Supporting teachers to improve English language learning in Cambodia

Over 15,000 children in Cambodia have improved their English through an innovative technology-based intervention. Independent research suggests it is at least as effective as private tutoring.

Cambodia has prioritised English learning as a powerful way to accelerate national development and create more job opportunities. However, many teachers and teacher trainers struggle with poor English and teaching capacity, making learning a challenge. 

Working alongside Cambodia’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport we have worked to improve the skills of both teachers and their pupils. Though the “Basic English Language” (BEL) project we’ve worked with the national Teacher Training Department to:

•    Develop teaching and learning materials for use in teacher training colleges and primary schools
•    Train directors and English trainers in all teacher training colleges, as well as teachers and directors of district offices of education from five provinces
•    Deliver ongoing support, coaching and mentoring through volunteers.

These materials, training and support were made possible through the work of volunteers.

Providing training materials

Resources developed include books for teachers and pupils and digital apps for smartphones containing innovative audio-visual material that can be easily accessed and updated even in remote areas. Training videos have also been produced that include activities for use in classrooms. Many more videos are in production and will be available through a dedicated online platform. 

Tablet computers are also being trialled to deliver real-time class observations that are often difficult and costly to provide in remote areas.

While still early days for the project, initial research conducted by the Royal University of Phnom Penn in 2015 highlighted positive outcomes including, improved listening skills of pupils when compared with those of the control group. More specifically, students’ learning outcomes show that the added value of the resources and subsequent training is equal to the benefits of private tutoring.

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