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English in Action

The Open University is leading the research programme within a major DfID-funded initiative ‘English in Action’. This research and development project was been initiated by the Government of Bangladesh, and involves The Open University, BMB Mott MacDonald, BBC World Service Trust and local partners. It aims to improve English language skills for 25 million people in Bangladesh.

The OU is leading in two areas of the project:
• Primary and secondary teacher development, located in school, and using mobile phones
• Cross-project research, monitoring and quality assurance

Research themes

Action research has involved: baseline studies of teachers’ and pupils’ use of English; quantitative and qualitative studies of the extensive pilot phase; field trials of three low-cost models of mobile phone equipment; and conceptualisation of a school-based implementation model for learning using mobile phones which can be delivered at scale.

For further information see the ‘Publications’ pages of the project website.

Research within English in Action draws on insights from the university’s earlier Digital Education Enhancement Project (DEEP) which investigated the use of new mobile technologies to support teachers’ professional development within rural classrooms in Egypt and South Africa. For further information on this completed project can be found on the DEEP project site


The English in Action project is now impacting on over 4500 teachers. Within the pilot, teachers’ and pupils’ use of English exceeded 70% and 80% respectively, and pupils’ English scores increased significantly. The use of mobile devices has been shown to facilitate access to teacher learning, resulting in changes to classroom practices. Funding is secure to 2014 to reach 12,500 teachers and 2.8 million pupils, with plans in development to impact on 10.5 million children by 2017.

For more information contact Programme Director Tom Power or Project Manager Claire Hedges. Or check out the project website.