ERG SES D 07, Parallel Session D 07
This doctoral thesis examines the didactic Teaching-Studying-Learning process of English in Cameroon secondary schools. It aims to document, describe and analyse teachers’ practice of teaching English as a second language with specific emphasis on teachers’ conceptions of language, language teaching methods, their role in the English second language classroom in comparison to current theoretical perspectives in English language teaching research. Recognising and examining teachers’ conceptions (ideas and actions they use to organise their teaching) and their role in shaping what goes on in the language classroom is a useful step in facilitating teachers’ professional growth.
The ontological stance of the present study is rooted in the view of the social constructionist theory of knowledge that reality is not objective but constructed differently through social interaction and according to cultural biases and historical conditions. In this study, teachers’ conceptions of English as a Second Language (ESL) are a summary of attitudes formed by social interchanges within the present historical context Borg (2006). Contextual factors influence practice. The Teaching-Studying-Learning(T-S-L) process is constructed in social interaction. Teachers and students working jointly are able to co-construct contexts in which expertise emerges as a feature of the group Lantolf (2000). Sociocultural theory fits this study because it discusses how teachers co-construct knowledge in a particular historical context (Cameroon). The emerging concepts of Scaffolding and Affordance are suitable in the context of language teaching.
The concept of affordance provides a context for analysing the interaction which takes place in the teaching-studying-learning process. According to Gibson (1979), affordance is a reciprocal relationship between an organism and a particular feature of its environment. In his adoption of Gibson’s concept, Van Lier (2000) explains that affordances are “a particular property of the environment that is relevant–for good or for ill–to an active, perceiving organism in that environment”. For example, a leaf in a forest can offer different affordances to various organisms (food, shade, medicine, cutting) depending on what they perceive and how they act. He proposes the replacement of the notion of linguistic input with the notion of affordances. Parallels can be drawn between this concept and language learning as Segalowitz (2001) points out “affordances...are important for learning because it is only by being able to perceive affordances that an organism is able to navigate its way around the environment successfully”. Therefore in the interactive context of the Second language teaching, the classroom is an action environment full of affordances. The teacher must realise that different students respond and act differently to affordances even though the classroom context remains the same. The environment or classroom provides the “semiotic budget” (Van Lier, 2000) which can be social or linguistic (Harjanne & Tella, 2008) . Van Lier (2000) rightly concludes that if the language learner is active and engaged, he will perceive linguistic affordances and use them for linguistic action.
This research answers the following questions
1. What conceptions of teaching ESL do Cameroon teachers of English possess?
2. How do Cameroon teachers of English justify their teaching methods?
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