Carol Lethaby, Russell Mayne and Patricia Harries

An Introduction to Evidence-Based Teaching in the English Language Classroom


Theory and Practice

An Introduction to Evidence-Based Teaching in the English Language Classroom defines evidence-based teaching, examines research findings into evidence-based teaching strategies and considers how they might apply to the teaching and learning of English language.

Finalist in the ‘Innovation in Teacher Resources’ category at the 2022 British Council ELTons Awards!



Do you want to learn more about the evidence, or lack of evidence, supporting common teaching strategies and procedures? An Introduction to Evidence-Based Teaching in English Language Classroom compiles the evidence in one place for you, rather than scattered across a variety of sources: online blogs, conference reports and disparate journal papers.

This practical and accessible resource begins by identifying what ‘evidence-based teaching’ is. It then outlines the key strategies, briefly describing how and why they are supported by evidence. Finally, it moves on to show the practical application of these strategies in ELT with concrete examples and activities.

By using the book, teachers, teacher trainers and educators will:
  • have developed a greater understanding of what evidence-based teaching is and have the tools to evaluate teaching practices;
  • know where to find research to back up evidence-based practice;
  • understand the importance of evidence for how the brain works and how this knowledge helps to combat erroneous beliefs about teaching and learning;
  • have increased their knowledge of the importance of prior knowledge to teaching and learning, and the evidence for this;
  • understand how the memory works as well as cognitive load theory, and the evidence for this;
  • have deepened their understanding of evidence-based teaching strategies and interventions;
  • be able to contrast evidence-based ideas and practices with other teaching interventions not supported by research;
  • have learned how to critically apply evidence-informed ideas and understand ideas and practices that are not supported by evidence;
  • be able to evaluate strategies and interventions in the ELT classroom that have evidence to support or refute them.

It is designed to be a supplement to any initial or in-service teacher education course, plus as a useful resource for teachers at any level who are interested in evidence-based teaching in English Language classes. You should read alongside core teacher training texts, in order to be able to examine common teaching practices.

An Introduction to Evidence-Based Teaching in the English Language Classroom is part of the Teaching English series.

From the author:

“I think this book is quite different to other books on teaching and research (but then again, I would say that). A lot of books about research into teaching are written by researchers attempting to bring research findings to a more general audience. What we have attempted to do is something similar but as all of us are teachers, not researchers, we hope that this will give the work more of a teacher’s perspective on things… While we do mention learning myths and things that don’t have good evidence to support them it isn’t 200 pages of slamming learning styles. There is as much “what works” as “what doesn’t”. The book also features advice for teachers who want to look at research themselves.” – Russell Mayne. Read more insights from Russell in the full blog here.


The blurb refers to this as a practical and accessible resource, which is certainly true… the tone was informative without being patronising and the overviews of research which has been done in various areas were fascinating… I believe it will prove itself as a useful book for the staffroom and on teacher development courses.” – Rachel Connabeer, Modern English Teacher (Vol 30, Issue 4)


Carol Lethaby is a teacher, teacher educator and materials writer who has worked worldwide in the field of ELT for more than 35 years. Russell Mayne has been a teacher of English for over 20 years, specialising in English for academic purposes and teacher education. Patricia Harries has over 30 years’ experience in teaching, training, course design and materials writing in five continents of the world. Lethaby, Mayne and Harries share a common interest in the application of research findings to English language teaching. They are well-known for their work on evidence-based teaching, having produced numerous articles and given presentations on the topic at conferences around the world.


ISBN: 978-1-913414-89-4

Publication date: June 2021


Part 1: Theory

  1. Why do we need an evidence-based approach?
  2. Science and neuroscience
  3. Psychology and cognitive science
  4. Second language acquisition
  5. Educational research

Part 2: Practice

  1. Using empirical research and science versus relying on intuition
  2. Explicit teaching vs discovery learning for beginners
  3. Vocabulary strategies that work versus those that don’t
  4. Aiming for native-like pronunciation versus aiming for intelligibility
  5. Activating and building background knowledge versus teaching skimming and scanning
  6. Direct and explicit feedback versus indirect and implicit feedback
  7. Practice testing versus highlighting or underlining for learning
  8. Learners’ first language: using it versus banning it
  9. Metacognitive strategies versus 21st century skills


An Introduction to Evidence-Based Teaching in English Language Learning is designed to be a supplement to any initial or in-service teacher education course (CELTA, DELTA, Bachelors/Masters qualifications in TESOL/Applied Linguistics and more) or for teachers and academic leaders who are interested in evidence-based teaching in ELT and engaged in professional development.

Kindle edition

If you would like to get your copy immediately or save on postage costs, you can now buy a Kindle version of An Introduction to Evidence-Based Teaching in the English Language ClassroomYou can also take a look inside before you buy. Kindle editions can be read on the Kindle app across most devices, including phones, tablets and computers, so you do not need a Kindle device to purchase a copy.


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