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Reflective Teaching Column

NewsNet Magazine Updated Dec.23, 2008--

Reflective Language Teaching
By Thomas S.C. Farrell, PhD

3. Reflective Practice in Asia II

elcome back to the Reflective Language Teaching column. This column continues the previous theme of reflective practice in Asia, and I have also had some practical experience with my most recent visit to Korea at the Korea TESOL National Conference, where I was privileged to give the keynote address at the conference and a Sunday workshop following the conference. I must say I was very impressed at the depth of knowledge of all the teachers who I chatted with during the conference, and especially, the teachers who attended the workshop. I really enjoyed my time in Korea during the best season of May and hope to return soon. Now, on to the theme of reflective practice in Asia. In my last column, I wrote about the MELTA organization’s publication, and this time I want to highlight TESOL’s Language Teacher Research Series, of which I am series editor, and especially the volume Language Teacher Research in Asia, of which I am also the volume editor.

The Language Teacher Research Series was developed so that you as a language teacher could have a forum to carry out research of your practice in your own context. The series has attempted to cover as many geographic regions as possible, with volumes representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia/New Zealand. What is distinctive about this series is that these studies document how individual language teachers at all levels of practice systematically reflect on their own practice. This is very different from what has been the standard in language research conducted by outside academics who attempt to interpret other teachers’ practices. This is reflective practice in real action because the final part of the template across volumes is headed Reflection (the others, in order, are Issue, Background Literature, Procedures, Result, and finally, Reflection). The final part of the template asks authors/teachers to give a statement that articulates answers to the question, “So what?” What will you do now and in the future? What action will you take as a result of your findings? If you have already acted on your findings, what did you do? What have you learned as a result of the whole process? For example, what have you learned about your teaching? What have you learned about doing research? Also, at this point, the issue of the situated nature of the work should be revisited: Why you think the issue is specific to your context? In the volume Language Teacher Research in Asia, topics for reflection from diverse regions in Asia are covered. They include: Teaching Character Depiction in Narrative Writing (Singapore), Expert and Non-expert Teachers (Thailand), Learner Autonomy (Vietnam), Understanding Chinese Students’ Teacher Dependence (China), and Establishing a Self-Access Language Center in a Japanese Senior High School (Japan). There are many more topics covered in this volume and, of course, all the other volumes. Because the authors all followed the same template for each chapter in each volume, language teachers in Asia and elsewhere can read, and compare within and across volumes, making it easy to try out the same research and reflections in your context. Yes, language teacher research is alive and well in Asia!

In closing, I want to point out that the language teacher research series is coming back to life in TESOL’s new TESOL Journal, making use of the same template. I will be section editor for this, so I hope you will all send in more papers. All details are on the main TESOL web page.

Many thanks again to all those in Korea TESOL who made my most recent trip to Korea so memorable.

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2. Reflective Practice in Asia