Perception of Initial Language Teacher Education in Greece and Curriculum Evaluation among EFL Student Teachers

By Karatsiori, Marianthi | European Journal of Language Policy, October 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Perception of Initial Language Teacher Education in Greece and Curriculum Evaluation among EFL Student Teachers


Karatsiori, Marianthi, European Journal of Language Policy


1. Introduction

The focus of this paper is on the pre-service education and training (PRESETT) of English language teachers in Greece. Though PRESETT tends to be a neglected area within the wider field of ELT, given that in terms of research conducted far more is written about in-service education and training (INSET), PRESETT is clearly of importance. PRESETT is the training and education one receives before starting to work as a teacher, while INSET is the training and education one receives during one's career as a teacher. Pre-service teacher education programmes play a significant role in the preparation of a highly qualified teaching workforce, which is necessary to support increasingly knowledge-intensive societies. National governments and school education systems dedicate considerable financial and human resources to PRESETT. PRESETT faces many challenges. First, expectations for teachers are very high in today's educational reform and policy agendas. Teachers must be prepared to effectively respond to the needs of a growing diverse population of students with a variety of multilinguistic, multicultural and multi-ability needs. They are also expected to manage the far-reaching changes that are taking place in and out of schools. The balance between what is required of teachers and what PRESETT offers to them has a significant impact on their teaching. In addition, PRESETT faces the danger that initial training can be seen as providing an approved, finished model of teaching. Furthermore, a newly qualified teacher moving into the teaching profession following a university course may well have been exposed to more theory than practice. Also, the pedagogy of the lectures he/she attended may not have modelled flexible, student-centred approaches.

In the spirit of the challenges that PRESETT faces today, this study aims to present student teachers' perception of the academic curriculum of initial language teacher education in the school of English language and literature of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. Having as a point of reference the European Profile for Language Teacher Education: A Frame of Reference - EPLTE (Kelly et al. 2004), student teachers evaluated the teacher education programme they were about to complete regarding the quality and content of their four-year studies. The study focused on student teachers' views based on the 40 key elements proposed by the EPLTE of the European Commission, at a time where there is a global concern about the perception of teacher education, in Europe and worldwide. This concern coincides with a growing demand for reform in teacher education in Greece which is calling for universities to reform their teacher education programmes. For this reason, it was interesting to examine how student teachers perceive the initial teacher education programme and its contribution to their prospective professional life. The findings are based on structured questionnaires and an open question which asked participants to recommend ways of improving the academic curriculum they attended. The findings shed light on the relationship between the teacher education bachelor degree programme and the teachers' expectations and professional aspirations. In addition, the study revealed the world of prospective English language teachers, including their sentiment of self-efficacy in teaching, content and pedagogical knowledge they estimate to have acquired during their studies, and their motivation to engage in teaching as a profession. Finally, it attempted to ascertain if student teachers' answers correspond to the answers given by two educators of the school of English language and literature.

2. Theoretical background

Since 2000 the European Union has increased attempts to improve language teaching and learning. In 2001, the European Year of Languages showed how language learning could be promoted at a European and national level and the Council of Europe published the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CEFR (Council of Europe 2001). …

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