Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
As English has evolved as a lingua franca along with globalisation, ways of learning English and its linguistic features are fertile areas for TESOL researchers. Research in this area explores a range of issues relating to the teaching and learning of English as a second language, including: The teaching of listening, reading, writing and speaking; teaching and learning grammar and vocabulary; socio-cultural aspects of English as a second language education. Assessment of learners also features prominently given the importance of language standards in regulating access to education resources and systems in English-speaking countries. Phenomenological and contextual topics that are also investigated include second language literacy development, individual differences in second language learning, bilingual education, the use of English for specific purposes, and cross-cultural issues in second language teaching and learning.
English for academic purposes
Research in the area of English for academic purposes (EAP) investigates topics such as classroom practices and assessment as they relate the teaching and learning of English for academic purposes. This may include a focus on listening, reading, writing or speaking in academic settings as well as broader issues such as what it means to be a second language student in an academic setting where English is the medium. Recent years have also seen a particular emphasis on what is called advanced academic literacies research, such as second language thesis and dissertation writing, and the multiple literacy requirements of second language students in academic settings. Another theme is identity; specifically, the study of how students both negotiate and develop their identities as they increase their participation in academic communities. Research also makes increased use of computers to carry out corpus-based studies of the use of English in academic settings.
Languages and cultures education
Schooling in many nations has undergone a paradigm shift, to adopt ideas of ‘intercultural’ education, whereby formal education seeks to develop in students the values, knowledge and skills that promote and reinforce beneficial and long-lasting inter-ethnic relations at the individual, group and community levels. Some scholars of second and foreign language education have embraced these ideas to theorise a new set of goals for formalised classroom language learning. Research in this new paradigm of ‘intercultural language education’ examines many aspects of explicit language learning processes, processes in ‘culture learning’, identity formation as a result of language learning, teacher pedagogy, new developments in curriculum construction and materials design, and teachers’ ways of identifying and assessing intercultural learning outcomes.
Second language acquisition
Second language acquisition (SLA) research examines a broad range of theoretical, methodological and pedagogical issues concerning how English is acquired as a second/foreign language. Second language acquisition research aims to produce both descriptions and explanations of what is involved in acquiring a second language. One area of SLA research investigates the nature and variability of learner language. Others examine how individual differences (such as age, gender, first language background and literacy), cognitive factors (such as the role of memory, information processing, learning strategies and motivation) and environmental factors (such as attitudes towards language, input and interaction and the language learning classroom) influence language learning success and the rate of acquisition. SLA research employs a range of research designs, including experimental and survey research, case studies and ethnographies. SLA research also seeks to apply SLA theories to classroom teaching, curriculum design and assessment, with the aim of answering the question: What effects does instruction have on second language acquisition?