The Relationship between Iranian ELT Instructors' Beliefs about Language Teaching and Their Practices in Real Classrooms

By Mellati, Morteza; Fatemi, Mohammad Ali et al. | English Language Teaching, April 2013 | Go to article overview

The Relationship between Iranian ELT Instructors' Beliefs about Language Teaching and Their Practices in Real Classrooms


Mellati, Morteza, Fatemi, Mohammad Ali, Motallebzadeh, Khalil, English Language Teaching


Abstract

Teachers play different roles in multidimensional process of language teaching and their beliefs about language teaching might influence their practices. Donaghue (2003) stated that beliefs guide teachers in their practice. However, Argyris and Schon (1978) claimed that there is almost a discrepancy between teachers' beliefs about language teaching and their practices in the classrooms. Therefore, the present study investigated the relationship between Iranian ELT instructors' beliefs about language teaching and their real practices in classrooms. To achieve this goal, the researchers accidentally selected 369 Iranian ELT instructors and 512 Iranian students. To collect the required data, the researchers employed Teacher's Beliefs Questionnaire (TBQ) to elicit instructors' beliefs about language teaching and Students' Satisfaction Questionnaire (SSQ) to elicit to what extent Iranian instructors applied their beliefs in their practices. Besides, to verily the results of questionnaires, the researchers interviewed nine instructors. The results revealed a positive significant relationship (p<0.05) between instructors' beliefs about language teaching and their real practices in classrooms. The findings proposed some applicable implications that can be applied by policy makers and curriculum designers to provide facilities to support reflective teaching and to improve teacher education programs.

Keywords: teachers' beliefs, teacher education programs, contextual factors, teaching method, teaching design

1. Introduction

One of the fundamental steps in every language teaching and learning context is to consider the qualities of successful language teachers and the functions they perform in the process of language teaching and learning (Brown, 2001; Mohamed, 2006; and Awenowicz, 2009). Williams and Burden (1997) identified four key factors which influence this process that are teachers, learners, tasks, and contexts. They asserted that none of these factors exists in isolation and all of them influence learning process simultaneously. However, to understand teacher's roles in language teaching, the researchers have to focus on teacher role in isolation. Tsui (2003) classified teachers' knowledge or beliefs into four categories: teachers' knowledge as reflective practice, teachers' knowledge as personal practical knowledge, teachers' knowledge as suited knowledge, and teachers' knowledge as content knowledge.

1.1 Statment of the Problem

Schon (1983), in his work, Reflective Practitioner, criticized the view of professional knowledge expounded in the Technical Rationality Model, which perceived teachers' knowledge having four essential properties: specialized, firmly bounded, scientific, and standardized. Teachers often find themselves in situations that are highly complex and fraught with uncertainty, instability, uniqueness, and value conflict. He argued that they could not simply apply research-based theory to problem solving because problems do not present themselves as given. They have to identify the problem by making sense of situations that are ill defined, messy, and full of uncertainty. Even when the problem has been identified, they may find that the problem is unique; therefore, they could not solve it by applying previous theories or techniques. Dweck (1999) suggested that different teachers create different meaning systems. Teachers create meaning systems in order to explain their own learning, their interactions with others, their understanding of the reasons for success and failure, and most importantly their understanding about themselves. Beliefs about the self have a tremendous effect on the psychological, affective, and cognitive realities of teachers in similar situations (as cited in Hewitt, 2008). Donaghue (2003) stated, "Teachers' beliefs influence the acceptance and uptake of new approaches, techniques, and activities, and therefore play an important part in teacher development" (p. …

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