Reading about the complexity of L2 teacher education is one thing, but wrestling with the issue as part of my PhD has been an eye-opening experience. Having been involved in second language teacher education (SLTE) in a variety of contexts over the past few years, I have seen first-hand how student teachers learn, internalize and embrace course content. Others struggled, developed negative attitudes and seemed to learn little. However, analysing (this is an ongoing process) an enormous amount of data I collected last year has helped me better understand the magnitude educating and preparing L2 teachers entails.
In a nutshell, my study examines how pronunciation teachers are prepared. This is an interesting area because little has been done in the context of pronunciation teacher preparation and because many (if not most) L2 teachers find pronunciation challenging to teach (Foote, Holtby, & Derwing, 2011; Macdonald, 2002). What’s intriguing is that many factors facilitate or restrict the development of student teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts (i.e. cognition). Yet, the fact that these components are almost impossible to be separated (Borg, 2006) complicates things. Additionally, the process of learning to teach L2 (or in my research context, learning to teach pronunciation) appears to be an individualistic, uneven and complicated process. In other words, what works for one student teachers, may not work for another one, and be downright wrong for a third teacher candidate. These challenges seem to be rather overwhelming and you may question why anyone would get involved in educating L2 teachers. My research, however, suggests that SLTE does work and can be effective. At same time, it holds enormous potential for educators to shape teacher candidates’ lives and send them off well-equipped to teach language in whatever context that might eventually be. So, although being involved in SLTE has its challenges, it is definitely an exciting enterprise which should not become boring anytime soon. Papers that I’m now working on will support this. Stay tuned!
Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. London: Continuum.
Foote, J. A., Holtby, A. K., & Derwing, T. M. (2011). Survey of the teaching pronunciation in adult ESL programs in Canada, 2010. TESL Canada Journal, 29(1), 1-22.
Macdonald, S. (2002). Pronunciation – views and practices of reluctant teachers. Prospect, 17(3), 3-18.
I am a Lecturer in TESOL at the University of Wollongong in Australia. I blog about L2 learning, L2 teaching, L2 teacher education, and research.