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Effective teaching strategies in the primary EFL classroom - Diverging perspectives?

by Jana Roos, Hannah Ruhm, Kristin Kersten, Sonja Brunsmeier & Karen Glaser (Universities Potsdam, Hildesheim, Vechta, Leipzig; Germany)

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A key question in instructed second language (L2) acquisition research focuses on which L2 instructional techniques are most effective to support learners’ foreign language development in the classroom. By extension, this question is relevant for teacher education, as student teachers need to be equipped not only with such techniques, but also with the competence to continually self-assess and reflect their own teaching strategies to develop professional vision (Uličná, 2017; Glaser, forthc).

A challenge for empirical classroom studies is, however, that valid and reliable assessment instruments for instructional strategies in young learners’ language classrooms are still scarce (for an exception, see Weitz, 2015). The Teacher Input Observation Scheme (TIOS, Kersten et al., 2018) is a standardized classroom observation instrument which operationalizes teachers’ L2 input and instructional quality covering 41 teaching techniques. The instrument has been shown to measure differences between teachers and differential effects of L2 teaching strategies on young learners’ L2 proficiency (Kersten, 2021).

In the current project, the TIOS was implemented to support primary EFL student teachers’ development in their practical semester, to help them refine the self-reflection of their classroom experiences and transfer theoretical knowledge to their own teaching practice. More specifically, the project investigates (1) how student teachers evaluate the teaching strategies they use in their training classrooms, and (2) to what extent this self-assessment corresponds to, or differs from, the lesson assessments of experienced experts in foreign language teaching.

Data was collected from 50 student teachers studying at different German Universities and their university mentors (referred to as ‘experts’) by means of the TIOS directly following lessons taught by the student teachers and observed by their mentors during the practical semester. Data will be analyzed statistically using correlational analyses, group comparisons (ANOVA), and linear regressions.

Results will shed light on student teachers’ and experts’ conceptualizations of teaching strategies and their (diverging) perspectives on the effective use of such strategies in English lessons at primary level, and will provide insights into student teachers’ self-perceptions of performance. Ultimately, it is hoped that the findings will help inform the quality of foreign language teacher education in Germany and beyond.

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References:

Glaser, Karen (forthc. 2022). “Enhancing pre-service teacher training through inquiry-based learning: An analytic-reflective classroom videography assignment in the English teaching practicum”. In Thomson, Katrin (ed.), Classroom discourse competence: Current issues in language teacher education. Tübingen: Narr.

 

Kersten, Kristin (2021). “L2 input and characteristics of instructional techniques in early foreign language classrooms – Underlying theory and pedagogical practice”. In: The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL, 10(2), 27-59.

 

Kersten, Kristin / Bruhn, Ann-Christin / Ponto, Katharina / Böhnke, Julia / Greve, Werner (2018). Teacher Input Observation Scheme (TIOS). Studies on Multilingualism in Language Education, 4, Hildesheim University.

 

Uličná, Klára (2017). “Professional vision of future English language teachers: Subject-specific noticing and knowledge-based reasoning”. In: e-Pedagogium, 11, 38-49.

 

Weitz, Martina (2015). Die Rolle des L2-Inputs in bilingualen Kindergärten. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang.