Isobel Rainey

EFL in the Secondary
School Sector

For decades the teaching of English as a foreign language in secondary schools has been, for TESOL and ELT, something of an elephant in the room. Drawing on the school experiences, narratives, research reports and descriptions of the avowed effective practices of an international cohort of grassroots classroom practitioners and teacher educators, this book re-ignites a dormant interest in the sector. It challenges the imbalance in existing power structures, and highlights, at times vividly, the damage that can be wrought when the outcomes of mainstream research are applied to a community which itself has not been a focus of the original research agenda. Even more importantly, however, it illustrates how, often in the face of opposition and despite a lack of moral and material support, these teachers find ingenious ways to persevere with what they consider their ultimate mission; namely, that of contributing to the full development of their adolescent learners, cognitive, social and emotional. The book is a salutary and timely reminder that research in this profession needs to broaden its focus beyond the constraints of SLA, in order to project a fuller more inclusive appreciation of TESOL, one which reflects the knowledge of all its member communities, including the wisdom and expertise of teachers of English as a foreign language in the secondary school sector.


Isobel Rainey

Isobel Rainey has worked for many years as a lecturer in Applied Linguistics: TESOL in the UK, and as a teacher and teacher educator in Europe, South America and the Middle and Far East. She has also co-coordinated English for secondary school projects funded by the Department for International Development (DIFID, formerly ODA) and, for her work on one such project, she received an award from the Peruvian Ministry of Education. Her main research and academic publishing interests concern: the challenges facing, and research priorities of SS teachers of EFL working in non-mainstream contexts; the selection of themes for non-mainstream EFL textbooks; and the affective needs of ESL learners who are living and studying in isolated communities in centre countries. Before retiring, she was a lecturer in Applied Linguistics: TESOL at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England. In retirement, she has coordinated privately funded ESOL projects for asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and worked as a consultant for EFL teacher development programmes in Asia and Latin America. In the course of her career, she has also been an oral examiner and external assessor for several examination boards, including the International Baccalaureate, Trinity College London and UCLES. She divides her time between the UK and Andalusia, where she provides support for secondary school teachers of EFL on a voluntary basis.

Customer Reviews

At long last a book that focuses on the teaching of English as a foreign language in the secondary school sector, an area of TEFL which, for many years, has not been adequately researched by academics or written about in the literature. This is an important and welcome contribution to TESOL literature in general.

(Julio - Peru)

A very well-informed and extremely interesting research on grassroots teachers of English as a foreign language in secondary schools – that is, real teachers in everyday school practice in non-privileged bilingual contexts. An excellent study in a field that has been neglected by mainstream literature in the last decades, missing the peculiarities of adolescent learners. The author shows a wide range of readings on research reports, reflections on educational policies and direct observation of classroom practice in a variety of international contexts. I really recommend this book to all secondary EFL teachers as they can identify with the narratives of real experience in everyday teaching, find topics for reflection and compare methodologies in different contexts. One of the commonalities Isobel Rainey finds in the teachers she met all over the world is that many of us really care about the overall education of our students and try to help them be better people. Also a confidence-boosting book I recommend to all EFL teachers.


Your book is truly helpful for school teachers and scholars. It contains a lot of concrete tips.

(Deepti - India)

The author’s enthusiasm for the topic is obvious throughout the book; its manifestation can be traced in the content of the book, its structural organization, design and careful reports of numerous classroom episodes collected by the author for many years. The book is completed by a thorough bibliography, making skillful use of the sources. I recommend this book to secondary EFL teachers, students and researchers as I am sure all these audiences will benefit from reading it.

(Tamara - Ukraine)

Have a sneak peak of what's inside!

Some other publications by the author


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