English Language Teaching Research Awards - ELTRA 2020

Through the successful and popular ELT Research Awards scheme, we aim to facilitate the production of innovative research to benefit the learning and teaching of English throughout the world by co-funding a number of partnership awards. Resulting articles are published as part of the British Council Research Papers series. Please note the call for research proposals is currently closed.

What is the purpose of the ELTRA Scheme?

  • To facilitate the production of high quality research from the UK relevant to ELT practitioners.
  • To improve access of ELT policy makers and professionals worldwide to high quality and relevant research from the UK.
  • To facilitate and encourage the establishment and maintenance of active research links between ELT professionals and policy makers in the UK and overseas.

Who may apply?

Any person resident in the UK with an affiliation to a UK educational institution. The award agreement will normally be with the institution.

Note: Although the applicant must be resident in the UK, the research may, in whole or in part, take place outside the UK or by persons not resident in the UK.  

What type of activity can be considered?

The British Council is particularly interested in research within the following four areas:

  • Language for Resilience 

Formal and informal education contexts where there are high numbers of refugees and where English and/or other languages builds resilience, whether it is giving a voice to young people and adults, building social cohesion in host communities or providing individuals with the skills they need to access work, services, education and information.


  • English as a subject 

English in formal education systems where home language is the medium of instruction and English is (often) taught as a core and compulsory subject. Research in this area focuses on improving standards of the teaching, learning and assessment of English as a foreign language, across the education sectors – in primary, secondary, tertiary education (technical and vocational education and training and higher education), or may focus on pre-service and in-service teacher education.


  • English Medium Instruction (EMI) and Multilingual Education 

Bi/multilingual education systems and/or where English is an additional language but is the medium of instruction for all or part of the education system. EMI and multilingual education support governments to addresses some of the challenges they face in providing quality education in such contexts, across the education sector – in primary, secondary, tertiary education (technical and vocational education and training and higher education), or in pre-service and in-service teacher education.


  • English for Empowerment 

Largely informal or specialist education contexts and with disadvantaged and marginalised groups and populations where English empowers, provides agency, voice and/or opportunity and broadens social, economic and cultural horizons in a profound way. The main areas of focus in English for Empowerment are girls’ education and English for interfaith dialogue.

ELTRA awards consider the primary audience of teachers in an inclusive way and therefore we would expect continuing professional development, teacher education, digital technologies and/or inclusion to underpin the proposals we receive.

We will prioritise proposals in these four areas. However, proposals for any research activity relating directly to the learning, teaching, or assessment of English as a foreign, second, or additional language will be considered.

There must be a clear research output which the British Council will disseminate and which must be in a format that can be shared publicly and without cost throughout the world. Successful applicants must produce a final article on the project. This would normally include the rationale, methodology, findings, discussion and implications, and references. Download the guidelines to authors (word document) for more information. In addition to this output, researchers are encouraged to publish further outputs elsewhere, for example in peer-reviewed journals and at conferences.

What type of activity is outside the scheme?

  • The research must not have already taken place or be underway.
  • The research output / final article must be in English (though there may also be a version in another language).
  • Funding will only be agreed for a maximum initial period of one year.
  • This scheme is not intended to fund the field work of Ph.D. candidates or similar.
  • We define research as original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding.
  • Researchers / institutions currently in receipt of a research award cannot apply for a new one. Recipients of awards will become eligible to submit research proposals when the research report has been accepted for publication by the British Council.

Examples of recent ELT Research Awards projects:

  • How to survive the first year: Delivering online support to bridge the gap between pre-service training and in-service reality for novice English language teachers.
  • Investigating global practices in teaching English to young learners: ten years on
  • Language learning ‘in the wild’: Implications of children’s playing of online games in English for their language learning
  • Why won't they speak English? An investigation into how young learners in middle-income-country schools learn spoken English
  • Resilience and beyond: facilitating learning and well-being in the refugee language classroom - an inquiry-based study of ELT provision for refugees in a UK University of Sanctuary 
  • Oral peer feedback in classroom second language task-based interaction
  • English language teachers’ engagement with published research: perceptions, priorities and pedagogy

How can I apply?

All applications for a research award proposal must be submitted within the ELTRA application form. Send the completed form to: eltra@britishcouncil.org

Deadline: The research scheme is currently closed for applications.

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