ERIC Identifier: ED435186 Publication Date: 1999-10-00
Author: Lee, Lina Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages
and Linguistics Washington DC.
Partners in Pedagogy: Collaboration between University and
Secondary School Foreign Language Teachers. ERIC Digest.
One of the challenges facing many foreign language programs today is
maintaining high quality instruction despite increased enrollments and teacher
shortages. One strategy for meeting this challenge is collaborative teaching.
Collaborative teaching can occur in various settings and for different purposes.
Studies of team-teaching have shown its effectiveness in foreign language
learning and teaching, especially at the introductory level (Braun & Robb,
1991; Magnan, 1987). These studies focus on situations in which an experienced
college teacher works with a graduate assistant or a part-time instructor in a
4- or 5-day schedule. Results show that the number of foreign language minors
and majors gradually increases, and students' motivation and interest are
heightened by the variety of foreign language accents and teaching styles to
which they are exposed (Braun & Robb, 1991). Teaching with graduate students
is only one way of teaching collaboratively. Other types of collaboration can be
considered, depending on the particular needs of the program.
This digest discusses the major issues in collaborative teaching and
describes a successful collaborative program that paired college faculty with
area high school teachers to team-teach introductory French and Spanish courses
at the Plattsburgh State University of New York.
BENEFITS OF COLLABORATIVE TEACHING
Team-teaching offers the
Participating instructors bring different expertise to the teaching assignment.
The process of working with other teachers is itself intellectually stimulating
and promotes professional growth.
Pedagogical exchanges facilitate coordination and lead to a more coherent
Learners benefit from the different teaching perspectives and styles.
Some students may respond better to one style than to another or may understand
material better when presented using one technique as opposed to another.
ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF A COLLABORATIVE TEACHING
According to Austin and Baldwin (1991), effective collaborative
instruction involves the recognition of common goals, coordinated efforts, and
outcomes based on shared responsibilities. Establishing policies and guidelines
for collaborative work is essential. However, constant interaction and
communication are the real keys to success. The following components are
essential to collaborative teaching:
Development of clear guidelines for the sharing of responsibilities among
teachers, such as supervision of particular sessions, meeting coordination, and
exam committee -participation.
Establishment of course objectives, using common syllabi and standardized
Determination of meeting times to discuss pedagogical issues such as course
pace, teaching techniques, instructional materials, and student performance and
Encouragement of class observation exchanges with open discussions for providing
feedback and suggestions for improvement on teaching collaboration.
THE PARTNERS IN PEDAGOGY PROGRAM
The Partners in Pedagogy
Program provides important insights into collaborative teaching between
university faculty and secondary school teachers. The program was carried out at
the Plattsburgh State University of New York during the 1993-1994 and 1994-1995
academic years (see Lee & Henning, 1999). The university had been
increasingly challenged to provide effective instruction in spite of dwindling
resources and increased enrollments in introductory foreign language courses.
The chair of the department of foreign languages developed a plan for
restructuring the foreign language program. The plan involved recruiting area
high school teachers to help team-teach the university's introductory-level
foreign language courses. These high school teachers would be paired with
members of the university's French and Spanish departments. To recruit high
school teachers, the university offered prospective applicants the choice of a
stipend or graduate credit for their service.
Once the program was implemented, all beginning-level French and Spanish
courses were taught under the collaborative structure. Students attended classes
4 days per week. College faculty met with groups of 30 students on Mondays and
Wednesdays for presentation of grammatical structures and for practice in
reading comprehension and writing. The high school teachers met with groups of
12-15 students on Tuesdays and Thursdays for conversational practice of the
grammatical structures learned in the Monday-Wednesday sessions and for
vocabulary building and cultural activities. Because these teachers also had
teaching positions at local secondary schools, the conversation classes were
scheduled during the late afternoon.
The program had three major goals: (1) to facilitate pedagogical cooperation
between college foreign language and literature faculty and local middle school
and high school teachers, (2) to improve articulation between secondary and
postsecondary foreign language curricula, and (3) to develop the communicative
skills of students, particularly speaking and listening, despite increased class
Using the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, the Partners in Pedagogy Program set
proficiency goals for the beginning-level Spanish and French courses. The
Guidelines were used as a framework for curriculum design, instructional
objectives, and evaluation. College faculty were responsible for coordinating
each course. They set up weekly meetings with their partners--the high school
teachers with whom they were paired--to discuss important issues related to
course pace and synchronization of instructional activities, syllabi,
instructional materials, testing procedures, and grading criteria. Syllabi were
standardized to ensure uniform instruction. Common midterm and final exams were
designed by each team and included oral components.
All students in first year Spanish and French classes were surveyed each
semester of the 2 years the program was in place. Local school instructors who
participated in the program were surveyed as well. Overall, both students and
teachers reacted positively to the program.
(1) Student Reactions to the Program
Students reported gaining valuable experiences through the program. They were
able to practice their language skills and acquire cultural knowledge through a
variety of teaching styles and enjoyed the exposure to different teaching styles
and accents. The students felt they had more opportunities to "use the target
language to express, interpret and negotiate meaning with others" (Savignon,
1983) and to review what they had learned in their Monday-Wednesday classes
during the Tuesday-Thursday sessions, because the size of the classes allowed
for small group and paired activities. In addition, the learning atmosphere was
relaxed and friendly, making them comfortable about working collaboratively with
(2) Participating Instructors Reactions to the Program
The area teachers reported benefiting professionally from the opportunity to
use their foreign language training in the college setting. Both college faculty
and area teachers felt they had learned from each other in an intellectually
stimulating atmosphere as they shared and exchanged ideas in order to maintain
the coherence of the course components. They also learned how to organize their
class time more effectively to incorporate interactive exercises and cultural
activities for both big and small groups. Although there were some disagreements
between high school teachers and college faculty regarding instructional
approach, course pace, correction, grading, and classroom management, together
they were able to work out procedures and criteria to use throughout the
In addition, teachers reported benefiting from discussing pedagogical issues
with colleagues from other secondary schools as well as with college faculty.
The secondary school teachers also became much more aware of the requirements of
the college program. They understood better what material needed to be covered
in high school, what skills students needed to acquire, and what pace had to be
maintained for students to continue successfully in the college program. Senior
college faculty who had not taught first-year classes for a while enjoyed the
program and received high marks on student evaluations.
(3) Articulation Between Secondary and Ccollege-Level Curricula
The Partners in Pedagogy Program was helpful in establishing smoother links
between secondary and college-level instruction. The college faculty had
repeatedly complained about the weak cognitive and general learning skills of
incoming students. The high school teachers were able to see firsthand what was
expected of incoming college students. The partnership helped to open a dialogue
between area teachers and college program coordinators and led to the discussion
of articulation issues in May 1994 at a full-day workshop sponsored jointly by
the North County Teacher Resource Center Foreign Language Network, the
Plattsburgh Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and the Northern
Tier of the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers (NYSAFLT).
College faculty and high school teachers discussed how the college curricular
objectives could mesh better with those at the secondary level as well as with
the requirements of professional life and beyond. Together, teachers and college
faculty recognized that all of the different levels of foreign language
instruction are interrelated, and that they must be considered as part of a
continuum. The participating teachers shared what they had learned from the
program and agreed that the goals for the end of beginning courses were
realistic and consistent with the state syllabus that they were following. Both
college faculty and high school teachers felt the need for higher standards for
foreign language skills, for more consistent evaluative criteria, and for more
reliable assessment instruments.
Research has shown that collaborative foreign
language teaching offers many benefits to both students and teachers.
Team-teaching provides students with a meaningful and unique way to gain
language and cultural competence and offers teachers opportunities for
The Partners in Pedagogy Program was a worthy effort toward improving
coordination between secondary and college-level foreign language instruction in
the North County of Upstate New York and provides a model of a cooperative
structure that brings together high school and college foreign language teachers
as members of instructional teams. The experiences of the Partners in Pedagogy
Program also underscores the obvious need for frequent communication and clear
policies as well as articulated guidelines for collaborative work. Continued
collaboration between secondary school teachers and university professors should
be encouraged to improve the articulation between these two levels of
Austin, A. E., & Baldwin, R.G. (1991).
"Faculty collaboration: Enhancing the quality of scholarship and teaching" (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 7). Washington, DC: The George Washington
University, School of Education and Human Development.
Braun, T. E., & Robb, B. A. (1991). Team teaching French with teaching
assistants. In S. S. Magnan (Ed.), "Challenges in the 1990s for college foreign
language programs" (pp.71-88). AUSC issues in language program direction.
Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Lee, L., & Henning, S. D. (1999). Partners in pedagogy: Collaborative
teaching for beginning foreign language classes. "Foreign Language Annals, 32,"
Magnan, S. S. (1987). Teaming teachers and modifying class size: An
experiment in first-year French. "French Review, 60," 454-65.
Savignon, S. J. (1983). "Communicative competence: Theory and classroom
practice." Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Lorenz, E. B., & Verdaguer, P. (1997). Connections: A K-8/university
collaboration to promote interdisciplinary teaching. In J. Phillips (Ed.),
"Collaborations: Meeting new goals, new realities" (pp. 141-72). Lincolnwood,
IL: National Textbook.
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