Get ready for action! (how to conduct an ELT action research project)

Read articles (online or off-line) on the subject 

Also all of the main publishers websites include articles (see links under ‘Ready-made lesson plans’):

Read books on the subject
Most publishers are moving into e-books. The British Council has some free books that include research into ELT practice:

Find out more about research methods
Join the IATEFL research SIG

Join Iris
This site does not contain research but rather research instruments, which could be useful as a reference. Also, it gives details about the research undertaken with the tool and the contact.

Go to conferences, workshops, webinars
Join your national teachers’ association or an international organization such as these below:

The British Council and most publishers conduct regular teaching webinars:

Watch video tips

Talk to colleagues
This could be your manager, older colleagues or younger colleagues. Do not assume that a newly-qualified teacher will not be able to help. If they have been studying recently they might have some fresh ideas or they may be more up-to-date on technology for example.

Observe colleagues
Make sure you decide beforehand what you want to focus on (such as classroom management) and let your colleague know what you are watching out for. This will help them to choose the best lesson for you to observe. Take an observation task in with you. This paper will give you some ideas:
Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener also has a range of observation activities that can be used to check for common problem areas such as too much teacher talking time.

Ask a colleague to observe your lessons and give feedback
Again, agree on the task/ focus of the observation (pacing, TTT, instruction-giving, etc). It’s a good idea to ask the same teacher to give feedback after you have conducted your research.

Conduct surveys with your colleagues/ PLN (crowd sourcing)
Join a community where you can share ideas and get support. Ask your personal learning network on social networking sites such as Twitter/ Facebook, etc. for ideas. The British Council TeachingEnglish website and most publishers have community forums. This site also looks interesting:

Conduct surveys with your students
If your learners seem bored or are not motivated to study you need to find out what makes them tick. Do not assume anything. You may be surprised to find out they want to study when the topics and lessons fit their interests.

Talk to your students
I know it seems pretty basic but especially for new teachers it can be scary to ask “Did you like that activity? Why? Why not?” Once a group of teens told me at the start of a lesson “We’ve done that before. It’s boring”. I decided to do something completely different (some quick thinking involved) and I gained a lot of respect from them after that. Giving learners some ownership of the lesson is a great motivator. This does not mean that you are not in control of the lesson at all. Giving choices such as, “In the next lesson do you want to do… or …” can make learners feel that their opinion is valued. Even with Year 1 learners you can ask “Hands up who liked this book (etc.)?” If they really like a particular song or book you know that you can continue to use and exploit it.

Keep a teaching journal (self-evaluation)
You could use one of the observation templates to help you to decide what to focus on when evaluating your own lesson/ teaching. So if you have a problem with TTT you could decide in one lesson to make a note of how long you speak for and how long the learners speak for. You can then come up with strategies to reduce your talking time in subsequent lessons.

Try out ready-made lesson plans
These could be from your colleagues, real or virtual, or from well-known websites/ books:

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One Response to Get ready for action! (how to conduct an ELT action research project)

  1. Pingback: Get ready for action! (how to conduct an ELT action research project) | The late starter

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