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What is this booklet about?

Our aim is to introduce you to some major issues that you will find useful while carrying out empirical research in the classes that you observe as pre-service teachers, as well as during your careers as in-service teachers of English. Why do you need to do research?

  1. as pre-service teachers (students of English) - need to be able to carry out empirical research as frequent requirements for your courses
  2. as in-service (practicing) teachers of English - reflecting on your learners' as well as on your own behaviour as a teacher - a means of teacher development

In the first section, this manual will introduce basic ideas about classroom research. It provides practical suggestions related to

  • identifying issues for research
  • asking research questions
  • collecting data
  • reflecting on your findings in order to improve your (understanding of) teaching
  • emotional, attitudinal, and technical factors that may influence the outcome of your classroom-based research experience.

You may find all these ideas helpful while carrying out classroom research in other teachers' or your own classes.

In the second section you will find two small-scale studies carried out by teachers of English with diverse backgrounds and teaching experience. Look at the challenges the four teachers had in their every day practice and the questions they asked themselves to create more learning opportunities. While reading these samples of research, also think of how you (and your potential students) would benefit from asking similar questions. And most importantly: allow yourself to come up with your own ideas for research.

In the third section you will find the Guidelines for writing small research papers (Nikolov, 2011) as well as an example of a case study that focused on a non-native teacher of English who implemented change in her teaching practice. You will find extracts from the study which are meant to deepen your undertanding of:

  • how to identify a potential focus for research,
  • how to ask research questions that can be answered in your research context,
  • how to collect and triangulate data,
  • how to analyze data and discuss your findings,
  • how to structure your research paper.

In the fourth section you will learn about the possibilities, challenges and uses of classroom observation with the purpose self-evaluation and development. The cases studies will walk you through issues of identifying problem areas and finding ways to tackle classroom problems in the case of your own or your colleague's teaching.

In the fifth section you are encouraged to develop an action research study based on your own teaching context and classroom experience. You will find practical steps for and Action Research as suggested by Griffee (2012) in An introduction to second language research methods: Design and data.

In the sixth section you will find information about the cultural embeddedness of language teaching