The Value of the Teacher-Researcher

As a graduate student in a TESOL program, I was well aware of the rift between teachers and researchers in our field. Researchers saw teachers as being simple-minded practitioners, not capable of doing quality research because they lacked the background knowledge, and, as graduates of Education departments, were intellectual weaklings in comparison to academically-trained applied linguists.

Thankfully, many graduate-level TESOL programs do feature a required or optional course in research methods, particularly at the doctoral level. Because of this, with the popularity of TESOL programs worldwide, our field has a growing number of teachers who have some knowledge of research, and in some cases, practical experience during their studies.

Why is this important? It is important because teachers, like combat soldiers, are the frontliners of our field. They know from daily, and often extensive personal experience, what goes on in the classroom, and indeed their knowledge can be far richer than that of applied linguists in universities. This makes their knowledge valuable, and therefore worth sharing. Consider this question: If you were considering a job offer to teach in the Arab Peninsula, would you buy a book on “Teaching in the U.A.E” , for example, or would you seek out teachers who are or have been in the region to get their first-hand knowledge of the working and living conditions?

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