ESL teachers’ experiences in engaging with published research findings: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Kevin W. H. Tai, Edsoulla CHUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the growing interest in the applicability and value of educational research for improving educational policy and practice, few studies have demonstrated how English-as-a-second-language (ESL) teachers apply research findings in their second language (L2) teaching. This paper reports on a study in which four Hong Kong ESL teachers were given research findings about L2 vocabulary teaching and learning and how they engaged in professional development (PD) sessions with a researcher specialising in vocabulary teaching and learning to make sense of the research findings.

In addition to the dialogues between the researcher and teachers, individual semi-structured interviews with the participating teachers were audio-recorded and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Our analysis revealed how ESL teachers made sense of the research literature to inform their L2 vocabulary teaching practices by (1) bridging the gap between the school culture and practices and empirical research findings; (2) connecting the researcher's explanations of the theoretical literature to real-life pedagogical practices; and (3) explaining how research findings can be applied to future classroom teaching and learning.

Based on the findings, we argue that professional dialogues between teachers and a researcher can facilitate the creation of a dialogic space for teachers to deploy their knowledge, including but not limited to pedagogical knowledge and beliefs, prior language learning experiences, and teaching experiences, to better understand research findings, thereby challenging their existing thinking and teaching. Such a dialogic space provides an opportunity for teachers to reflect on their pedagogical practices, which can promote quality teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalInnovation in Language Learning and Teaching
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2024


  • Educational research
  • research utilisation
  • teachers' professional development
  • vocabulary teaching
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • Hong Kong


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