Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 42, No. 2, 135–148, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aims to examine Turkish pre-service teachers’ experiences related to a two-month international teaching and cultural experience in United States.
The participants were 251 Turkish pre-service teachers. They participated in a collaborative project from 2001 to 2010. The majority of participants were female.
The Project included an orientation week, six weeks of student teaching in a high school, seminars and projects at Iowa State University and cultural visits.
The authors collected data through a pre-service teacher questionnaire and their reflective journals.
Discussion and conclusions
The findings revealed that pre-service teachers perceived the international teaching experience helped them develop professionally and personally.
The participants learned to adapt to a new culture and to appreciate different worldviews of people. The author argues that most important for their professional development was the fact that they were challenged to teach their subject to native speakers in English.
In this programme, the participants had a chance to observe student-centred teaching approaches and collaborative/cooperative learning strategies while observing their mentor teachers. Later, the participants were able to teach lessons that were observed by their mentors.
The opportunity to practice in US helped the participants to improve their teaching confidence and skills during the internship.
Furthermore, the participants observed special education students in schools and appreciated the value given to each child. This emotional experience helped them to question special education in Turkey and to consider the possibilities that could be adopted in their own country.
The participants were also invited by an American family for a home stay of two days. The participants and families exchanged information and views and the questionnaire results showed that students returned to Turkey with a deeper understanding of a different culture.
The author concludes that teaching in an international context helps pre-service teachers develop their twenty-first-century skills.