The ECML project entitled “Action Research Communities for language teachers” aims to make techniques for action research widely available to language teachers across Europe by establishing a community of practice which brings together newly qualified and experienced teachers with teacher educators and university researchers. The project will strengthen professional language teaching networks by forging links between academic expertise on action research and good practice in language classrooms. Language teachers will be able to benefit from improved access to action research and to a diverse range of perspectives on teaching methodologies. In addition, this project will provide opportunities for language teachers to reflect on practice and to propose and test innovations while working collaboratively within a community of practice.
The project has just completed an exciting and successful first year, which began with an initial planning meeting of the project team in Graz in February 2016. This was followed by the first project workshop at the Pedagogical University Tirol in Innsbruck during the International Week in April 2016 where broad-ranging discussions on quality and enhancement in teaching at tertiary level across Europe took place. The workshop was held in conjunction with the coordinator of “Towards a Common Framework of Reference for Language teachers”. We then organised an action research workshop for German teachers in Sibiu/Hermannstadt (Romania) in October 2016 which introduced the participating teachers to action research tools and provided them with the opportunity to plan and develop collaborative action research projects to be carried out in their own classrooms. The teachers are currently trialling the lessons and writing reports on the action research process. Finally, a workshop for teachers and teacher trainers/educators from across Europe was held in Graz in November 2016. Here participants shared inspiring stories and examples from their own teaching, reflected on action research approaches in different European contexts and also gained an insight from a Canadian expert into the vital contribution of distance and online language teaching in providing access to languages for rural communities. Participants subsequently identified their own action research interests and formulated collaborative group proposals for a set of pilot classroom projects. Groups are responsible for reporting on their projects in March 2017. The workshop was greatly enjoyed and we look forward to seeing and disseminating the outcomes of this work. It is already clear that an impressive level of activity is underway and that the collaborative approach is benefitting those teachers who are relative newcomers to action research.
The project team will now move on to exploring and developing synergies and links with other ECML projects and will be producing a set of guidelines for action research networking strategies and formats for training courses to improve classroom practice by linking quality strategies to practical action research approaches. Ultimately, project outcomes will include the production of action research tools which help to improve the quality of language teaching and foster dialogue between teachers in different sectors and evidence which shows the reciprocal relationship between practice and research. We also hope to demonstrate the benefits of action research to teachers and learners by creating a set of success stories in different languages and to create European models for peer learning activities which can be implemented at school/national level.
The team of the project “Action research communities for language teachers
Christine LECHNER, Coordinator, Pedagogical University Tirol - Pädagogische Hochschule Tirol (PHT),
Brynhildur Anna RAGNARSDOTTIR, Website correspondent, Language Studio in Laugalækjarskóli,
Mihaiu TITA, Second language documentalist, Centrul pentru formarea Continua in Limba Germana (CPD)
Angela GALLAGHER-BRETT , Communications person, SOAS, University of London