Advancing UK-China Collaboration in ELT Research and Materials Development

The British Council's English Programmes team in China is delighted to present the outcomes of our recent English Materials Development Award (EMaDA) and Research Innovation Award (RIA) programmes.

A group of Chinese students and teacher looking at a tablet

The British Council's English Programmes team in China is delighted to present the outcomes of our recent English Materials Development Award (EMaDA) and Research Innovation Award (RIA) programmes. Building on 45 years of engagement in China, these initiatives represent a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to foster meaningful partnerships between UK and Chinese institutions in the field of English language teaching.

Launched in 2021, EMaDA and RIA have supported nine joint research projects that address key priorities in English education, and are aligned with China's national education goals. These projects involve collaborations with universities and education organisations across diverse regions of China, from Beijing to Yunnan, and focus on critical areas of ELT development such as teacher professional development, curriculum design, thinking skills, educational technology, supporting education in rural contexts and cross-cultural communication.

Each project has yielded valuable research findings and practical resources tailored to the Chinese context. Beyond the immediate outputs of each project many of the UK-China project collaborations continue to flourish and local partners are actively developing, adapting and expanding  project resources for the local context, furthering the impact of the awards and recognition of the UK and British Council’s expertise in ELT.

 The nine projects concluded so far include:

  • A corpus-based analysis comparing language used by young Chinese learners and native English-speaking peers, informing future curriculum and textbook development (RIA project between Transform ELT and the Beijing-based National Research Centre for Foreign Language Education).
  • A teacher training manual on integrating international understanding into primary English teaching, based on insights from Chengdu schools (EMaDA project between Staffordshire University, the Chengdu Education Bureau, and the Chengdu Education Centre for International Exchanges).
  • A multimedia resource pack of theme-based cultural content for junior high English teachers in rural areas (EMaDA project between Nottingham Trent University and Chongqing University).
  • Localised teacher training modules for a Professional Learning Community to empower rural teachers in Yunnan (EMaDA project between University of Warwick and Yunnan Normal University).
  • Research on the evolving educational ecology and construction of a professional learning community for English teachers' development under the Rural Revitalization Strategy (EMaDA project between University of Warwick, the Yunnan Education Centre for International Exchanges, and Kunming University of Science and Technology).
  • Research into core curriculum design of postgraduate courses for prospective English teachers in border minority regions of Southwest China (EMaDA project between University of Warwick and Dali University).
  • A CLIL curriculum and accompanying digital teacher training course focusing on improving child health and safety (EMaDA project between UCL and the Public Service Bureau of High-Tech Zone of Chongqing Municipality).
  • Research on rural students' thinking skills development within the English subject in primary and secondary schools in Hubei province (EMaDA project between University of Reading and the Hubei Institute of Education Sciences).
  • Embedding peer micro-teaching lesson study (PMLS) into initial teacher education programs to enhance preservice English teachers' professional knowledge, skills, and confidence (EMaDA project between the University of Leicester,  Beijing Normal University, Shaanxi Normal University, and Hebei Normal University).

Beyond the research outcomes, EMaDA and RIA have strengthened relationships between UK and Chinese institutions, promoting knowledge exchange and mutual understanding.  The fact that 46 participating researchers and over 75,000 teachers and other stakeholders were engaged through project events and local dissemination activity demonstrates the wide-reaching impact of this bilateral collaboration.

We invite the global ELT community to explore the EMaDA and RIA portal, which hosts the research reports, teaching resources, and event recordings from these projects. We hope these materials will inspire further dialogue and collaboration as we continue to work together to enhance English teaching and learning in China and beyond.


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