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Updating Perspectives on English Language Teaching and Teacher Education

by Zübeyde Sinem Genç (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 122 Pages

Summary

English language teaching has undergone a lot of changes with fads and trends coming and going for centuries. With the widespread use of English in diverse contexts, the innovations and changes around the world, English language scholars and practitioners faced new challenges. In the 21st century, there is a great need to examine «old» and to explore contemporary issues thoroughly from different angles.
This volume aims at updating perspectives on English language teaching and teacher education, with a special focus on the Turkish EFL context, exploring the status of the English language, learner-centeredness, professional development, conceptualizing teaching, and professionalism. The book will be of value to scholars, prospective and practicing teachers in the TESOL field.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright
  • Contents
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Introduction
  • Section I. On English Language Teaching
  • Chapter 1. Tracing changes in the role of English in Turkey’s educational sphere
  • Chapter 2. Learner-Centered Instruction: Still with Us after All These Years?
  • Section II. On English Language Teacher Education
  • Chapter 3. EFL teachers’ perceived professional development needs: A study of nonnative EFL teachers in Turkey
  • Chapter 4. Problem-based learning in teacher education programs: A study of learning outcomes
  • Chapter 5. Professionalism and English language teaching: From theoretical to practical perspectives
  • Chapter 6. Conceptions of teaching and novice EFL teachers

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Zübeyde Sinem Genç

Introduction

Foreign language teaching is a centuries-old field that has attracted scholars and practitioners working in various fields from linguistics, psychology, sociology, education, technology, anthropology, neurology, and etc. Reciprocally, the field of foreign language teaching has been affected by all these disciplines, and naturally has undergone a lot of major changes with fads and trends coming and going. Inevitably, teaching English language as a foreign language has got its share, which has prime importance when we think about the status of English language in the world today. In the 21st century, there is a great need to rigorously examine “old” issues through newer perspectives and to put forth contemporary ones for thorough and proper consideration. With the widespread use of English in diverse contexts, the accumulation of knowledge and the innovations in all fields of study as well as the changes in every step of life around the world, things got more complicated and, at times, it has become harder for English language scholars and practitioners to “find their ways”. This book is intended to bring updating perspectives on a number of important issues in English language teaching and teacher education, with a special focus on Turkish EFL context. The book is designed primarily as a reference book for researchers and teachers offering perspectives of the experts on some basic issues such as the changes in the place and role of English language, learner-centeredness, needs and alternatives in continuous professional development, the place of research in conceptualizing teaching for EFL teachers and professionalism in English language teaching. Although most chapters put a special emphasis on Turkish EFL context, scholars and practicing teachers in similar contexts around the world will definitely find all the information presented throughout the book relevant, refreshing and useful.

There are two main sections in the book: the first section comprises two chapters focusing on English language teaching while the second section concentrates on English language teacher education with four chapters.

In Chapter 1, Inal examines and discusses the changes in the status and role of English in the global world, drawing particularly from the paradigm of English as an International Language (EIL) within two interrelated contexts in English language education and English language teacher education in the Turkish setting. Citing Sharifian (2009), she argues that the conceptualization of EIL is basically a paradigm shift in TESOL, SLA and the applied linguistics of English which is ←7 | 8→based on a critical reconsideration of the sociolinguistics of English in terms of the changes English language has undergone. Within the framework of EIL, which actually embraces diversification in and of English, Kachruvian World Englishes, and the use of English as a lingua franca, English is broadly used for intercultural communication globally. She indicates that EIL-informed approaches and practices consider communicative competence beyond idealized native speaker norms in both language and culture (Alptekin 2002), draw from the language learners’ knowledge of their own language and culture “as a means of empowering them” (McKay 2000, 2003), and accordingly produce and use instructional materials emphasizing this diversity. From this perspective, she explores Turkey, who is located in the Expanding Circle, and makes active and extensive use of English as she traces the recent changes resulting from the influx of immigrants from the neighboring war-zone countries and more sociocultural and sociolinguistic variables created.

In chapter 2, Brinton focuses on the question of whether a learner-centered approach retains its currency in today’s language classrooms. She gives us a thorough discussion on the underlying principles and defining characteristics of learner-centered instruction, its development and impact on the field of second language teaching, support for learner-centered instruction, variations in the implementation of learner-centered instruction, key features of the approach, and reasons underlying the enduring appeal of learner-center instruction. Brinton provides a few takeaways for the readers at the end of the chapter.

As the first chapter in Section II on English language teacher education, Korkmazgil and Seferoglu (Chapter 3) mention about a paradigm shift from a positivist, linear and hierarchical view of development to a more holistic, collaborative and socio-constructivist approach. They state that effective professional development practices need to be constructivist, participant-centered and school-based, and suggest that professional development practices should be based on teachers’ immediate needs, designed and directed with their involvement. Within this perspective, their phenomenological research study explores professional development needs of EFL teachers working at public schools in Turkey. After conducting semi-structured interviews with English language teachers from different cities of Turkey, they found out that the highest level of professional needs of EFL teachers were related with developing teachers’ English language proficiency and speaking skills, improving knowledge and skills in English language teaching methodology, incorporating technology into language teaching, and materials development and adaptation. An interesting finding worth to note is that teachers with low levels of perceived English language proficiency had more of a need for ←8 | 9→professional development than teachers with a higher level of perceived language proficiency. Their investigation help us understand the importance of examining EFL teachers’ perceived development needs in order to gain insight into teacher professionalism in Turkey and other similar contexts (see Chapter 5 for a detailed discussion on professionalism in ELT).

In Chapter 4, Kırkgöz argues about the importance of providing individuals with effective strategies to help them deal with very complex situations they are likely to encounter in their lives. Citing Iglesias (2002), she points out that the major professional visions for the 21st century teacher should involve being a problem-solver, self-directed and reflective teacher, and capable of continuous learning and relearning of professional skills. From this perspective, she presents that teacher education programs are faced with the responsibility to educate prospective teachers not only to gain knowledge of the discipline, but also to become self-directed autonomous learners equipped with problem-solving skills.

Confronted with these challenges, Kırkgöz has used problem-based method of teaching and learning at a teacher education department of a state university in Turkey. In this chapter, Kırkgöz discusses the principles of the problem-based learning and investigates learning outcomes in pre-service EFL teachers undergoing problem-based curriculum. In order to track on learning skills acquisition, she employs the Problem Based Skills Learning Inventory, which actually covers problem solving, interpersonal and group skills, self-directed learning skills, self-assessment and knowledge building components. She also presents an exemplary project to help readers gain insights into the actual implementation of problem-based learning in different EFL teacher education settings.

Coombe and Burridge in Chapter 5 explore the issue of professionalism and present definitions of what it means to be a professional. They then explore the different types of professionalism in the literature as well as those specific to the field of English language teaching. The chapter provides advice on how teachers can increase their levels of professionalism by reviewing some general and field-specific strategies. The chapter emphasizes that being a professional teacher is not simply about having the right teaching qualifications and being in good academic standing. From this perspective, Coombe and Burridge emphasize that professionalism involves a commitment to being innovative and transformative in the classroom and helping both students and colleagues achieve their goals, and that it encompasses a number of different attributes. In the rest of the chapter, they discuss these attributes which identify and define a professional teacher.

In the final contribution to Section II, Genç examines whether novice EFL teachers derive their conceptions of teaching from research on learning and teach←9 | 10→ing a foreign language and analyzes their perceptions about the usefulness of research in their actual pedagogical practices. She points to the importance of confronting with the challenges in covering the gap between theory and practice, that is, the gap between what the researchers say and what happens in teaching practice. This perspective necessitates exploring the applicability of research findings onto teaching in action, and research engagement on the part of teachers. In the chapter, Genç discusses the conceptions of teaching put forward by Zahorik (1986). From that perspective, she argues that the research engagement is especially beneficial for inexperienced teachers in order to base teaching on safer grounds such as the findings of scientific and empirical research (Richards 2002). In line with these points, her study investigated to what extent novice Turkish EFL teachers read and use the findings of research conducted on foreign/ second language learning and whether their conceptions of teaching are supported by empirical research. The chapter concludes with suggestions for inexperienced teachers to be engaged with research in conceptualizing their teaching and warns against the misapplications of research findings in classroom teaching procedures.

References

Biographical notes

Zübeyde Sinem Genç (Volume editor)

Zübeyde Sinem Genç is associate professor at the Department of English Language Teaching, Faculty of Education, Uludağ University (Turkey). Her professional interests include teacher education, English language teaching methodology, technology in language teaching and second language acquisition.

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Title: Updating Perspectives on English Language Teaching and Teacher Education