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Archived Content from Conference Held in May 2001 

Building on our Strengths:
Second International Conference on Language Teacher Education


Summary of Presentation:
"The Dialogic Process of Capturing and Building
Teacher Practical Knowledge in Dual Language Programs"

Nancy Cloud, Rhode Island College · May 19, 2001

The heart of language teaching is action; performance in the classroom (Wein, 1995). Teaching practice is built upon language teachers' beliefs about language and language teaching, attitudes (dispositions) towards learners and programs, knowledge about language and literacy development, knowledge of specific curriculum and instructional approaches, and the development of all of the practical skills needed in classrooms. The available literature on Dual Language Immersion (DLI) is heavily weighted towards advocating for such programs or describing particular models being implemented. However, until recently, little attention had been paid to framing and developing the "practical knowledge of teachers" (Clandinin, 1991) working in such programs.

In 1998, Fred Genesee, Else Hamayan and I began a project that resulted in the handbook: Dual Language Instruction: A Handbook for Enriched Education (Heinle & Heinle, 2000). The purpose of this collaborative effort was to frame and develop the practical knowledge needed by teachers working in immersion, developmental bilingual and dual language immersion programs; programs we refer to as Enriched Education (EE) programs because they seek to develop bilingualism and biculturalism along with all of the other objectives of a basic public education; in short to enrich children's educations. The handbook was a response to the concerns raised by language teachers working in EE programs who expressed a need for guidance with the many complex teaching decisions they faced on a day-to-day basis or who simply desired confirmation that the approaches they were using were sound and defensible. We decided to produce a handbook that would answer the practical questions raised by teachers drawing upon a variety of sources.

In this session, I will describe what we believe supports the development of teacher practical knowledge; the major goal of language teacher education.

We believe that teacher practical knowledge should both inform and be informed by the existing research, theory, and practice. In this presentation, the importance of guiding frameworks, models of teaching, the offering of practical guidance and the provision of demonstrations to the development of teacher practical knowledge will be stressed. In addition, a range of primary mechanisms that support the development of teacher practical knowledge will be specified.

The challenges faced in implementing such teacher development initiatives will also be discussed.


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