The problems in language teaching

 

This is a response essay. All the reference must be academic. I will give you one article which you need to summarize. The essay must in 5 paragraphs. The first paragraph needs to have a hook, background, and writer’s claim about the summary article which I give you, then you also need a thesis statement with two predictors. The second paragraph is the summarize the article, totally summary, do not need to own idea. The third paragraph is a response paragraph, the topic sentence is related to the predictor, then you need to list a point about the summary article, then find another academic article to support the writer’s point, next you need to comment on it. Then is conclusion sentence. The fourth paragraph is as same structure as the last paragraph. You also need to have point, support(from the academic article), and comment. The fifth paragraph is a conclusion, the first sentence you need to restate your thesis statement. Finally, the clincher is also important, it is better to relate to the hook you wrote before. All the support need to talk about Canada and must be the academic resources. I also need a title page. Thank you.

Abstract
In-service language teachers’ professional development is a crucial factor that influences the teaching and
learning effectiveness. Educational action research is considered by many researchers and scholars as an
effective way or approach for language teachers’ professional development. This article reports a case study of
in-service English language teachers doing action research within a collaborative action research project. The
focus of the case study is upon investigating the problems and difficulties that English language teachers
encounter in doing action research and some solutions to the problems are provided. This research sheds light on
the practice and application of educational action research.
Keywords: action research, language teacher development, problems
1. Introduction
It is believed that the modern action research in educational contexts can be traced back in the work of John
Dewey (Burns, 2005). American social-psychologist, Kurt Lewin, is often credited with coining the term action
research around 1934 (Mills, 2007). Action research provides a bridge that links theory and teaching practice.
Many researchers and scholars (e.g., Han, 2012; McNiff & Whitehead, 2010; Mertler, 2009; Mills, 2007;
Wallace, 1998; Wang, 2002; Wang & Zhang, 2012) consider action research as an effective approach or way for
language teachers’ professional development. However, many in-service English language teachers have not
recognized the effectiveness of fulfilling their professional development through action research.
In the present study, a collaborative action research project which acts as an exploration of the theory into
practice, has been conducted between the university teacher researchers and in-service senior high school
English language teachers in a metropolitan district in Beijing, China. The university teacher researchers act as
guide, supporter, helper, and research assistants to the senior high school English language teachers.
During the one year and a half period, a variety of activities and sessions have been designed and organized to
ensure the smooth movement of the project. The overall guideline for organizing the activities is based on the
discovery, analysis of the problems that language teachers might encounter during the process. The sessions
include lectures, seminars, workshops, and group discussions. Research data, gathered from questionnaires,
interviews, reflection journals and so on are analyzed during the course.
Based on the recognition of the problems and difficulties, measures have been taken to guide, support, and help
language teachers to continue and fulfill their action research journey. In the present paper, some main problems
faced by the English language teachers are analyzed and possible solutions are also provided, which may shed
light on the practice and application of educational action research in reality.
2. Brief Review of Action Research
The discussion of action research entails the argument of different definitions initiated and proposed by scholars
and researchers. In this part, some representative definitions of action research are reviewed and explicated.
According to Mills (2007, p. 5), action research is “any systematic inquiry conducted by teacher researchers,
principals, school counselors, or other stakeholders in the teaching/learning environment to gather information
about how their particular schools operate, how they teach, and how well their students learn”. Mills (2007)
further asserts that this information is gathered with the goals of “gaining insight, developing reflective practice,
effecting positive changes in the school environment (and on educational practices in general), and improving
student outcomes and the lives of those involved”.
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Creswell (2008, pp. 609-612) described action research as “a dynamic, flexible process that involves the
following steps: Determining if action research is the best design to use; Identifying a problem to study; Locating
resources to help address the problem; Identifying necessary information; Implementing the data collection;
Analyzing the data; Developing a plan for action, and Implementing the plan and reflect”.
Burns (1999) argues that action research is an approach which involves “a self-reflective, systematic and critical
approach to enquiry by participants who are at the same time members of the research community”.
Kemmis and Taggart (1982, p. 5) regard action research as “a form of self-reflective enquiry undertaken by
participants in social (including educational) situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of: (a) their
own social or educational practices; (b) their understanding of these practices; (c) the situations (and institutions)
in which these practices are carried out”. This definition is widely and commonly accepted by scholars and
researchers.
Based on the different definitions discussed above, it is noted that the main characteristics of action research
include “self-reflective, action-based, context specific, empirical, participatory, collaborative and aiming for
change and improvement” (Wang, 2002).
As a matter of fact, there are many literatures on the definitions of action research and practices of promoting
language teacher development through action research approach. However, the empirical research on the
problems that language teachers encounter is scarce.
3. The Action Research Project
This part explains the research background of the action research project and the present case study, which
includes the form of the action research project and the information about the case study.
3.1 The Action Research Project Form
The action research project follows a collaborative action research form (Wang & Zhang, 2012). There are 17
teacher researchers, including six university teacher educators, eight PhD and three MA students from the
Research Center for Foreign Language Education and Teacher Education in a key normal university in Beijing,
China. The participants of the collaborative action research project consisted of 45 in-service English language
teachers from 12 senior high schools in a district in Beijing. The 45 senior high school English language teachers
were divided into subgroups according to the principle that teachers from the same school stayed as much as
possible in the same group. Each group of the participants of the action research project consisted of two to nine
members on average, and each group was allocated with one or two university teacher researchers to work with
(Wang & Zhang, 2012).
As a teacher researcher, I was responsible for one subgroup of the action research project that consisted of four
English language teachers at the beginning of the project. They were all female English language teachers with
several years of teaching experience respectively. Three of them were teaching Grade Two, and one was teaching
Grade One in a senior high school in Beijing, China.
3.2 The Case Study within the Collaborative Action Research Project
Besides assisting the English language teachers to complete their action research project, a case study was
carried out to find out the problems and difficulties that English language teachers would encounter at the
different stages of the action research process. Most important of all, what can teacher researchers do to help and
assist the in-service English language teachers to solve these problems?
Therefore, the research questions for the case study are as following.
1) What problems and difficulties will the English language teachers encounter while doing action research?
2) How to address and help English language teachers to solve these problems?
The case study ran for 18 months just as the collaborative action research project. To answer the two research
questions of the case study, relevant research data were collected.
The research data were mainly qualitative, including interviews, observation notes, reflection journals of the
participants and reflection journals/notes of the researcher. The qualitative data were transcribed, sorted,
organized, and analyzed according to “content analysis” and “thematic analysis” (Patton, 2002).
Following Patton’s (2002) “content analysis” and “thematic analysis” method, firstly, different forms of research
data were carefully sorted and coded and then categorized based on the research questions. Secondly, the
frequency of each code was counted to identify distinctive and prominent themes. Thirdly, cross-data analysis
was conducted. As a result, the themes emerged from the data have no predetermined theoretical assumptions
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Besides the lecture, some books and journal articles on action research were recommended to the participants of
the action research project.
From the interview with the two teachers in the case study group, it is learned that they had a clear idea and
understanding about action research through attending the lecture organized by university teacher researchers
and reading relevant books and journal articles on action research.
4.3 Participants’ Lack of Competence to Define Research Questions to Start the Action Research
One aim of educational action research is to facilitate the professional development of reflective teachers. This
can be exercised by asking the English language teachers to reflect on their daily teaching practice. Thus the first
step in action research is to locate an educational problem and narrow it down to an operable extent.
English language teachers came up with all sorts of questions out of their perceptions of their classroom teaching.
For instance, how to arouse students’ interest in memorizing new English words and phrases? How to improve
students’ English listening comprehension ability? How to develop students’ English reading and writing ability?
However, these questions were too broad and general.
The teacher researchers asked the English language teachers to think of how to narrow down the general
questions and define the research questions for their individual action research. And what kind of action plan to
take to address the respective research questions?
With the help and assistance of the teacher researchers, the English language teachers could gradually narrow
down their research questions and design an action research plan.
4.4 Participants’ Lack of Competence to Analyze the Research Data
As Burns (2005, p. 62) points out that one of the major goals of action research is to “acquaint teachers with
research skills and to enhance their knowledge of conducting research”.
The fourth problem that English language teachers were confused about was the technical issues in the research
strategies. It involves what research strategies and instruments could best suit the research questions, and how to
analyze the quantitative and qualitative data collected during the action research process.
The research assistants facilitated the English language teachers by probing more into the research questions that
the English language teachers were interested in their action research. Similarly, the two participants in the case
study were given advice and suggestions on what research instruments that was conducive to address their
research questions.
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The English language teachers were overwhelmed with the research data collected at the different stages of
action research. For example, quantitative data gathered via questionnaires, and qualitative data such as
interview transcripts, reflection journals and classroom observation notes.
I scaffolded the two participants after they collected research data for their action research on how to analyze the
quantitative data and qualitative data. Moreover, I also recommended some softwares and books on research
methods to the two participants.
4.5 Solutions to the Problems in Language Teachers’ Action Research
As discussed above, various measures have been taken to clarify and tackle the misunderstandings, confusion,
difficulties and problems that English language teachers had and encountered at different stages of the action
research process.
The inner motives and needs analysis should be recognized at the initial stage of the project. Concerning the
issue of lack of competence, collaboration was formed between university teacher researchers and in-service
English language teachers.
A series of lectures, seminars, workshops were organized and delivered to help English language teachers at the
different stages of the action research process. Teacher researchers also assisted English language teachers in
their data collecting and analyzing stage.
In addition, English language teachers also need understanding and support from their family and institutions.
Administration of the institutions should create conducive environment and context for the teachers’ professional
development through action research.
5. Conclusion
In brief, the major findings of the case study within the action research project are as following. Firstly, English
language teachers have the need and desire to improve their teaching practice and realize their professional
development through doing action research. However, some English language teachers have heavy workload,
family pressure, and other reasons that force them to quit action research. As all of the senior high school
teachers in China face the pressure to help their students to succeed in the National Entrance Examination for
Universities, they have much teaching work to do, thus they simply cannot have extra time and energy to work
on something “off their trade”.
Administration of institution and schools should learn of the needs and desire of the in-service English language
teachers for professional development, help them ease the burden, create supportive environment for their
development.
Secondly, many English language teachers lack of competence to locate a teaching problem and define research
questions to initiate. This situation can be changed and improved by attending some research seminars and
workshops that facilitate the development of research competence.
Thirdly, English language teachers lack of research competence to analyze the research data. Similar to what has
been discussed above, language teachers can read some books on research methods, and enhance their research
competence through practice gradually.
As a matter of fact, the collaborative action research project between the university teacher researchers and
in-service English language teachers has been very successful. Many participants in the collaborative action
research project expressed their joy, happiness, and fulfillment in their reflection journals upon completing the
“journey” (Wang & Zhang, 2012).
During the action research project, the teacher researchers act more as scaffolding in guiding, counseling and
supporting the English language teachers during the whole process. The measures and practice undertaken to
solve the problems that English language teachers are confronted with in doing action research shall enrich the
development of the action research theory.
Acknowledgments
This research was supported by “the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities” (Grant NO.
13QN54).
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