Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Learning to Teach: A Descriptive Study of Student Language Teachers in Taiwan

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Learning to Teach: A Descriptive Study of Student Language Teachers in Taiwan

Article excerpt

Abstract

Studies have shown that many training programs are relatively ineffective in preparing prospective teachers for classroom teaching. Such findings suggest that teacher training programs might require improvement and that prospective teachers should be more thoroughly assessed during the training period. This study examined the learning process of a group of EFL teachers during their practicum at elementary schools. Our findings indicate that prior language learning experience and peer student teachers play a critical role in this period. Overall, the results suggested that student teachers would benefit from greater integration between field experiences, practicum, and lecture courses, which would enable the students to link teaching theory and practice more effectively.

Keywords: EFL, teacher training, teaching practicum, student teacher, teaching technique, teacher belief

1. Introduction

Numerous studies have been conducted with student teachers to explore various issues. Research topics have included program design, changes in teacher perspectives and attitudes during the training period, and the implementation of innovative techniques or technology. Results from these studies provide fresh ideas and hope for improved teacher education. However, several studies have indicated that training programs may be relatively ineffective in preparing prospective teachers for classroom teaching (Hwang, 1996; Leu, 1997). Such findings suggest that current teacher training programs might be deficient in some areas, and that better assessment of prospective teachers is needed during the training period. The relationship between course work and personal changes during the training period deserve greater attention.

The process of learning to teach requires rigorous effort from both the student teachers and the trainers. This process constitutes a conceptual transformation in which student teachers reconstruct idealized or inappropriate ideas of learning and teaching. Various concerns and stages have been identified as indicators of conceptual transformation. According to Fuller (1969), teachers develop typical concerns during the process of professional development, such as concerns with self, teaching tasks, and effect. Novice teachers are particularly self-conscious and concerned with evaluations by administrators, and with gaining acceptance from their students and colleagues. As their length of teaching experience increases, their attention shifts to the effectiveness of their delivery of content and its effect on student learning. Occasionally, teachers become concerned with the pedagogical beliefs and values that they bring to their classrooms, based on their personal preferences and prior experience as students.

The most widely adopted model of teacher development is that of Kangan (1992), who views teachers' professional development as a reciprocal relationship between prior learning (memories) and the training process. Kangan emphasizes the changes in aspects such as metacognition and the teacher's perception of pupils. Student teachers gradually develop a better understanding of their pupils and of their own roles as teachers. They become aware of changes in their own knowledge and beliefs, and shifttheir focus from self-absorption to the learners. Moreover, student teachers develop problem-solving skills that can be generalized across contexts. The changes described in Kangan's model require not only input from the training program but also real classroom experiences. These classroom experiences provide a catalyst for the student to become aware of conflicts between his or her beliefs and the actual reality of the classroom. Interaction with the environment, including mentors and fellow teachers, plays an important role in this process of professional socialization.

This study was referenced on Kangan's (1992) model of teacher development. The study approach was descriptive and examined the experiences of student language teachers receiving training in an EFL context. …

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