September 2006
Volume 10, Number 2

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Doing Language Education Research in a Developing Country

Greta Gorsuch
Texas Tech University, United States


This is an account of an American language education researcher doing two research projects (a case study and a quasi-experimental study) in a developing country (Vietnam), outside of her U.S.-based research context. During a five-month period, the researcher encountered a number of contextual features present in the provincial university and community where she conducted the research which constrained (and supported) her choice of topics to investigate, the breadth of those topics, and her gathering and analysis of data. Salient among these were her role as a temporary sojourner, availability of interpreters, schedule miscommunications, transportation, physical condition of the classrooms and other resources, source of her financial support (and her resulting lighter teaching schedule), and differences in grouped student ability due to prevailing institutional placement test practices. The sum of her experiences led her to reject the notion that language education research could not be done in resource-poor developing nations. Rather, the central question is how those local contexts (and the local contexts in the U.S. and other "inner circle" countries as well) shape language education research, and what implications these local contexts have on the generation of global knowledge and transnational research partnerships.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, Vietnam, research, professional development,language education research, Vietnamese universities, professionalization, conceptions of scholarship, research context, research methodology

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