Reimagining Language Classrooms as Research – Teachers as Researchers

We are constantly trying to improve our instruction and to add something fresh and new to our classroom. Sometimes we end up going in circles and pushing certain teaching innovations upon ourselves without having a clear idea where will they take us.

What would happen if we stopped reinventing the wheel and just tried to reimagine it? What would happen if we stopped reinventing teaching and just stopped to reimagine it in the current time and age and adapt and improve what we already know? Whit this goal the TESOL conference in the Northern Macedonia, Greece, Thessaloniki decided to give itself a hard task to reinvent the way we see ELT. Let’s see what did the plenary speakers and the workshop facilitators have to say!

Dr. Christine Irvine Niakaris – Reimagining Language Classrooms as Research (Plenary presentation)

Dr. Christine opened the conference with her plenary, which perfectly fit the theme and the title of the conference. She presented the aspect of teachers being researchers and posted the following questions:

  • Do language teachers think of themselves as researchers?
  • Should they think of themselves as researchers?
  • What are the pedagogical issues teachers are worried about?

She argued that if we imagine research as a pyramid, we would have the academics or applied linguists at the top, then testing experts, and then teacher educators at the bottom, while the situation should be the opposite.

Her research showed teachers have no time to read the research, and feel no need to read it. The research also showed that searching for ideas online counts as research, and that teaching is a profession that requires research by default.

She identified reflection and applying approaches and evaluating plans and students as one of the basic research skills. Realizing that the ELT methodology is influenced by different disciplines was also important, along with the fact that teaching is evidence-based and needs action research.

Some of the research question her university students identified as issues in their own research are:

  1. Use of L1 with young learners;
  2. How and when is L1 used?;
  3. Parent-teacher communication;
  4. Bilingual context in nursery;
  5. Assessing communicative competence in speaking tests;
  6. Intercultural awareness.

To conclude, she proposed an effective plan for an effective research base which consists of intertwined professional development in context, reflection, reading current research and most importantly – teaching!

A conference sketchnote

Have you ever conducted a research in your classroom? Do you believe that practitioners can be effective researchers? Please write in the comments, I would love to hear your opinion!

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About Alice Glass

Alice is a 29 years old preschool teacher (Pre-K) with a B.Ed. She is currently enrolled in her Master's studies, with a double major, one of them being English teaching methodology. She is also an online ESL teacher and blog writer for the British Council. Last but not least, she is the mother of a very energetic toddler.

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