The affordances and limitations of collaborative research in the TESOL classroom


  • Yvette Slaughter The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Julie Choi The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • David Nunan The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Hayley Black Carringbush Adult Education, Australia
  • Rebecca Grimaud Carringbush Adult Education, Australia
  • Hân Trinh Carringbush Adult Education, Australia



collaborative research, professional learning, teacher educators, adult education, identity texts


The diversity of learning needs within the TESOL field creates inherent tensions between the need for targeted professional learning for TESOL teachers, the more generalist nature of tertiary TESOL courses, and the varied research interests of teacher educators. This article describes a collaborative research project between university-based teacher educators and TESOL teachers working in an adult education centre. With a range of aims amongst the research participants, this article reports on the ‘fluid’ and ‘messy’ process of collaborative research (Burns & Edwards, 2014, p. 67) as we investigate the use of identity texts (Cummins & Early, 2011) as a mediating tool for professional learning. In acknowledging the practice of teaching as highly situated, the data presented focuses on the individual experience of each teacher, voiced through an action research frame, before we discuss the achievements and challenges which emerged through this collaborative research process. In the findings, we argue for the importance of championing the case for the messy processes of collaborative research within the broader research academy.


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Author Biographies

  • Yvette Slaughter, The University of Melbourne, Australia

    Dr Yvette Slaughter is Senior lecturer in Language and Literacy Education within the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Her research interests focus on plurilingual pedagogies, multilingualism in education, language policy and planning, and language program implementation. Yvette is currently working on research focusing on the use of plurilingual pedagogies and engagement with linguistic repertoires in early childhood, primary/secondary and adult educational contexts.

  • Julie Choi, The University of Melbourne, Australia

    Dr Julie Choi is Senior Lecturer in Education (Additional Languages) at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. She is co-author of Language and Culture: Reflective Narratives and the Emergence of Identity (2010) and Plurilingualism in Teaching and Learning: Complexities across Contexts (2018), and sole author of Creating a Multivocal Self: Autoethnography as Method (2017).

  • David Nunan, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    David Nunan is Professor Emeritus of Applied Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong and Distinguished Research Professor at Anaheim University. He is former President of TESOL International and is currently a Trustee and Executive Committee member of The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF). He has published over 30 books on curriculum development, language teaching methodology, research methods, and teacher education. He has published fifteen EFL textbook series. Go For It is the largest selling series in the world with global sales of over four billion copies.

  • Hayley Black, Carringbush Adult Education, Australia

    Hayley Black is an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher with a secondary school media and EAL teaching background and a Masters in TESOL. She currently teaches EAL and digital literacy to adults from migrant and refugee backgrounds in a community setting, at Carringbush Adult Education.

  • Rebecca Grimaud, Carringbush Adult Education, Australia

    Rebecca Grimaud has been a teacher in a variety of settings in England, France and Australia for over ten years. She joined Carringbush as a literacy volunteer in 2017 and now teaches low level literacy learners. Rebecca also teaches French at a local Primary school. She is interested in the use of gestures and explicit pronunciation to help learners increase their confidence in speaking.

  • Hân Trinh, Carringbush Adult Education, Australia

    Hân Trinh has worked as an ESL teacher in Vietnam and Australia for more than 5 years. She studied her Masters of TESOL in Melbourne and joined Carringbush teaching team in 2018. Hân has mainly worked with low level literacy learner groups at Carringbush and is interested in teaching explicit pronunciation and incorporating multilingual teaching approaches into her practice.


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How to Cite

The affordances and limitations of collaborative research in the TESOL classroom. (2020). TESOL in Context, 29(2), 35-61.
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