English Teaching: Growing Up with TESOL

Jack C. Richards

2008 Number 1 | English TEaching Forum
Growing Up with TESOL
One characteristic of the field of TESOL is that it appears to be in a con- stant state of change. For example, new curriculum frameworks currently being implemented in different parts of the world include competency- based, text-based, and task-based models. In many countries English is now being introduced at the primary rather than secondary level, neces- sitating considerable new investment in textbooks and teacher training. And today teachers are being asked to consider such issues as the status of English as an International Language, blended learning, and critical pedago- gy. As someone who has been actively involved in trying to interpret the significance of new trends in language teaching since the 1970s to teachers in training in many part of the world, I offer in this article reflections on some of the issues that have shaped the development of approaches to English language during this period.
Internally and externally motivated changes
The field of TESOL has been influ- enced in its development over the last
30 years by its response to two issues. One might be called internally-ini- tiated changes—that is, the teach- ing profession gradually evolving a changed understanding of its own essential knowledge base and associ- ated instructional practices through the efforts of applied linguists and specialists in the field of second lan- guage teaching and teacher education. Much of the debate and discussion that has appeared in the professional literature is an entirely internal debate, unlikely to interest those outside the walls of academic institutions. The emergence of such issues as reflec- tive teaching and critical pedagogy, for example, arose from within the profession largely as a result of self- imposed initiatives. At the same time, the development of TESOL has been impacted by external factors such as globalization and the need for English as a language of international trade and communication; this has brought with it the demand by national edu- cational authorities for new language teaching policies, for greater central control over teaching and teacher education, and for standards and other forms of accountability. The

Common European Framework (Council of Europe 2001) is an example of the profession attempting to respond to external pressures of this kind.
English as an International Language
Today English is so widely taught world- wide that the purposes for which it is learned are sometimes taken for granted. Thirty years ago the assumption was that teaching English was a politically neutral activity and acquir- ing it would bring untold blessings to those who succeeded in learning it and would lead to educational and economic empowerment. English was regarded as the property of the English-speaking world, particularly Britain and the United States. Native-speakers of the language had special insights and superior knowledge about teaching it. And English was, above all, the vehicle for the expression of a rich and advanced culture, or cultures, whose literary artifacts had universal value.
This picture has changed somewhat today. Now that English is the language of global- ization, international communication, com- merce and trade, the media, and pop culture, different motivations for learning it come into play. English is no longer viewed as the prop- erty of the English-speaking world but is an international commodity sometimes referred to as World English or English as an Interna- tional Language (McKay 2002). The cultural values of Britain and the United States are often seen as irrelevant to language teaching, except in situations where the learner has a pragmatic need for such information. The language teacher need no longer be an expert on British and American culture and a litera- ture specialist as well. Bisong (1995) says that in Nigeria English is simply one of a number of languages that form the speech repertoire of Nigerians and that they learn English “for pragmatic reasons to do with maximizing their chances of success in a multilingual and multicultural society.”
English is still promoted as a tool that will assist with educational and economic advance- ment, but it is now viewed, in many parts of the world, as one that can be acquired without any of the cultural trappings that go with it. Proficiency in English is needed for employees to advance in international companies and improve their technical knowledge and skills.
It provides a foundation for what has been called “process skills”—those problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that are needed to cope with the rapidly changing environment of the workplace, one where English plays an increasingly important role.
The messages of critical theory and critical pedagogy have also prompted reflection on the hidden curriculum that sometimes under- lies language teaching policies and practices. At the same time, the theory of linguistic imperialism argues that education and English language teaching in particular are not politi- cally neutral activities. Mastery of English, it is claimed, enhances the power and control of a privileged few. Critical theorists have turned their attention to the status of English and the drain on education resources it demands in many countries and its role in facilitating domination by multinational corporations.
Role of the native speaker
In the 1970s the target for learning was assumed to be a native-speaker variety of Eng- lish, and it was the native speaker’s culture, perceptions, and speech that were crucial in setting goals for English teaching. Native speakers had a privileged status as “owners of the language, guardians of its standards, and arbiters of acceptable pedagogic norms” (Jen- kins 2000, 5). Today local varieties of English, such as Filipino English and Singapore Eng- lish, are firmly established as a result of indi- genisation. And in contexts where English is a foreign language, there is less pressure to turn foreign-language speakers of English (e.g., Koreans, Mexicans, or Germans) into mimics of native-speaker English, be it an American, British, or Australian variety. The extent to which a learner seeks to speak with a native- like accent and sets this as his or her personal goal, is a personal decision. It is not necessary to try to eradicate the phonological influences of the mother tongue nor to seek to speak like a native speaker. Jenkins (2000) argues that Received Pronunciation (RP) is an unat- tainable and an unnecessary target for second language learners and proposes a phonologi- cal syllabus that maintains core phonological distinctions but is a reduced inventory from RP. A pronunciation syllabus for English as an International Language would thus not be a native-speaker variety but would be a phono-
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logical core that would provide for phonologi- cal intelligibility but not seek to eradicate the influence of the mother tongue.
Teacher education for language teachers
TESOL in the form that we know it today, dates from the 1960s. It was during the 1960s that English language teaching began a major period of expansion worldwide and that methodologies such as Audiolingualism and Situational Language Teaching emerged as the first of a wave of new methodologies to reinvigorate the field of English as a second or foreign language. The origins of specific approaches to teacher training for language teachers began with short training programs and certificates dating from this period, designed to give prospective teachers the prac- tical classroom skills needed to teach the new methods. The discipline of applied linguistics dates from the same period, and with it came a body of specialized academic knowledge and theory that provided the foundation of the new discipline. This knowledge was repre- sented in the curricula of Master’s programs, which began to be offered from this time. Such programs typically contained courses in language analysis, learning theory, methodol- ogy, and sometimes a teaching practicum.
The relationship between practical teach- ing skills and academic knowledge and their representation in Second Language Teach- er Education (SLTE) programs has gener- ated a debate ever since such programs began, although that debate is now part of the dis- cussion of a much wider range of issues. In the 1990s the practice versus theory distinc- tion was sometimes resolved by distinguish- ing “teacher training” from “teacher devel- opment,” the former being identified with entry-level teaching skills linked to a specific teaching context, and the latter to the longer- term development of the individual teacher over time. Training involved the development of a repertoire of teaching skills, acquired through observing experienced teachers and practice-teaching in a controlled setting, e.g., through micro-teaching or peer-teaching. Good teaching was seen as the mastery of a set of skills or competencies. Qualifications in teacher training such as the Royal Society of Arts Certificate were typically offered by teacher training colleges or by organizations
such as the British Council. Teacher develop- ment, on the other hand, meant mastering the discipline of applied linguistics. Qualifications in teacher development (typically the Master’s degree) were offered by universities, where the practical skills of language teaching were often undervalued.
At the present time, the contrast between training and development has been replaced by a reconsideration of the nature of teacher learning, which is now viewed as a form of socialization into the professional thinking and practices of a community of practice. Language teaching is also influenced by per- spectives drawn from sociocultural theory and the field of teacher cognition. The knowledge base of teaching has also been re-examined with a questioning of the traditional posi- tioning of the language-based disciplines as the major theoretical foundation for TESOL (e.g., linguistics, phonetics, second language acquisition).
The professionalization of language teaching
A common observation on the state of English language teaching today is that there is a much higher level of professionalism in TESOL than previously. English language teaching is seen as a career in a field of edu- cational specialization; it requires a specialized knowledge base obtained through both aca- demic study and practical experience; and it is a field of work where membership is based on entry requirements and standards. The professionalism of English teaching is seen in the growth industry devoted to providing language teachers with professional training and qualifications; in continuous attempts to develop standards for English language teach- ing and for English language teachers; in the proliferation of professional journals, teach- er magazines, conferences, and professional organizations; in attempts in many places to require non-native speaker English teachers to demonstrate their level of proficiency in English as a component of certification; in the demand for professional qualifications for native-speaker teachers; and in the greater level of sophisticated knowledge of language teach- ing required of English teachers. Becoming an English language teacher means becoming part of a worldwide community of profes-
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sionals with shared goals, values, discourse, and practices but one with a self-critical view of its own practices and a commitment to a transformative approach to its own role.
The focus on professionalism may mean different things in different places. In some it may mean acquiring qualifications recognized by local educational authorities or by interna- tional professional organizations and attaining standards mandated by such bodies. It may also mean behaving in accordance with the rules and norms that prevail in their context of work, even if the teacher does not fully support such norms, such as when a teacher is told to “teach to the test” rather than create his or her own learning pathway. Increasingly a managerial approach to professionalism prevails, one that represents the views of min- istries of education, teaching organizations, regulatory bodies, school principals, and so on and that specifies what teachers are expected to know and what quality teaching practices consist of. There are likely to be procedures for achieving accountability and established processes to maintain quality teaching. Such specifications are likely to differ from country to country. For example, in Singapore teachers are encouraged to take up to 100 hours of in- service courses a year. In some countries, sup- port for in-service professional development is almost non-existent in many schools.
In recent years there has been a growth in a more personal approach to professionalism, in which teachers engage in reflection on their own values, beliefs, and practices. The current literature on professional development for language teachers promotes a wide variety of procedures through which teachers can engage in critical and reflective review of their own practices (Richards and Farrell 2006); these procedures include self-monitoring, analysing critical incidents, teacher support groups, and action research.
The knowledge base of TESOL
There have traditionally been two strands within TESOL—one focussing on classroom teaching skills and pedagogic issues, and the other focussing on what has been perceived as the academic underpinnings of classroom skills, namely knowledge about language and language learning. The relationship between the two has often been problematic. One way
to clarify this issue has been to contrast two differing kinds of knowledge—which may be thought of as knowledge about and knowledge how. Knowledge about, or content knowledge, provides what has come to be the established core curriculum of TESOL training programs, particularly at the graduate level, where course work on topics such as language analysis, dis- course analysis, phonology, curriculum devel- opment, and methodology is standard. The language-based courses provide the academic content, and the methodology courses show teachers how to teach it. An unquestioned assumption was that such knowledge informs teachers’ classroom practices. However, recent research (e.g., Bartels 2005) shows that teach- ers often fail to apply such knowledge in their own teaching. Despite knowing the theory and principles associated with Communica- tive Language Teaching, for example, teach- ers are often seen to make use of traditional “grammar-and-practice” techniques in their own classrooms.
Freeman (2002, 1) raises the issue of the relevance of the traditional knowledge base of language teaching, observing: “The knowl- edge-base is largely drawn from other disci- plines, and not from the work of teaching itself.” Those working within a sociocultural perspective have hence argued that second language acquisition research, as it has been conventionally understood, has focussed on an inadequate view of what the object of learn- ing is because it has not considered the way language is socially and culturally constituted (Miller 2004, Firth and Wagner 1997, Norton 1997). Freeman and others have emphasized that the knowledge-base of SLTE must be expanded to include the processes of teaching and teacher-learning and the beliefs, theories, and knowledge which inform teaching. Rather than the Master’s program being a survey of issues in applied linguistics drawn from the traditional disciplinary sources, course work in areas such as reflective teaching, classroom research, and action research is now part of the core curriculum in many TESOL programs that seek to expand the traditional knowledge base of language teaching.
The decline of methods
The 1970s ushered in an era of change and innovation in language teaching methodology.
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This was the decade during which Communi- cative Language Teaching came to replace Audiolingualism and the Structural-Situation- al Approach. And it was during this decade that we heard about such novel methods as Total Physical Response, The Silent Way, and Counseling Learning. Improvements in language teaching would come about through the adoption of new and improved teaching approaches and methods that incorporated breakthroughs in our understanding of lan- guage and how language learning takes place. Thirty years or more later, while Communica- tive Language Teaching is still alive and well, many of the “novel” methods of the 1970s have largely disappeared. And so to a large extent has the question that attracted so much interest at that time: “What is the best meth- od to teach a second or foreign language?” We are now in what has been termed the post methods era. How did we get here?
Many of the more innovative methods of the 1970s had a very short shelf-life (Richards and Rodgers 2001). Because they were linked to very specific claims and to prescribed prac- tices, they tended to fall out of favor as these practices became unfashionable or discredited. The heyday of methods can be considered to have lasted until the late 1980s. One of the strongest criticisms of the “new methods” was that they were typically “top-down.” Teachers had to accept on faith the claims or theory underlying the method and apply them in their own practice. Good teaching was regarded as correct use of the method and its prescribed principles and techniques. Roles of teachers and learners, as well as the type of activities and teaching techniques to be used in the classroom, were generally prescribed. Likewise, learners were often viewed as pas- sive recipients of the method who should submit themselves to its regime of exercises and activities. The post-methods era has thus led to a focus on the processes of learning and teaching rather than ascribing a central role to methods as the key to successful teaching. As language teaching moved away from a search for the perfect method, attention shifted to how teachers could develop and explore their own teaching through reflective teaching and action research. This, it was argued, could lead to the revitalization of teaching from the inside rather than trying to make teachers and
teaching conform to an external model (Rich- ards and Lockhart 1994).
Communicative approaches
Perhaps this internal orientation explains why Communicative Language Teaching has survived into the new millennium. Because it refers to a diverse set of rather general and uncontroversial principles, Communicative Language Teaching can be interpreted in many different ways and used to support a wide variety of classroom procedures. Sev- eral contemporary teaching approaches, such as Content-Based Instruction, Cooperative Language Learning, and Task-Based Instruc- tion, can all claim to be applications of these principles and hence continue as mainstream approaches today. In the last thirty years, there has also been a substantial change in where and how learning takes place. In the 1970s, teaching mainly took place in the classroom and in the language laboratory. The teacher used chalk and talk and the textbook. Technology amounted to tape recorders and film strips. However, towards the end of the seventies, learning began to move away from the teacher’s direct control and into the hands of learners through the use of individualized learning, group work, and project work.
The contexts and resources for learning have also seen many changes since the 1970s. Learning is not confined to the classroom; it can take place at home or in other places as well as at school, using computers and other forms of technology. Today’s teachers and learners live in a technology-enhanced learning environment. Videos, computers, and the Internet are accessible to almost all teachers and learners, and in many schools the language laboratory has been turned into a multimedia centre that supports online learning. Technology has facilitated the shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered and blended learning. Students now spend time interacting not with the teacher but with other learners using chat rooms that provide access to more authentic input and learning processes and that make language learning available at any time.
Influences from the corporate sector
In the last decade or so, language teaching has been influenced not only by technology
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but also by concepts and practices from the corporate world. In the 1970s, four ingredi- ents were seen as essential for effective teach- ing: teachers, methods, course design, and tests. Teaching was viewed rather narrowly as a self-contained activity that didn’t need to look much beyond itself. Improvements in teaching would come about through fine- tuning methods, course design, materials, and tests. Today effective language teaching is seen both as a pedagogical problem and an organizational one. On the pedagogical side, teachers are no longer viewed merely as skilled implementers of a teaching method but as creators of their own individual teaching methods, as classroom researchers, and as cur- riculum and materials developers. However, beyond the pedagogical level and at the level of the institution, schools are increasingly viewed as having characteristics similar to those of other kinds of complex organiza- tions in terms of organizational activities and processes; schools can be studied as sys- tems involving inputs, processes, and outputs. Teaching is embedded within an organiza- tional and administrative context and influ- enced by organizational constraints and pro- cesses. In order to manage schools efficiently and productively, it is argued, it is necessary to understand the nature of the organizational activities that occur in schools, the problems that these activities create, and how they can be effectively and efficiently managed and controlled. These activities include setting and accomplishing organizational goals, allocating resources to organizational participants, coor- dinating organizational events and processes, and setting policies to improve their function- ing (Visscher 1999).
This management view of education has brought into language teaching concepts and practices from the commercial world, with an emphasis on planning, efficiency, communi- cation processes, targets and standards, staff development, learning outcomes and compe- tencies, quality assurance, strategic planning, performance appraisal, and best practices. We have thus seen a movement away from an obsession with pedagogical processes to a focus on organizational systems and processes and their contribution to successful language programs.
The need for accountability
The scope of English teaching worldwide has created a demand for greater accountabil- ity in language teaching practices. What con- stitutes a quality English language program in terms of its curriculum, the teaching methods that it gives rise to, and the kinds of teachers that the program depends upon? What knowl- edge, skills, and competencies do the teachers in such programs need? These kinds of ques- tions are very difficult to answer since there are no widely-accepted definitions of quality in language teaching, and likewise there is no internationally recognized specification of English language teacher competencies, though local specifications of essential teacher competencies have been produced in many countries and by a number of professional organizations (Leung and Teasdale 1998).
One way to approach the issue of account- ability is through the identification of stan- dards for language programs. The standards movement has taken hold in many parts of the world; it promotes the adoption of clear state- ments of instructional outcomes in education- al programs as a way of improving learning outcomes in programs and providing guide- lines for program development, curriculum development, and assessment. In the United States, the TESOL organization has developed the TESOL/NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) Stan- dards for P–12 Teacher Education Programs. These standards cover five domains—Lan- guage, Culture, Professionalism, Instruction, and Assessment. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has developed the ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers (ACTFL 2002). These standards provide descriptions of what for- eign language teachers should know and the level of proficiency they should have reached in their teaching language. Critics of such an approach argue that the standards themselves are largely based on intuition, not research, and that the standards movement has been brought into education from the fields of business and organizational management; thus the movement reflects a reductionist approach in which learning is reduced to the mastery of discrete skills that can easily be taught and assessed.
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The role of grammar
In the 1970s we were just nearing the end of a period during which grammar had a controlling influence on language teaching. Approaches to grammar teaching and the design of course books at that time reflected a view of language that saw the sentence and sentence grammar as forming the building blocks of language, language learning, and language use (McCarthy 2001). The goal of language teaching was to understand how sentences are used to create different kinds of meaning, to master the underlying rules for forming sentences from lower-level gram- matical units such as phrases and clauses, and to practice using them as the basis for written and spoken communication. Syllabuses were essentially grammar-based and grammar was a primary focus of teaching techniques. Correct language use was achieved through a drill and practice methodology and through controlled speaking and writing exercises that sought to prevent or minimize opportunities for errors.
But in the 1970s Chomsky’s theories of language and his distinction between compe- tence and performance were starting to have an impact on language teaching. For exam- ple, his theory of “transformational gram- mar”—with core kernel sentences that were transformed through the operation of rules to produce more complex sentences—sought to capture the nature of a speaker’s linguistic competence. It seemed to offer an exciting new approach to grammar teaching, and for a while in the early seventies was reflected in ESL textbooks.
Linguistic competence to communicative competence
Gradually throughout the seventies the sentence as the central unit of focus became replaced by a focus on language in use with the emergence of the notion of communica- tive competence and functional approaches to the study of language, such as Halliday’s theory of functional grammar. Krashen’s monitor model of language learning and his distinction between acquisition (the uncon- scious process by which language develops as a product of real communication and expo- sure to appropriate input) and learning (the development of knowledge about the rules of a language), as well as his claims about
the role of comprehensible input, prompted a reassessment of the status of grammar in language teaching and the value of explicit grammar instruction. Proposals emerged for an implicit approach to the teaching of gram- mar or a combination of explicit and implicit approaches.
Accuracy and fluency
The development of communicative methodologies to replace the grammar-based methodologies of the 1970s also resulted in a succession of experiments with different kinds of syllabuses (e.g., notional, functional, and content based) and an emphasis on both accuracy and fluency as goals for learning and teaching. However, the implementation of communicative and fluency-based meth- odology did not resolve the issue of what to do about grammar. The promise that the communicative methodologies would help learners develop both communicative compe- tence as well as linguistic competence did not always happen. Programs where there was an extensive use of “authentic communication,” particularly in the early stages of learning, reported that students often developed flu- ency at the expense of accuracy, resulting in learners with good communication skills but a poor command of grammar and a high level of fossilization (Higgs and Clifford 1982).
Proposals as to how accuracy and fluency can be realized within the framework of cur- rent communicative methodologies include: incorporating a more explicit treatment of grammar within a text-based curriculum; building a focus on form into task-based teaching through activities centering on con- sciousness raising or noticing grammatical features of input or output; using activities that require “stretched output,” that is, activi- ties that expand or “restructure” the learner’s grammatical system through increased com- municative demands and attention to linguis- tic form.
Second language acquisition
In the early 1970s, both British and North American ideas about language learning were rather similar, though they developed from different traditions. The theory of behaviorism dominated both psychology and education. According to this theory, the
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processes of imitation, practice, reinforce- ment, and habit formation were central to all learning, including language learning. Chomsky rejected this theory as inapplicable to language learning and emphasized the cog- nitive nature of language learning and the fact that children appear to be born with abstract knowledge about the nature of language, that is, knowledge of universal grammar. Exposure to language was sufficient to trig- ger the acquisition processes and initiate the processes of hypothesis formation that were evident in studies of language acquisition.
These ideas generated a great deal of interest in applied linguistics and led to the fields of error analysis and second language acquisition, or SLA, which sought to find explanations for second language learning other than habit formation. Error analysis argued that learners’ errors were systematic, not always derived from the mother tongue, and represented a developing linguistic system or interlanguage.
By the 1990s, however, there had been further developments in Chomskyan theory. Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar had been elaborated to include innate knowledge about the principles of language (i.e., that languages usually have pronouns) and their parameters (i.e., that some languages allow these to be dropped when they are in subject position), and this model was applied to the study of both first and second language acqui- sition (Schmitt 2002).
Information-processing models
Other dimensions to second language learning were explained by reference to information processing models of learn- ing. Two different kinds of processing are distinguished in this model. Controlled pro- cessing is involved when conscious attention is required to perform a task; this places demands on short-term memory. Automatic processing is involved when the learner car- ries out a task without awareness or attention, making greater use of information in long term memory. Learning involves the perfor- mance of behavior with automatic processing. The information processing model offered an explanation as to why learners’ language use sometimes shifts from fluent (automatic processing) to less fluent (controlled process-
ing) and why learners in the initial stages of language learning need to put so much effort into understanding and producing language (Spada and Lightbown 2002).
Sociocultural theory
Learning through interaction (the interac- tion hypothesis) was proposed as an alterna- tive to learning through repetition and habit formation. Interaction and negotiation of meaning were seen as central to learning through tasks that require attention to mean- ing, transfer of information, and pushed output, the latter triggering the processes of noticing and restructuring referred to above. Learning came to be seen as both a social process as well as a cognitive one, however. Sociocultural perspectives on learning empha- size that learning is situated; that is, it occurs in specific settings or contexts that shape how learning takes place. The location of language learning may be a classroom, a workplace, or an informal social setting, and these different contexts for learning create different poten- tials for learning.
Some SLA researchers drew on Vygotsky’s view of the zone of proximal development, which focuses on the gap between what the learner can currently do and the next stage in learning—the level of potential devel- opment—and how learning occurs through negotiation between the learner and a more advanced language user during which a pro- cess known as scaffolding occurs. To take part in these processes, the learner must develop interactional competence, the ability to man- age exchanges despite limited language devel- opment. Personality, motivation, and cogni- tive style may all play a role in influencing the learner’s willingness to take risks, his or her openness to social interaction and attitudes towards the target language and users of the target language.
Throughout the 1990s, SLA theory still tended to reflect a grammar-based view of language, with an interest in explaining how learners built up knowledge of “rules” of the target language. Recently this view of learn- ing has been questioned by those who favor connectionism, which explains learning not in terms of abstract rule or universal grammar but in terms of “probabilistic or associative models of acquisition, rather than symbolic
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rule-based models” (McCarthy 2001, 83). SLA theory today remains strongly influenced by a Chomskyan view of language and limits its focus to oral language and the acquisition of grammatical competence. For this reason, it is considered to be largely irrelevant in understanding the learning of other aspects of language such as reading, writing, or listening (see Grabe 1995).
Sources of change
In discussing change in education, Kuhn’s (1970) notion of paradigm shift is often referred to (Jacobs and Farrell 2001). Accord- ing to Kuhn, new paradigms in science emerge rapidly as revolutions in thinking shatter pre- vious ways of thinking. A review of changes in language teaching in the last 30 years reveals that while some changes perhaps have the status of paradigm shifts (e.g., the spread of Communicative Language Teaching and Pro- cess Writing), most of the changes discussed here have come about more gradually and at different times. In some contexts, some of the changes may not even have started. But once the message is heard, there is generally pressure to adopt new ideas and practices, and so the cycle begins again. What prompts the need for change?
Probably the main motivation for change comes from dissatisfaction with the present state of affairs. Despite the resources expended on second and foreign language teaching worldwide, in almost every country results normally do not match expectations, hence the constant pressure to adopt new curricu- lum, teaching methods, materials, and forms of assessment. Government policy often is the starting point for change when requirements are announced for a new curriculum or syl- labus or for some other change in goals or the delivery of language instruction.
In planning directions for change, language teaching draws on a number of influences (Richards and Rodgers 2001). These include: (1) trends in the profession, such as when particular practices or approaches become sanctioned by the profession; (2) guru-led innovations, such as when the work of a particular educationist, such as Krashen or Gardner, becomes fashionable or dominant; (3) responses to technology, such as when the potential of the World Wide Web catches the
imagination of teachers; (4) influences from academic disciplines, such as when ideas from psychology, linguistics, or cognitive science shape language pedagogy; and (5) learner- based innovations, such as a focus on strate- gies. Once changes have been adopted, they are often promoted with a reformist zeal. Previous practices suddenly become out of fashion and positive features of earlier prac- tices are quickly forgotten.
At the beginning of this article I suggested that TESOL has been shaped by two different kinds of influences. On the one hand, grow- ing demand for effective English teaching pro- grams in response to worldwide expansion in the use of English has highlighted the need for a coordinated organizational response. This is seen in the demand for greater accountability through standards, curriculum renewal, pro- fessionalism, and the development of interna- tionally recognized qualifications for language teachers. On the other hand, the field of TESOL has expanded both in scope and depth, redefining its own goals, conceptual underpinnings, and methods and prompting a reassessment of our understanding of what lies at the core of this enterprise—namely teachers, teaching, and the nature of teacher education.
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Jack c. RichaRds, a teacher educator and author who worked in the Asia-Pacific region for over 30 years, now divides his time between residences in Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia and gives occasional workshops and seminars worldwide.
English TEaching Forum | Number 1 2008 11

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