Here I am in Chile to do my fieldwork. It is been 16 months since I started my PhD, and data collection is a crucial stage for my study. I have got 12 weeks to get the necessary data that can illuminate the activity of learning how to teach English as a foreign language in Chile.

My study is a qualitative research project which will explore EFL teacher education in Chile. As a qualitative research project, it will study EFL teacher education in its natural setting, specifically in a university program in Chile. I will make sense of how pre-service teachers engage in learning how to teach EFL examining their actions, motives, mediating tools and the contradictions within the activity. My research project aims at exploring EFL teacher education in Chile from the participants’ collective understanding of the activity of learning how to teach EFL.

I am using Activity theory to understand human activity in a collective context. Activity theory will contribute to understand individual activity in relation to its context and how the individual, his/her activities, and the context affect one another.

Activity theory will allow me to understand how pre-service teachers learn how to teach in relation to the teacher education  program they belong to, through the activities they engage to and how context can affect one another.

Activity theory will allow me to find systemic implications and understand systemic contradictions and tensions.

From an activity theory perspective, I need to unpack the activity. Therefore, I need to answer the following questions:

  1. Who is engaged in the activity of learning how to teach English?
  2. What is the object and outcome of the activity? “From a dialectical perspective, any learning activity is realized within multiple interconnected societal activities. In this vein, the object of activity (i.e. the purpose of learning) turns to become a “collectively meaningful object… [which is] jointly constructed” (Engestrm, 2001, pp. 136), rather than a primarily mental state of the individual. (Barak 2011)
  3. What tools do pre-service teachers use to learn how to teach English?
  4. What rules affect the way pre-service teachers get engaged in the activity?
  5. How does the division of labour influence the way pre-service teachers engage in the activity?
  6. How does the tools’ use affect the way the community get engaged in the activity?
  7. What rules affect the way the community get engage in the activity?
  8. How does division of labour affect the way the community get engaged into the activity?

Data that will give me insights to answer these should address both observable behaviour and cognitive mental activities. Therefore, I will use a varied set of data collection methods: interviews, focus group discussions, document analysis and observations. These different methods will capture the collective activity system, in relationship with other activity systems and its multivoicedness with different viewpoints, interests and histories.


About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.


  1. Berta Guzman

    Hello Malba:

    Happy return to your homeland and returning in summer time makes it undoubtedly, more attractive.

    If I can assist you in your survey through your varied collection methods count on me. 🙂 I would like to maintain contact with you.

    There is a book which describes many of the methods you mentioned above in detail. It is from Susan M.Gass and Larry Selinker and the book is called “Second Language Acquisition.”

    I was interested in pursuing a “Teacher’s training” course in Chile with you or your team. It has been more than 2 years now since my last PD (Professional Development.)

    Are you offering something?
    Berta Guzman

  2. Berta Guzman

    Dear Malba:

    I encourage you or your followers to please follow the below link.

    This lecture will surely provide you with enlightment in your field. 🙂

  3. Malba Barahona

    Hi Berta,

    Sorry I didn´t reply before. Unfortunately, we are not offering anything right now. I’ll let you know if there is something.
    Thanks again for your constant support!


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