On Teaching Foreign Languages: Linking Theory to Practice

By Marcela T. Ruiz-Funes | Go to book overview
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1.
East Carolina University has implemented the Senior Year Experience since 1996. The purpose of this year-long internship is to provide prospective teachers with a more realistic view of teaching in American schools. Students under this requirement take a number of block courses and work with their assigned clinical teacher one full day once a week during the first semester of the senior year. The block courses are FL methods, advanced psychology, advanced technology, and a special education course. The work in the school includes primarily observation of teaching practices and extensive dialogue and reflection with the clinical teacher. During the second semester of the senior year, students complete their internship which requires them to teach throughout the entire semester including three consecutive weeks of full-time teaching. In addition, students complete a teaching portfolio that follows the same guidelines that the performance-based assessment instrument requires of teachers during their first three years in the profession. The advantages of this experience are primarily the opportunity it provides students to gain first-hand insight into the teaching profession and a longer exposure to the school system. However, a number of problems have arisen since its implementation, namely, problems with student retention in the program. Students get the impression that the demands are overwhelming and some prefer to switch to the non-teaching degree and seek licensure via an alternative route such as lateral entry. Further evaluation of the senior year experience is needed in order to assess its value short and long term.
2.
The term “clinical teacher” is used here in lieu of the more traditional “cooperating teacher.” The former is preferred to be consistent

-163-

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