Research Article

The missing link in ELT materials: A data-driven conceptualisation

DOI: 10.2989/16073614.2020.1768875

Abstract

Despite their mastery over commercially popular textbooks, many EFL learners feel communicatively incompetent in real communicative interactions outside the classroom context. This data-driven study aims at exploring the roots of this educational ill by interviewing nine experienced English language teachers teaching in private language schools of Mashhad, the capital city of Khorasan province, Iran. An initial round of data collection and analysis yielded transfer value as the missing link in ELT materials, which accounts for learners’ communicative incompetence. Iterative data collection and analysis and the constant comparative technique presented a thick description of what transfer value is, related it to its underlying causes and predicted its implications for teaching, learning and materials development. Furthermore, importing the transcription of the participants’ perspectives and the emerged codes and categories into MAXQDA yielded: (1) a semantic network which shows that the final conceptualisation of teachers’ perspectives enjoys descriptive, explanatory and predictive adequacy; (2) a code relation browser that clearly shows the degree of overlap or concurrence of the codes; and (3) a set of charts that illustrate the degree to which the emerged categories are grounded in the participants’ perspectives. The findings have clear implications for materials developers and practitioners.

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