Aug 032013

My response to Bridging the Gap between ELT Theory and Practice

I draw a parallel between closing the gap between theory and practice with closing the gap between what teachers know and what they actually do.  But beyond that, do teachers understand theory when it applies to an actual classroom experience?  That is, how do teachers interpret (or reframe) a theory – which is a generalization – to a particular educational situation?  And what does that process look like?

I think most would agree that applying a theory (or creating a theory) is contextually-laden with numerous confounding variables which teachers can’t always control.  Certainly, planning is an essential part of learning, but it’s the reflection-in-action and the resulting outcomes that matter as well.  I’m not sure if success in the classroom can be planned for, but it can be one (of many) factors that can promote a more educative learning experience for each student (and teacher).

You say, ELT theories do help in beefing up our predictability in the field of teaching…

I would argue that theories are most useful when grounded in actual classroom experiences.  That is, how can I explain what just happened in my classroom from a theoretical perspective (assuming that it’s always possible).  This is in contrast to a theoretical inclination (prediction) of how students are likely to behave a priori.  For me, this is the difference between applied linguistics and linguistics applied respectively.

How do you view theory and practice in ELT?

 Posted by at 10:54 am

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