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The development of language teaching beliefs: From theory to practice

Sarah R. Faltin Osborn, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


As pre-service foreign language teachers navigate their formal teacher training in university-based programs of teacher education, they often encounter less traditional pedagogy that exposes them to teaching approaches that they themselves have rarely or never experienced first hand during their own schooling. These teaching approaches constitute a shift from more traditional to more communicative approaches. However, not all pre-service teachers continue to use these approaches to teaching as they gain greater independence in their own classrooms; instead they often revert back to the more traditional techniques with which they were taught. If language teachers are determining that what they have learned as effective teaching is not usable or effective in their classrooms, it becomes necessary to examine their instructional decision-making and the belief substructure that they draw upon. The study sought to explore how teacher beliefs about effective language teaching change over time as pre-service teachers gain both theoretical and practical knowledge as they transition from student to practitioner. Thus, the purpose of this instrumental case study was to describe the development of beliefs about effective language teaching for pre-service language teachers as they transitioned from a teaching methods course to self-contained classroom teaching after graduating from a large Midwestern university. Data was collected using a qualitative methodology using an instrumental case study design. The researcher found that a combination of coursework and experience was significant in shaping, promoting and inhibiting pre-service teachers' beliefs about effective language teaching. While research on effective language teaching has found that many novice teachers often revert back to the approaches to that they experienced as language learners, the findings of this study offer some contradictory evidence against these claims. The study also found that what novice teachers felt most unprepared for were the demands placed upon them by their districts, especially those that required time commitments that took away from their time to prepare for instruction, such as serving on departmental and school committees. One unique contribution of this study was its duration, as it followed participants as they completed their university-based teaching experiences and as they began their careers as self-contained classroom teachers.

Subject Area

Foreign language education|Education|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Osborn, Sarah R. Faltin, "The development of language teaching beliefs: From theory to practice" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3688209.