Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Novice EFL Teacher Development

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Novice EFL Teacher Development

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper is the summary and discussion of the findings from a questionnaire and interviews designed to find out what qualities a novice EFL teacher should have, both to offer recommendations to EFL teacher training programs and to provide guidelines for the self-development of novice EFL teachers. Our research is focused on what educational concepts, knowledge structure and ability structure a novice EFL teacher should have. For the implications, we believe our classification and descriptions about educational concepts, educational knowledge and educational abilities might be practical worldwide in pre-service and novice EFL teacher programmes. And we suggest using Action Research for novice EFL teachers, in which reflection is very important.

Introduction

English instruction in China is important because of China's "open-door policy" and the rapid internationalization of the world. The need for more and effective English language teachers is greater than ever before. Accompanied with the rapid increase in the number of students going to senior high schools, China is seeing a growing need of "high-quality" teachers. EFL teachers (teachers of English as a foreign language), especially novice EFL teachers, constitute a key part of this gap for teachers in senior high schools. But what is a good (novice) EFL teacher? In answer to this question, one needs to find out what a novice EFL teacher, the school authority, as well as the society as a whole cares about. Evidence for this claim is provided by a number of recent studies on novice-expert paradigms (Feiman-Nemser & Buchmann 1985, 1986; Feiman-Nemser & Parker 1990; McDiarmid et al 1989), action research (Ge 2001; McDonough & McDonough 1997; Nunan 1990; Richards 1998; Richards & Lockhart 1996; Richards & Nunan 1990; Tarone & Yule 1989; Wallace 1998; Widdowson 1990; Williams & Burden 1997) and teacher development (Bartlett 1990; Lange 1990; Johnson 1990; McDonough & McDonough 1997; Richards & Nunan 1990).

So, we conducted a novice EFL teacher development study in five high schools in China's Tongxiang City. We defined a "novice teacher" as a person with zero to three years of teaching experience. It was our belief that these first three years are crucial to the development of a good teacher. We wanted to find out what qualities a novice EFL teacher should have, both to offer recommendations to EFL teacher training programs and to provide guidelines for the self-development of novice EFL teachers. We found that novice EFL teachers care about up-to-date educational concepts and a specific framework of both knowledge and ability.

Research methods

We administered a questionnaire in Chinese, made up of eleven open-ended questions focused on educational concepts, educational knowledge and educational abilities. Our respondents were three headmasters from three different high schools and twelve novice EFL teachers with eight to thirty-two months of EFL teaching experience from six different senior high schools in Tongxiang City. We also interviewed one headmaster, three novice EFL teachers and ten students, all of whom were from Zhejiang Tongxiang Senior High School. Different open-ended questions from those on the questionnaire were asked during the interviews. To reduce the anxiety of the interviewees, we just took notes during the interviews instead of tape-recording their responses.

Results

All 15 questionnaires were returned. Below is an analysis on the collected information.

1. What sort of concept regarding students' talents do you think a novice EFL teacher should have, e.g., to educate students to be English language experts or citizens with some quality of the English language, etc.?

   Three headmasters and ten novice EFL teachers replied that all the
   students can learn EFL well, and that it is their aim to educate
   them to be citizens with some quality of English. … 
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