The starting point of all action research is a ‘local issue’; local in terms of your class, your course, or your school, that is presenting you, as a teacher, with a “challenge, problem, area of potential improvement, or a puzzle”. Very importantly, our piece of action research allowed us to examine an area of our teaching practice systematically, and contributed to the broadening of our own professional development. Additionally, it allowed us to spend valuable time with the other participants, who came from a variety EFL institutions, and to receive expert, inspiring tuition from the course tutors.
So what did we do? Over a period of 9 months, supported by training sessions in London, we focused on broadening our understanding of the strategies that students employed when doing an IELTS reading test. Our experience of IELTS reading was that our students often found it difficult, challenging and, at times, frustrating and that for us as teachers, we were sometimes unsure about the best way to help our students get the IELTS reading level they needed in order to progress to their chosen higher education institute. We, therefore, used a Think Aloud Protocol to help us analyse what strategies our students employed to answer the questions in an IELTS reading test. We then planned to pass on the strategies that led to reading test success to other students and to our colleagues in the school.