Reflective Practice: A Corpus-based Analysis of In-service ESL Teachers' Reflective Discourse

Document Type : Original Article


Teaching Centre, British Council Colombia


Reflective practice, in the shape of post-teaching self-evaluations, is a core element of many pre-service English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher training programmes such as CELTA. Most research on reflective practice has been carried out with pre-service teachers, but more evidence is needed to understand the reflective practice of in-service ESL teachers. This study employed a Corpus-Linguistics tool called LancsBox to analyse the nature of reflective discourse found in 44 post-teaching self-evaluations, written by in-service L1-English ESL teachers, in a language school in Colombia. Corpus Linguistics techniques included frequency lists, keywords, ngrams, and concordances. Results suggest that in-service teachers tend to reflect upon the area of Subject Knowledge the most. Other frequent areas of reflection include Lesson Planning and Classroom Management. Areas such as Understanding Learners and Use of Learning Technologies seem far less important. Generally, the most salient reflective discourse type they produce is Factual, followed by Prudential and Evaluative discourse. The pedagogical implications of this study are threefold. First, both pre-service and in-service ESL teachers need to be taught how to reflect and this needs to be supported by teacher trainers. Second, to guide overall reflective practices, tools employed by pre- and in-service ESL teachers to reflect on their lessons could be adapted, so they mirror specific areas of reflection such as the teaching skills and reflective discourse types being evaluated. Third, the current study suggests a self-reflection tool pre- and in-service ESL teachers can use to assess and reflect on their own teaching practices.