Another of my ELT interests, discovered thanks to my M.A. in ELT, lies in research.
Here are some research projects I did while at Leeds Metropolitan University and others I’ve done since, listed in order from most to least recent.
Fostering learner autonomy: how can I go from teacher of language learning to enabler of language acquisition?
The average language learner spends around 2-3 hours a week in the classroom, implying that for acquisition to take place, exposure to the target language shouldn’t be limited to classroom confines. Indeed, learner autonomy is somewhat of a buzzword in ELT – we recognise the inadequacy of classroom time with regards to acquisition, as well as the issue of syllabus structure often being at odds with learner ‘readiness’ to acquire, meaning that what learners do outside class time becomes of the utmost importance. However, there is often a gap between what we expect our learners to do outside the classroom and how we help them to do it. This project explores ways of helping learners harness the target language in their environment, real and/or virtual, effectively, and the role that learning materials, and their use in the classroom as well as beyond it, can play in scaffolding the process, in addition to stimulating and maintaining motivation, curiosity and the desire to acquire.”
Write-ups related to this topic available here.
Is enjoyment central to language learning? A snapshot of M.A. student materials developers’ perspectives.
Is enjoyment central to language acquisition? We know a lot about what the “big names” in ELT think about this, but what about new materials developers, those who are just starting out and in whose hands – potentially –the future of ELT learning material lies? This study focuses on a group of M.A. ELT students at Leeds Metropolitan University who have completed a module in materials development as part of their course, producing a variety of materials to submit for assessment. It asks these students what role “enjoying to learn” plays in their materials and why. Additionally, it addresses them as language learners, enquiring what role enjoyment played in their language learning and their views on this. A sample of their materials, together with a discussion of their opinions, will provide a snapshot of the lesser-known side of materials development and perhaps a glimpse of possible future directions in this field.
Write-up: Available here.
Phonological Representation in Course Materials: Whose English?
The role of English in the world today, as a Global and International language, has been the subject of much debate in the last decade, with the role of Standard British English (SBE) being called into question. Content analysis of language materials can offer an insight into how far the applied linguistic research and trends are reflected in what is being taught and learned in the classroom. The current study focuses on phonological representation, investigating the sociocultural spread of accents found in New Cutting Edge Intermediate, a popular global coursebook which claims to bring “the real world into the classroom”, comparing it with Gray’s (2010) findings on the similarly successful New Headway Intermediate, using the phonological component of Gray’s (2010) content analysis framework and finding that RP/modified RP still predominates. The study finishes by exploring possible reasons for this and recommending potential directions for further research.
Data and write up available on request.