Document Type



Centre for Applied Language & Literacy Research, Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Mount Lawley, Western Australia


School of Education / Centre for Applied Language and Literacy Research


Breen, M., Hird, B., Milton, M., Oliver, R., & Thwaite, A. Principles and practices of ESL teachers: a study of adults and children. Mount Lawley, Australia: Applied Language & Literacy Research, Edith Cowan University.


The study reported here aimed to identify the particular practices and uncover the particular principles of a group of ESL teachers. Some of the teachers were working with adult learners and some were working with young children. The research aimed to answer three main questions:

1. What are the classroom practices of this group of language teachers?

2. What principles do they identify as underlying their work in the classroom?

3. What is the relationship between the principles they held and the practices they adopted?

The study also aimed to find out if there were similarities or differences between teachers of adults and teachers of children in both the practices they adopted and the principles which motivated their work. In other words, we wanted to know whether teachers' thinking and behaviour in the classroom were influenced by the age of the learners whom they taught. The study further aimed to consider if variation among the teachers in their practices and principles was due to the teachers' professional experiences, their own language backgrounds, and the different institutional contexts in which they were teaching.