Implementing Communicative Language Teaching: A Case Study of English Language Teaching Reform in a Japanese Science University

Jennings, Stephen (2018). Implementing Communicative Language Teaching: A Case Study of English Language Teaching Reform in a Japanese Science University. EdD thesis The Open University.



This thesis considers an example of English language teaching (ELT) reform in the context of internationalisation at Noda campus, Tokyo University of Science, Japan. Research questions not only enquire into institutional policy, but also teacher beliefs, attitudes and perceptions about a greater use of communicative language teaching activities and how these notions play out in examples of teaching practice.

I take an interpretive stance to the enquiry and conduct a qualitative case study. As a participant in the research context, I am able to gain insight into the wider social processes of a purposely chosen group of seven Japanese English teachers. I employ Wolcott's (2008) notion of an ethnographic perspective on data gathering with 1) institutional documents regarding ELT reform and other ethnographic material, 2) field notes taken during classroom observations; and, 3) a theme analysis of semi-structured interview transcripts.

Findings suggest there has been a move towards 1) the implementation of communicative language teaching activities with a large increase in the number of oral English courses, 2) a more student-centred approach; and, 3) the introduction of oral communication activities on a trial-and-error basis. I contend that findings are relevant to educational theory in illuminating the extent to which perceived negative attitudes towards ELT reform may be mitigated through constructive engagement. Moreover, in terms of educational practice, the study of participants’ apparent attitudes and beliefs may be analogous to other groups of teachers engaging with foreign language education reforms.

The thesis concludes by recommending future investigation into educational contexts viewed as inter-related systems (Larsen-Freeman and Cameron, 2008). Such future investigations will focus on the constant mutual restructuring of teaching policy, theory and practice (Johnson, 2008). This type of research will provide insight into how educators mediate national and institutional policy initiatives in order that they be suitable for local contexts.

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