ERIC Identifier: ED350880
Publication Date: 1992-11-00
Author: Guntermann, Gail
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
Developing Tomorrow's Teachers of World Languages. ERIC Digest.
In order for educational reform to be effective and lasting, teacher
education must undergo a transformation, from preservice training to lifelong
professional development. Tomorrow's teaching environment will bring new
challenges and possibilities, as schools undergo curricular, structural, and
cultural changes in order to meet the needs of an increasingly multicultural,
multilevel student body in a constantly changing world. Foreign languages should
no longer be seen as alien, but as a key force in the new order, and a deeper
understanding of world cultures and the dynamics of intercultural communication
must take their place in the language teacher's education.
WHAT ARE THE FORCES OF CHANGE, AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE
Demands for the reformation of education come from many quarters,
as it is increasingly evident that learners are being inadequately prepared in
many areas. Some changes will occur automatically, as a result of shifting
demographics, mainstreaming, and technological and social developments. In
addition, the language teacher's knowledge base can be expected to shift
continually, as information expands in disciplines as varied as language
acquisition theory and research, learning styles and strategies, intercultural
communication, and research on instruction.
The impact of pressures for change is already being felt, as professional
organizations produce standards and guidelines for students and teachers. The
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL, 1988) has prepared
"Provisional Guidelines for Foreign Language Teacher Education" and is in the
process of working with language specific associations (see AATF, 1989; AATG,
1992; AATSP, 1990) to finalize these guidelines and to recognize standards for
advanced certification of experienced teachers. The implementation of standards
is dependent on informed commitment and often requires special funding in the
early stages. ACTFL plans to devote considerable activity to teacher education
projects in the 1990s.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE LANGUAGE TEACHER'S KNOWLEDGE
Tomorrow's language teachers will need a thorough grounding in the
liberal arts as well as superior preparation in the linguistic and intercultural
content that they teach, including the ability to use the language in real life
contexts, both social and professional, and to teach academic content in the
language. Furthermore, language teachers should understand the social,
political, historical, and economic realities of the region(s) where the
language is spoken. (See Lafayette, in press, for a thorough discussion of the
language teacher's content knowledge.)
Knowing the subject matter is not enough, however; the teacher's pedagogical
knowledge and skills (Shulman, 1986) are of equal importance. These include
knowledge about human growth and development, learning theory, and language
acquisition, and also a repertoire of strategies for establishing community in
the classroom and for developing proficiency and cultural understanding in
diverse learners. It requires practice in making informed decisions about
classroom management and about lesson and curriculum development,
implementation, and evaluation. (See Wing, in press, for a review of this area
of teacher preparation.)
WHO WILL THE TEACHERS BE?
Teacher shortages, already felt
in many areas, will result from the retirement of large numbers of teachers in
the next decades, together with teacher attrition and enrollment growth in
language and cultural studies. In order to meet the demand, recruitment and
retention efforts will be essential. Recruitment efforts will focus on drawing
larger numbers of minority groups, including women, into the profession.
To meet the challenge, these new teachers will need to be
professionals--leaders and agents for change, responsible for their own
continuing professional development and that of their colleagues. They should
conduct action research (research that takes place in the classroom), reflect on
their teaching and on their students' learning, and use their knowledge and
experience to make necessary changes in collaboration with others.
HOW WILL TEACHER EXPERTISE BE MEASURED?
New teacher tests,
based on research and job analyses, are designed to represent real teaching
tasks. The Educational Testing Service is developing a new set of examinations,
the "Praxis" series, which includes case studies, lesson plans, and other
integrative tasks in addition to discrete-point items. The Center for Applied
Linguistics (CAL) has published, in several languages, Simulated Oral
Proficiency Interviews (SOPI), which are semi-direct speaking tests used to
assess general speaking proficiency in a second language. (For more information
on the SOPI, see Stansfield, 1989.) Several states (notably Texas and Florida,
as reported in Knop, 1991) have adopted proficiency-based tests for licensure.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (1990) is considering
including foreign languages in its plans to certify experienced teachers who
meet professional requirements, and the American Association of Teachers of
German is preparing to award a special certificate to German teachers who can
demonstrate by means of portfolios, videos, and other global methods that they
meet specified high standards (Schulz, 1991).
WHO WILL BE CHARGED WITH ACCOMPLISHING THE CHANGES, AND HOW CAN IT BE DONE?
The movement to improve teacher education involves
cooperative efforts among colleges of arts and sciences, colleges of education,
the schools, and education agencies. This implies changes in the ways that these
entities have traditionally communicated with each other, as well as openness to
evaluation and change. Colleges of liberal arts will need to commit themselves
to teacher development by hiring more faculty with appropriate expertise and by
ensuring that future teachers receive the necessary coursework. The traditional
emphasis on literary studies at the expense of advanced-level language
development and area studies has produced language teachers who typically lack
communicative abilities beyond sentence-level discourse and have only haphazard
cultural knowledge. James (1989) describes a program at Hunter College that has
been developed to help solve the proficiency problem, through the expansion of
language development with instruction in reading and writing. Nevertheless, it
must be recognized that, in order to achieve the levels of language and cultural
proficiency that are recommended, teachers will require extended experiences
Colleges of education also must reexamine their programs, if prospective
teachers are to develop the understandings that are needed for dealing
effectively with the integrated multicultural, multilevel classrooms of
tomorrow. (See Hudelson and Faltis, in press, for a forward-looking discussion
of generic teacher development that prepares teachers to reform education.)
Finally, schools must participate in the professionalization of teaching in
collaboration with universities, by promoting mentoring relationships between
outstanding teachers and teacher candidates; by recognizing excellence and
leadership among teachers; and by providing programs for induction and much more
in-service development specific to teachers' subject matter fields.
New collaborative programs are being designed, under the auspices of groups
such as Project 30 (Murray & Fallon, 1989) and the Renaissance Group (1989).
In these new programs, undergraduate teacher candidates spend more time in the
schools from the beginning of their college education, often taking five years
to complete their studies, including further work after student teaching (Holmes
Group, 1986). Postbaccalaureate and graduate degree programs are other models
emerging from these collaborative efforts.
In these early stages of reform, it is possible to focus on desirable
outcomes, against which all real results can be measured as they occur. Change
can take many directions, however, depending upon the degree to which the
players are ready and able to manage it. Foreign language educators will have to
attend to the processes of change as outlined, for example, by Fullen and
Stiegelbauer (1991), if we are to avoid changing only superficially or in
undesirable directions. As Shrier (in press) notes, new teachers entering the
field in the next decades will have an unprecedented opportunity to influence
the future. Our positive response now to the challenges of reform can best
prepare them to take advantage of that opportunity in ways that will benefit
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