The Professional Needs of English Language Teachers at Amman 1st and 2nd Directorates of Education

Article excerpt

This study surveyed the professional needs of a randomly chosen 125 English language teachers from Amman (1st and 2nd) directorates of education. By using a close questionnaire, the study revealed different professional needs demanded by EFL teachers which embodied the need for effective organization of the EFL curriculum and welcoming teachers' remarks on it, securing instructional media and facilities for effective English language instruction, raising students' motivation and attitudes towards English language, the need for training courses to mix with native English speaking communities, the need to use appropriate EFL teaching methods, the need to understand the EFL teacher's new roles and the necessity of effective in-service training of English language teachers. The study also highlighted the need to get teachers of English to engage in collaborative learning and be open to critical evaluation of their teaching, to raise their motivation to teach and to provide them with teaching labs to promote natural language learning, reducing class size and the use of co-operative learning and autonomous learning, basing EFL curriculum on the actual needs of students as well as considering their societal and cultural frames. Further, parents should be contacted and their attitudes and those of their children towards learning English should be investigated. Finally, teachers of English should use a wide variety of teaching methods that address the various needs of school students and match their multiple learning styles abandoning, at the same time, traditional methods of teaching.

Key words: professional needs of foreign language teachers, foreign/second language instruction

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Theoretical background

The professional needs of English language teachers represent an area worthy of investigation as such needs are subject to constant changes and modifications the Jordanian EFL curriculum undergoes. Due to the developments that occur in language teacher preparation nation-wide and around the globe, such professional needs may undergo various changes. More than any time before, language teacher education has started to consider the professional development of the English language teachers for reasons that have to do with the need to equip students with a high communicative competency in English language proficiency.

According to Richards and Farrell (2009), recently language teacher preparation has shifted from focus on training to a focus on teacher development. English language teachers have become more interested in examining the teaching contexts to attain a deeper perception of their work more than just applying theories or commit themselves to certain teaching methods. The final goal is that by doing so the organization where teachers work attains growth, collaboration and learning.

Within the same direction, Peyton (1997) asserted that, first, teacher education must shift from a focus on pre-service training to a focus on lifelong professional development. Second, in stead of separating language teacher preparation into different departments embodying English as a second language, foreign language, bilingual, and immersion, teachers need to be prepared to teach in more than one second language context. Third, rather starting with academic coursework and going to apply educational theory then moving to classroom practice, theory and practice have to be integrated at an earlier stage. Reflecting on the state of foreign language teaching profession, the EFL teaching profession is faced with obstacles represented in increasing enrollments and a shortage of qualified teachers. A shift to emphasis on autonomous learning together with the development of standards for foreign language instruction put a set of new requirements for foreign language teachers. Curtain and Pesola (1994) suggested that foreign language teachers today demand a combination of competencies and background which may be unprecedented in the preparation of language teachers. …