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TESOL Research and Standards

Research Directions and Resources

What are your top research topics, contexts, challenges?

Download the full member survey report representing over 2700 data points from 639 members across the globe. Take a closer look at how we got here with 10 focus groups in countries identifying 4 top directions for research. 

Research Education & Literacy

TESOL professionals are no strangers to research yet may need support to systematize or report classroom-based research. The question of how TESOL professionals meet these challenges is an important one.

“We need to promote and value the ‘little r’ research we’re doing all the time—we’re constantly troubleshooting and renovating our practices.”
-Shannon Dunn, Saudi Arabia

“The space for research is not obvious in primary and secondary school settings. It needs a support network.”
-Nicole Bell, United States

Join the Research Education & Literacy conversation that started 5 December 2023. We look forward to your input.

  • Am I already doing research?
  • What kinds of research do teachers do in their classrooms?
  • What research is already available in my context? On my topic? (see Research Resources below) 
  • How can I find publications that include classroom-based research? Here are some tips for getting started.
  • How can I disseminate my practitioner research other than in academic journals?

Emerging Educational Technologies

Keeping up with new technologies is challenging. TESOL professionals also want to understand the outcomes of teaching with technology and its long-term impact on student learning.

“In school, technology is integrated into methods but not addressed very much in teacher development.”
-Judy Wong, United States

"We're doing research on online teaching of English to K-12 kids—some are in rural areas—how effective are those lessons? "
-Jane Chien, Taiwan

Join the Emerging Educational Technologies conversation that started 5 December 2023. We look forward to your input.

  • What do I need to know about augmented reality and artificial intelligence?
  • How can I ethically use these technologies as teaching tools? Is there a “right” way to use technology?
  • How can AI tools help with everyday tasks to reduce my workload?
  • What are the impacts of classroom technology and remote instruction on student learning?
  • How have emerging educational technologies informed (or failed) teachers and classrooms in under-resourced contexts?

Teaching Methods

Information about teaching methods is abundant, yet may not address the cultural and historical dynamics of local contexts for teaching. Research is needed to address changes in the where, when, and how of teaching.

"Teaching methods depend on the learner, the learner's needs and experiences, and the context for teaching."
-Nellie Deutsch, Canada

“We can read about teaching methods but we don’t read research carried out in our EFL context.”
-Eliana Berardo, Argentina

Join the Teaching Methods conversation that started 5 December 2023. We look forward to your input.

  • If I introduce a new method, does that count as research?
  • How can research help me to understand the impact of teaching methods, including technologies?
  • How can research help me to adapt teaching methods to my classroom or to teach young learners?
  • What do we know about effective uses of translanguaging?
  • How can we infuse EAL methods, such as using family languages, into EFL classrooms?
  • How do I know whether a particular method is supported by research that is relevant to my teaching context?

Professional Learning

Teaching involves a whole community working together. Research can reveal what is happening in different contexts, who is involved, and what types of professional learning and support may be missing.

“Unless everyone in the school is included, our aims for diversity, equity, and inclusion will not be achieved.”
-Drew Fagan, United States

"Teachers encounter many challenges in under-resourced schools, such as large classes and a lack of materials to teach with, so a research priority is teacher development."
- Michel Gougou, Côte d'Ivoire

Join the Professional Learning conversation that started 5 December 2023. We look forward to your input.

  • How can we educate new teachers in a way that safeguards their well-being?
  • How can we build a professional culture of mentorship that helps people stay in the profession?
  • What models for professional development build on teachers’ needs and aims?
  • How do regional and local policies affect the consistency and inconsistency of access to professional development?

TESOL’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access includes a commitment to research by, for, and with current and future TESOL professionals and language learners worldwide. Check out the Research Directions 2023-2027 Final Report! 

Do these research directions resonate with you?
Share your thoughts, email 

The research directions are interrelated and situated -- that is, these directions inform one another, and they are understood differently across regional, historical, and cultural contexts for teaching and learning English. This interrelatedness and situatedness highlight the complexity of TESOL as a field in which inequities and resource gaps persist. We aim to pursue these conversations by encouraging local research while being informative about global trends.

Research Resources

TESOL members have asked about accessing research and research tools. Both can be a challenge without an affiliation with a university library. Here we suggest resources for engaging with (by reading) and engaging in (by implementing or doing) research. Multiple open access avenues are available to get started, whether you are new to research or looking for resources and tools. If you are new to research, we also recommend "Twelve tips for doing teacher research" (Borg, 2017). To delve into the scope of research in TESOL, check out the latest Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English from the NCTE and the resources library of The International Research Foundation (TIRF) for English Language Education.

Open access databases link to published research, research tools, and plain language research summaries that are publicly available. What are plain language summaries? These are abstracts of academic articles written in non-technical language. The growing number of journals that publish plain language summaries include Community College Journal of Research and Practice and Language Awareness.

Here are four examples of open access databases:

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) is a database of published research in education. Search by entering any text you wish or use filters to narrow your search. Filters include topics, age groups of learners, language of publication, country, and many others.  We suggest first selecting “peer reviewed only” and “full text available on ERIC” (if you are not affiliated with a university library). Such a search on November 7 with keywords English learner AND elementary school, as shown in Figure 1, yielded 365 articles published since 2022 that are both peer-reviewed and publicly available on ERIC.

ERIC indexes education research in journal articles, books, reports, working papers, conference proceedings, and dissertations. The site is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Iris: A Free Public Research Resource is a database of research tools for languages and language learning. Search by entering any text you wish or use filters to narrow your search. Filters include the type of material (such as assessment, coding, example interview guide, interactive task, role play), the language being used or learned, and participant type, among others. These research tools are used in studies of language development, of how languages are used and learned, and of the effectiveness of teaching interventions and strategies. For instance, entering the search term translanguaging produced five articles. Figure 2 provides an example of the types of materials (i.e., the research tools) available through one research article.

Selecting your article produces a list of the research tools that were used, which you can then download. Usually, a published article will describe the research tools or provide examples in an appendix, without making them available in full. Iris is funded by the British Academy, U.K.

Oasis: Open Access Research Summaries in Language Studies. Oasis is a database of plain language summaries of language research, provided in English. Search by entering any text you wish or by area of research and other options. Although the database is free, Oasis will ask you for a bit of demographic information when you begin. Your downloaded summary will include a four-part breakdown of what the research is about, what the researchers did, what they found, and things to consider. Here is an example. This example includes the DOI location of the article, which will not necessarily be free. Plain language summaries of 240 TESOL Quarterly articles published since 2019 are included in this database. Here is an example. The site is funded by the University of York, U.K.

OpenAIRE Explore. OpenAIRE is a database of open access, published research that also includes options for accessing research data and research software. Because it does not focus on language studies alone, as do Iris and Oasis, using this database takes a bit more work. Selecting filters for publications, articles, within the past five years, and education yielded more than 2,000 open access articles. Other filter options include country and language. This article about remote learning published in English and Portuguese is an example. The site is funded in part by the European Union.

TESOLgraphics is a database of one-page infographic summaries of research syntheses and reviews in TESOL. Each infographic helps teachers understand key termsthe evidence base, the focus of the research synthesismajor findings, and how teachers can apply the findings to their teaching. The infographics are created by teachers and for teachers; practitioners read a research synthesis, tease out findings that are most relevant to practice and reflect on how findings can be used by teachers. Here is an example. Currently, TESOLgraphics has over 100 infographics and publishes new infographics regularly. Additionally, TESOLgraphics is on X (formerly Twitter), hosts periodic talk shows and online reading groups, fostering a community where teachers and researchers in TESOL come together. TESOLgraphics is funded by the University of St Andrews in the UK and Universidad Andrés Bello in Chile. 


Taylor & Francis publish several open access journals in education. Search open access journals with the keyword education on the Taylor & Francis web site.

Sage publishes Sage Open, which includes articles covering topics in education. See the Sage Open October–December 2023 issue for examples.

SpringerNature publishes open access articles. Reading and Writing is an example of a Springer journal that is considered hybrid–that is, some articles are open access articles but not all. See the Reading and Writing December 2023 issue for examples.

Other examples of hybrid publications are Language and Education (Taylor & Francis), which publishes research on theory, practice, curricula, pedagogy and evaluation in primary and second-language education; and System (Science Direct/Elsevier), devoted to educational technology applied to foreign language teaching and learning. Attention is paid to learning and teaching of all languages (e.g., English, Chinese, and Arabic) as second or foreign languages. 

Peer-Reviewed Open-Access Journals

CELT: A Journal of Culture, English Language Teaching, and Literature is published by Soegijapranata Catholic University, Indonesia.

Dialogues: An Interdisciplinary Journal of English Language Teaching and Research is published by North Carolina State University in the U.S.

ELT Echo: The Journal of English Language Teaching in Foreign Language Context publishes a range of conceptual, research, and best practice articles.

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature (IJALEL) offers readers free access to new research and welcomes theoretical and practical submissions from all over the world. It is published by the Australian International Academic Centre.

International Journal of Multicultural Education (IJME) is a journal for scholars, practitioners, and students of multicultural education. The journal is committed to promoting equity in education.

Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning (RPLTL) is dedicated to research in TESOL and applied linguistics. It is published in English and Greek by the Hellenic Open University, Greece. 

University of Sydney Journal of TESOL provides an online space for sharing research practice and theory.

Search the global Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) for updates.

Multilingual Matters (Channel View Publications) offers open access titles and book chapters that are downloadable by clicking on a button.

Examples of open access books include:

Examples of open access book chapters include:

In addition, the FreeBook Series by Routledge and its partners offers the following collections of research:

  • Global Research in Teaching and Learning English (2022) is co-published by the International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) and Routledge and is publicly available as a downloadable PDF file.
  • Research Methods is co-published by Guilford Press and Routledge. It covers research in a number of areas including education. You will be asked for demographic information before downloading your book; you can opt out of receiving future communications.

TESOL Journal 

The TESOL Journal is available at no cost to all TESOL International Association members by clicking the member access link on the TESOL website. For non-members, the journal (published by the Wiley Online Library) includes open access articles such as this research brief. Check out the current and past issues for examples of classroom explorations and empirical feature articles. 

TESOL Quarterly Open Access Articles and Research Guidelines

Open Access Articles. TESOL Quarterly features selected open access articles in each issue. In addition, it is very easy to read a plain language summary of each article by clicking on a graphical representation in the table of contents. Here are links to the most recent issues:

A list of open access special issues includes the 2022 Special Issue (Volume 56, Issue 3), “Digital literacies in TESOL: Mapping out the terrain.” A list of recent open access articles is on the TESOL Quarterly home page.

Research Guidelines. We recommend this publicly available article (Mahboob et al., 2016) if you’re interested in submitting work to TESOL Quarterly. In addition to learning about the review process, the article outlines types of research that is done in TESOL. You can find a list of articles about doing research in TESOL here. Most are also publicly available, including these:

TESOL’s work on research agendas includes bibliographies, research questions, and approaches to developing research questions.

The TESOL Research Agenda (2000) includes sample research questions listed by topic and an annotated bibliography.

The TESOL Research Agenda (2004) speaks to issues such as ethics and the interfaces between research and policy. It includes a list of topics and references for each; and a list of language education journals and their websites.

The TESOL Research Agenda (2014) includes a discussion of considerations in language teaching research and examples of approaches to research questions that involve three steps: observe, question, and investigate (see tables on pages 9, 11, and 12).

Professional associations of language educators increasingly offer grants and awards to in-service teachers as well as to graduate students. It is worthwhile to check out what is new in your area.


The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) funds research in the teaching of world languages in six prioritized research areas through its Research Priorities Grants. Submissions for 2024-2025 will open in spring 2024 on the ACTFL website.


The U.S.-based Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the National Center for Educational Research (NCER) offer research grants in educational topics broadly, and specifically English language Literacy and Policies, Practices, and Programs to Support English Learners.  Learn more about the topics and proposal process at the IES website.


The U.S.-based National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Research Foundation sponsors numerous research grants, including a Teacher Research Grant Program that prioritizes classroom-based research in PK-12 settings. One-year grants are offered every other year.

In addition, the NCTE supports research by English Language Arts Teacher Educators (ELATE) through awards for travel, research, and publication. These support classroom-based research by teachers at any level, as well as work by graduate students.   

TESOL International Association

The TESOL Award for Excellence in Research, sponsored by past TESOL president Dr. Deborah Short, is awarded annually and prioritizes published empirical research. See more opportunities from TIRF, which was founded with the support of TESOL International.


Check out The International Research Foundation (TIRF) for English Language Education website for more awards and fellowships and information about eligibility.

In partnership with the British Council and Cambridge English (part of the Cambridge University Press & Assessment), each year TIRF also offers Doctoral Dissertation Grants of up to $5,000 to doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy. Proposals are due 15 May, 2024.

TIRF-British Council Research Mentoring Awards offer graduate students an opportunity to work with an established researcher. The award prioritizes students from OECD DAC countries in Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. More information is available online.

The Kathleen M. Bailey Teacher-Research Award was launched in 2024 and is open for applications.  Proposals are due 20 June, 2024.

TESOL Research Professional Council (RPC) Short Research Communications

  • RPC PK-12 Research Network Videos provide examples of teacher research summarized in 10 minutes.
  • TESOL RPC Blogs of 500 words are reflective summaries of research and updates on research trends by RPC researcher-practitioners. We invite TESOL members to join us in writing their reflections, questions that arise, and research methods. 
  • TESOL RPC Research Stories of 1,000 words focus on sharing the experience of doing research rather than the outcomes.

TESOL Interest Section Webinars

Interest Section Webinars located on TESOL International YouTube also feature short (less than 1 hour) inquiry-focused sessions. Here are three examples:

Are you new to research?

Check out these tips for getting started as a writer and reporter of your research. A good way to begin is by writing for TESOL affiliate peer-reviewed publications--there are 20 to choose from--or international journals that welcome classroom-based research.

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