The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions and the environment of language teachers. In particular, this investigation examined how university English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers conceptualized their work through their viewpoints of the four commonplaces in their workplace context (Schwab, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1983). That is: How did they perceive themselves and their colleagues? How did they perceive their students? How did they perceive their subject matter? How did they perceive the teacher culture in their workplace context (i.e., the university and the department)?
The present study was conducted at Queen University in Thailand from June to October, 2001. Multiple data collection methods were used to gather data for the study. Written documents relating to the Queen University's English language programs (e.g., English language curricula and course outlines, English language syllabi, and English teaching materials) were collected throughout the duration of the study. Fifteen EFL teachers from the university's Department of Foreign languages agreed to participate in the study and were asked to complete a survey, participate in interviews, and record their reflections regarding the four commonplaces in journal entries. The data were triangulated to augment the validity of the findings.
Qualitative and quantitative data helped uncover these teachers' perceptions of and interactions with the four commonplaces in their workplace context. Overall, the data presented here gave meaning to and expanded Schwab's (1969, 1970, 1973, 1983) and Schubert's (1986) concepts of practical curriculum inquiry. The data analyses and findings suggested that teachers' perceptions of the four commonplaces had various degrees of influence on how teachers conceptualized their work and interacted with the commonplaces. In this particular workplace, the teachers' perceptions of their teacher culture impacted (to some extent) how these teachers viewed and interacted among themselves, with their colleagues and their students, and with their subject matter.
In summary, the data presented here were garnered from multiple data collection methods and gave descriptive information concerning university EFL teachers' perceptions and environment. These data not only situated how these EFL teachers in a particular workplace context conceptualized their work, but also how they variously delineated the four commonplaces.