Subjective Theories and EFL Teacher Education

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

Here’s an excerpt of a transcript of a grade 8 EFL lesson at a German Hauptschule (learners are between 13-15 years old; in their fourth year of learning English as a foreign language in a secondary school that does not lead to a university entrance qualification). The student teacher who conducted the lesson – his/her very first attempt at teaching in the obligatory teaching practicum here in Karlsruhe – was 23 years old at that time.

T: It is now time to learn some new words you need to talk about winter sport activities. The first one is ‘slopes’. For this word, open your books at page 3. On this photo you can see slopes. What could the word ‘slope’ mean? For example, a little hint .. you can do skiing on a slope. Do you know the right German word?
L1: Piste.
T: OK. You can do skiing on a slope. [chalkboard: You can do skiing on a slope.] So, what’s the German expression for this sentence? [no reaction; chalkboard: Du kannst auf einer Piste Ski fahren. … Please copy the words ‘slope’, ‘Piste‘, and the example sentences in English and in German in your exercise books. … OK. Now we have to learn the next word … ‘nervous’ … The next word is ‘nervous’. Ihr schreibt das erst auf, wenn ich es sage! [please don’t copy it from the board right now, I’ll tell you when!] … Look at my behavior, what is ‘nervous’? What could the word ‘nervous’ mean?
L2: Nervös.
T: Aha … very good …

The transcript shows how difficult it is for beginning (non-native) teachers of English as a foreign language to distance themselves from what they have experienced as foreign language learners, and to translate into practice what they are beginning to learn about CLT, TBLL, including vocabulary and grammar instruction, etc. at university level.

From the theory-practice-perspective, isn’t this one of the most difficult challenges in teacher education?


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