Collaborating with English teachers in developing and implementing a context-sensitive communicative approach in Taiwanese EFL secondary school classes
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Communicative approaches, such as communicative language teaching (CLT) and task-based language teaching (TBLT), have been promoted in second language education around the world for over four decades. This continued mainstream status may be due to their convincing theoretical bases in principles of second language acquisition, which are believed to be beneficial to language learners. However, they are not widely accepted by teachers in many English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts. A number of studies in a variety of contexts have aimed to identify factors which impede their implementation, but few of these have further built on the implications of these investigations. The current investigation, instead, studied classroom practice in a Taiwanese EFL secondary school, in order to identify and solve any problems arising. Based on the assumption that teacher learning is a complex process, it was necessary to set up a teacher development programme (TD) and use action research to explore how it could help teachers develop their practitioner knowledge of communicative approaches. Drawing on the data from questionnaires, interviews and classroom observations, the main finding was that the teachers’ limited understanding of these approaches seemed to be a more dominant factor than the teachers’ beliefs. This resulted in perceptions of learners, syllabus/textbooks and time becoming barriers to the implementation of the approaches, as often pointed out in past studies. This study also found effective ways to encourage teachers to learn to implement this new pedagogy. First, supplying examples of a theory’s practical application equipped practitioners to develop practical knowledge of that theory. Second, collaborative learning between the teachers, as well as the assistance of an expert, helped make the teacher education programme work. This led to the conclusion that communicative approaches motivated teachers in their professional practice. The findings of this research could shed light on these aspects of L2 teaching in a variety of other similar contexts and could be useful for educational policymakers, practitioners, and teacher educators in implementing innovative approaches.
PhD in Education