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Engaging in TESOL Research Directions 2023–2027: What It Can Bring to Your Practice

by Özgehan Uştuk, Jane Chien, Shannon Dunn |

TESOL International Association’s Research Professional Council (RPC) works to identify TESOL members’ research priorities and interpret those priorities to find out the association’s research directions. To that end, the RPC created the TESOL Research Directions 2023-2027, which aims to encourage TESOLers to engage with and in classroom-based research.

The website of the TESOL Research Directions 2023-2027, which was first shared with the membership during the Town Hall on 5 December 2023, provides educators with guiding questions, opportunities to participate in a global discussion, and resources to inform their research engagements; in short, it aims to give TESOL members a direction.

While examining the research directions, the RPC conducted focus groups to ensure the representation of diverse member voices. In this blog post, we invited two focus group members to share how they have found inspiration from the TESOL Research Directions 2023-2027. We also explain the contribution opportunities for TESOL members so that TESOL members can inform their teaching and research.

Jane Chien, Taiwan

Collaborating With Global Members

Collaborating in a focus group with colleagues from India, Pakistan, and Vietnam provided a unique opportunity to discuss TESOL's research priorities. We were prompted to interpret the top three research topics (Teaching Methods, Teacher Development, and Educational Technology) and the top three research contexts (Post-Secondary, EFL, and Bi/Multilingual Learners) identified in the survey. We agreed that these directions reflect our research interests, emphasizing the use of technology for teaching EFL and multilingual learners, as well as professional development in AI, alongside suitable research methods to gauge effectiveness.

Discussing Hot Topics

Our discussions expanded at TESOL's Town Hall, exploring the role of AI in teaching and planning, and the necessity of preparing teachers for AI integration, ensuring educators are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to guide students in using AI effectively and ethically. We contributed our ideas on Padlet and explored resources such as the TESOL Journal, System, and RPC’s K-12 Research Video series.

The participants were particularly interested in emerging technologies and the transformative potential of AI in education, which was evident from the number of AI presentations at the TESOL 2024 Convention in Tampa. I hope that participants with similar research interests can form groups to carry out their research. I believe the TESOL Research Directions can foster such groups with the framework and resources it provides.

Shannon Dunn, Saudi Arabia

Contextualizing Your Research

I originally connected with RPC at the 2023 Convention. As a research coordinator, I have been working with language teachers in the Middle East to identify and investigate practical gaps in classroom-based research. Collaborating with the focus group provided an opportunity to see the commonality among our research across the globe, such as concerns of research literacy among practitioners and contextualizing research to inform policy.

Supporting Practitioner Researchers in Your Community

It was great to see how all these perspectives came together to inform the Research Directions website introduced at the Town Hall meeting. I am grateful to TESOL’s RPC for taking our discussions and producing this resource that reflects the needs of our practitioner-researchers. It is a great guiding tool for us at King Saud University to align our efforts with the global TESOL community.

We have been using the website to spark relevant research by seeing the research directions and using the example questions to guide us to relevant research for our context. The resources also help us identify current research published in these areas, and the various databases provide insight into the tools and measurements used in relevant published articles. Having all these resources in one place is the perfect roadmap to organize research from beginning to end.

Engage in TESOL Research Directions Further to Harness Their Opportunities for Your TESOL Practice

One shared experience of Jane and Shannon was the chance to participate in a global conversation while engaging in the TESOL Research Directions events. Connecting to global TESOL professionals provided them with diverse perspectives and an understanding of how their local research questions are situated globally in the field. TESOL members can still be a part of the ongoing conversation through the live Padlet boards, which were created for all four research directions individually:

    1. Research education and literacy
    2. Emerging educational technologies
    3. Teaching methods
    4. Professional learning

For Jane and Shannon, the TESOL Research Directions were useful for obtaining resources and informing their research. Under the “Research Sources” section of the website, TESOL members can find a well-curated resource containing databases, publishing opportunities for practitioner-researchers, grants, awards, and TESOL International Association’s publications.

Similar to the Town Hall (find the recording on YouTube), the RPC is committed to creating participation and engagement opportunities for members interested in research. Relatedly, the RPC has recently published the final report of the TESOL Research Directions and organized several events related to the directions during the 2024 convention in Tampa. We invite all TESOL members to explore the research directions, look out for face-to-face and online RPC events featuring those directions, and share their comments via

About the author

Özgehan Uştuk

Özgehan Uştuk (PhD) is an EFL teacher, teacher educator, and trainer in MAXQDA data analysis software. He currently works at Balikesir University, Turkey as a research assistant. His research areas include drama-in-education, TESOL teacher education, professional development, identity, and emotions. He has participated in several action research projects and conducted his own action research studies.

About the author

Jane Chien

Jane Chien, associate professor at the National Taipei University of Education, specializes in EFL teacher education and professional development. As director of the Center for Research on Bilingual Education, she promotes bilingual learning and oversees a Ministry of Education project that combines digital learning with bilingual education. Jane is on the coordination team of TESOL's CALL-IS Electronic Village Online and has been the chair of CALL-IS since 2021.

About the author

Shannon Dunn

Shannon Dunn, as the secretary of the Scientific Research Committee for King Saud University’s English Language Skills Department, coordinates various applied linguistic research targeting postsecondary English language learning and teaching. Her research area focuses on increasing the quality of applied linguistics research. Shannon has also worked with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education to align national initiatives, like Vision 2030, to curriculum objectives within English language learning programs.

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