Editor’s note: TIRF Trustee and Executive Committee member Dr. David Nunan highlights the first of several International Festival of Teacher-Research in ELT events.

A festival is an organized series of events that is held together by a theme or idea.

The idea behind the International Festival of Teacher-Research in ELT is that teachers working in difficult circumstances can take control of their own professional development through teacher-research. The Festival has been organized by Richard Smith at Warwick University, and is supported by TELC-net, the Teaching English in Large Classes network.

Citing the TELC-net website, the rationale for the large class network is described as follows: “Large class size and/or a lack of material resources are challenges faced by many teachers and learners around the world in developing countries where teacher recruitment and infrastructure development have not kept pace with rapid increases in school enrolments. Investigations of (dealing with) large class size, lack of material resources and other challenges involved in ‘teaching in difficult circumstances’ constitute the focus of our concern as a research and teacher development network.”

The event that initiated the Festival was a symposium at IATEFL 2017 in Glasgow on teacher-research of difficult circumstances. The symposium featured teacher-research projects in Chile, India, and Cameroon, as well as a worldwide Electronic Village Online (EVO) initiative to provide teachers working in difficult circumstances with an opportunity to develop skills as classroom researchers.

Over the next few months, a series of events on the theme of teacher-research will take place in Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Brazil, Cameroon, and India. At these events, teachers will share their experiences and findings as researchers. They will demonstrate how teacher-research can boost teacher perceptions of themselves, their work, and their potential to develop as practitioners.