This qualitative evaluation study aims to investigate the implementation process of a current educational reform on teaching English to young learners in Turkey, the Intensive English Language Program in the Fifth Grade, from English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers’ viewpoints. Seven EFL teachers at pilot schools in the city-center of Erzincan were interviewed twice. The results of the first round of interviews indicated that despite the challenges arising from the pilot program, the teachers had positive attitudes regarding the potential advantages of the program. However, the final interview results painted a different picture in that although the main principles of the policy were seen as beneficial for young learners, the teachers faced a variety of challenges, such as a heavy compulsory curriculum in terms of content, lack of professional development support on the new program and scarcity of suitable language teaching materials. Based on both these problems and the benefits of the program, the teachers offered several suggestions for improving the quality of the program; these targeted elements including poor design of the program and unsatisfying professional development support. This study takes a snapshot of the implementation of the current EFL reform and presents suggestions for policymakers and teachers.
Keywords: intensive English language program, young learners, language policy, EFL teachers’ viewpoints.