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Language teacher research engagement

  • Simon Borg (a1)

The aim of this review is to provide a critical analysis of language teacher research engagement. The term ‘research engagement’ here covers both engagement in teacher research (i.e. by doing it) as well as engagement with research (i.e. by reading and using it). Research engagement is commonly recommended to language teachers as a potentially productive form of professional development and a source of improved professional practice; empirical accounts of teachers’ practices and experiences in doing teacher research and reading research, and of the benefits that accrue to them from such activities are, however, limited and diffuse. This review examines the available evidence on research engagement in language teaching and discusses this in relation to the educational literature more broadly. The analysis presented here highlights both the benefits and the challenges that are associated with teacher research engagement, and sheds light on why teacher research remains largely a minority activity in the field of language teaching. It also illustrates the complex relationship between research knowledge and what teachers do, and considers the implications of this relationship for the contribution that reading research can make to teachers’ professional activities. The paper concludes by outlining a number of conditions which facilitate teachers’ attempts to engage both in and with research. An awareness of these conditions is fundamental to the success of initiatives which aim to promote language teacher research engagement.

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