About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5473-5479
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain

LANGUAGE TEACHER PROFILES: HOW DOES LANGUAGE AWARENESS RELATE TO TEACHING PHILOSOPHY?

A. McNeill

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HONG KONG)
In an ideal world, second language (L2) teachers would have an impeccable command of the language they teach and excellent knowledge about the language; they would also possess highly developed pedagogical skills. In fact, L2 proficiency, metalinguistic awareness and teaching methods represent central strands of most language teacher education programs, with the aim of producing teachers who are competent in all three areas. In practice, however, teachers differ in many respects. Differences in teaching styles and philosophies and variable competence in L2 result in teachers with particular profiles.

This paper examines aspects of the above areas of teaching competence and how they inter-relate. It reports a study that examined teachers’ awareness of the vocabulary difficulties encountered by language learners in a reading text, with a view to exploring possible relationships with teachers’ own command of English and their ways of teaching. 20 experienced non-native speaker (NNS) English teachers took part in a series of vocabulary tests designed to shed light on their knowledge of different aspects of a set of English words. Although several vocabulary tests have become established internationally in recent years and are accessible on-line with downloadable software, these tend to focus on measuring vocabulary size (e.g. Meara & Jones 1987; Nation 1990) or lexical richness in written production (Laufer & Nation 1994). In order to obtain a detailed profile of the teachers’ vocabulary knowledge in the present study, it was decided to develop some vocabulary tests, inspired by the work of Read (1993 and 2000), who has proposed some test formats for measuring different aspects of vocabulary knowledge based on association. The tests addressed semantic, morphological and phonological knowledge.

The teachers’ sensitivity to lexical difficulty in reading texts was measured by asking them to study a pedagogical text and identify the items that groups L2 learners had found most difficult. The teachers’ approaches to handling language material in the classroom and their beliefs about language teaching were investigated by asking them to complete a questionnaire which addressed four main areas: (a) giving classroom explanations, (b) the teaching of reading, (c) the teaching of vocabulary, and (d) subscription to particular approaches to language teaching.

The data were analyzed by means of correlation and cluster analysis in order to identify separate clusters of teacher types and their characteristics. The results suggest that teachers who are sensitive to lexical difficulty tend to have good semantic knowledge and prefer to use L2 rather than L1 to explain word meaning. Conversely, teachers with low awareness of lexical difficulty tend to rely on L1 for classroom explanation. The paper also concludes that there is a need to develop tests of teacher language awareness, preferably computer-based, that can be made available to those interested in investigating and monitoring this important aspect of teaching competence.
@InProceedings{MCNEILL2012LAN,
author = {McNeill, A.},
title = {LANGUAGE TEACHER PROFILES: HOW DOES LANGUAGE AWARENESS RELATE TO TEACHING PHILOSOPHY?},
series = {6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-5563-5},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {5473-5479}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. McNeill
TI - LANGUAGE TEACHER PROFILES: HOW DOES LANGUAGE AWARENESS RELATE TO TEACHING PHILOSOPHY?
SN - 978-84-615-5563-5/2340-1079
PY - 2012
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2012
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2012 Proceedings
SP - 5473
EP - 5479
ER -
A. McNeill (2012) LANGUAGE TEACHER PROFILES: HOW DOES LANGUAGE AWARENESS RELATE TO TEACHING PHILOSOPHY?, INTED2012 Proceedings, pp. 5473-5479.
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