A Teacher’s individual research and scientific methods in language classrooms

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a teachers individual research and scientific methods in language classrooms

There is no doubt that teachers are more effective in their profession when they are aware of the basic principles of language learning. Additionally, a teacher’s individual approach to teaching influences student performance in classrooms where they have the chance to deepen their professional knowledge and eradicate misconceptions about language learning. 


 By Julie Bampasiotou


Evidently, the science of language influences teaching when teachers adopt scientific methods to evaluate the effectiveness of their own educational practices. When science is applied, research can be conducted and data collected. Results from a scientific study reveal how students learn best, as well as their emotional state during their performance in class. For all the aforementioned reasons above, a teacher’s individual beliefs about students' learning are not enough to improve language acquisition. Therefore, these beliefs are more effective when teaching a foreign language is paired with scientific research.



But could teachers apply scientific investigation in a classroom setting? One way this could occur is through classroom observation. More specifically, teachers can gather as much information as possible about a problem and conduct research by studying specific bibliographies around a subject. This allows to   find viable solutions to a particular problem. Some educators may even obtain valuable information from more experienced teachers in the field. Having gathered vital information about a particular topic, educators can apply these solutions and conduct experiments to test their assumptions. This procedure could be an ongoing cycle where a teacher-scientist can experiment on an assumption and contrasts initial findings. Obviously, class observation is an essential ingredient of teacher development that enables teachers to understand if successful learning takes place. When teachers realize a problem, they can work on two choices. They can either take immediate action and work on a particular issue or use a more scientifically- driven approach.


By testing their assumptions, teachers create new knowledge which might be proved vitally crucial for the academic world. However, not all findings coming from classroom research can be applied in a classroom setting. Overgeneralizations are the "Achilles heel'' for pre-service teachers who may not take into consideration variables such as age, context and subject matter. After all, children differ in terms of personality; physical skills, let alone cognition.


Taking everything into consideration, the lack of a scientific approach in language classroom does not always make a teacher ineffective.  However, classroom practices based on scientific methods are more likely to succeed.

Furthermore, overgeneralizations are not helpful when studying language acquisition. After all, teachers cannot base all practices on scientific evidence and even if they wanted to; they are not professional scientists!  



Birello, M. (2012). Interview: Teacher Cognition and Language Teacher Education: beliefs and practice. A conversation with Simon Borg. Bellaterra Journal of Teaching & Learning Language & Literature, 5 (2), p.88.

Davis, B. and Sumara, D. (1997). Cognition, Complexity, and Teacher Education. Harvard Educational Review, 67(1), pp.105-126.

Debreli, E. (2016). Pre-service Teachers’ Belief Change and Practical Knowledge Development during the Course of Practicum. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 4(7).

Falk, J. and Allwright, D. (1990). Observation in the Language Classroom. Language, 66(1), p.183.

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