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Television in TESOL – The research agenda
Richard Kiely
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5. Concluding comments

We can reduce the challenges facing the language teacher to two opposing discourses in current views of communicative language teaching:

  • teaching and learning processes should reflect patterns of language use in the ‘real world’; and
  • language classrooms are not the ‘real world’ of language use, and as sites of learning and teaching may involve language-focussed activities which on the surface bear little resemblance to the patterns of language use in real-world contexts.

Teachers typically in their planning and practices will bridge these discourses. This may involve leading learners in activities which dissect, analyse and manipulate language in ways which do not reflect patterns of language use in other contexts of communication, while at the same time explaining the relevance of such activities in terms of knowledge and skills for later effective and authentic communication. The latter task – explaining the relevance – may involve strategies to inspire, motivate, engage, and contribute to forming extended identities as language users. Television can connect these different elements of the language curriculum. Teachers can take slice of social life, readily-packaged in video or digital format with language and visual elements, subject it to the dissecting and manipulating that characterise language classrooms, and the same time tap directly into the ways in which our knowledge of cultural and communicative practices contributes to comprehension.

When this virtuous conjunction of learning dynamics occurs, it merits celebration, and also further enquiry. Teachers will understand the WHAT and HOW of pedagogical success in the classroom: determining WHY in a way which can be shared with others, and which fully reflects the quality of that teacher’s work, reflect the perspective that only a systematic enquiry perspective can provide.


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Cohen, L., Mannion, L. & Morrison, K. 2000 Research Methods in Education. London: Routledge

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Kiely, R. & P. Rea-Dickins 2005 Programme Evaluation in Language Education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

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Richards, K. 2003 Qualitative Inquiry in TESOL. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Wallace, M. 1998 Action Research for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Richard Kiely has taught English and trained teachers in Zambia, France, Malaysia, Mexico, Hong Kong and Poland. He is a Senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol where he coordinates the masters in TESOL, directs the CREOLE Research centre, and teaches and supervises research on the EdD and MPhil/PhD programmes.
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