EFL STUDENT TEACHERS IN TAIWAN: EXPLORING THEIR LEARNING TO TEACH IN A JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL CONTEXT
The purpose of this study was to begin exploring the process of English as a foreign language (EFL) student teachers' learning to teach. It was conducted during two EFL student teachers' yearlong induction program in a Taiwanese junior high school context. This exploration further revealed the complex interactions among these EFL student teachers, their cooperating teachers, their university supervisor, and various school colleagues. The relationships between this interaction process and these EFL student teachers' socialization and teaching beliefs and practices also emerged.
Multiple data sources and multiple data collection methods were employed to gather data for this study. A survey and interviews were conducted with the student teachers, the cooperating teachers, and available school teachers and administrators, revealing teachers' perceptions of their school's (technical) culture-how teachers perceived their workplace environment (i.e., school), and why they did what they did in it (Kleinsasser, 1989). The student teachers, the cooperating teachers, and the university supervisor were interviewed to purport different perspectives on the process of these student teachers' learning to teach. Furthermore, the student teachers also kept written journals to record their experiences in this specific school context. Additionally, all the participants offered related written documents to understand student teachers' professional development and this school's (technical) culture.
The findings of qualitative and quantitative data revealed that these two student teachers' professional development was affected by this school's (technical) culture. Most teachers at this school perceived little collegial communication, collegial collaboration, and teachers' learning opportunities. Nor did they perceive an explicit teacher evaluation system and parent involvement in relation to their instructional practices. These teachers' instructional practices appeared to aim at preparing students for the entrance examinations and managing student behavior. Hence, the majority of English teachers at this school tended to teach examination-oriented English which put emphasis on vocabulary and grammar structure explanation. Within such a school environment, these two EFL student teachers individually had very complex socialization experiences and appeared to have difficulties developing their teaching beliefs and practices. Interestingly, both student teachers' instructional practices appeared similar, regardless of their original teaching beliefs. They tended to follow their cooperating teachers and most English teachers they observed at this school by preparing students for the school examinations or the entrance examinations.
In the extant educational literature, little has been documented concerning how EFL (student) teachers learn to teach. Although the researchers examined various issues related to foreign language teaching and learning, the school context in which it takes place is rarely, if ever, investigated. This study sheds some light on the EFL student teachers' professional development by collectively describing multiple stakeholders' viewpoints in one school context at one time, little of which can be found in the literature.