Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Native Chinese-Speaking K-12 Language Teachers' Beliefs and Practices

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Native Chinese-Speaking K-12 Language Teachers' Beliefs and Practices

Article excerpt

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Because interest and enrollment in Chinese language programs in K-12 schools in the United States are growing rapidly, the nation is challenged with the task of developing and equipping a strong corps of highly qualified Chinese language teachers (Asia Society, 2010). Furthermore, because candidate teachers in the United States come from extremely diverse educational and professional backgrounds (Asia Society, 2010) and because the beliefs that teachers hold are strongly affected by their own backgrounds and experiences (e.g., Johnson, 1994; Numrich, 1996), teachers' beliefs influence their perceptions and judgments of classroom events, which in turn affect their classroom behavior and practices (Pajares, 1992). Therefore, it is crucial for educators and researchers to understand the belief structures of teachers as essential elements in order to have an impact on their professional preparation and teaching practices (e.g., Nespor, 1987; Pajares, 1992).

Although there is an abundance of previous research on teachers' beliefs and practices, few empirical studies were found to address the beliefs of teachers of Chinese as a second language (CSL)1 (Liau, 2009; Wang & Kirkpatrick, 2012; Zhang & Jiang, 2009). Thus, little is known about the relationships between Chinese teachers' beliefs and practices, in particular about their beliefs regarding teaching, learning, and overall development of reading, writing, and other literacy skills. Knowledge of such relationships is particularly important, as Chinese teachers' unconscious, sometimes culturally imposed, assumptions about literacy instruction may lead to frustration and misunderstanding in students with an alphabetic language background (e.g., Bell, 1995). This study investigated the relationship between Chinese language teachers' beliefs and practices as well as the extent to which Chinese teachers' beliefs about language and literacy development were consistent with their classroom practices.

Review of Literature

Learning to Teach

Shulman (2000) identified three key domains of teacher development: general pedagogical knowledge, content-specific knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge. Drawing on van Manen's work on the critical role of teacher reflection (1995), Walqui's model of teacher expertise (2001) incorporated the three types of teacher knowledge and provided a representation of the accomplished teacher as someone whose pedagogical practices were informed by deep reflection about themselves, their students, and the communities in which students live. Walqui noted that such reflection affected the teachers' choice of curriculum and their teaching practice.

Hiebert, Gallimore, and Stigler (2002) called for the creation of a consensus concerning the knowledge base that should be required; this was defined in California as the "learning to teach continuum" and has been used to determine licensing requirements. It can be described as the sum of the general principles that define what teachers should know and be able to do as they develop from novice to accomplished teachers. Thus, in addition to being knowledgeable about the content/subject matter that they are teaching, expert teachers apply this knowledge and also have deep understandings of:

* how students learn, including, e.g., how language and literacy develop at each age and grade level;

* subject matter and standards-aligned content knowledge and the ability to adapt content-based instruction to make it accessible to diverse learners;

* how to examine and evaluate students' learning and progress to inform instruction;

* a broad repertoire of instructional strategies, including, e.g., direct and indirect instruction, experience-based and skillbased approaches, lecture, and small group work;

* ways to systematically organize the learning process, e.g., how to structure curriculum so that each lesson relates to lessons in future weeks and months;

* reflection as a means of inquiring systematically into the nature of learning and the effects of teaching. …

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