-2017)
  • provided trainers for English language teaching (ELT) teacher training courses to the Central Directorate for In-Service Training and Professional Academy for Teachers in Alexandria (2012-2013)