Academic journal article Utrecht Studies in Language and Communication

Beliefs in Learning to Teach: EFL Student Teachers' Beliefs about Corrective Feedback

Academic journal article Utrecht Studies in Language and Communication

Beliefs in Learning to Teach: EFL Student Teachers' Beliefs about Corrective Feedback

Article excerpt

1 Literature review

One of the important areas of study in second language teacher education (SLTE) research is the exploration of teachers' cognitions1 or mental lives (Borg, 2003) which has generated a great deal of interest since the 1970s. Throughout recent decades the cognitive dimension of teaching has been emphasized. The emphasis is mainly given to teachers' thinking and cognitions underlying their classroom instructional practices (Borg, 2006; Zheng, 2009). In fact, teacher education research has made significant contributions to the study of teachers' beliefs by examining the complex interactive relationship between teacher beliefs and classroom instructional practices so as to improve language teacher education (Borg, 2003; Gabillon, 2005; Phipps and Borg, 2007; Richards, 2008; Zheng, 2009; Wright, 2010; Busch, 2010; Phipps, 2010; Kuzborska, 2011; Borg, 2011; Inozu, 2011; Kelly, 2011). In this respect, an increasing amount of research has examined how teachers' beliefs are somehow reflected in classroom practices and how these cognitions influence and/or guide both pedagogical decisions and actions in classrooms (see, for example, Borg, 2003, 2006). Rather, what teachers do in classrooms is in some way influenced by what they actually think about L2 learning and teaching (Borg, 2009). Teachers' cognitions seem to have an influential effect on the way they teach, or rather, teachers' beliefs guide their classroom practices, as McDonough (1995: 9) suggested "what we believe we are doing, what we pay attention to, what we think is important, how we choose to behave, how we prefer to solve problems, form the basis for our personal decisions as to how to proceed". However, beliefs are not always necessarily reflected in classroom practices (Phipps and Borg, 2007; Borg, 2009), that is, teachers' instructional practices may not sometimes be consistent with their own beliefs. In short, beliefs are viewed as a key aspect in SLTE and have recently become an important research area. Undoubtedly, this research has generated significant pedagogical implications for both pre-service and in-service teacher education. What is generally accepted so far in the research literature about the relationship between teacher cognitions and classroom instructional practices is summarized as follows (Borg, 2009: 3):

- "teachers' cognitions can be powerfully influenced by their own experiences as learners;

- these cognitions influence what and how teachers learn during teacher education;

- they act as a filter through which teachers interpret new information and experience;

- they may outweigh the effects of teacher education in influencing what teachers do in the classroom;

- they can be deep-rooted and resistant to change;

- they can exert a persistent long-term influence on teachers' instructional practices;

- they are, at the same time, not always reflected in what teachers do in the classroom;

- they interact bi-directionally with experience (i.e. beliefs influence practices but practices can also lead to changes in beliefs)".

Research on learning to teach which involves a complex developmental process has mainly focused on teachers' beliefs and perceptions (Johnson, 1994; Raths and McAninch, 2003), previous learning experiences within formal language classrooms (Vélez-Rendón, 2006) and challenges of initial instructional practices during the practicum (Hudson et al, 2008), among other issues.

Where do teachers' beliefs come from? The overall conclusion that can be drawn from the current SLTE research literature is that teachers' beliefs generally derive from their own learning experiences as language learners within formal classrooms (Pajares, 1992; Vélez-Rendón, 2006; Ellis, 2006) - through "apprenticeship of observation" (Borg, 2004)-, early teaching experiences and teacher training courses (Popko, 2005) which significantly influence the way they view and approach teaching (Woods, 1996), even though other sources or factors that also contribute to the formation of teachers' cognitions are as follows: teaching experiences of what works best in the classes (Mattheoudakis, 2007), principles derived from an approach or method (Richards and Lockhart, 1994) and knowledge sharing with colleagues (Sengupta and Xiao, 2002). …

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