Date of Graduation

2011

Document Type

Restricted Dissertation - USF access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Betty Taylor

Third Advisor

Brian Gerrard

Abstract

Preservice foreign-language teachers are adults with well-established beliefs. They start teacher-education programs with traditional beliefs about language teaching reflecting their own experiences. The field of foreign-language teaching, however, underwent a paradigm shift from grammar-based to communicative foreign-language instruction. Therefore, some of the beliefs of preservice teachers might be contradictory to the new paradigm in the field and could be detrimental to their learning process in a teacher-education program. Teacher-education programs are considered a “weak intervention,” because preexisting beliefs may stand in the way of transformation.

This evaluation study examined the impact of the preservice program at the Defense Language Institute on the foreign-language teaching beliefs of preservice teachers. This 4-week program has the goal of foreign-language teachers adopting communicative foreign-language teaching methodology. Eighty-nine participants in four iterations of the preservice course completed the paper-and-pencil Foreign Language Teaching Belief Survey at the beginning and the end of the program.

Findings from this study suggest that the beliefs of foreign-language teachers might have changed after the preservice program. These findings, however, have to be interpreted with caution, given the limitations of the one group pre/posttest design. The newly formed beliefs about foreign-language teaching predominantly reflected iii communicative foreign-language teaching pedagogy as propagated by professional foreign language teacher organizations (ACTFL) and the field of second-language acquisition. Despite the claim that educational experiences are the sources of teacher beliefs, this study found no association between these two variables. Furthermore, preservice teachers favored lesson planning and practice teaching and rated them most influential for their views about foreign-language teaching at the end of the course.

This is the only study to date that investigates the effectiveness of a short, intensive teacher-preparation program that is situated in the work context of the attendees and emphasizes critical reflection and integrated practice teaching. It focuses on a heretofore underresearched population of teachers of less commonly taught languages, who are native speakers of these languages and migrated to the United States. Thus, this study contributes to the knowledge base of the profession.

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