The research conducted by the PLURAL group to date has been realised in three different areas. Firstly, in the development of our understanding of language teaching as the meeting place of the three foci essential to the study of teaching and learning languages: the learner, the teacher, and that which is being learned – the language. In this area, we consider how languages should be perceived and received in schools – whether they are part of the curriculum or not; the development of content matter to be taught at school and how real learning of this material may be achieved.
The second area of study relates to teacher education, both pre- and in service. The group is interested in exploring and developing ways in which to improve teacher education in this country; to help teachers to interpret and internalize the latest thinking in language teaching; and to learn more about quality practice both in the national and international contexts.
Finally, we need to mention research, and, more specficially, research methods. Language teaching involves both content knowledge and practical skills, and both must be considered when designing research projects. The research carried out by PLURAL has consistently recognised the need to improve not only theoretical knowledge and understandings relating to education, but also the process of putting these into practice in schools.
The theoretical frameworks on which the group’s research projects are structured are situated within the following paradigms: sociocultural psychology, which perceives learning as a social process, situated within a cultural context (Wertsch, 1991); Activity Theory, which conceives language as a result of an activity directed towards a specific goal (Luria, 1980; Engeström, 1999); interaction analysis, through which learning processes are developed (Kerbrat-Orecchioni, 1992); ethnography as a tool to understand agents and their actions within different cultural contexts (Cambra, 2003); and the examination of beliefs as a point of reference for studies regarding teacher education (Woods, 2003; Kalaja, 2003).