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School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Mike Byram

Byram, M. (2013). Language teaching and its contexts. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research 1(1): 1-26.

Author(s) from Durham


The title of this new journal provides opportunity to review the many contexts which need to
be taken into account in reflecting upon foreign language teaching. These contexts include the
educational, the fact that much language teaching takes place within general educational and
often compulsory educational settings and institutions. Learners thus encounter foreign
languages alongside other languages – their language of the home, the official language of the
country, languages of minorities and others – and this needs to be part of the thinking about
learning and teaching. Furthermore, since language is the tool for learning throughout life and
especially in educational institutions, where the languages of other subjects are languages in
themselves which learners have to learn if they are to be successful in education, teachers of
all subjects need to be aware of language as the tool of learning. Yet another issue is the
relationship of language teaching with citizenship education and the development of
‘intercultural citizenship’. The title of the journal also refers to ‘research’ and here too there is
potential for reflection on the modes and paradigms of research which are relevant to
investigating language teaching and learning. Distinctions of quantitative and qualitative
research are misleading and need to be reviewed. The higher order distinctions are between
research which seeks explanation, that which seeks understanding and that which involves