Academic journal article Education

Prospective Foreign Language Teachers' Preference of Teaching Methods for the Language Acquisition Course in Turkish Higher Education

Academic journal article Education

Prospective Foreign Language Teachers' Preference of Teaching Methods for the Language Acquisition Course in Turkish Higher Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

Researchers argue that competence in a language or being a native speaker of it is not sufficient for teaching it, and foreign language teachers should have an awareness of language as a system (Wright and Bolitho, 1993; Brown 2007; Andrews, 1999, 2007; Thornbury, 1997; Luk and Wong, 2010; Giessler, 2012; Achugar, Schleppegrel, and Oteiza, 2007; Glasgow, 2008). According to Brown (2007), in order to teach a language effectively, foreign language teachers need to know the relationship between language and cognition, writing systems, nonverbal communication, sociolinguistics, and first language acquisition. How foreign language teachers understand the components of language will influence their teaching practices. Besides, "a linguistically-aware teacher will be in a strong and secure position to accomplish various tasks--preparing lessons; evaluating, adapting, and writing materials; understanding, interpreting, and ultimately designing a syllabus or curriculum; testing and assessing learners' performance; and contributing to English language work across the curriculum" (Wright and Bolitho, 1993, p. 292). If teachers are aware of the underlying systems of a language, they will teach it efficiently (Thornbury, 1997). Likewise, a foreign language teacher needs to reflect upon her knowledge of the underlying systems of the language, in order to maximize useful input for learning (Andrews, 1999).

Considering the importance of creating an awareness of the system of language for language teachers, it is common to see yearlong university courses that explore language as a system in foreign language departments of universities where prospective foreign language teachers are trained. Brown (2007, p. 06-07) lists possible fields and subfields covered in these courses as follows:

1. Explicit and formal accounts of the system of language on several possible levels (e.g., phonological, syntactic, lexical, and semantic analysis)

2. The symbolic nature of language; the relationship between language and reality; the philosophy of language; the history of language

3. Phonetics; phonology; writing systems; the role of gesture, distance, eye contact, and other "paralinguistic" features of language

4. Semantics; language and cognition; psycholinguistics

5. Communication systems; speaker-hearer interaction; sequence processing

6. Dialectology; sociolinguistics; language and culture; pragmatics; bilingualism and second language acquisition

7. Human language and nonhuman communication; neurolinguistics; innate factors; genetic transmission; nature vs. nurture

8. Language universals; first language acquisition

When these fields and subfields of linguistic research are considered, it is evident that it includes so many theoretical, sophisticated, and abstract concepts and topics that need to be taught by teacher educators to prospective foreign language teachers. In light of immense information to be conveyed in higher education courses covering these subjects, the teaching methods that will be used by the teacher in the classroom constitute a crucial theme.

Demirel (2006) presented 'the lecture method', 'the discussion method', 'the case method', 'the demonstration-performance method', 'the problem solving method', and 'the independent study method' as the common teaching methods used in education faculties. The lecture method is a traditional teaching method that has been used throughout the years as a means of transmitting information from a teacher to a group of students (Werner& DeSimone, 2009). It is also a one-way process of education and students are passive listeners while teachers are active agents of instruction (Henderson & Nash, 2007). The discussion method gives students the chance to be active participants and there is no expectation of information transfer only from teacher to the learner. While having classroom discussions students can explain their point of views and ideas rather than memorizing facts and details. …

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