ERG SES H 01, Language and Education
This topic is part of my ongoing PhD dissertation on Fluency in L2 German language teaching practices of primary generalist pre-service teachers in French-speaking Switzerland. More specifically, I investigate how prior L2 German language learning experiences of these teachers contribute to their fluency perceptions when they teach young learners aged between 8 and 11. The principal objective of my study is to understand how fluency perceptions of these teachers are related to their proficiency in teaching L2 German at the primary level. This raises the following research questions. How can one characterise L2 teacher Fluency? How does the use of L1 French use during L2 German teaching affect fluency perceptions of teachers? Which factors originating in previous language background of these teachers affect their fluency perceptions ? Fluency is defined as the ability to fill time with talk, the ability to use a language appropriately in a wide variety of contexts and the ability to be creative and imaginative in language use (Fillmore, 1979). As most primary young learners are L2 German beginners, it is hypothesized that the ability of teachers to fill time with talk would count as one of the characteristics of L2 teacher oral fluency. Moreover, this would also include the abilities of teachers to give instructions related to lesson content, to manage discipline, offering and solliciting feedback as well as spontaneous instructional conversation to provide learning oppurtunities to young learners (Warford, 2009). As these abilities are specific to the classroom context, L2 teacher fluency could be defined as a set of prepared and improvised procedural skills (Schmidt, 1992; Segalowitz, 2010) which are variable, context-dependent (Ejzenberg, 2000) and based on individual and specific teaching tasks (Brumfit, 1984). Conversely, L2 teacher written fluency would reveal the capacities of teachers to write L2 task instructions and structuring L2 lesson content on flipcharts, whiteboards and slide projector films. Given that the degree of grammatical accuracy, appropriateness of content and language register would be visible in written fluency of these teachers, inaccuracy in the target language would affect their fluency perceptions by aggravating their sentiments of linguistic insecurity (Roussi & Messin, 2011) and subsequently compromise their professional credibility. Also, teacher fluency in the target language being goal oriented towards promoting acquisition and evaluating progress of young learners in L2 German, the tenets of natural language use (Lennon, 2000), spontaneous language use despite errors (Schmitt-Gevers, 1993) cannot be applied to characterise this type of fluency. Furthermore, L2 teacher fluency would be judged by how these teachers harness their language, content and pedagogical knowledge to define tasks, regulate and negociate meaning during verbal interaction with young learners. The role of L1 French would be crucial as it would provide evidence of how teachers compensate their perceived inadequacy in L2 German to accomplish the various teaching tasks. Furthermore, it is believed that prior language learning background of these teachers would influence social and educational representations they entertain about what constitutes teaching L2 German. In fact, based on whether these teachers perceive themselves as failed natives or successful L2 users (Cook, 1995, 1999, 2004; Hall & Cook, 2012), their fluency perceptions would influence how they undertake the task of developing a basic communicative knowhow of L2 German in young learners. Finally, it will be argued that overall curriculum management of teaching other subjects as the heavy influence of institutional obligations, prescriptive rules of teacher training might contribute to L2 fluency perceptions of these teachers.
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