CARLA staff have worked since 2003 on ways of integrating second-language acquisition (SLA) research more effectively into language teacher education. A failure to effectively integrate an understanding of language learning into the teacher’s knowledge base results in a major gap between empirically supported findings and theories about the way people learn second languages, and the beliefs and pedagogical activities of language teachers. What is needed is a bottom-up, “learn by doing” approach, in which teachers are viewed not as consumers of SLA research, but as active participants in the study of learner language (Tarone & Allwright, 2005; Tarone, 2006; Tarone, 2009). Exploratory Practice (Allwright & Hanks, 2009) provides the framework for the multi-media interactive materials on this website, which are the intended to integrate a “learn by doing” focus on learner language and its development into the heart of language teacher preparation.
Allwright’s Exploratory Practice for language teachers is increasingly being implemented as a framework within which language teachers learn to study life and learning in their own classrooms, identify learning needs as they arise, and adjust their pedagogical practice to address those needs. Exploratory Practice provides a theoretical rationale for an intensive summer institute called “Basics of Second Language Acquisition” offered by CARLA since 2002, as well as for a book for teachers of English as a second language (Tarone & Swierzbin, 2009). The interactive multimedia materials on this website, developed in 2009-2011, are the first to offer teachers of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Persian the skills they need to observe learner language development so they can align their pedagogy with it in their own classrooms. This skill is a prerequisite if they are to tailor their use of teaching materials to the developing learner languages in their own classrooms, in order to foster higher levels of proficiency in these critical languages.
The Principal Investigator of the project is Elaine Tarone. Four graduate research assistants who are native speakers of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Persian carried out the video-recording, transcription, translation, and creation of activities focused on the learning of these four languages:
Chinese: Fang (Andie) Wang
Japanese: Sachiko Horii
Korean: Yunseong Cheon
Persian: Sara Khanzadi
The work of each graduate research assistant benefitted also from the expert input of more experienced researchers on the acquisition of each language, and the many language teachers and researchers who responded to presentations of this work at international professional conferences and workshops during the lifetime of the grant. We are particularly grateful for the guidance and suggestions of the following experts, among others:
Prof. Zhaohong Han, Teachers College Columbia University
Prof. Guoqiang Liu, Deakin University, Australia
Prof. Noriko Ishihara, Hosei University, Japan
Prof. Haeyoung Kim, Duke University
Dr. Nahal Akbari, Academic Director, Persian Language Flagship Graduate
Program, University of Maryland
Ma'ssoumeh Bemani Naeini, PhD, English Department, Islamic Azad
University-Mashhad Branch, Iran