Sustainability and open practices in teacher education: EuroCALL2018

EuroCALL 2018
Future-proof CALL: language learning as exploration and encounters
22-25 August 2018 Jyväskylä, Finland


With the maturation of the open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) movement, the question of sustainability in teacher education is critical (COL, 2017). In CALL teacher education programmes, much effort is directed at helping new practitioners a) identify resources appropriate to their own teaching contexts, and b) design and implement activities appropriate to the techno-pedagogical affordances of the modern foreign language (MFL) classroom. The same is true of in-service workshops and teacher development projects, and in both cases, open practices may be encouraged to improve uptake and adoption of new practices (Zourou 2016). But what do we know of the effectiveness and durability of such training? Previous research highlights a number of challenges even in short-term initiatives, and Reinhardt (2016) suggests that “sustainability may depend on whether teachers perceive and practice agency in all the processes involved.”

Teachers arguably have greatest agency when making their own pedagogical choices as qualified professionals in their own classrooms. Thorne illustrates the advantages of exploring autonomous or “wild” language learning practices to exploit their potential for “rewilding” the language classroom (Little & Thorne 2017: 26). Similarly, practitioners who have completed formal teacher preparation programmes may be viewed as teachers “in the wild,” and investigating how their classroom practice evolves can help us evaluate our training programmes, as well as adapt to changes now occurring in schools. This approach is consonant with current “post-transmissive and post-directive approaches” in CALL teacher education, where educators are “influenced strongly by notions of independent and self-directed learning, and critical and reflective engagement” (Farr 2010: 621).

The present paper thus seeks to address issues of sustainable practice and teacher agency through an investigation of engagement with open CALL practices outside formal teacher preparation programmes. It focuses on previous participants in CALL courses and workshops conducted by the author over the past 5-8 years in both pre- and in-service contexts. Pre-service training was conducted in graduate courses for future secondary school MFL teachers at a French university. In-service teachers at primary, secondary, and tertiary level were involved in occasional workshops, webinars or longer teacher development projects on CALL integration and/or open educational resources and practices in several European countries.

The research questions concern these teachers’ current use of CALL and OEP, in particular

  1. What kinds of practices and resources do language teachers typically use?
  2. What factors seem to influence teacher adoption of specific practices?
  3. What challenges and opportunities do these language teachers identify?

Data are collected via questionnaires addressed to some 300 MFL practitioners, plus semi-structured interviews with selected respondents. The aim is to a) document the current practices of these teachers regarding CALL and OEP in their own teaching contexts, and b) interpret results with respect to background information on attitudes and institutional constraints. By uncovering practices and networks which develop in the absence of specific pressure or support for pedagogical change, the study examines the longer-term impact of professional development initiatives and draws lessons for future CALL teacher education.


CALL teacher education, sustainability, open educational practices

Projects and programmes

  1. ITILT Interactive Technologies in Language Teaching
    28 month Lifelong Learning Project on language teaching with interactive whiteboards (2011-13)

    1. searchable repository of classroom video clips
    2. handbook for language teaching with the IWB
    3. selection of classroom clips linked to language teaching criteria
  2. ITILT 2 Interactive Teaching in Languages with Technology
    3 year project (2014-17)

    1. repository of language teaching tasks
    2. handbook on TBLT with technologies
    3. community of practice mini-guides on digital tools, resources, and networks
  3. Masters in Teaching English (University of Nice)
    1. Two-year programme
      1. M1: disciplinary courses (English studies – language and culture), classroom observation; national teaching entrance exams
      2. M2: teaching placements with tutors, teacher education courses; thesis
    2. types of research paper and popular topics
    3. classroom practice projects:
      1. peer filming project
      2. pragmatics
      3. telecollaboration
      4. YouTube You Teach
  4. In-service sessions on language teaching with technologies and open educational practices
    1. workshops and webinars
    2. research
      1. Whyte, S. (2016). From “solitary thinkers” to “social actors:” OER in multilingual CALL teacher education. Alsic, 19. [link]

      2. Whyte, S. (2014). Bridging gaps : Using social media to develop techno-pedagogical competences in pre-service language teacher education. Recherche et pratiques pédagogiques en langues de spécialité – Cahiers de l’APLIUT, 33(2):143-169.


  • Commonwealth of Learning (2017). Open Educational Resources: From Commitment to Action. Burnaby: COL.
  • Farr, F. (2010). How can corpora be used in teacher education. Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics, London and New York: Routledge, 620-632.
  • Little, D., & Thorne, S. L. (2017). From Learner Autonomy to Rewilding: A Discussion. In M. Cappellini, T. Lewis, and A. R. Mompean (Eds.), Learner Autonomy and Web 2.0 (pp. 12-35). Sheffield, UK: Equinox.
  • Reinhardt, J. (2016). Preparing teachers for open L2TL: Frameworks for critical awareness and transformation, Alsic, 19: 1.
  • Whyte, S. (2016). From “solitary thinkers” to “social actors:” OER in multilingual CALL teacher education. Alsic, 19. [link]
  • Whyte, S. (2015). Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching: The Case of Interactive Whiteboards for EFL in French Schools. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Whyte, S. (2014). Bridging gaps : Using social media to develop techno-pedagogical competences in pre-service language teacher education. Recherche et pratiques pédagogiques en langues de spécialité – Cahiers de l’APLIUT, 33(2):143-169.
  • Whyte, S., & Alexander, J. (2014). Implementing tasks with interactive technologies in classroom CALL: towards a developmental framework. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40 (1), 1-26. PDF
  • Whyte, S., Beauchamp, G., & Alexander, J. (2014). Researching interactive whiteboard use from primary school to university settings across Europe: an analytical framework for foreign language teaching. University of Wales Journal of Education, 17, 30-52. [link]
  • Whyte, S., Beauchamp, G., & Hillier, E. (2012). Perceptions of the IWB for second language teaching and learning: the iTILT project. In L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds.), CALL: Using, Learning, Knowing, EUROCALL Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, 22-25 August 2012, Proceedings (pp. 320-6). © Dublin 2012. doi: 10.14705/rpnet.2012.000074
  • Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., & Beauchamp, G. (2014). Second language interaction with interactive technologies: the IWB in state school foreign language classrooms. AILA, Brisbane.
  • Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., van Hazebrouck, S., & Oberhofer, M. (2014). Open educational resources for CALL teacher education: the iTILT interactive whiteboard project. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27 (2), 122-148 doi: 10.1080/09588221.2013.818558
  • Zourou, K. (2016). (Ed). Social dynamics in open educational language practice. Alsic, 19: 1.



An audio-visual corpus of technology-mediated classroom language teaching: two CALL OER projects

Teaching and Language Corpora (TaLC) Conference
University of Cambridge, 18-21 July 2018

An audio-visual corpus of technology-mediated classroom language teaching: creating an open repository for CALL teacher education


Historically, corpora have often been developed with an eye on practical applications, and as Boulton and Tyne (2014: 301) remind us, “in many cases, these applications were pedagogical in nature.” Cheng (2010) detects a shift in recent years from teaching to learning, with more attention given to tools and training for teachers to support learner use of corpora via data-driven learning. This goal of encouraging greater learner autonomy is mirrored in teacher education in what Farr (2010a: 621) calls “a cocoon of post-transmissive and post-directive approaches” which favour “independent and self-directed learning, and critical and reflective engagement.” A useful tool for teacher education in this respect is offered by teaching corpora, which O’Keefe, McCarthy and Carter (2007: 220) view as a unique application of corpus linguistics, since they focus not on “what we can learn about language use from a corpus” but rather on “what corpora can tell us about our own teaching.”

O’Keeffe and colleagues have used transcriptions from audio-visual teaching corpora to raise language awareness (O’Keeffe & Farr, 2003; O’Keeffe & Walsh 2012) and to support pedagogical development among trainee teachers (Farr 2010a, 2010b), using both discourse analysis and conversation analysis frameworks. Research in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) research has also investigated teacher corpora, using multimodal corpora to explore the semiotic dimensions of online language teaching, such as multimodal interactions via webcam (Cohen & Guichon 2016; Guichon & Wigham 2016; Holt, Tellier & Guichon, 2015). To date, however, little research has considered video corpora in CALL teacher education.

Our research in this area is built on two funded European projects supporting language teacher integration of classroom technologies. A first project collected short video clips of actual classroom practice with interactive technologies in a range of target languages at different age/proficiency levels. These practice examples were tagged for a variety of language, pedagogical, and technological features to create a searchable open repository for teacher education (Whyte, Cutrim Schmid, van Hazebrouck Thompson & Oberhofer 2014). A follow-up project was designed to address techno-pedagogical concerns identified in the first corpus (Whyte 2015), this time adopting a specific pedagogical approach (task-based language teaching; TBLT), a wider range of technologies (mobile devices and videoconferencing), and longer videos showing edited teaching sequences.

This presentation analyses this second teaching corpus, ITILT 2, constituted by 117 video examples of learning activities prepared by 28 pre- and in-service teachers in 15 schools and universities in 5 European countries. The poster shows the background to the project and an overview of the teaching corpus created. The videos are analysed in comparison with the original corpus in terms of language, pedagogical, and technological features, as well as with respect to the new dimension (TBLT sequences). Secondary data on teachers and learner perspectives provides additional insight on this open learning project and the opportunities for teacher development afforded by this kind of teaching corpus.

Poster presentation

Background: ITILT 1 and ITILT 2, teacher education in classroom technologies

ITILT  2 data: fewer practice examples, languages, (more young beginners) in second project. 76 videos from 31 tasks by 23 teachers of 4 languages in 5 countries at 3 educational levels.

First project findings: the effect of IWB on interactivity, learner engagement in interaction, and task-oriented teaching was somewhat limited.

ITILT 2: there was more group work compared to teacher-fronted activities, technologies were used for learner action rather than L2 input, and activities focused on listening and speaking rather than grammar or culture. More communicative activities as opposed to drill and display were presented, though display was still common with young learners.

Task-based language teaching: practice examples show more TBLT criteria were met, and no increase with proficiency.

Discussion: new corpus suggests mobile technologies allowed greater interactivity, interactional engagement and task orientation across languages and educational levels. Practice examples included activities without technology and some gratuitous uses. IWB coding system adapted to mobile devices.

Previous work

ITILT open educational resources:


Boulton, A., & Tyne, H. (2014). Corpus-based study of language and teacher education. The Routledge handbook of educational linguistics, 301-312.
Cheng, W. (2010). What can a corpus tell us about language teaching. The Routledge handbook of corpus linguistics, 319-332.
Cohen, C., & Guichon, N. (2016). Analysing multimodal resources in pedagogical online exchanges. Language-Learner Computer Interactions: Theory, methodology and CALL applications, 2, 187.
Farr, F. (2010a). How can corpora be used in teacher education. Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics, London and New York: Routledge, 620-632.
Farr, F. (2010b). The discourse of teaching practice feedback: A corpus-based investigation of spoken and written modes. Routledge.
Guichon, N., & Wigham, C. R. (2016). A semiotic perspective on webconferencing-supported language teaching. ReCALL, 28(1), 62-82.
Holt, B., Tellier, M., & Guichon, N. (2015). The use of teaching gestures in an online multimodal environment: the case of incomprehension sequences. In Gesture and Speech in Interaction 4th Edition.
ITILT, Interactive Teaching in Languages with Technology,
O’Keeffe, A., & Farr, F. (2003). Using language corpora in initial teacher education: Pedagogic issues and practical applications. Tesol Quarterly, 37(3), 389-418.
O’Keeffe, A., McCarthy, M., & Carter, R. (2007). From corpus to classroom: Language use and language teaching. Cambridge University Press.
O’Keeffe, A., & Walsh, S. (2012). Applying corpus linguistics and conversation analysis in the investigation of small group teaching in higher education. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 8(1), 159-181.
Whyte, S. (2015). Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching: The Case of Interactive Whiteboards for EFL in French Schools. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan

Whyte, S., & Alexander, J. (2014). Implementing tasks with interactive technologies in classroom CALL: towards a developmental framework. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40 (1), 1-26. PDF

Whyte, S., Beauchamp, G., & Alexander, J. (2014). Researching interactive whiteboard use from primary school to university settings across Europe: an analytical framework for foreign language teaching. University of Wales Journal of Education, 17, 30-52. [link]

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., & Beauchamp, G. (2014). Second language interaction with interactive technologies: the IWB in state school foreign language classrooms. AILA, Brisbane.
Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., van Hazebrouck, S., & Oberhofer, M. (2014). Open educational resources for CALL teacher education: the iTILT interactive whiteboard project. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27 (2), 122-148 doi: 10.1080/09588221.2013.818558


Teacher education and language corpora
Developing resources for language learning and teaching

Peer filming in task-based language teacher education

This is a series of three short videos on the topic of peer filming in language teacher education. They were made in connection with the Video in Language Teacher Education (ViLTE) project at Warwick University which showcases different uses of this medium to support new teachers of English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL).

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

My contribution is based on an activity I designed for first year students in our Masters in Teaching English programme at the University of Nice. It involves peer filming, where student teachers watch each other teach an activity in a secondary school EFL class and make video recordings using their smartphones. They then select an episode for discussion in their university class, and write up their analysis in a reflective paper.

Part 1: background to peer filming in language teacher education

Here I look at three types of teacher education: one of my first experiences, which involved temporary EFL instructors in our English department; a second primary school initiative on video-conferencing in tandem exchanges; and two European projects where we used short video clips to illustrate different types of technology integration in the language classroom. This provides some background on video-stimulated recall and peer observation/discussion, both techniques which proved helpful in overcoming difficulties these teachers experienced in making pedagogical changes.

Whyte, S. (2011). Learning to teach with videoconferencing in primary foreign language classrooms. ReCALL 23(3): 271–293.

Whyte, S., & Cutrim Schmid, E. (2014). A task-based approach to video communication with the IWB: a French-German primary EFL class exchange. In Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. London: Bloomsbury.

Whyte, S. (2015). Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching: The Case of Interactive Whiteboards for EFL in French Schools. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Part 2:  Peer filming in the secondary EFL classroom in France

Building on the background of task-based language teaching (TBLT), video-stimulated recall (VSR), and peer discussion described in the previous film, here we show the advantages of peer filming in bridging the gap between school and university during the school placements organised for our Masters in Teaching English students at the University of Nice (UNS). This video sets out the five steps involved in peer filming, where the students

  1. design tasks in groups
  2. teach and observe the activity in school
  3. film the activity on their smartphones
  4. share critical incidents at university
  5. write a reflective paper on the experience

In the film we discuss

  • the example of a driving instructor task designed for lower secondary EFL,
  • excerpts from class activities filmed on students’ phones, and
  • feedback from a student teacher who is now a practising teacher. We end with some practical advice for implementing this procedure in initial teacher education, and a link to the next video which offers two possibilities for exploiting peer films for teacher development.

Whyte, S. (2015). Taking to task(s): Exploring task design by novice language teachers in technology-mediated and non-technological activities. XVII International CALL research conference proceedings, 30-36.

Part 3: Design briefs and critical incidents: preparing tasks and exploiting peer films

This video builds on the three main stages of peer filming: a) the use of a design brief to create classroom tasks, b) the recording of a ‘quick and dirty’ record of the activity in progress, and c) the discussion of critical incidents to consolidate student teacher learning from the process. It then focuses on the first and last dimensions by presenting two frameworks for discussing peer films with student teachers. The first involves criteria for assessing language tasks from a TBLT perspective (Erlam 2013, 2015), while the second takes a more inclusive perspective, focusing on critical incidents (Breen et al 2001). We conclude with some recommendations for this aspect of peer filming in language teacher education.

Breen, M. P., Hird, B., Milton, M., Oliver, R., & Thwaite, A. (2001). Making sense of language teaching: Teachers’ principles and classroom practices. Applied linguistics, 22(4), 470-501.

Erlam, R. (2015). ‘I’m still not sure what a task is’: Teachers designing language tasks. Language Teaching Research.

Erlam, R. (2013). Listing and comparing tasks in the language classroom: Examples of Willis and Willis’s (2007) taxonomy in practice. The New Zealand Language Teacher, 39,7-14.

Samuda, V. 2005. Expertise in second language pedagogic task design. In Johnson, K. Expertise in language teaching. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Whyte, S. (2015). Taking to task(s): Exploring task design by novice language teachers in technology-mediated and non-technological activities. XVII International CALL research conference proceedings, 30-36.

Overview texts

1 Background
2 Peer Film
3 Design Briefs and Critical Incidents


ViLT resources

Mackay, J. (2018). IATEFL conference presentation on ViLTE project by Steve Mann

ViLTE project seminar, February 2018

ViLT YouTube channel


Research for EFL teachers: French secondary school preparation

Recent reforms in French teacher education have led to the creation of new university schools of education (Ecoles Supérieures du Professorat et de l’Education) with masters programmes combining education sciences, disciplinary knowledge, pedagogy and also a research dimension. In the master’s programme in teaching English as a Foreign Language (Master MEEF Anglais), for future secondary EFL teachers, this research strand sits alongside English language and culture, EFL teaching, education theory and ICT. The initiation to research is offered during each of the two years of the programme, which integrates university courses and teaching practice. At Nice University, we designed a programme where an introduction to classroom research is connected with the two first-year teaching placements, which occur alongside university courses preparing for secondary school entrance exams (CAPES). In the second year, students conduct research projects in relation to the more extensive teaching practice involving university lecturers, secondary school practitioners and teacher educators.

The objective of the research component of the master’s programme is to help students understand

  • how language is learned in classroom environments, and
  • how teaching affects the process and outcomes.

This post offers background on second language classroom research for university lecturers and secondary practitioners to inform second year student research projects. We begin with a brief discussion of current second language research, followed by a presentation of the action research framework recommended for master’s research projects, and finally some of the the wider implications and future directions for this work are considered.


Bench Accounting

Classroom research in ELT

Second language teaching research

The learning and teaching of foreign or second languages has been the object of research in a number of different disciplines. Second language acquisition research in the field of linguistics is often dated to early work on learner language and learner errors in the 1970s (Corder, 1967; Selinker, 1972). It is also often associated with experimental designs using test and control groups, and statistical analyses, in order to test the effect of particular aspects of the learning environment on language learning, for instance. In language education, on the other hand, researchers have used discourse analysis to investigate patterns of language use in the classroom, for example, and to examine how teachers develop their classroom skills. Neither of these types of research seems appropriate to our students, however, because they have little or no training in research methods, and are expected to become classroom language teachers, not researchers.

However, it is possible and worthwhile for our students to conduct a different type of classroom research which can support their developing teaching skills and encourage reflective practice. This in turn may help them become more effective teachers who are able to adapt to new challenges and opportunities throughout their careers.

Action research

Action research is frequently attributed to Lewin (1946) and involves the teacher acting as a researcher in his or her own classroom by finding a question (or puzzle, or problem) to investigate, collecting data, analysing and interpreting the data, and then acting on the results, often setting off a new cycles of action research. For example, a language teacher might wonder why some learners in a class seem more motivated to participate in learning activities than others (Ellis, 2013). The teacher would collect data to find out whether this intuitive judgement is correct (e.g., by recording lessons, or making field notes, or perhaps involving the learners themselves), and analysing this data. Then the teacher can consider ways to make changes, and again measure the effect on learners.

Burns has written on this topic for researchers (2005) and for practitioners (2010). She explains the different stages of the action research cycle: plan, act, observe and reflect (2010) and the benefits for teachers and for the field (2005). Cook (2012) has further practical advice for novice researchers at graduate level.

Analysing learner language

To investigate the effects of second language teaching it is important to obtain some kind of measure of classroom activities by collecting and analysing data. Data collection can involve recording class activities or gathering samples of learner productions (spoken or written work). Data analysis then requires studying the learner language in these interactions or productions in a systematic manner (not just assigning grades).

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA, University of Minnesota) has online materials to support teacher research on learner language. This resource identifies a number of orientations which teachers can adopt to analyse their learners’ language use; perhaps the most accessible are

Students often find data analysis particularly challenging and need support both with the rationale for this and methods of carrying it out. Tarone and Swierzbin (2009) provides a useful framework for this.

Masters research projects

Suggested approaches

For the research projects to be conducted in the second year of the master’s programme, students can start from a pedagogical question, as in standard action research, or replicate a published classroom study, or conduct a CLIL project.

Teaching article

Choose an article from a journal in the list below which addresses a teaching issue relevant to your learners. Read up on the issue starting with the article’s reference list, and use it as the starting point for your action research cycle.

Replication study

Choose an article from a journal in the list below which reports on research on an aspect of second language teaching which is relevant to your learners. Conduct a similar study with your learners.

CLIL study

Apply CLIL principles to a teaching unit on a literary theme or cultural notion which is appropriate for your learners. Working with your tutor and any other colleagues, plan and teach the unit, then analyse it using the critical incident technique described in Coyles, Hood and Marsh (2010).

Conducting and writing up research

I suggest the following framework for M2 research projects.

Research method

  • define a research question (problematisation)
  • collect data
  • analyse and interpret findings (two AR cycles if possible)
  • collaboration among student, school tutor and university tutor on definition of research question, method (classes, data) and analysis

Report format

  • in English, with French-English glossary
  • 20-30 pages (4-6000 words), double-spaced, 12 pt, table of contents, page numbers
  • structure:
    • abstract
    • keywords
    • introduction
    • background or literature review
    • method (participants, classroom context, data collection)
    • analysis/results/discussion
    • conclusion,
    • references (APA format, as in the present document)
    • appendices (lesson plans, research instruments)
  • oral defence with tutor(s) and another instructor: 10 minute presentation, 10 minutes for questions
  • evaluation on quality of project, write-up and presentation/discussion.

Future directions

Our work on master’s classroom research projects can contribute to our overall efforts for teacher education in the programme by supporting both novice teachers and their more experienced practitioner tutors. If thoughtfully conceived and carried out, student projects can also contribute to broader research in second (English) language teaching.

With this in mind, it is important for our classroom research to

  • draw on relevant recent research by language teachers and teacher educators;
  • define reasonable research questions which can be adequately addressed in the time available;
  • collect data in an organised and ethically appropriate manner (using participant authorisation forms and anonymising data);
  • write up and share findings with peers (past and future graduate students), colleagues (English teachers in the local academy) and stakeholders (inspectors, ESPE, university).

Sharing findings

Master’s in Teaching mini-conference

In Nice, we organised a day of Reflections on Classroom Practice in early June for first year students to share their teaching experiences using powerpoint presentations. We invited the students’ tutors and used these presentations as the basis for our grades. We used a similar format for second year student presentations, organised as joint half-day sessions including university and school tutors of all presenters.

Teacher education collaboration

We could also consider ways to build on second year master’s projects in Nice and Toulon by
organising combined research classes online (e.g., via the unice Connect platform)
organising outreach events with practising EFL teachers via inspectors and in-service training programmes
working with recent graduates and newly qualified teachers (T1, T2, T3) to continue professional support and encourage further practical research initiatives

Research collaboration

A final dimension to consider is collaborative research into language teacher education in our context. This is one area where I have done research with academic colleagues, graduate students and teachers (Cutrim Schmid & Whyte, 2012; Whyte & Alexander, 2014; Whyte, Cutrim Schmid, van Hazebrouck & Oberhofer, 2013), both in funded projects and independently. We might consider working together in similar ways with the MEEF students and tutors.

Organisations and conferences

Platforms for talks or publications include:

  • AFLA (Association Française de Linguistique Appliquée)
  • ARDAA (Association pour la Recherche en Didactique de l’Anglais et en Acquisition) (colloque SAES (May)
  • EuroCALL (European association for Computer Assisted Language Learning) conference (July/August)
    Special Interest Group in Teacher Education*
  • GERAS (Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche en Anglais de Spécialité) colloque GERAS (March)
    Groupe de Travail sur la Didactique de l’Anglais de Spécialité*



Burns, A. (2010). Doing action research in English language teaching: A guide for practitioners. Routledge.

Burns, A. (2005). Action research: An evolving paradigm?. Language teaching, 38(02), 57-74.

Cook, V. (2012). Starting applied linguistics research. Retrieved 4 July 2014

Corder, S. P. (1967). The significance of learner’s errors. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 5(1-4), 161-170.

Coyle, D., Hood, P., & Marsh, D. (2010). The CLIL tool kit: transforming theory into practice. Coyle, D., Hood, P., & Marsh, D., CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning.

Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. Advances in Digital Language Learning and Teaching (Series editors: Michael Thomas, Mark Warschauer & Mark Peterson). Bloomsbury.

Ellis, R. (2013). Interview with Rod Ellis. Language magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2014

Lewin, K. (1946). Action research and minority problems. Journal of Social Issues, 2(4), 34-46.

Selinker, L. (1972). Interlanguage. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 10(1-4), 209-232.

Whyte, S., & Alexander, J. (2014). Implementing tasks with interactive technologies in classroom CALL: towards a developmental framework. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40 (1), 1-26.

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., van Hazebrouck, S., & Oberhofer, M. (2013). Open educational resources for CALL teacher education: the iTILT interactive whiteboard project. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27 (2), 122-148 doi: 10.1080/09588221.2013.818558

Open access journals

Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics / Revue canadienne de linguistique appliquée:
English Teaching Forum:
The Asian EFL Journal:

Online resources
Learner language (CARLA)

Foreign language teaching methods (COERLL)

Further reading

Spada, N., & Lightbown, P. (2006). How language are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tarone, E., & Swierzbin, B. (2009). Exploring learner language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Internal report, UNS/ESPE Nice

S. Whyte, July 2014

Updating pedagogy with ITILT: against PPP


ITILT 2 Multiplier Event, June 2017


Language teaching in public educational settings in Europe is subject to pressure from many different sources. Official programmes and curricula, textbooks and other ready-made teaching materials, educational institutions and other stakeholders, as well as teacher educators and researchers all offer different and often conflicting recommendations regarding language teaching in primary and second schools, as well as vocational and higher education settings. Learners must cover a certain part of a larger programme in order to succeed in high-stakes examinations. Textbooks have been purchased and need to be used efficiently. Schools want teachers to participate in class exchanges, and place pressure on teachers to use technology for international collaboration; at the same time, teachers must respect rules regarding internet safety and privacy laws. Educators and researchers generally call for change, for evidence of learning, and for reflective, collaborative, even open practices. All these can prove destabilising as well as time-consuming for teachers. In many ways, European projects such as iTILT, focusing on integrating technology to improve interactive language teaching, can appear to add to, rather than relieve the tensions of everyday classroom practice.
In this presentation, I intend to take a step back from the very practical details of technology integration and language pedagogy to ask a deceptively simple question: why change? What is wrong with the way we traditionally teach languages? Why not stick with the traditional presentation-practice-production (PPP) model which many of us experienced as language learners? After all, many modern textbooks still propose teaching units which Present a particular grammatical structure, provide exercises to Practice the new forms, followed by more open-ended Production activities where learners can test their new skills? Why are newer action-oriented approaches or task-based language (TBLT) considered more effective and more likely to produce confident users of the target language?
This presentation starts with an overview of two European projects: iTILT (LLP 2011-13) and ITILT 2 (Erasmus+ 2014-17). Then I contrast PPP and TBLT approaches, drawing on examples from French teachers of English in the iTILT project at primary, secondary, and university levels to illustrate these differences . A close analysis of the video examples shows the weaknesses of PPP in addressing the complexity of the language learning task facing learners, and suggests TBLT may offer a more flexible and ultimately more effective framework for second language acquisition and learning.


Anderson, J. (2016). Why practice makes perfect sense: the past, present and potential future of the PPP paradigm in language teacher education. ELTED, 19. PDF
Ellis, R. (2013). Task-based language teaching: Responding to the critics. University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, 8. PDF

Mobility abroad in teacher education: a virtuous spiral

SPIRAL, School-teacher Professionalisation: Intercultural Resources and Languages, is a European teacher education project which aims to develop intercultural and foreign language competence in pre-service primary teachers (Erasmus+ 2015-18).


The project

Coordinated by the French International Centre for Pedagogical Studies (CIEP), SPIRAL involves institutions for teacher education in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK. The project partners have designed a learning platform to support trainee teachers who undertake short school placements in a different country.
The platform provides
  • practical help in making contact with their host schools, and
  • pedagogical support for making the most of this opportunity to develop teaching and intercultural competences.

In each of the three years of the project’s lifetime, 30 pre-service primary teachers (6 from each partner country) make 2-week school visits to another project country. Where possible, the mobility is organised as part of regular teacher training courses.

The learning platform

The online platform has been purpose-built to accommodate participants from the five SPIRAL countries on Moodle, using the project’s own graphic identity. It includes
  • a survey tool
  • a built-in video/audio recorder, and
  • an ePortfolio.

The platform offers a structured sequence of 17 activities designed to help learners before, during, and after their mobility along three dimensions labelled research, practice, and language. Following a self-assessment activity, where participants complete can-do statements related to a common reference framework developed by the project, the primary student-teachers work on the activities with support from a tutor in their home country.

Examples of activities designed for the three dimensions at each stage of the mobility are shown below:

(10 activities)
read articles on intercultural competence (ICC)
find out about education system in host country
record a video CV for host school
(3 activities)
explore four Competence Cards (intercultural competences) selected for special emphasis
keep classroom observation notes in relation to each competence
monitor own language and teaching experiences where appropriate
(4 activities)
relate own experience to previous ICC reading
write a reflective paper
record a short oral reaction to experience
Student teachers enroll in the learning path corresponding to the host country: a French student going to the Netherlands joins the Dutch path. Instructions are offered in each of the project’s five languages in each path. The activities are identical in each path, with the exception of one webquest specific to each host country. The trainee teachers can collect a variety of media in their own space on the SPIRAL platform (web links, audio, video, text, PDF), organise these into collections (folders) and share whole collections or parts with their home tutors. Host teacher feedback is also expected.

SPIRAL in teacher education

A group of language educators external to the project were invited to a presentation of the project at the University of Alcala for feedback on progress to date.

My impression was very favourable: it’s clear a great deal of thought and effort has gone into the design of online activities. The results appears coherent, well integrated in local SPIRAL contexts, and very relevant to the wider language education community. This is the kind of project that institutions should support through long-term integration into local curricula and programmes, in order to establish its role in intercultural and foreign language teacher education. We know from experience that when modules appear in permanent course catalogues with an appropriate attribution of credits, buy-in by both tutors and trainees is much easier to sustain. And once institutional recognition is assured, generalisation to other institutions across academies, countries, and even at the international level, becomes a real possibility.

Supporting (language) teacher education with mobility

It is hard to resist the temptation to raise a few issues I think are worth considering for a possible SPIRAL 2 and beyond, with the goals of sustainability and normalisation (Bax, 2003) for exploiting mobility in teacher education.

Closed versus open platforms

I confess my heart sinks when I log on to most traditional learning management systems like Moodle. My objections include
  • an uninviting interface where I see only enclosing folder upon enclosing folder containing information to be downloaded and assignments to be completed. The internet’s answer to brutalist architecture;
  • the top-down pedagogical framework: the user cannot take an initiatives, only respond to activities already defined and timetabled in advance;
  • the lack of ownership of any resources added: neither students nor instructors are assured of being able to retrieve work accomplished on the platform, either for their records or to use/share for other purposes.


While open platforms using free tools obviously have the drawbacks of not providing the privacy and safe space to share that students often need, they do offer more freedom in both the type of resources that can be accessed and the range of activities that can be engaged in. On open platforms, future teachers can learn to use tools they may re-use with their own pupils as their careers progress, and they also have control over what happens to any work they post. Perhaps most importantly, they can interact with one another.

Tutor-trainee exchange versus group interaction

My second gripe about online delivery of this type of course is related to the first. Because they tend to reflect somewhat conservative views of both web-related technology and pedagogical practice, Moodle-type learning platforms encourage a fairly transmissive view of teaching and learning. The instructor defines the content, plans delivery, and sets assignments to check understanding. The instructor uploads materials for the student to download and digest, the students upload materials for the instructor to download and evaluate, and the instructor posts feedback. Students don’t collaborate either on the input provided by the instructor, or on the output produced by each student.
This format misses opportunities for students to learn from one another, either by collaborating on learning tasks or by providing feedback to one another. The whole burden of supporting learning and assessing it is borne by the instructor alone. This makes it more likely for both sides to become discouraged, since the students have no peer support and the instructor is limited to providing individual feedback.
In courses covering foreign language learning and intercultural understanding, it seems important to include multiple perspectives, making group interaction an obvious asset for both teaching and learning.

In case of SPIRAL, since the project has a fixed duration and functions essentially as a pilot for a future intercultural/foreign language course, there is neither funding nor staff resources for more interactive modules. But this is a point to consider in any future developments, in my view.

Intercultural learning versus foreign language focus

Alcala city hall displays a portrait of El Empecinado (the Undaunted) who saved the city from Napoleon against the odds, and gave the Spanish language the verb empecinarse (to insist).

My third point concerns the relative importance of intercultural versus foreign language competences. I understand that particularly in primary education, where teachers are responsible for a general curriculum comprising all the core subjects, it is unrealistic to expect very high foreign language proficiency from participants (e.g., CER level C). I also concede that my own linguistic training disposes me to place high value on both language proficiency and linguistic knowledge. But I do feel that to improve the language skills of tomorrow’s citizens we need teachers able to teach foreign languages well, which would imply both having good language skills and knowing how to support classroom foreign language learning. (See recent research by de Bot and colleagues on instructional time and teacher proficiency with very young learners in Dutch schools, references below.)

I feel that we have in many ways abandoned the goal of promoting foreign language acquisition in schools.

Much language teaching is diverted towards culture, to the detriment of actual language learning.
Primary school language teaching, seldom delivered by language specialists, often emphasises human geography and cultural traditions. Secondary school and university programmes generally focus on learning about the target language grammar, as a gateway to the target culture. More recently, intercultural competence, or communicating with individuals from different cultural backgrounds, has taken centre stage. As a linguist, I argue against both approaches.
Intercultural competence is a natural consequence of learning a foreign language, and need not be a specific focus of study.
In learning to comprehend target language speakers, and in turn express themselves even approximately, learners being to equip themselves both to understand communication breakdown and negotiate misunderstandings. And as proficiency develops, the culture of the second language can constitute content (like history, mathematics, or science in CLIL teaching).
The culture of target language speakers can be studied separately, once the language has been acquired to an appropriate level.
No doubt the current focus in language classrooms on cultural and intercultural competence is partly due to the difficulty of actual language learning. Acquisition is a notoriously long and uncertain process which does not lend itself easily to short teacher training programmes (which often also have other, more pressing learning objectives to attain). All the more reason, I would say, to grasp the nettle.
I believe a number of steps can be taken to address the problems of second/foreign language learning and teaching during teacher training.

Experiential modelling

At the very least, our teacher education modules should offer a good model of using the foreign language to communicate. We should provide opportunities for spontaneous exchange, in written or spoken mode, using any of the many synchronous and asynchronous tools now available. We should allow student teachers to try out their perhaps limited linguistic skills in a safe environment, where mistakes can be made and risks taken, risks and errors both being integral to language acquisition. Then they can hit the ground running when they arrive in the host environment.

Collecting teaching resources

We should also encourage student teachers to seize the opportunity of a stay in the target culture to collect resources to be used in future language teaching classes, such as photographs, recordings of native speakers, or cultural artifacts. They should also try and cultivate contacts for future class exchanges. This would remind student teachers that this school placement is not simply a chance to put themselves in their learners’ shoes as low proficiency speakers. It is also a chance to view the host class through their learners’ eyes: what would an eight-year old French child notice about the German classroom? What topics could be explored in future class exchanges? Note that this argument applies to placements where students use English as a lingua franca (e.g., French students working in English in the Netherlands) as well as where they aim to teach the host language (e.g., German future teachers of English in the UK).

Continuing professional development

Finally, any teaching module based on foreign language teaching and learning should provide motivation and resources for ongoing language learning on the part of the future teacher. A placement of two weeks, a month, or a full term in the target culture will in most case suffice only to assure the student teacher of the extent of language practice still to be undertaken if a level of proficiency is to be attained that is truly comfortable for teaching. Upon their return, we need to offer ways to prolong and extend contact with the target language.

Only in this way can we ensure that new generations of teachers have the wherewithal to create genuine opportunities for language acquisition in their classes.


Bax, S. (2003). CALL—past, present and future. System, 31(1), 13-28.
De Bot, K. (2014). The effectiveness of early foreign language learning in the Netherlands. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 4(3), 409-418.
SPIRAL common reference framework PDF
SPIRAL competence cards PDF

Unsworth, S., Persson, L., Prins, T., & De Bot, K. (2014). An investigation of factors affecting early foreign language learning in the Netherlands. Applied Linguistics.

Photos from unsplash, the SPIRAL project site and Twitter feed, or my own.

Learning to teach second language pragmatics

Shona Whyte
Aisha Siddiqa
TESOL France, Paris, 19 November 2016.


With the growing global networking and cross-cultural communication, interest in the teaching and learning of second languages has also increased. However, the bulk of research in interlanguage pragmatics (ILP) has revealed that foreign language learners, despite their grammatical and lexical proficiency, frequently fail to approximate target-like pragmatic norms (Bouton, 1994; Bardovi-Harlig, 2001; Bardovi-Harlig & Mahan-Taylor, 2003). Awareness of pragmatic norms is crucial as its absence can lead to cross cultural miscommunication (Beebe & Takahashi, 1989a).

ILP research also shows that learner’s pragmalinguistic knowledge develops relatively slowly (Schauer, 2004; 2009; Barron 2002). But evidence suggests that it is amenable to instruction (Rose, 2005; Cohen & Ishihara, 2013). Both instruction (e.g., see Bardovi-Harlig & Mahan-Taylor, 2003 for review) and feedback to learners (Belz & Kinginger, 2003) can accelerate this process. Yet in spite of the need for pragmatics instruction and the existence of pedagogical models, ILP is rarely a major component of teacher training programmes (Vellenga 2011, Vasquez & Sharpless, 2009).

The present study, as part of a larger project on ILP development in French secondary schools, seeks to address some of these gaps in literature by focusing on teacher training for teaching pragmatics to English as foreign language (EFL) learners. As part of their teacher education programme at a French university, fifteen pre-service teachers participated in the study as part of a classroom research course. The course focused on

a) multiple research methods and data analysis techniques and various pragmatic aspects including

b) ILP awareness-raising via authentic materials including TV series/films and corpus data, and

c) the design and implementation of activities to teach both pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic dimensions of request strategies to EFL learners (aged 11 to 18).

The participants worked in groups and prepared six lessons. The data for our study include

  • lesson plans and teaching resources for the student-teachers’ lessons
  • video-recordings of three classroom activities
  • learner focus-group discussions and video-stimulated recall interviews with teachers and tutors
  • audio-recorded class presentations of the participant teachers
  • a pre-study oral production task to assess the participant teachers’ knowledge about requests strategies.

A preliminary analysis of the data reveals that the novice teachers, despite some initial difficulty, used authentic materials quite effectively to engage pupils in discussion and reflection on request behaviour. The tutors appreciated the focus of the activities on pragmatics and confirmed that pragmatics is rarely a focus in curriculum despite its importance. However, the learners’ responses varied across classrooms and teachers.

The presentation gives main findings regarding student-teacher classroom implementation of lessons on English requests, with implications and recommendations for French EFL instructional contexts.


interlanguage pragmatics, EFL, secondary schools, France, language teacher education.

Requests: a speech act

A request is a directive speech act whose illocutionary purpose is to get the hearer to do something in circumstances in which it is not obvious that he/she will perform the action in the normal course of events (Searle 1969). By initiating a request, the speaker believes that the hearer is able to perform an action.

The structure of a request may consist of two parts: the head act (the actual request) and modifications to the request (external or internal).

The perspective of requests can be emphasized, either projecting toward the speaker (Can I borrow your notes?) or the hearer (Can you loan me your notes?). Since we must take into account many factors when we make requests (e.g., age, social distance, gender, and level of imposition), speakers often employ different strategies (linguistic and non-linguistic) to minimize the effects of our request on the other person

Request strategies are divided into three types according to the level of inference (on the part of the hearer) needed to understand the utterance as a request. The three types of requests include:

  1. direct requests
  2. conventionally-indirect strategies (CI)
  3. non-conventionally indirect (NCI) strategies (hints)

Direct and conventionally-indirect requests comprise a continuum of different strategies. Read more …

(See also Blum-Kulka et al 1989)



Key readings

Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Mahan-Taylor, R. (2003). Teaching Pragmatics. USA: Office of English Language Programs of the U.S. Department of State. Retrieved from

Bardovi-Harlig, K., Mossman, S., & Vellenga, H. E. (2015a). The effect of instruction on pragmatic routines in academic discussion. Language Teaching Research (Online), 1–27.

Bardovi-Harlig, K., Mossman, S., & Vellenga, H. E. (2015b). Developing Corpus-Based Materials to Teach Pragmatic Routines. TESOL Journal, 6(3), 499–526.

Online resources

Request lessons:

Elicitation resources for requests (Cartoon oral production task)

Teaching Pragmatics

Editors: Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig Rebecca Mahan-Taylor
Teaching Pragmatics is a collection of 30 lessons that can help English learners use socially appropriate language in a variety of informal and formal situations


  1. Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE)
  2. US corpus available on the Lexical Tutor website
  3. Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken American English

Further reading

Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2001). Evaluating the empirical evidence: Grounds for instruction in pragmatics? In K. R. Rose & G. Kasper (Eds.), Pragmatics in language teaching (pp. 33–60). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Mahan-Taylor, R. (Eds.). (2003). Teaching pragmatics. Washington, DC: United States Department of State. Retrieved from

Barron, A. (2003). Acquisition in Interlanguage Pragmatics: Learning how to do things with words in a study abroad context (Vol. Volume 108). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing.

Barron, A., & Warga, M. (2007). Acquisitional pragmatics: Focus on foreign language learners. Intercultural Pragmatics, 4(2), 113–127.

Beebe, L., & Takahashi, S. (1989a). Do you have a bag? : Social status and patterned  variation in second language acquisition. In S. Gass, C. Madden, D. Preston, & L. Selinker, Variation in second language acquisition: Discourse and pragmatics (pp. 103–125). Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.

Belz, J., & Kinginger, C. (2003). Discourse options and the development of pragmatic competence by classroom learners of German: The case of address forms. Language Learning, 53, 591–647.

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Blum-Kulka, S., & Olshtain, E. (1986). Too many words: Length of utterance and pragmatic failure. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 8, 47–61.

Bouton, L. F. (1994). Can NNS skill in interpreting implicatures in American English be improved through explicit instruction? A pilot study. In L. F. Bouton & Y. Kachru (Eds.), Pragmatics and language learning, (Vol 5, pp. 88-109). University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign: Division of English as an International Language.

Cohen, A. D., & Ishihara, N. (2013). Pragmatics. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Applied Linguistics and Materials Development (pp. 113–126). London, UK: Bloomsburry Academic.

Faerch, C., & Kasper, G. (1989). Internal and External Modification in Interlanguage Request Realization. In S. Blum-Kulka, J. House, & G. Kasper (Eds.), Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies (Vol. XXXI, pp. 221–247). United States of America: Albex Publishing Corporation.

Félix-Brasdefer, C. Speech acts: requests. Discourse pragmatics.

Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. (S. Blum-Kulka & J. House, Eds.) (Vol. XXXI). United States of America: Albex Publishing Corporation.

Kasper, G., & Dahl, M. (1991). Research Methods in Interlanguage Pragmatics. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 13, 215–247.

Kasper, G., & Rose, K. R. (2001). Pragmatics in language teaching. In K. R. Rose & G. Kasper (Eds.), Pragmatics in language teaching (pp. 1–10). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kasper, G., & Schmidt, R. (1996). Developmental issues in interlanguage pragmatics. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 18, 149–169.

Rose, K. R. (2005). On the effects of instruction in second language pragmatics. System, 33(3), 385–399.

Scarcella, R. (1979). On speaking politely in a second language. In C. A. Yorio & K. Perkins (Eds.), On TESOL ’79 (pp. 275–287). Washington, DC: TESOL.

Schauer, G. (2004). May you speaker louder maybe? In- terlanguage pragmatic development in requests. EUROSLA Yearbook, 4, 253–272.

Schauer, G. (2009). Interlanguage pragmatic development: The study abroad context. London: Continuum.

Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Siddiqa, A. (in preparation). The acquisition of politeness strategies by young EFL learners in France: An exploratory study of interlanguage pragmatic development. Doctoral thesis, UMR7320 Bases, Corpus, Langage. Université Nice Sophia Antipolis.

Siddiqa, A. (2016). A developmental pragmatic study of politeness in EFL: learning to make requests in French secondary schools. 3rd International conference of the American Pragmatics Association, November 4-6, 2016, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Siddiqa, A. (2016). Opportunities for developing L2 politeness strategies in EFL classrooms in France. ESSE, Aug 2016, Galway, Ireland.

Siddiqa, A. (2015). Beyond “classroom English” Colloque international du LAIRDIL: Regards pluridisciplinaires sur la créativité et l’innovation en langues étrangères, December 2015, Toulouse, France.

Siddiqa, A. (2015). The use and acquisition of politeness strategies among EFL learners in France: An exploratory study of interlanguage pragmatic development
The Ninth International Im/Politeness Conference, Athens, Greece.

Taguchi, N. (2011b). Pragmatic Development as a Dynamic, Complex Process: General Patterns and Case Histories. The Modern Language Journal, 95(4), 605–627.

Vasquez, C., & Sharpless, D. (2009). The role of pragmatics in the master’s TESOL curriculum: Findings from a nationwide survey. TESOL Quarterly, 43, 1, 5-28.

Vellenga, H. (2011). Teaching L2 Pragmatics: Opportunities for Continuing Professional Development. TESL-EJ, 15. Retrieved from