Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 9:1 (2003), pp. 47-65. DOI: 10.1080/1354060032000049904


Copyright 2003, Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


The authors conducted a qualitative study in order to understand the preconceptions novice TESOL teachers might have about teaching English language. Long interviews were conducted with nine students (six native English Speakers and three non-native speakers (NNS)) enrolled in one of two courses offered in a TESOL teacher education program. None of the participants had experience as an in-service teacher. Inductive analysis of tape transcripts suggested the presence of several conceptual themes discussed in the teacher thinking literature. Findings suggest that novice TESOL teachers, like their more experienced counterparts, have a system of metaphors to conceptualize teaching. The apprenticeship of observation, a notion in teacher thinking that suggests a powerful influence of previous experience in schooling on teachers, was reflected in NNS’ sensitivity to the norms of teaching in their country of origin; native English speakers, however, exhibited a relative lack of reflection on their experiences in the language classroom. Both NNS and NS participants expressed a presentistic outlook, borne perhaps, of the socio-political complexities of English language teaching. Novice TESOL teacher thinking also appears to exhibit evolving cognitive foundation that weaves folklinguistic adaptations of expert systems into their approach to teaching. Many participants spoke in the language of constructivism or made reference to terms discussed in SLA research literature. In conclusion, the researchers suggest that this preliminary evidence of metaphors, apprenticeship of observation, presentism, and adaptations of expert systems, constructs a preliminary framework for describing novice TESOL teacher thinking.