AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Abstract

Research indicates that a significant amount of time and resources are spent on teacher training programs, but few studies have demonstrated whether these programs significantly improve instruction, especially in the area of foreign language teaching where a majority of teachers hold preconceived beliefs about teaching and learning. The purpose of this mixed method study was (1) to investigate the perceptions that teachers of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) had about teaching foreign languages and (2) to discover the factors that shaped their beliefs about teaching and learning Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Pashto, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Persian as foreign languages. The primary study was conducted, using a mixed method design, through questionnaires and interviews of twenty-five foreign-born LCTL instructors and their students in community colleges, universities, and private schools in Southern California. The main focus of the primary study was to determine the factors that guide teachers' instructional decisions and the methodologies that they considered effective. The secondary study focused on the impact of an intensive eighty-hour teacher training program on teachers' beliefs about education. The researcher conducted a quantitative analysis of preexistent data (pre and post) that was collected by a Language Training Center within a public university in Southern California from twenty-five foreign-born language instructors. The findings demonstrated that the teachers subscribed to the principles of "modern language teaching and learning," but had different understandings of commonly used educational terms and concepts. This exemplifies the need for teacher educators to better explain concepts and provide ample examples of "best practices." Also, the study identified factors to which the teachers attributed their beliefs and the reasons why teachers prefer one strategy over another. The researcher, moreover, found that teacher training programs can impact teachers' beliefs about teaching and learning less commonly taught languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Pashto, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Persian if language teacher educators better tailor their curricula to the needs of teachers.