Improving the teaching of casual conversation through collaborative action research - a 'Leap in the Dark' or a 'Shot in the Arm'?
There is, in recent TESOL literature, much encouragement for teachers to undertake Action Learning and Action Research in order to improve teaching and develop research skills. But how practical and beneficial is this in a New Zealand tertiary setting where teachers of EAL have high teaching and administrative workloads and large classes? This paper describes the process of setting up a collaborative action research/learning project in which a group of teachers of adult EAL migrants focused on investigating the teaching of casual conversation in English. It surveys the literature that informed the research both on teacher research and the teaching of casual conversation in English and examines the benefits for teaching and for research skill development, the challenges, and the constraints of such an undertaking. Two members of the group outline briefly their action research into the teaching of aspects of casual conversation and describe specific strategies that helped learners in their own classroom contexts.