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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:
"Themes in TESOL MA Teacher Education"

Ann Snow, California State University-Los Angeles · May 19, 2001


The TESOL MA program endeavors to prepare teachers to be both informed practitioners and effective researchers by providing a pedagogically and theoretically sound knowledge base and encouraging respect for differences in language, culture, belief systems, and values.

The backdrop for my remarks as a panelist on Theme IV - Processes of Language Teacher Education is the Vision statement above. In my presentation, I will identify six themes which, I believe, underlie this vision, reflect important processes in language teacher education, and guide the kind of teacher education program we offer our TESOL MA students at California Sate University, Los Angeles, a mid-size urban, state university where I have been an instructor for the past twelve years and currently serve as program coordinator.

Initiation into the professional discourse community

In teaching our students about English for Academic Purposes (EAP), we talk about ways in which ESL teachers can assist second language students to become members of the academic discourse community and ultimately of their discipline. Interestingly, we often overlook the need to explicitly initiate our own language education students into our professional discourse community. How can make this initiation be made a part of the teacher education curriculum? As part of this initiation, how can we assist our students to contribute service to the profession?

The role of native and non-native speakers in the profession

There is a nascent movement and growing literature on the role of non-native speakers in the profession. Many TESOL MA programs enroll large numbers of non-native speakers of English. What does this imply for the role of the non-native speaking teacher? Furthermore, it is often a startling revelation for ESL teachers in training to realize that many (in some cases, most) of the students they teach will use English to interact with other non-native speakers of English; this is obviously the case in EFL settings, but is increasingly true in urban centers of the U.S. What are the implications for the language teaching methodology?

Infusion of technology

Beyond requiring students to take a "Computers in Education" course, many teacher educators are seeking innovative ways to infuse technology into the curriculum. In addition to the goal of preparing teachers for information competency, there may be other benefits in teacher education such as promoting greater participation of students from non-native English speaking backgrounds or of those with different learning styles. How can technology be infused into the curriculum to benefit all students?

Performance-based assessment

There are increasing calls in the testing literature for authentic, performance-based assessment and for the implementation of multiple measures to achieve fairness in testing. How can we practice what we preach in terms of assessment practices in teacher education?

Pressures of standards/accreditation

Accountability is the buzzword of current efforts at educational reform. ESL teachers may be required to teach to specified standards; teacher educators may have to respond to the standards of their professional associations and other accreditation pressures. How can we respond to this increasing accountability in the teacher education curriculum? What are the challenges?

Opportunities for varied field experiences

Prospective ESL teachers may find themselves teaching in a wide variety of contexts - K-12 schools, community colleges, community-based adult schools, intensive English programs, workplace and corporate settings, and international assignments, for example. Can we accommodate this variety in the teacher education curriculum? How?

 


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