A Study of Teacher Perceptions of their Professional Identity, Student Motivation and Pertinent Learning Contents
When I started teaching English in Further and Higher Education in Chile in 2005, I began to become aware of the nature of the particular challenges of be- ing an English teacher here. My new students brought to class several years of English learning at school, but very little actual previous knowledge of the lan- guage, and it was not long before I identified, at least within my own teaching situation, two problematic areas. First I realised that there was an enormous difference in motivation for learning English between students in the European context (which is my person- al experience) and those in the Chilean context. In Europe, having foreign lan- guage skills, often in more than one language, is becoming the norm, yet in the Chilean context, many of my students did not seem to perceive English to be a priority. Many were very reluctant to prepare for tests, do their homework, or to participate actively in class. My first idea, preliminarily confirmed in a few in- formal conversations, was that it was an attitude problem at the level of context, the society as a whole: English still seems to be considered “the (second) lan- guage of the posh, upper-class” (“los cuicos”) by many; English-speaking coun- tries are far away; all neighbouring countries are Spanish-speaking, too; and many young people have few or no opportunities to travel any further than Bra- zil – where tourists get by with Spanish, anyway. Second, teaching within the constraints of a set coursebook, I...
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