Source: Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 5-20, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this study, the authors aimed at exploring the attitudes key stakeholders in a teacher education program (i.e., student teachers, in-service teachers, and teacher educators) hold toward the appropriateness of English Language Teaching (EFL) teacher education programs at an Iranian teacher education university and their relevance to and sustainable impact in the real teaching context.
Three groups of participants took part in this study. The first group consisted of 62 pre-service teachers who were senior BA students in EFL at three Farhangian Universities (FUs). The second group constituted 48 in-service EFL teachers. Finally, the third group comprised 28 teacher educators.
In order to explore the attitudes of the participants towards the relevance of the BA courses to their use in the real teaching context, an adapted version of Peacock's (2009) Foreign Language Teacher Education Program Evaluation questionnaire was used. This questionnaire was adapted in order to comply with the courses presented at FUs in Iran.
The results indicated that the pre-service teachers and teacher educators found courses with literary strands less relevant to English language teaching and believed that those courses should be modified or replaced by teaching more knowledge-building or knowledge-applying subjects. For instance, the pre-service and teacher educators both gave a lower rate to "Phonology" course in comparison to the in-service teachers.
In addition, the in-service teachers harboured a negative perspective towards the courses which were not practical in the real classroom setting and considered them less empowering. For example, the preservice teachers and teacher educators gave significantly higher scores to "Media English" course as compared with the in-service teachers for the aforementioned course. The in-service teachers found this course ineffective in the teaching context. In their idea, the course has the least relevance to their real professions in schools. Instead, they suggested that Media English could be replaced by courses such as classroom management, teaching language components, and real class observation and report, particularly, in public schools.
However, all three groups found teaching-related courses, such as teaching methodology and general English courses, of more sustainable nature and useful in the real teaching context.
This study found that the three groups of participants were unanimous in their evaluations of the majority of the courses, while their evaluative perceptions significantly varied for a small fraction of the courses in the program. The findings also revealed that the participants had a positive attitude towards the maintenance of most of the courses addressing teaching methodology and practice. Moreover, they believed that there is a need for inclusion of practical courses like practice- and micro-teachings as well as real classroom observations. The in-service teachers had a negative attitude toward the courses that did not have practical nature in their classrooms. The pre-service teachers and teacher educators found only the courses that are not related to teaching, that is, literary courses, as irrelevant and suggested that these courses be amended or even be replaced by some other courses.
The results of the study provide some pedagogical implications that can be of help for EFL teacher educators, syllabus designer, and policy makers at universities. Based on the findings, it is suggested that the courses which are related to teaching but not aligned with the realities of the teaching context can be improved in a way that they match the goals of the program and the teaching context in real classrooms. The in-service teachers' opinions, as the ones who are in direct contact with the classroom context and are well familiar with the realities and challenges of EFL classes at schools as well as the educational issues, should also be considered in setting educational policies and selecting the courses to be taught at universities.
Peacock, M. (2009). The evaluation of foreign-language-teacher education programs. Language Teaching Research, 13, 259–78.