Evolution Of English Language Teaching: A Detailed Overview

Evolution Of English Language Teaching: A Detailed Overview

The journey of teaching English can be simplified into three main phases, each marking significant developments in how the language was taught and learned.

Phase 1: The Early Foundations (15th to 18th Century)

  • English began to gain prominence in European schools alongside classical languages like Latin and Greek.
  • Despite English becoming the major language in England by the 15th century, Latin remained the language of instruction in Grammar Schools.
  • The emergence of ELT textbooks, such as “The English School Master” and “Familiar Dialogues,” marked the initial steps towards teaching English to non-native speakers.
  • Interest in English literature, philosophy, and the works of poets like Shakespeare attracted learners from various European countries.

Phase 2: Expansion and Formalization (19th Century)

  • Rapid development of ELT occurred due to factors like colonial expansion, increasing English-speaking population, and educational reforms.
  • ELT textbooks emerged to meet the demand, with methods like the Grammar Translation Method gaining popularity.
  • English became a subject of importance in European secondary schools, with teaching methods influenced by those used for Latin and Greek.
  • Initiatives like the Berlitz schools introduced new teaching approaches for specific language needs.

Phase 3: Modernization and Globalization (20th Century Onward)

  • The 20th century saw ELT evolve into a global phenomenon, with distinct phases from 1900 to the present.
  • Applied linguistics and new learning theories contributed to the scientific foundation of ELT.
  • English emerged as the lingua franca of the modern era, with widespread use in communication, education, and technology.
  • English became indispensable in countries like India, serving as a bridge language among diverse linguistic communities.
  • The rise of information technology further cemented English as the language of global communication.


The history of English language teaching reflects its journey from humble beginnings to becoming a global force, with each phase marked by significant developments in pedagogy, methodology, and the role of English in society.

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