This report reviews research into the learning of English in classroom settings by adult speakers of other languages (ESOL). It is one of the first literature reviews completed by the DfES funded National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC). The report discusses research into the learning of English in classroom settings by adult speakers of other languages (ESOL). It was completed in July 2002; it was written to inform NRDC research activities and to support the development of ESOL research more generally.
This report focuses on learners who need English for the UK workplace, for study in further and higher education and for living in the community. Generally they are aged 18 and over, but the needs of some learners, recently arriving in the UK, in the age range 16–19, are also included. Excluded are those learners who come to the UK for a short stay specifically to study in language schools, and international students in higher education who need pre-sessional courses before starting their studies. The review mainly concentrates on research that has taken place in the last fifteen years and it has attempted to include all of the research that has been carried out within the UK. As most of this has been fairly small scale or not directly concerned with pedagogy, research that has been carried out in the USA, Australia, Canada and Europe is also included and its appropriacy for the UK context is discussed here.
The report starts with a discussion of research that investigates the language learning process and individual variations; this is discussed within the context of a broadening of focus in the past twenty years as research has shifted from concentrating on cognitive processes to including social aspects of learning. It then moves on to review research that has concentrated on exploring the relationships between teaching and language learning. In both these sections, the research has prioritised the acquisition of the oral language (Oracy), so the following section is a discussion of recent research that has concentrated on the teaching and learning of the written language and the relations between literacies in first and subsequent languages, most of which has been carried out in America, Australia and Canada. We then look at investigations into broader issues that impact on pedagogic practice and support for the continuing needs of learners in mainstream education, the workplace and the community. The final section evaluates some of the different methodological approaches to research into learning in the classroom.