| December 1, 2002

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Paul Robertson

The search for ‘truth’ is pervading educational research. In particular, and limiting research to the EFL/ESL sphere, theories and research results abound proving and disproving and altering that truth. The field of research has been likened to the judicial adversarial system where results are argued over. Not only are results disputed, but also initiating research designs are faulted. Then the direction of research, be it quantitative, or qualitative, or a combination, is faulted by subsequent researchers. Thus the research results grow in varying directions, and the teacher becomes confused and bewildered as to what approach or theory is going to benefit his/her students. What the teacher is left with is a lack of consolidating research that gives clear direction and guidance. Since Chomsky’s (1968) theory of universal grammar, and Krashen’s (1981) language acquisition device and monitor theories, research has exponentially blossomed, with the majority going unreported. English, as a foreign or second language field of study, now covers the globe in education curriculums and private schools.

Greater awareness is being brought to bear on the theories and the rationale that result in teaching methodologies, and every teacher in ESL/EFL is searching for meaningful and practical research data to put into practice. Yet issues of critical importance still need settling; the ethics of gathering data have been grossly ignored hitherto, though emphasis of ethno-methodologists is beginning to highlight this, (Saville -Troike, 1989). As well, debate into the paradigms used, when used, how used and why used, is not settled. As argued by learned authors, now is the time to present research as building blocks upon previous research, not to demolish it, and to wisely use appropriate paradigms within a culturally acceptable way, such that the data leads to results that teachers can apply.


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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 4 Issue 4