ERIC Identifier: ED289361
Publication Date: 1987-11-00
Author: Kreidler, Carol
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
ESL Teacher Education. ERIC Digest.
Although the teaching of English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) is a
relatively young profession, it is, in reality, quite an old activity. When the
Angles and Saxons invaded Britain some 1500 years ago, the two tribes found it
easier to teach their own language (which has evolved into present-day English)
to the conquered Britons than to learn the Britons' tongue.
Until the time of World War II the teaching of English was rather hit or miss
in the United States. Most immigrants found the lack of ability to speak English
an occupational as well as a social and psychological handicap. Instruction in
English for adult immigrants was provided in Americanization schools for those
who wished to enroll, while public school children were required to do their
studies in English with no extra help. There was no concentrated effort to aid
In 1940, the first teachers of English as a foreign language were enrolled at
the University of Michigan in a training program that was based on structural or
descriptive linguistics. At about the same time in the Army Language School, the
analysis of a variety of languages and their contrasts with the English language
added to the expansion of the evolving field of linguistics. These developments
in the study of languages, including the English language, gave impetus to the
inauguration of programs in linguistics at colleges and universities. General
linguistics programs often included classes or areas of concentration in applied
linguistics which, at that time, were mainly programs of preparation for
teaching English to speakers of other languages.
THE GROWING NUMBER OF TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAMS
the National Defense Education Act authorized summer institutes to provide
training for teachers of English as a second language (ESL), and the number of
university programs in ESL grew. Forty-six programs in 36 institutions were
described in a 1972 directory of TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
Languages) preparation programs; the 1986 edition of the directory lists 196
programs offered at 143 institutions.
THE GROWTH OF CERTIFICATION
A milestone in
professionalization occurred in 1966 with the founding of Teachers of English to
Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a professional organization for those
concerned with the teaching of English as a second or foreign language. TESOL
started with 337 members; today the organization numbers more than 11,000.
TESOL, in an attempt to address concerns of educators, held a conference
(1970) to develop guidelines for certification and preparation of ESL teachers
in the United States. These guidelines, which are in three parts, define the
role of an ESL teacher in an American school, describe the personal qualities
and professional competencies the teacher should possess, and describe the
features of a professional preparation program designed to fulfill those
competencies. They have been used extensively by the states in setting their
requirements for certification.
From 1976 to 1980 the number of states offering some kind of certification in
ESL increased almost five-fold, from 4 to 19. At present, 33 states and the
District of Columbia have certification or endorsement and two states have
pending certification legislation.
SPECIAL PREPARATION FOR ESL
It has been claimed that an
English-speaking child has the ability to use most of the sounds and grammatical
forms in a communicative context by the beginning of school. The content of
training programs must, therefore, be different for those who will teach anyone
who does not already know these forms. The teacher of ESL must know more than
simply how to speak the language. Studies in English linguistics, anthropology,
psychology, and sociology, as well as in education, form the special areas of
preparation for the ESL teacher.
SPECIAL PROGRAMS FOR ESL
Traditionally, the study of
linguistics has been a graduate endeavor; likewise, programs for preparing
teachers of ESL have usually been offered at the graduate level. Out of the 46
teacher preparation programs listed in the 1972 directory mentioned earlier,
only five were at the bachelor's degree level, while 33 were at the master's
level. The 1986 version of the directory lists 25 programs at the bachelor's
level and 120 at the master's level. Professional preparation programs at one or
both of these levels are in place for most states at state universities and/or
The fact that most of the programs are graduate programs also accounts for
the number of states that have endorsements for ESL rather than full
certification since teachers often get their additional training in ESL adding
endorsements to previous basic certification. Many school systems provide
inservice training in ESL; moreover, the TESOL organization, through its
affiliates and their conferences which offer Continuing Education Units, has
taken the responsibility for a great deal of inservice ESL teacher education.
SOME FUTURE DIRECTIONS
Since the 1970s, a change in
teaching methodology that has pervaded the teaching of ESL is the change from a
teacher-centered classroom to a student- or learner-centered classroom. In the
learner-centered classroom the teacher becomes a facilitator of learning, and it
is important that students in teacher preparation courses are taught in a manner
that reflects this approach to learning.
Teacher preparation programs are presently being challenged to produce
teachers who understand the theory behind the methodologies. Freeman (1987)
points out that the teacher trainer's first task is to find out how people learn
to teach, to understand the processes through which individuals learn to be
language teachers. Only then can we concentrate our efforts on improving the
quality of language teacher education.
But teachers of ESL are, above all, teachers. New directions in ESL
preparation parallel new directions in the preparation of all teachers. In
education today there is discussion regarding the amount of time prospective
teachers spend learning how to teach rather than learning the content of what
they will teach. Prospective teachers of ESL are in this way like those of other
fields. For years the emphasis has been on the learner in the classroom; now we
are beginning to see more emphasis on the teacher. After all, the teacher is a
crucial determiner of success in the classroom.
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
Languages (TESOL) is a membership organization that publishes a bimonthly
newsletter, a quarterly journal, and other publications. In addition to the
previously mentioned Guidelines for Certification, the TESOL organization has
also published standards for professional preparation programs. The address for
TESOL is Suite 205, 1118 22nd St. NW, Washington, DC 20037.
FOR FURTHER READING
Alatis, J.E., Stern, H.H., Strevens,
P., (Eds.). (1983). Georgetown University Roundtable on Languages and Linguistics. "Applied linguistics and the preparation of second language teachers: Toward a rationale." Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Brown, D. (1982). TESOL in a changing world: The challenge of teacher education. In M. Hines, & W. Rutherford, (Eds.), "On TESOL '81." Washington DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 223 084)
Fanselow, J.F., & Light, R.L., (1977). "Bilingual, ESOL and foreign language teacher preparation: Models, practices, issues." Washington, DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 154 637)
Frank-McNeil, J. (1986). "Directory of programs in TESOL in the United States: 1986-88." Washington, DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Freeman, D. (1987). Some thoughts on redefining the challenge in language teacher education. "Teacher Education Newsletter" 3(2). Washington, DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
"Guidelines for the certification and preparation of teachers of English to speakers of other languages in the United States." (1976).Washington, DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Norris, W.E. (1972). "Teacher qualifications and preparation: Guidelines for TESOL/US." (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 060 698)