There is an evident need for teacher training programs in English as a foreign language, particularly ones that respond to the professional interests and needs of student teachers and teacher trainers. The primary objective is to propose reflection and questioning as a strategy to help teacher training programs in English as a foreign language go from simply implementing or transplanting models or concepts to generating practices that make it possible to build know-how based on and concerning the teacher's own reality.
Documental research is the method used. Goals, guidelines, principles and focuses are proposed to create sound university programs in teaching English as aforeign language. Higher education, foreign language teaching, normal school, English as a foreign language, training models. Source: Unesco Thesaurus.
ISBN 13: 9781615208975
Asking "what and why" questions gives us a certain power over our teaching. We could claim that the degree of autonomy and responsibility we have in our work as teachers is determined by the level of control we can exercise over our actions. In reflecting on the above kind of questions, we begin to exercise control and open up the possibility of transforming our everyday classroom life. Bartlett, , p. Agray says the expectations Colombian society has concerning the foreign language FL teacher are based mostly on instrumental demands, because people want FL teachers to be able to teach them what they need to know, using a fast, easy, effective, and cheap method that does not imply a lot of time, study, or discipline.
For their part, asserts Agray, the Colombian State and universities conceive the role of FL teachers in terms of quality practices, social responsibility and critical research.
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Concretely, the State and universities contend the FL teacher should be a professional in foreign languages, pedagogy, and research and demonstrate critical, reflective and ethical behavior, as well as commitment. In spite of this, Agray maintains there is a divorce between what the law establishes and the actions to make it happen.
In other words, the official discourse about FL teaching seems to favor quality, research, and responsibility, but the everyday reality of FL classrooms reveals a disarticulation of actions and a lack of resources. That is why, Agray asserts, FL teachers, as professionals and subjects, should be the ones in charge of answering for what society asks, not just to fulfill its external demands, but also to satisfy their own internal needs. Unfortunately, according to Shohamy , most FL policies, educational reforms, and government regulations are imposed and manipulated without attention to the needs and wishes of those who are either affected by them or expected to carry them out.
In a similar vein, Ricento claims language-policy debates are always about more than language. To him, ideologies about language in general, and specific languages in particular, have real effects on language practices and largely delimit what is and what is not possible in the realm of language planning and policy-making. To her, "Bilingual Colombia" as a language policy has brought about regulations on various aspects of language learning and teaching, such as desired standards, teachers' qualifications and professional development. This paper argues for regarding reflective teaching as a valid option to allow EFL TEPs to move from merely implementing or transplanting imposed models or concepts to generating opportunities to construct knowledge based on and in their own practices and realities.
Then, some key concepts about teacher education will be discussed succinctly. Next, EFL teacher education will be presented as a long-term process aimed at promoting and integrating distinctive but complementary domains and models. After that, some useful elements and suggestions based on reflective teaching will be put forth as suitable alternatives for new and improved EFL university programs. Most Colombian universities offering EFL TEPs claim research and reflection are key elements in the formation of pre-service language teachers. Along a similar line, the Universidad de Antioquia says one of its core elements is research, since " These objectives seem to suggest a strong commitment on the part of Colombian universities to engaging in reflection and research at every moment or stage of their formative programs.
However, when reviewing the courses of study at 20 universities, 1 one sees most of them offer their pre-service teachers just three research-based academic spaces. These spaces usually appear around the fifth, sixth, and seventh semesters as preparation for the teaching practicum and in advance of two thesis seminars.
Apart from being more numerous, these academic spaces tend to start in the early semesters of the pre-service teachers' formative process, which may have a positive impact on their teaching training because, as Burns states, student teachers and teacher educators should be engaged as much as possible in developing their own theories of teaching, gaining more understanding of classroom decision-making, and using strategies for critical self-awareness and self evaluation.
On the other hand, a review of 10 Colombian academic articles and research studies on reflection and research 2 seems to indicate that work with reflective teaching and action research is linked closely to either pre-service teachers' practicum or in-service teachers' professional development. Zambrano and Insuasty , for example, indicate student-teachers demonstrate they gain significant insights when they enhance features such as evaluating and analyzing their teaching experience critically, identifying and solving problems, discussing their teaching with others, and improving classroom processes.
Also, she asserts that it can work as a strategic way to reinforce the quality of education. Undoubtedly, Colombian universities and EFL TEPs have strived to make research and reflection part of their course of studies for both pre-service and in-service teachers.
However, this endeavor may have not been enough. These efforts, argue Calvo et al. Additionally, they point out that, although there have been several proposals to strengthen reflection and research in teacher education and development, the articulation between the teaching-learning model of the institutions and their real possibilities for better formative processes has not been proven. In a similar vein, Caicedo says TEPs need to be reconsidered, so they can implement new curriculum approaches to form educators who are able, among other things, a to develop critical and creative thinking, b to do and communicate research properly, and c to face today's challenges holistically.
This brief overview of the Colombian context seems to suggest Colombian EFL TEPs need to analyze how research is carried out in their study courses and, more specifically, how a reflective teaching-learning philosophy can be infused into all their academic spaces and formative processes. Colombian TEPs should move from regarding reflection as a simple strategy to improve pre-service teachers' practicum and in-service teachers' development to integrating it into all their teaching and learning practices.
Reflective teaching should, therefore, be considered as a fundamental approach to observing, criticizing and transforming teacher education, and ultimately, improving the quality of education. The next section discusses teacher education in some detail. In this respect, Villegas-Reimers defines teacher education as a long-term process that includes regular opportunities and experiences planned systematically to promote growth and development in the profession. To Cochran-Smith and Zeichner , teacher education or teacher preparation is conducted in local communities and institutions where program components and structures interact with one another as well as with the different experiences and abilities teachers have and the local and political conditions states impose.
In a similar vein, Loughran says teacher education has two important foci: learning about teaching and teaching about teaching, each of which involves complex skills, knowledge, abilities, and competences. These foci, in turn, are further complicated by the competing cognitive and affective tensions that influence learning and growth through experiences in the practice setting. When discussing teacher education, Feiman-Nemser talks about five different theoretical positions concerning the goals, the means and the ends of teacher preparation.
These are conceptual orientations that reflect distinct program emphases. In her opinion, these theoretical positions highlight different issues that must be considered in teacher education, but she clarifies that none offers a fully developed framework to guide program development. The five conceptual orientations are: a personal orientation, which affords primary attention to the teacher as person and learner, and suggests that personal development is a precondition of teaching; b critical orientation, which focuses on the habit of questioning assumptions about teaching, learning and knowledge that are taken for granted and highlights the teacher's responsibility to create classrooms that reflect democratic principles; c technological orientation, which stresses scientific knowledge and systematic training; d practical orientation, which places emphasis on the "wisdom of practice" and learning from experience; and e academic orientation, which not only emphasizes the teacher's role as an intellectual leader and a subject matter specialist, but also highlights the importance of knowing how to transmit knowledge and to develop understanding successfully.
In the twenty-first century, teacher education, both initial preparation and ongoing development, is in a time of transformation and challenge. According to Adler , this is because schools today are expected to ensure all students learn and perform at high levels.
However, schools are increasingly filled with a more varied population that brings diverse cultural backgrounds to its learning, as well as a range of cognitive styles and socioeconomic challenges. Teacher education is, thus, expected not just to help teachers to know content well, but more importantly to be masters of a variety of teaching strategies, and to be able to assess learners and to adjust teaching appropriately and in a timely fashion.
As a result, argues Adler, teacher education confronts an array of difficult questions such as: "How should teachers be prepared for the challenges they face? Should teachers be able to think critically about "real world" problems and technical skills? Or, Should the focus be on the nature of thinking and the work of schools? These questions, in turn, force university programs to reexamine the goals and processes of teacher education.
Unfortunately, according to Vieira and Moreira , despite the reform movements, teacher education still tends to tell teachers what and how to do things technical instruction rather than facilitating a thorough understanding of and a purposeful intervention in educational contexts reflective inquiry. To them, this state of affairs raises constrains on reflectivity, authenticity, dialogical interaction, openness to innovation and autonomy.
If STs and TEs are to become critical agents, claim Vieira and Moreira, they should not only become critical consumers and creative users of knowledge, but also informed participants in the improvement of the educational situations they experience. For its part, EFL teacher education has its own specifications, some of which will be discussed next. According to Johnson , the way L2 teachers are prepared has been influenced by several trends that have reconceptualized how people think about L2 teachers, L2 teacher learning, and L2 teaching.
In her opinion, these trends have been fueled by shifting epistemological perspectives on learning in general, and on L2 learning and L2 teacher learning in particular; perspectives that ranged from behaviorism and cognitivism to situated, social, and distributed views of human cognition. As a result, EFL teacher education has shifted from simply taking disciplinary knowledge about learning and second language acquisition and applying it to the language classroom to conceptualizing L2 teachers as users and creators of legitimate forms of knowledge who make decisions about how best to teach their L2 students within complex socially, culturally, and historically situated contexts.
One of Beth's students resisted participating in class. Tony attended class regularly but sat removed from his peers and said little. Yet he did not appear shy, and Beth learned that he was quite verbal in other classes.
In thinking about what was going on with Tony, Beth looked beyond his immediate, irritating resistance. She listened to information from another teacher and considered her own teaching behaviors in a new light: Today I was working with this group on a short story. Every time I asked Tony a question, I'd get "I don't know. After about three rounds of this, Jane [Beth's mentor] took him to the hall to talk with him. After much prodding, he finally blurted out "She treats us like we're stupid! I know those dumb vocabulary words, and the stories we read are stupid 3rd grade stories.
I kept thinking, "If I treat kids like they're stupid, that defeats my purpose. What do you do in a class [where] there are about five kids with average skills, about four who have low skills, and then about three who are simply behavior problems? Beth did not blame Tony for being in a class that didn't challenge him.
Teachers’ preflection in early stages of diffusion of an innovation | SpringerLink
She generated possible reasons for Tony's conduct and comments. And she used his behavior as a prompt to assess her teaching and the ways she might be contributing to a less than ideal learning environment. Instead of becoming defensive or deciding that Tony's placement in a remedial class was the explanation for his stonewalling, she asked herself questions that led to new insights. Although the scenarios discussed so far have highlighted problems, reflection is also a powerful way for teachers to understand why some kinds of instruction work so they can replicate them.
If Beth's probing into how Tony was doing had shown he was actually making progress, deliberate thinking might have validated her current practices.
However, when deliberate thinking generates more questions or indicates a change is needed, move to a higher level of reflection. The dialectical mode builds on deliberate thinking to gain understanding of a situation and generate solutions. The greater a teacher's ability to suspend judgment and the broader the repertoire of pedagogical strategies, the more flexible dialectical thinking will be. In the following scenario, Emily identifies a weakness in her instructional repertoire—her conferencing skills with student writers: In discussing each student's goals, I had a difficult time with eye contact.
I was so nervous that I was forcing myself to look at [the students], and they started to get nervous and fidgety. Second, I talked so fast that there was no way they could have understood, but they pretended. The blank look and questioning eyes were a dead giveaway … so one of my goals is to improve one-on-one dialogues. In thinking about her first writing conferences, Emily employed situational thinking to describe the experience and identify weaknesses.
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