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Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.

(TESOL)

The Investigation of Language Classroom Processes


Author(s): Stephen J. Gaies
Source: TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 205-217
Published by: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)
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TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol. 17, No. 2, June 1983

CLASSROOM-CENTERED RESEARCH: STATE OF THE ART

The Investigationof Language


Classroom Processes
STEPHEN J. GAIES
Universityof NorthernIowa

The secondlanguageclassroomhaslongbeena centerofresearch


interest.
In the last severalyears,attemptsto examinethesecond
languageclassroom-toclarify how thelanguageclassroomexperi-
ence differsfromwhatis availableoutsidetheclassroomand how
languageclassrooms differ
amongthemselves-have beenincreasing-
ly guidedby a sharedsetof goalsand premises.Classroomprocess
researchis based on the priority of directobservationof second
languageclassroomactivityand is directedprimarily at identifying
thenumerous factorswhichshapethesecondlanguageinstructional
experience.The resulthas been a markeddeparturefromearlier
researchonthenatureandeffects ofclassroom instructionina second
language.
Selectedstudiesinthreeareasarereviewed:thelinguistic environ-
mentofsecondlanguageinstruction, patternsofparticipation inthe
languageclassroom,and errortreatment. Alsoreviewedare recent
ofintrospective
applications researchto theproblemof
(mentalistic)
describingthesecondlanguageclassroomexperience.

The purpose of thisarticleis to examinerecentattemptsto charac-


terizethesecond languageinstructional experience.The researchto be
summarizedall too brieflyand selectivelyherehas aimed at describing
the linguisticand instructionalenvironmentwhich second language
learnersencounterin the classroomand how thatenvironmentmight
differfromwhat is available outsidetheclassroom.The goals of such
researchhave been both to specifywhat, if anything,is common to
second language instructionand to identifythe factorswhich cause
classroomactivitiesto varyfromone settingto another.
The researchin question,which will be referredto collectivelyas
classroom process research,is at firstglance highlydiverse. One is
struckby the enormousdifferencesamong settingsinvestigated-for-
eign language classrooms,ESL programs,immersionprograms,bilin-
gual classroomsina varietyofculturalcontexts,involvinglearnersofall
ages representinga varietyof ethnicand educational backgrounds-
and by thediversityof theinvestigative approachesemployed.Indeed,
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it might sometimes appear that the only common feature of such
research is that data are collected in language classrooms. In fact,
however, classroom process research is based on several shared
premises,whichit mightbe well to summarizeat the outset:
1. As Allwright(in the previous article) has already discussed, there
has been a perceptible trendaway fromglobal categorizationsof
second languageclassroominstruction. We have largelyrejectedthe
notionthatclassroomsdiffersimplyalong a singlevariable such as
method. The failureof experimentalresearchto demonstratethe
clear-cutsuperiorityof any one method has undoubtedlybeen a
factorin this,as has been the sheer difficultyof conductingsuch
research. Classroom process research rejects as simplistic any
univariateclassificationof thesecond languageinstructional experi-
ence.
2. The second premise underlyingclassroom process research is to
some degree a corollary of the firstone. The emphasis is on
describingas fullyas possiblethecomplexityof thesecond language
instructionalenvironment.The key termhere is description.The
immediategoal of classroomprocess researchis, as has oftenbeen
stated (Long 1980a, Gaies 1981, Bailey, forthcoming),to identify
variablesof second language instruction and in so doing to generate
hypothesesratherthanto testhypotheses.This premiseexplainsin
large part the avowedly non-prescriptivenature of classroom
processresearch.Classroomprocessresearchdoes notlead directly
to empiricallyvalidated applications;rather,it is directedmore at
clarifyingthosefactorswhichmustultimatelybe takenintoaccount
in any attempt to examine the effects of particular classroom
treatments.
3. Anotherpremise which unifiesclassroom process researchis the
priorityof direct observation of classroom activity.All of the
research summarized in this article is based on data collected
wholly or substantiallythroughthe observationand measurement
of second language classroomactivity.Classroomprocess research
seeks to informour understandingof how teachers and learners
"accomplish classroom lessons," to borrow a phrase fromMehan
(1974); thiscan be done, it is argued, onlythroughdirectexamina-
tionof theprocess.
To provide an overview of classroom process research,selected
studies in three areas will be summarized. These areas are second
language classroomlanguage (classroominput),patternsof classroom
participation,and error treatment.Toward the end of this article,
recent attemptsto investigateindividual or psychological process
variableswill be brieflydiscussed.
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THE LINGUISTIC ENVIRONMENT
The firstarea of language classroom research to be reviewed here is
the nature of the linguistic input available to learners in the classroom
setting. One of the obvious differences between instructionaland non-
instructional settings, at least as far as language acquisition is con-
cerned, is that while outside the classroom access to and opportunities
for interaction with native speakers may be limited by a number of
factors, the language classroom has, as a primary feature, a native (or
at least a relatively proficient) speaker delegated to interact with
learners. This delegated speaker-the teacher-thus provides, in many
cases, an important source of linguisticinput. Early studies of teachers'
classroom language focused on the linguistic characteristics of teacher
input. Many of these studies were intended to determine how teachers'
classroom language differs from normal speech-that is, speech be-
tween native speakers. Specifically, researchers sought to determine
whether second language teachers make linguistic accommodations on
behalf of learners similar to the modifications present in caretaker
speech to children acquiring their firstlanguage. Indeed, it was
hypothesized that teachers' classroom language constituted a simple
code which would facilitate the second language acquisition process.
An investigation by Gaies (1977) of the syntactic features of ESL
teachers' classroom speech reflects the assumptions and goals of this
line of research. A comparison of the language used by eight ESL
teachers in the classroom and out of the classroom revealed that the
subjects' classroom speech was syntacticallyless complex on a number
of variables. Of considerable importance was the finding that the
complexity of the subjects' classroom language was remarkably fine-
tuned to their learners' level of proficiency. Along with similar data
from a study (Chaudron 1979) of teachers' speech in French immersion
classes, the Gaies study lends empirical support to the notion that
classroom input, like caretaker speech, may facilitate acquisition.
A more recent study by Hamayan and Tucker (1980) extends re-
search in language classroom input considerably by examining the
effect of classroom input on learners' production. Hamayan and Tuck-
er examined the speech and teaching behaviors at the third and fifth
grade levels of three teachers in two French immersion schools and
three teachers from regular French schools in Montreal. One aspect of
the study was the tabulation of the frequency of occurrence in the
teachers' classroom speech of nine structuresin French, among which
were indirect questions, contractions,reflexives,and subjunctives. The
investigators found a strong correlation in the frequency with which
these structuresoccurred at the two grade levels and in the two school
systems. Furthermore, they found that the frequency of occurrence of
these nine structures in teachers' speech correlated significantlywith
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the frequency with which these structureswere produced by the
learnersin a story-retelling
task. Thus, theresearchersfoundevidence
to supportan earlierclaim by Larsen-Freeman(1976) thatproduction
of particularfeaturesby second language learnersis related to the
frequencywithwhichthosefeaturesoccur in linguisticinput.
The Hamayan and Tuckerstudyis a logical extensionof earlierwork
to describe the linguisticenvironmentof the second language class-
room.As is thecase forall correlationalstudies,however,theresultsdo
not automaticallyindicatea cause-and-effect relationship.Indeed, for
thepresent,our abilityto testforsuch a relationshipunderadequately
controlledconditionsis highlydoubtful.

PATTERNSOF CLASSROOMINTERACTION
More recently,attentionhas shiftedfromthe natureof inputto the
nature of interactionbetween native speakers and second language
acquirers.While modifiedinput,such as can be observed both in and
outside the classroom, is frequentlyavailable to second language
acquirers, it is the interactionaladjustmentswhich native speakers
make consistentlyin speech with non-nativespeakers that is now
considered to be most crucial to second language attainment.Most
notably, Krashen (1978, 1980) has argued that,throughinteraction,
second language acquirersobtain"optimalinput"-thatis,inputwhich
is likelyto lead to furtheracquisition.Long (1980b) has claimed that
the modified interactionavailable throughspeech between native
speakersand second language acquirersis thenecessaryand sufficient
conditionforsecond language acquisitionto take place. This theoreti-
cal reorientationhas caused thefocusof researchin teachers'classroom
language to shiftfromthe examinationof the linguisticfeaturesof
teachers' speech to the study of interactionalpatternsin the second
language classroom,patternswhich may indicatehow learnersinter-
nalize in-and out-of-classroom input.
A research study which reflectsthis change in focus is Long and
Sato's (in press) examination of the forms and functionsof ESL
teachers'classroomquestions.These were compared withpreviously
establishedpatternsof native speaker questioningbehaviorin native
speaker/non-nativespeaker conversationsoutside classrooms. Long
and Sato hypothesizedthatquestionsin and outsidetheclassroomtend
to serve differentinteractionalfunctions;specifically,ESL teachers'
classroomquestionstypicallyaim at havinglearnersdisplayknowledge
of material covered in class rather than at elicitingreferentialor
expressiveinformationunknownto the teacher.The findingsof Long
and Sato confirmedthisprediction.In the six ESL classroomsinvesti-
gated, display questions (for example, "What's the opposite of up in
English?"),whichare intendedto elicitinformation alreadyknownto
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thequestioner,constitutedmorethanhalfof all questions;furthermore,
they outnumbered referentialquestions by almost four-to-one.In
contrast,referentialquestionswere the predominantquestion type in
native/non-nativespeaker interactionoutside the classroom; even
more strikingwas the almost total absence of display questions.The
fundamentalfeatureof display questionsis thattheydo not generally
invitelearnersto respondat lengthand, even less,to initiatenew topics
and thussustaininteraction.Therefore,the predominanceof display
questions is seen by Long and Sato to diminishthe value of second
language classroom interactionas a source for learners to obtain
optimalinput.
Long and Sato's study does not concern itself with the actual
patternsof verbal participationthattook place in the classroomsthey
observed. This,however,has been a centralfocusof classroomprocess
research; furthermore, it reflects,even more than other areas, the
influenceof general educational research on the study of language
classroomphenomena. Roughlyat the timewhen language classroom
process research began on a large scale, interactionanalysis (e.g.,
Flanders 1970) predominatedin educationalresearch.The largeissues
addressed were: who talkedin classrooms?how much?and withwhat
effecton the classroomverbal performanceof others?Seliger's(1977)
studyof ESL classes lentempiricalsupportto thenotionthatlearners
participationin classroomactivityis highlyvariable. Seligeridentified,
on the basis of a numerical count of classroom participations,two
broad categories of learners:high input generatorsand low input
generators.He found a correlationbetween membershipin eitherof
thesegroupsand performanceon a measureof fielddependence; high
input generators,who were more active in classroom interaction,
tended to be more field independent.There was also evidence that
theygeneratedmore input,or at least were likelyto do so, in out-of-
class contact withnative speakers than did the low inputgenerators.
For Seliger,thedistinction betweenhighand low inputgeneratorsis an
importantone, since itsuggeststhattheexperience of second language
instruction is farfromuniform;while some may exploittheclassroom
forextensivepracticeopportunities, othersmay be farmorepassive in
thisrespectand may in factrequirea different instructional experience
altogether.
Sato's (1981) studyof turn-takingin university-level
ESL classes is an
excellentillustrationof how classroomprocess researchmay serve to
refineourunderstanding ofpatternsof participation.Sato exploredthe
relationshipbetween ethnicityand the distributionof interactional
turnsin two intermediateESL classrooms.Her comparisonof nineteen
Asian and twelve non-Asianlearnersshowed thatthe Asian students
initiatedsignificantly
fewerturnsthandid thenon-Asians;furthermore,
the Asian learnerswere called upon by theirteacherssignificantly less
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often. Sato has thus added importantevidence for ethnicityas a
variable in thesecond language instructionalprocess. She suggeststhat
the relativelygreaterreticenceof Asian studentsto participatemay
have caused theirteachersto perceive themas "unwilling"to partici-
pate; thus,theteacherswere led to call upon themless often.Learners,
then,who do notavail themselvesof theopportunity fortakingturnsin
class and who relyon teacher-allocatedturnsmay end up losingeven
thisopportunityforclassroomparticipation.
Schinke (1981) has examinedpatternsof participationin all-English
contentclasses. Whereas Seliger's and Sato's studies were concerned
with ESL classes, Schinke investigatedthe experience of limited
Englishproficiency(LEP) studentswho had been mainstreamedand
examined the linguisticand interactionalenvironmentavailable to
learners in non-ESL classrooms. Schinke's study revealed findings
about thatenvironment thatmay,ifconfirmedby subsequentresearch,
significantly altertheargumentmade on behalfof mainstreaming. She
foundthatLEP learnershave significantly fewerinteractions withtheir
teachers than do theirnative speaker counterparts-91f% of the LEP
studentsreceived six or fewer turns per hour. In addition, when
interactionsbetween teachersand LEP studentsdo occur, they are
functionallyquite differentfromthose between teachersand native
speaker students;teacher-LEP student interactionstend to involve
classroomand lesson managementmuch more thangenuinelyinstruc-
tionalgoals. Schinkeargued thatherfindingshave implicationsforthe
LEP students'acquisition, development of contentskills,and self-
esteem. These findings,of course, do not in themselves lead to
suggestionsfor pedagogical reform;as has already been mentioned,
classroom process research has been, and must be, at least for the
present, decidedly non-prescriptive.These studies of patterns of
participationby Seliger,Sato, and Schinkenonethelesspointout how
thedirectexaminationof classroomprocesses may preventthespread
of misconceptionsabout the actual nature of the second language
experienceforgroupsof learnersand forindividuallearners.'

ERROR TREATMENT
One aspect of second language classroompatternsof participation
which has received special attentionfor several years is the way in
The Schinkestudyis also importantin suggestingthatnativespeakers (in thiscase, theteachers
in herstudy)may choose avoidance as a strategyfordealingwithnon-nativespeakers(theLEP
studentsin thisstudy). Schinke'sdata put intobetterperspectivesome of the data collected in
quasi-experimentalinvestigationsof native speaker/non-native speaker interaction,in which
subjectshave been, in effect,forcedto communicateduringa period of time.Indeed, one of
themeritsof classroom-basedresearchis thatitdraws data froma "natural"participantgroup;
forthisreason,it should be viewed as an extremelyusefulcomplementto quasi-experimental
approaches to researchin language use.

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which learner errors are treated. The emphasis which classroom
researchershave given to correctivefeedback is easy to understand.
Second language researchhas come to attachgreatsignificanceto the
role of errorsin acquisition.In the last fifteenyears,errorshave been
viewed as windows to thelanguage acquisitionprocess; errorsare seen
as overt reflectionsof a learner's internalized knowledge of the
language. They are furthermore regarded as an inevitable part of
acquiring a second language; indeed, for some, errorsare the best
evidence thatacquisitionis takingplace. In turn,methodologistshave
abandoned an "all-out"or global approach to errorcorrectionin the
classroomand have soughta basis on whicherrorsmightbe selectively
treated.
Research to date in errortreatmentcan onlyserve to encouragethe
search forclassroompracticeswhichpromotea selectivetreatmentof
errors,since one of the consistentfindingsof such research is that
errorsare not treatedin the second language classroomas universally
as mightbe supposed. Fanselow's (1977) studyof errortreatmentby
eleven teachersusingthesame lesson plans and materialsfora class in
oral drillworkwas one of the firstquantitativeaccounts of error
treatment.Fanselow found that fully 22F%of the errors made by
studentsreceived no treatment;eithertheteachersdid notperceivethe
errors,or theychose to ignorethem.Nystrom's(in press) studyof four
public school teachersof Spanish-dominant childrenalso showed that
a sizeable proportionof learnererrorsgo untreated.Nystrom'sdata
are even more striking,since the identificationof errorsin her study
was made by teachersreviewingvideotapes of theirclasses. Thus, as
Nystrompoints out, her data only include errorswhich her teachers
identifiedeitherin class or on videotapes.
A second major focus in researchon correctivefeedback has been
the kind of treatmentwhich is provided. An importantfindingis that
when teacherstreaterrorsin the second language classroom,theydo
not necessarilyprovide overt corrections.Indeed, explicitcorrection
of an error-that is, wherethemajor thrustof a teacher'sresponseto a
learner utteranceis to provide the correct form-often occurs less
frequentlythan indirector implicitfeedback. Furthermore,teachers
have available, and exploit to varying degrees, a wide varietyof
implicit correctivetreatments.Several researchers(Allwright1975,
Chaudron 1977, Long 1977) have offeredtaxonomiesor models of
errortreatment optionsand thedecision-making processwhichgoverns
choices.
An especially interestinginvestigationof the varietyof errortreat-
mentproceduresavailable to teacherswas conductedby Cathcartand
Olsen (1976). In thisstudy,twenty-oneteachersof adultand university
ESL classes responded to a questionnaireconcerningtheiruse of and
preferencesamong twelve errortreatmenttypes. The twelve error
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treatmentshad been compiled from an analysis of videotapes of
classes which these same teachers had taught. Cathcart and Olsen
foundthat,in general,theteachersused thosecorrectingmoves in class
whichtheypreferredand whichtheyreportedusing.They foundalso
thatthepreferencesexpressedby theseteachers'studentson the same
questionnairecorrespondedfairlyclosely to the treatmentswhich the
teachers used in class. The only strikingdiscrepancy between the
teachers' and students' preferences was the students' wish to be
correctedmuch more frequentlythantheirteacherstended to.
Research in errortreatmenthas also identifiedsome of the specific
variableswhichinfluencethenatureof errortreatment.Severalstudies
(Fanselow 1977, Cathcart and Olsen 1976, Ramirez and Stromquist
1979,Nystrom,in press) have demonstratedempiricallythatlinguistic
errors are treated differentially,depending on whether they are
phonological, lexical, or syntacticin nature.2The type of classroom
activityduring which an erroroccurs also plays a role in the error
treatmentdecisions made by a teacher. So too does the level of
instruction.Hamayan and Tucker (1980) found that the thirdgrade
learners in a French immersion program received more explicit
correctivefeedback thandid nativespeaker thirdgraders;in contrast,
thelearnersin a fifthgrade immersionclass received explicitcorrection
less frequentlythan did the fifthgrade native speaker learners.
Nystrom's(in press) studyprovides forcefulevidence of the impor-
tance of individualteacherstylesas a variable in errortreatment;one
of herteacherstreated87%of all errors,two corrected24%of all errors,
and the othercorrectedno errorsat all.
Severalresearchershave notedthaterrortreatment inlanguageclass-
rooms is ofteninconsistentand ambiguous (Allwright1975,Fanselow
1977,Long 1977). It has even been suggested(Long 1977) thatin view
of such inconsistency,error treatmentmay not make as vital a
contributionto language classroom instructionas has generallybeen
supposed (e.g., Krashenand Seliger 1975). Othershave stressedthat
greaterconsistencyand clarityin errortreatmentmay be extremely
difficultto achieve, but thatthe way in which teacherstreaterrorsis
indeed central to teaching effectiveness.Allwright,for example,
argues that"teachersneed to be aware of the potentialtheyhave for
creatingconfusionin the mindsof learners"(1975:99), yet recognizes
thatthe task of the teacher is "to sum up the whole situationon the
spot, and thento react appropriately,in public, consciousof theneed
2 The Ramirez and Stromquiststudy investigatesthe relationshipbetween selected teaching
behaviors and pupil achievement.Thus, unlike most of the studies on errortreatment,it is
correlational,ratherthan purely descriptive,in design. Ramirez and Stromquistfound that
while overt correction of grammatical errors correlated with pupil achievement (to a
degree in thecase of comprehensionability),correctionof pronunciation
significant errorswas
counterproductive to learnerachievement.

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to treattheproblemsof theindividualwithoutmisleadingor confusing
the otherlearners"(103).
The complexityof the task of errortreatmentis compounded in
other ways. Chaudron (1977) has pointed out that error treatment
usually consists not of a single teacher response, but ratherof an
exchange or cycle of verbal moves; thus,as Salica's (1981) empirical
investigationof errortreatmentsuggests,thetreatmentof errorsoften
involves not a response,but a series of responses which follow each
other in rapid succession. Furthermore,much researchneeds to be
done to determine how error treatmentchoices reflect teachers'
awareness of the need to findthe properbalance, both forindividual
studentsand forclasses as a whole, between feedback which focuses
attentionon an error (negative cognitive feedback) and feedback
whichencouragesthelearnerto make further attemptsat communica-
tion (positiveaffectivechannelfeedback) (Vigil and Oiler 1976).
Indeed, one of the most consistentresults of research in error
treatmentin particularand language classroom processes in general
has been to underscore the enormous complexityof the language
classroomteachingand learningprocess. We shouldnotunderestimate
how greatly such research has heightened our awareness of the
demands thatclassroomactivityplaces on teachers'decision making.
Again and again, the point of view expressed by Mehan that "the
teacher'sattentionis demanded in too many places to make rationally
valid decisions duringthe flow of [classroom]
calculated, statistically
conversation"(1974:113) has been persuasivelyconfirmedby current
classroomresearch.
Much of thisgreatersensitivity to the complexityof language class-
room processes is of course the resultof having made direct obser-
vationa keycomponentof classroomresearch.The languageclassroom
is no longer a "black box" (Long 1980a) whose complexitywe can
convenientlychoose to ignore, and it is the intensiveobservation,
description,and analysis of classroom activitythat makes current
research so promisingas a prelude to controlledinvestigationof the
variables of second language teachingand learning.Recently,how-
ever, alternative-or perhaps better,complementary-approaches to
theinvestigation of languageclassroomprocesseshave been promoted,
and some mentionmust be made of researchwhich, in the view of
many,can lead to an even fullerunderstandingof thenatureof second
language teachingand learning.

ALTERNATIVERESEARCHAPPROACHES
These alternativeapproaches are known by a varietyof headings,
among which are anthropological,qualitative, and mentalisticre-
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search.These are certainlynotnew approaches in any way, as Ochsner
(1979) has pointedout. Indeed, theirrecentuse in our fieldhas resulted
largelyfromthe influenceof related fieldssuch as anthropologyand
sociology, in which such methodological approaches have a long
traditionof use. With regard to classroom process research, these
alternativeresearchapproaches are perhaps best known throughthe
learner and (in a few cases) teacher diary studies (in which a
participantobserveshisor herown classroomactivityas well as thatof
other participants) and throughother types of introspectiveand
retrospectiveresearchstudieswhich have been recentlysummarized
by Cohen and Hosenfield(1981).
The chiefvirtueof suchresearch,itsadvocates claim,is thatitallows
forthe investigationof aspects of classroomlanguage learningwhich
more conventionalexternalobservationcannotget at. Indeed, several
advantagesof non-quantitative researchcan be argued foron thebasis
of thelimitationsof conventionalexternalobservation:
1. Conventional classroom observation,in emphasizing the verbal
dimensionof classroomactivity,providesinsufficient accountingof
learnerswho are reluctantto participateorallyin class.
2. Direct external observation and analysis of classroom activity
cannot provide accurate insightsinto learners'conscious thought
processes and thusdoes not allow forany directexaminationof the
means by whichinputis takenin.
3. Quantitativeresearchrequiresthe pre-selectionof variables to be
observed and measured, and it is thusnot fullyappropriatefor a
field in which it is assumed thatmany variables remainto be dis-
covered or rediscovered. Thus, fora field of inquiryin which in-
terestis, at present,primarilyin generatinghypotheses(as opposed
to testinghypotheses),research methodologies which allow the
investigatorwide latitudein exploringclassroomprocesses may be
especiallywelcome.
Perhapsthemostfullydeveloped applicationof qualitativeresearch
to the study of language classroom processes is representedby the
learnerdiarystudiesof recentyears.Schumannand Schumann(1977)
have argued that diaries can identifyindividual or psychological
variables of the classroom experience. A similarargumentwas ad-
vanced by Bailey (1980), whose diary of her experience in learning
Frenchfocuseson therole of anxietyand competitivenessin language
learning.More recently,Bailey (in press) has compared herown diary
to those of others in an attempt to discover to what extent her
observationswere idiosyncraticand to what degree theywere shared
by otherlearners.
It would be an exaggerationto say that alternativeresearch ap-
proaches have been widely accepted for use in second language
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classroom process research. We might expect the debate over the
relative strengthsand limitationsof quantitativeand qualitative re-
search to continue.However, even those who remainskepticalof the
reliabilityof learnerintuitions
recognizethatquantitativeresearchis to
some degree shaped by researcherintuitions and biases; and thosewho
criticizethe small sample sizes of anthropologicalstudies recognize
that most conventionalresearch in language classroom processes is
oftenbased on relativelysmall samples also. Thus, it may be hoped
that several research methodologieswill be used with the rigorand
care whicheach demandsand thattheywillbe viewed as complement-
ing each other, and that in this way the enormous complexityof
language classroom processes may be clarified from a number of
perspectives.
As mentionedat theoutset,a briefand selectivereviewsuchas thisis
bound to be frustrating; one can onlybegin to explorethediversityof
work in understandinglanguage classroomprocesses. By way of con-
clusion, we might emphasize what may be for now the two most
importantdimensionsof such activity.First,in revealingpreviously
unexploredor underexploredaspects of classroomprocessesin which
teachers and learners are involved, researchershave developed a
greater awareness of and respect for the enormous complexityof
language classroom activity.One immediate result of this that we
mighthope for is that practitionerswill become more receptive to
researcheffortsthatrecognize the complexitywhich confrontsthem
daily in theirclassroom work. The other outstandingdimensionof
currentclassroomprocess researchis thatit may ultimatelyenable us
to develop and testhypothesesabout second language teachingand
learning which reflect better than has been done in the past the
complex activitywhichwe seek to understand.
U

THE AUTHOR
Stephen Gaies, Associate Professorof English and Linguisticsat the Universityof
NorthernIowa, has published extensivelyin TESOL publicationsas well as in other
journalsand anthologies.He has served as Presidentof MIDTESOL, as co-chair(with
Dick Allwright)of the AnnualTESOL Colloquium on Classroom-CenteredResearch,
and is co-author(withDick Allwright)of Focus on the Classroom (in preparation).

REFERENCES
Allwright,Richard L. 1975. Problems in the studyof teachers'treatmentof
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