The team investigated the role of class discussion in building language skills. They believe that meaningful discussion of real issues is an under-exploited resource in ESOL. Discussion is often treated in an instrumental way, as a tool to activate schemata or for language practice. The team has observed, however, that when group discussion is used as a primary tool for language development, students produce language beyond their level, learn new language from each other, experiment with new language and develop new communication strategies.
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This project built an initial research evidence base by drawing directly on learners’ and teachers’ experiences of issues of sexual diversity within ESOL. This concept of ‘bringing the outside in’ (Roberts and Baynham 2006), understanding how learners’ lives affect and impact on learning and life opportunities, is a key strategy in understanding the heterogeneity of ESOL learners and supporting them in an unequal world.