10 SES 02 C, Exploring Teachers' Beliefs
Learning languages has been an important aim for the European countries as it supports mobility, interaction and cooperation. In order to achieve this aim, two foreign languages are integrated in Turkish education system, i.e., English and German, and significant efforts have been put in training quality teachers for these subjects. What language teachers know, think and believe is effective on classroom practices (Borg, 2003). The beliefs of teachers have been developing since their early learner experiences and they are deeply rooted in their cognition (Numrich, 1996). Therefore, teacher education process should help prospective teachers transform these implicit beliefs into reasonable and evidentiary ones (Fenstermacher, 1994). This exploratory study aims to find out how prospective foreign language teachers define learners’ and teachers’ roles in language classrooms through metaphors. Metaphors have been claimed to be a useful tool to bring implicit beliefs into awareness and understand the background assumptions. In this qualitative research, senior-year pre-service language teachers who were taking practicum courses, 12 majoring in teaching German and 38 majoring in teaching English (N=50), were asked to find a simili or a metaphor to describe “learner” and also explain the meaning of the selected metaphor. The data was collected online as a part of practicum reflections. At the very beginning, the research was designed to understand the participants’ beliefs about learner roles; however, the participants explained the learner metaphor by making connections to teacher roles. Therefore, both learner and teacher roles were taken into consideration within the frame of this study. A content analysis of the qualitative data was conducted to see the characteristics of learner and teacher along with the nature of the relationship between those two. The analyses revealed that participants tend to conceptualize the learner as passive (e.g., seed, sapling, plutonium, precious stone) and the teacher as a producer or doer, and this is defined as an autocratic teacher role in the classroom (Author et al, 2009). However, when the participant responses are evaluated from a dialogic perspective, a different perception is found out. According to prospective teachers’ beliefs, the learners have a potential energy and the teachers’ role is to activate this potential by selecting the best and most suitable techniques and materials in accordance with the needs and potentials of the student. In this dialogic perspective, teacher cannot be the only responsible of language learning process but the learners’ potential energy to grow and/or change should also seriously be taken into consideration. The autocratic role of teacher appears in metaphor studies may be misleading as long as they are not interpreted by considering different perspectives together.
Author et al., . (2009). Gaining insights into teachers' ways of thinking via metaphors, Educational Studies, 35:3, 323-335. Borg, S. (2003). Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe, and do. Language Teaching 36, no. 2: 81–109. Fenstermacher, G. D. (1994). The place of practical arguments in the education of teachers. In V. Richardson (Ed.), Teacher change and the staff development process: A case in reading instruction. New York: Teachers College Press Numrich, C. (1996). On becoming a language teacher: Insights from diary studies. TESOL Quarterly 30, no. 1: 131–53.
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