Introduction A worldwide profession like that of TEFL is much too richly diverse to be neatly captured in an introductory chapter of this kind. Rather, the aim here is to offer a small variety of teaching situations - 'instances' - which, if not representative, at least give a flavour of teachers' working environments and professional concerns. These 'instances' are not case studies carefully chosen to illustrate models and possibilities for teacher research, and much of the rest of this book is anyway given over to this goal: indeed, in a number of these instances, 'research' is not obviously centre-stage at all. Our starting point, then, and a theme that underpins our arguments throughout, is a belief that research in language teaching must be predicated on an understanding of a wide range of contextual variables that will interact with and even determine both research perspectives and research methodology: they may of course also help to explain an absence of any research interest by participants whatsoever.