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Practical research in ELT: The legacy of Harold E. Palmer and IRET

Keynote lecture for the Institute for Research in Language Teaching (語学教育研究所) 2021 Annual Convention, Tokyo, Japan (online), 14 November 2021

Richard Smith, University of Warwick, UK

Short link to this page: https://bit.ly/palmerlegacy

Powerpoint slides (as pdf)


References and links


1. Development and current state of research into (English) language teaching

Bloomfield, L. (1942). Outline Guide for the Practical Study of Foreign Languages. Baltimore, Md: Linguistic Society of America.

Fries, C.C. (1945). Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Henrichsen, L.E. (1989). Diffusion of Innovations in English Language Teaching: The ELEC Effort in Japan, 1956-1968. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

Holliday, A. (1994). Appropriate Methodology and Social Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pennycook, A. (1989). The concept of method, interested knowledge, and the politics of language teaching. TESOL Quarterly 23/4: 589-618.

Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford Oxford University Press.

Smith, R. (2012, 2015). The state of ELT research in the UK (Part I (2012), with John Knagg; Part II (2015), with Gosia Sky). ELT Research 26, 30.

Smith, R. with Imura, M. (2004). Lessons from the past: traditions and reforms. In Makarova, V. and T. Rodgers (eds.) English Language Teaching: The Case of Japan. Munich: Lincom Europa.

Widdowson, H.G. 2000. On the limitations of Linguistics Applied. Applied Linguistics, 21(1): 3–25.


2. The late 19th-century Reform Movement and Harold E. Palmer (1877–1949) as precursors

Anderson, D. (1969). ‘Harold E. Palmer: a biographical essay’. Appendix to Palmer, Harold E. and H. Vere Redman. 1932/1969. This Language-Learning Business. London: Oxford University Press.

Howatt, A.P.R. & Smith, R. (eds.) (2002). Modern Language Teaching: The Reform Movement, five vols. London: Routledge

Howatt, A.P.R. & Smith, R. (2014) The history of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, from a British and European perspective. Language & History 57/1: 75-95.

Howatt, A.P.R. with Widdowson, H.G. (2004) A History of English Language Teaching (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Klinghardt, H. (1888). Ein Jahr Erfahrungen mit der neuen Methode [A Year's Experiences with the New Method]. Marburg: Elwert.

Palmer, H.E. (1917). The Scientific Study and Teaching of Languages. London: Harrap.

Palmer, H.E. (2021). The Principles of Language-Study. London: Harrap.

Smith, R. (1999). The Writings of Harold E. Palmer. Tokyo: Hon-no-Tomosha

Smith, R. (2007). Harold E. Palmer's life and career. Warwick ELT Archive Hall of Fame pages.

Sweet, H. (1899). The Practical Study of Languages: A Guide for Teachers and Learners. London: Dent.


3. Harold Palmer’s practical research approach within IRET (the Institute for Research in English Teaching, Tokyo)

Harold E. Palmer Archive. Warwick ELT Archive Hall of Fame pages.

Palmer, H.E. (1924). Memorandum on Problems of English Teaching in the Light of a New Theory. Tokyo: Institute for Research in English Teaching.

Palmer, H.E. (1926). The 'Reader System'. Bulletin of the Institute for Research in English Teachingi 21: 2–3.

Smith, R. (2011). 'Harold E. Palmer's alternative "applied linguistics"', in Histoire-Epistémologie-Langage 33/1: 53–67.

Isoo, T. and Shimizu, S. (1934). The Fukushima Plan of Teaching English in Schools of Middle Grade. [Supplement to Bulletin 106; Institute Leaflet no. 41.] Tokyo: IRET.

Imura, M. (1997). Palmer to nihon no eigokyoiku (Harold E. Palmer and Teaching English in Japan). Tokyo: Taishukan.

Ozasa, T. (1995). Harold E. Palmer no eigokyojuho ni kansuru kenkyu: Nihon ni okeru tenkai o chushin to shite (A Study of Harold E. Palmer’s English Teaching Methodology, with Special Emphasis on its Development in Japan). Tokyo: Dai-ichi Gakushusha.

Smith, R. (1998). ‘The Palmer-Hornby contribution to English teaching in Japan’. International Journal of Lexicography 11/4: 269–91.


4. Palmer’s legacy – claimed and un(der)claimed

AILA Research Network on History of Language Learning and Teaching (2015 onwards): hollt.net

Hornby, A.S., Gatenby, E.V. and Wakefield, H. (1942). Shin ei-ei dai-jiten (Idiomatic and Syntactic English Dictionary). Tokyo: Kaitakusha (reprinted in 1948 as A Learner’s Dictionary of Current English. London: Oxford University Press).

Hornby, A.S. (1950). The Situational Approach in language teaching. English Language Teaching 4/4: 98–103.

McLelland, N. & Smith, R. (eds.) (2018). The History of Language Learning and Teaching, 3 vols (Vol. I: 16th-18th Century Europe Vol. II: 19th-20th Century Europe; Vol. III: Across Cultures). Oxford: Legenda.

Prabhu, N.S. (1987). Second Language Pedagogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Smith, R. (2013). Harold E. Palmer, IRLT and "historical sense" in ELT. IRLT Journal 12.

Smith, R. (2016a). 'Building "Applied Linguistic Historiography": rationale, scope and methods'. Applied Linguistics 37/1: 71-87.

Smith, R. (2016b). 'Why history of ELT? An autobiographical view'. richardsmithelt.wordpress.com (blog post)

Smith, R. (2020). Mentoring Teachers to Research Their Classrooms: A Practical Handbook. New Delhi: British Council.

Smith, R. (2021). 'A brief history of ELT Journal'. ELT Journal 75/1: 4–13.

Smith, R. & Bowers, R. (2012). A.S. Hornby and 50 years of the Hornby Trust. ELT Journal 66/1: 1–9.

Smith, R. & Rebolledo, P. (2018). A Handbook for Exploratory Action Research. London: British Council.

Teacher-research for Difficult Circumstances initiative (2016–18): warwick.ac.uk/trdc

Warwick ELT Archive (2002 onwards): warwick.ac.uk/elt_archive