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Research
According to Eli Hinkel, professor at Seattle University, "The English language teaching profession has developed dramatically during the last 40 years. The body of Second Language, L2, scholarship continues to expand and deepen; hundreds of books and journal articles are published each year. Professional organizations have grown a great deal. To illustrate, the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) professional association has 20 Interest Sections and 6 Caucuses, with 90 affiliate organizations throughout the world. Also, the International Association for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language has 13 Interest Sections and has close ties with 30 associate organizations worldwide. Many professional meetings such as conventions, conferences, symposia, and colloquia are held throughout the year, averaging approximately one every five days."

To learn more about the significant impact of second language research findings on the TESOL profession, click on any of the following topics:

Content-based Instruction (CBI). A second language teaching approach that advocates that course curriculums be organized by content themes or topics, not by grammar points or language functions. In response to traditional grammar teaching, with its reliance on decontextualized drill exercises to teach language, followers of CBI believe that language should not be taught isolated from content, but that it should instead be taught within content-rich, authentic contexts.
Descriptive Grammar. Makes accurate observations of how language is actually used in specific contexts for particular purposes as the basis for second language instruction. In contrast, see Prescriptive Grammar.
English for Academic Purposes (EAP). As a sub-domain of English for Specific Purposes (ESP), EAP promotes the development of English for academic purposes for NNSs along a continuum from pedagogic genres such as essay exams and term papers, which are useful for general education courses, to discipline genres, such as lab reports and dissertations.
ESL Programs in Public Research Universities. Language programs whose purpose is to provide ESL courses, usually credit-bearing, for matriculated undergraduate students as well as graduate students in many cases. Depending on the demographics of the particular state, the students consist of permanent residents, comprising immigrants and sometimes refugees, and foreign students with student visas, or sometimes a combination of both types of students. Usually students are tested for placement into courses set at levels of language proficiency. ESL Programs are usually administratively housed in Linguistics or English Departments and less commonly, in Foreign Language Departments.
Error Analysis. The systematic study of the errors made by NNSs in order to identify stages of interlanguage development and the learning processes that are associated with them.
First Language (L1). The language of primary socialization used by children to construct their self-identities as members of their particular societies, encompassing both language and culture.
Fossilization. A Second Language Acquisition theory, which predicts the cessation of grammar development at some point during the process of second language acquisition of NNSs. When the interlanguages of such learners stabilize, the students tend to show little response to further language instruction. Although the phenomenon is considered to be inevitable, it occurs sooner in some learners and later in others for as yet unknown reasons. New research initiatives are needed, especially to establish intervention strategies such as those proposed by Focus on Form.
Generation 1.5 Students. Having received most of their schooling in the United States, these students have learned English “through their ears” by listening, not by extensive reading, writing, or formal grammar study. While they generally have limited proficiency in their first language, they also have limited academic competency in English. To compensate, they often rely on their oral fluency, as applied to their writing, to communicate in academic contexts. Attending to accuracy of grammatical forms in speaking, and especially in writing, represent major learning challenges.
Heritage Learners. Speakers who immigrate to the United States with their parents or are born to émigré parents; their family members speak a language other than English.
Input Hypothesis. Krashen’s theoretical claim (1983) that comprehensible spoken input is necessary and sufficient for acquiring a second language, strongly implying that grammar instruction is not needed. However, many SLA researchers have refuted this claim and have provided research evidence indicating that comprehensible input alone is actually insufficient.
International Students (see in contrast Domestic Students). Foreign students who as citizens of countries outside the United States come to the United States to study, after being granted student visas to do so by the federal government. Foreign students generally return to their home countries after they have finished their programs of study in the United States.
Interlanguage. As proposed by Selinker (1972), refers to the interim grammars of a learner’s language as it moves toward the target language.
Instruction-fostered Fossilization. A cessation of new grammatical learning in students because their teachers do not provide their students with negative evidence for the errors they make. Instead, teachers ignore the errors because they believe they are too difficult or impossible to be corrected, reinforcing the notion that errors are to be tolerated.
International Teaching Assistant (ITA). A graduate foreign teaching assistant placed under the supervision of a discipline university professor An ITA is given a variety of responsibilities including teaching classes and lab sessions, leading discussion sessions, and evaluating exams. In exchange for this work, the ITA receives a monetary stipend set by an academic department and various benefits such as a tuition waiver, health care, and childcare.
Placement Test (in a University ESL Program). An in-house, pre-instruction test used by a university program to assess students after they are admitted to a university. The discrete skills of listening, reading, and writing (sometimes speaking) as well as the knowledge domains of vocabulary and grammar are tested on a test created by the program or with a commercial standardized placement test. Test scores are then interpreted by program testing officers to place students into appropriate courses at various levels of language proficiency such as beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Test scores can also be used to route students into elective courses that address specific needs. In addition, test scores can be used by course instructors to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of their students so that they can better respond to individual language needs.
Prescriptive Grammar. Offers recommendations on how to use standard English, which assumes that the static written or spoken general standards formulated by representative educated native speakers, who are deemed to be experts, is correct.
Second Language Acquisition (SLA). The study of the acquisition of second or foreign languages both in classroom settings and in natural environments.
Second Language (L2). An official language needed for education or employment that is acquired by immigrants or refugees, who speak other languages as their L1s.
Sociolinguistic Knowledge. Based on an understanding of linguistic functions, the knowledge of how to use language appropriately within different contexts and for different purposes.
Sociolinguistic Competence. The ability to follow the constraints imposed by the rhetorical modes and genres of particular academic fields.
Target Language(s). Not the first, or native, language of language learners but the subsequent language and languages that they study.
Text Linguistics. A research domain of applied linguistics, TL analyzes written and spoken texts to discover how, why, and when they are used to convey the purposes and meanings intended by writers and speakers. Such examinations reveal that the way texts are arranged and the way grammatical and lexical structures are used vary according to particular text purposes.
Traditional Grammar. Prescribes standard rules of language usage derived from the analysis of the language of educated native speakers of English. By overemphasizing form and de-emphasizing meaning, TG does not inform L2 students when to use a grammatical form in a specific context or why one grammatical form is more appropriate than another.
Universal Grammar (UG). A theory of linguistics developed by Chomsky, which claims that human beings are genetically endowed with the innate knowledge to learn any language as their first language. This knowledge is universal for all languages.
World Englishes. A term that refers to the recognition of and respect for multiple, distinctive models of the use of the English language, situated in a wide variety of local cultures throughout the world. According to Kachru (2005), there are three basic types of world Englishes: the inner circle – English used by first language learners in countries such the United States, England, and Australia; the outer circle – English used in countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore, where English is the official language; and the expanding circle – English used in countries such as China and Japan, where it is becoming more and more widely used as an additional language.
Corpus Linguistics, a relatively new specialization within Applied Linguistics, seeks to analyze computer-derived samples of written text and oral discourse collected from a multitude of sources. With the assistance of computers, researchers observe and describe how language is used. In this way, teachers can learn which linguistic and vocabulary structures are intrinsic to particular types of written texts and transcribed speech. They can thus make better-informed decisions on what to teach in their language classes.
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