BECOMING A TEACHER OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES – CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES AND PERSPECTIVES
Becoming a foreign language teacher today does not simply mean developing one’s knowledge of and obtaining proficiency in the language one would like to teach, or simply learning how to teach a language. The information and knowledge the language teacher needs to pass on to his/her students does no longer constitute a big challenge in class. In this aspect there is no doubt that technology has definitely taken the upper hand. The language teacher’s main priority in class is how to communicate with his students, how to pass on to his students the love and passion for learning the language. This can only be achieved if the teacher succeeds in passing on to his students in class the emotions, the passion of language learning by means of a positive relationship in which the student is not simply a “spectator” in class but becomes the protagonist of that same learning experience. In other words, the biggest challenge in language teaching is the organization and delivery of the teaching and learning materials and how these are applied in class, according to the needs and abilities of the students. In fact language teaching today is influenced by a wide range of individual and sociological factors, namely, second language acquisition theories, the use of technology in the language classroom, curriculum constraints, free movement of individuals from one place to another and from one country to another and the language used in the different media. Furthermore, multi-cultural classrooms have become very common in the 21st century, bringing new challenges and realities for the language teachers. This has, over the years, changed drastically the concept and philosophy of language teaching, making the role (or rather various roles) and duties of any teacher, not least the language teacher, not simply complex but, above all, very demanding. And to be able to respond to these evolving needs, teachers of foreign languages need to, especially during the years of their pre-service training, not just combine theoretical knowledge with practical application through reflective writing but also have the determination and the ability to cope with heterogeneous classrooms in a multicultural society.