Exploratory Practice in Language Teaching: Puzzling About Principles and Practices
Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? Old Password. New Password. Password Changed Successfully Your password has been changed. Returning user. Choose your country's store to see books available for purchase. See if you have enough points for this item. Sign in. This book tracks the development of Exploratory Practice since the early s as an original form of practitioner research in the field of English language teaching. Drawing on case studies, vignettes and narratives from teachers and learners around the world as they experienced Exploratory Practice in their different contexts, Hanks examines the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of the Exploratory Practice framework and asks what the principles really mean in practice.
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It remains to be seen how learner puzzling would fare in a syllabus with less space for the extended project work that Hanks b and Dawson organised. Dawson suggests that it was only some weeks after their course finished that her learners started to recognise the greater sense of confidence that learner puzzling had provided Dawson, The literature raises a third issue.
Hanks a, b noted similar learner resistance and this goes to the heart of concerns about implementing EP. These learners may have had more time to puzzle than undergraduate learners immersed in their studies and with all the associated stresses and strains of university life to contend with. Finally, learner puzzlers in all four studies found the puzzle-problem distinction problematic. The focus of the learner-researchers often coalesced around problem-solving rather than prioritising understanding of their language learning experiences and represented a move away from the intended aim of puzzling.
Dawson related how her learners found it a challenge to move away from a solution-based mind-set.
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- Exploratory Practice in Language Teaching Puzzling About Principles and Practices?
To summarise, there is a broad acknowledgement in the existing literature on learner puzzling that it is far from straightforward to introduce and implement in the language classroom. Hanks b suggests that future studies situated in different language learning settings could illuminate the challenges and related to learners setting their own research agendas through puzzling. The present study takes up this call by providing an account of a teacher-researcher supporting learner puzzlement in a different context: a business English course for undergraduate exchange students in the UK.
These learners were concurrently studying on business programmes. As such, this represented a highly time pressured context and one which heightened the challenges around the facilitation of learner puzzlement. My previous experience of exploring teacher puzzles via EP had proved rewarding, boosting my teacher self-efficacy Banister, and instilling a sense that my learners could potentially set and explore their own research agendas. Facilitation of learner puzzling presented a further opportunity to gauge the extent to which this conception of learners was grounded in reality.
At the same time, it had the potential to promote a culture of curiosity, the prospect of which prompted the following questions to frame this research:. This section describes my participants and the setting for this research. Subsequently, the data collection procedures and tools of analysis used are laid out but this section starts with a focus on some ethical considerations for the study.
EP foregrounds ethical aspects by attempting to redress the balance between the researcher and the researched Allwright, , giving the latter greater agency in the process. However, my previous experiences of engaging with EP and its core principles highlighted the need to avoid imposing an unacceptably heavy workload on participants. Moreover, care was taken to select business-related content that could both promote learner puzzling yet maintain a clear business focus on sessions.
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Participants were informed of both the nature and the aims of the research process via an in-class presentation and consent forms that were distributed at the outset. Anonymity was preserved in writing up the research and data stored securely. The participants were 14 8 in the autumn cohort and 6 in spring 3rd year undergraduate exchange students at a UK university. All participants were studying for business degrees and had elected to take a business English module as part of their exchange in the UK.
The students were all at an advanced English language proficiency level. The two cohorts autumn and spring represented a range of L1 backgrounds including Chinese and Slavic languages but these three Latin-based languages, French, Spanish, and Italian, predominated.
Exploratory Practice In Language Teaching: Puzzling About Principles And Practices
As a teacher-researcher striving to understand how EP might promote learner puzzlement and how learners could be supported in the process, I was also very much a participant in this research, and inevitably brought my own experiences of EP to the process. Our module, Advanced Business English for Exchange Students B6 henceforth , incorporates 36 classroom contact hours over a twelve-week semester and focuses on both language business English and content business. Written genres such as business reports and spoken genres such as oral presentations form an important part of the course.
The module covers business topics such as finance, entrepreneurship, and branding. Learners are assessed on their ability to communicate to business audiences and through a final written report on a business topic selected earlier by learners themselves. PEPAs are proposed as a means to unobtrusively explore puzzles and therefore, the familiar language classroom activities were utilised.
With their prioritisation of business, it was unclear whether my learners would be willing to engage with language learning puzzles. This made it of the utmost importance from the beginning that learners saw puzzling as integrated into the curriculum and not a superfluous add-on. Instead of looking for ways to explore my own puzzle, the focus was on guiding my learners in exploration of their own research agendas.
I recognised the need to provide all learners with opportunities to explore their puzzles. Recognising that our busy syllabus called for a compact enactment of EP, I prepared classroom and homework tasks designed to foreground reflection, discussion, and sharing of understanding whilst still leaving learners the agency to work with puzzles in a way that suited them. As Chu notes, teachers can stimulate and motivate their learners by giving them decision-making power. The activities used, which also form the basis of data collection for this study, are summarised in Appendix B.
I introduced the concept of a puzzle in week one. This was done via a single question on a standard needs analysis form NA which asked learners what puzzled them about learning English and business English in particular. In week two I presented an overview of EP, outlined its principles with examples of teacher and learner. It was important for me as the teacher to have a puzzle to explore my own classroom experience but also to project a sense of solidarity.
In other words, I hoped that this demonstration of aspects of classroom life remaining elusive to their teacher might legitimise puzzling for my learners. I further hoped it might help overcome any reluctance about revealing weaknesses to peers, and, of course, the teacher who would later be assessing their English. The understanding gained from exploration of this puzzle can be found elsewhere Banister, but lies beyond the scope of this paper. In the following weeks, learners were given a series of in-class and homework tasks to facilitate refinement and exploration of their puzzles and develop their research agendas.
Some activities involved individual work but there was scope for and promotion of peer-sharing and discussion Appendix B. As noted previously, there is no prescribed procedure for working with learner puzzles but the procedure outlined above broadly aligns with implementations by Chu , Hanks a, b , and Dawson As a busy teacher, I preferred to collect written data as it is less time-consuming to analyse. I supplemented this data with observations of my learners as they worked on the PEPAs and recorded these in my teacher reflective journal. Individual mid-module tutorials yielded further data to record in my reflective journal.
Additional language learning artefacts such as NA forms, tutorial record forms, and a dedicated learner puzzle folder in our online learning space were also utilised. It should be reiterated that all the PEPAs were activities that learners would normally undertake as part of B6. They did not intrude see EP principle 7, Appendix A and learners were required to practise their English language skills whilst undertaking them. The procedure outlined above and the inclusion of questionnaires and surveys yielded data suitable for quantitative analysis. Three learners were selected for the case studies presented in this paper.
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They came from a range of first language backgrounds Czech, Cantonese, and French and nationality Czech, Chinese, and French-Canadian, respectively. One learner, Pierre, was selected in an attempt to foreground a more critical voice on learner puzzling. In my analysis of open-ended responses to surveys, reflective reports, and reflective journal entries, I used manual coding to stay close to my qualitative data and identify prominent themes in the dataset. Collaboration with teacher-researchers from my institute enabled an exchange of materials and ideas.
A colleague from my extended professional network provided an outsider perspective on facilitation of learner puzzling via EP principles which further informed data analysis and interpretation.
Note thatin the subsequent reporting, B6 denotes an autumn learner and B6 a spring learner. Of the 14 participants, 12 students participated in and completed the vast majority of PEPAs designed to scaffold puzzle exploration. In the autumn cohort of eight students, seven out of eight wrote a summarising reflective report. Due to a timetable issue, only two out of six spring learners completed the summative questionnaire.
Whilst this was disappointing, until this point, high engagement levels with PEPAs in class were observed and the additional classroom artefacts supplemented my teacher-researcher reflections. Of the 14 learners across the two cohorts, 12 learners each formulated one puzzle in relation to their English language learning experiences. However, beyond these popular areas, puzzlement also covered formality in written production, and tense usage.
For example, vocabulary and speaking were linked in five puzzles