'What I Didn't Want To Do', 'What I Thought I Would Do', and 'What I Ended Up Doing': Novice EFL Teachers' Narratives of Experience in Learning to Teach
AuthorMacias, Diego Fernando
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 26-Apr-2020
AbstractLearning to teach has been the subject of many studies in the field of second language teacher education. These have included looking at the impact of teacher education programs (Peacock, 2009) and student teachers’ experiences in them (Malderez, Hobson, Tracey & Kerr, 2007), exploring beginning teachers' issues and challenges in their first year of teaching (Richards & Pennington, 1998; Farrell, 2003, 2006), examining the development of foreign language teachers' identity in the context of educational reforms (Liu & Xu, 2011, 2013; Ju, 2013; Tsui, 2007), and studying pre-service teachers' learning and development through narrative inquiry within a sociocultural perspective (Johnson, 2007; Golombek & Johnson, 2004; Johnson & Golombek, 2011; Kayi-Aydar, 2015). This qualitative narrative study sought to contribute to the literature in learning to teach by examining a group of novice EFL teachers' distant and recent conceptualizations of language teaching as they navigated through different academic and professional stages. These included their experiences as EFL learners in basic education before entering a teacher education program, as teacher learners and student teachers in a four-year teacher education program, and then as novice teachers in their second or third year of professional teaching. The study was theoretically framed within the constructs of narrative as a phenomenon and sociocultural theory as related to second language teacher education. Participants were a group of six Colombian novice EFL teachers with an average of 17 months of professional teaching experience, at the time of the study, at private primary or secondary schools in a city in Colombia. Data sources included personal narratives, individual retrospective interviews, a focus group interview, concept maps, analysis of documents (e.g. practicum learning journals and current lesson plans), and classroom observations. Findings revealed that participants' conceptualizations of language teaching as EFL learners before entering a teacher education program were characterized by a traditional view of teaching (Widdowson, 1985), which represented what participants did not want to do in their prospective role as EFL teachers. Participants developed more positive conceptualizations of language teaching once they joined a teacher education program. The theoretical and practical knowledge about the act of teaching and teaching alternatives such as communicative language teaching and eclecticism came to represent what participants would like to do in their future professional teaching. Participants' conceptualizations of language teaching after their first two years of professional teaching reaffirmed a clash with reality as participants had to face new challenges and a growing tension between teaching the way they were taught in basic education and implementing what they had learned in the teacher education program. This led participants to gradually adapt to the characteristics of their new teaching context. Results in regards to how participants' recent conceptualizations of language teaching were instantiated in their classrooms revealed that many aspects of teaching (e.g. monitoring and praising students' work, traditional methods) were consistent with their claims in earlier data sources. In contrast, other aspects (e.g. classroom management and the use of students' first language) seemingly contradicted what participants had declared previously. Classroom observations also suggested a tendency for teacher agency as a way to cope with particular challenges of the classroom setting.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching