Second Language Classroom Research: Issues and Opportunities

Second Language Classroom Research: Issues and Opportunities

Second Language Classroom Research: Issues and Opportunities

Second Language Classroom Research: Issues and Opportunities


In an attempt to fill the gap left by the many published studies on classroom second language research, this book explores a variety of human, social, and political issues involved in the carrying out of such studies. Many journals are chock-full of the results of classroom research, with evidence to support one claim or another about the efficacy of one teaching method or another. Many textbooks are replete with statistical procedures to be used, and with experimental designs to fit varying situations. Too often overlooked in these treatments are the human, social, and political issues involved in carrying out research in classrooms that are not one's own. What are the problems going to be when one attempts work such as this? What does one do on discovering that an administrator's agenda is different than one had thought? What does one do when a teacher resents intrusions into her classroom? This book offers a view on those kinds of issues, as presented and managed by successful classroom researchers themselves.

The authors present their own experiences including, on occasion, their trials and tribulations and how they dealt with them. They lay themselves open to criticism in doing so, but they make their contributions much the richer as well. The classroom contexts extend to different countries, and range from elementary schools to universities. Some of the issues presented are:

• the necessarily collaborative nature of the research;

• the question of meshing pedagogically sound and experimentally acceptable practices;

• the often strong possibility that political and social decisions will interrupt the research;

• the perennial question of reporting out the results; and

• the training of graduate student researchers.


Jacquelyn Schachter University of Oregon Susan Gass Michigan State University

As directors (one former and one current) of language institutes housed within academic units of large public universities, we have for a long time been concerned with the issue of conducting research projects within our respective centers. Approximately 3 years ago, together with Patsy Lightbown, we found ourselves in a rare situation: We had several uninterrupted hours to talk! We were going by car from Eugene, Oregon, where we had attended a cognitive science and SLA conference, to Seattle, Washington, where we were about to attend an American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) meeting. Given Patsy Lightbown's long experience in conducting research within school settings, we decided to get her to talk about the nitty-gritty of doing classroom-based research. We were interested in neither the generation of research questions nor the setting up of research projects, for we had had much experience in that area. Rather, we wanted an honest behind-the-scenes look at what happens from the beginning to the end of a research project within a classroom context. In other words, we did not want to know about the "end result," the part that appears on the printed pages of journals. Rather, we . . .

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