Beliefs On Foreign Language Teaching Practices Education Essay

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A research was conducted by Caner, et al. titled Teachers Beliefs on Foreign Language Teaching Practices in Early Phases of Primary Education: A case Study. The purpose of the study was to examine if a teacher's beliefs have a relationship on their actual practices towards their teaching target at primary education level, primarily kindergarten and first grades state school in Turkey as demonstrated by Hsieh, 2006 previously. The research was carried out by analyzing the teaching practices and teaching activities performed by two teachers. Data gathering methods employed by the author were through the usage of questionnaires, semi structured interviews and video recordings. The research paper presented their findings by interpreting the teachers' beliefs on what is the best way young learners could learn English with regards to their age, level and interest by the aid of suitable teaching materials and employing different activities in the classroom. Therefore the critique of this paper is based on the teachers' beliefs on foreign language teaching practices in the early phases of primary education in Turkey. Overall the article was well written, clear and relevant.

Summary

In the study of Caner, et al. (2010) the main focus of the author is to find out whether teachers' beliefs have a role in the actual practices and teaching activities carried out towards their young learners from the primary education level. The authors are trying to emphasis the relation between effectiveness of the educators' beliefs and the capabilities of young learners in primary level education learning English as a foreign language. Reformation attempts were taken by the Ministry of National Education of Turkey by expanding the duration period of compulsory primary education and suggesting that foreign language education could start as early as kindergartens, first, second and third grades in formal education which previously only started at fourth and fifth grades.

Presently the study are supported by three categories namely 'underlying theories of early primary school education', 'characteristics of young learners' and 'the studies on foreign language teaching in early phases of primary education in Turkish context'. The study attempts to examine the relationship between the beliefs and the actual practices of early childhood teachers.

The authors' approach towards sampling the phenomenon in question is by investigating two teachers with almost the same teaching background; primarily teaching kindergarten, first, second and third grades. Teacher A is a 29-year-old female who graduated from English Language Teacher training department from a Turkey state University with a 6 years teaching experience in a state primary school. She took an elective course on teaching young learners. While Teacher B is a 33-year-old female who is also graduated from English Language Teacher training department from another Turkey state University but did not take any specific training related to teaching English to young learners. The setting of the study took place in Eskisehir, the only state primary school that offers English as a foreign language at early grades of education. The school is situated in the city centre whereby the social and economical backgrounds of the learners are almost homogenous.

The data collection utilizes the triangulation of highly recommended method developed by Charlesworth et al. (1993) via questionnaires, semi structured interviews and video-recordings in order to illustrate the teachers' beliefs and the actual practices teaching the learners corroborated with one another.

The main findings of the two teachers' teaching practices in the target classes in this research paper shows that generally there is definite relationship between both of the teachers' beliefs and their teaching practices to the young learners. By utilizing different materials and activities, both teachers concur that their young students could learn English much better with regards to their age, interest, ability and level of students. This is reinforced by both teachers carrying out repetitions, singing songs, picture drawings, colouring as well as role play producing conducive environment to the young learners.

Critique

In my opinion, Caner's research paper is generally well written, clear and relevant portraying the teachers' beliefs and current scenario of foreign teaching practices in the early phases of primary education specifically in Turkey. This research study was carried out as an "illustrative case study" as suggested by Quirk and Davies (2008) to give a more deeper insights on teaching English to young children in their early primary school education years.

In terms of data collection methodologies, the author uses various procedures which were highly recommended by Nunan (1994) when carrying out this type of research. The methodologies used by the author such as questionnaires, semi structured interview and video-recording are used as means of triangulation of data collection which are corroborated by several researchers such as Burts, et al. (1993,1995), Kim (2005) and Wang, et al. (2008). The main finding of this study showed that there is a relationship between teachers' belief and teaching practices in regards to the young learners as demonstrated previously by Hsieh (2006).

Caner, et al. (2010) results illustrates by giving insights of the relationship between the teachers' belief and the teaching practices carried out at an early level of education. Similar research carried out by other researcher such as Cameron (2001), Chiang (2003), Hedge, et al. (2009) agree with the notion of teaching foreign language starts as early as kindergarten level.

However, both teachers' approach in rewarding their students upon achievements which is in the form of verbal encouragements does not concur with their answers in Teacher Beliefs Scale (TBS) questionnaires based on the video recordings as reported by the author. From my point of view, this does not necessarily reflect the teachers' practices as a whole because of the nature of lesson observations are randomly selected. In addition, it is found that this paper presents its case study in detail but did not focus on specific issues on foreign language teaching in the early years of primary education such as social and economical backgrounds.

The drawback of this research paper is that it was conducted on one school as it is the only school in Eskisehir which offers English courses to Kindergarten, first, second and third grades and involves only two teachers of the same gender. Furthermore, both teachers differs slightly in terms of teaching backgrounds where one did not undergo any specific training or course related to teaching English to young learners. This in turn might not give the research a fair results and does not reflect the best data interpretations as it is rather a one sided perspective with a limited sample population.

Conclusion

This review has both summarized and critically reviewed Caner's journal on 'Teachers' Beliefs on foreign Language Teaching Practices in early Phase of Primary Education: A Case Study'. Emphasis on the early phase of primary school education as proposed by the early works of Hoose, Pietrofesa and Carlson in 1979 has lead to the researchers to perform this study in the attempt to illustrate the relationship of foreign language teaching in primary education years. Although a limited number of cases practicing foreign language teaching in the early primary education are studied, there is however a growing trend in the recent years where research are conducted to encourage the learning of English language at primary education level. It is also have been proven by various theorists and researchers that primary school children have the ability to learn a foreign language (Muro and Kottman, 1995) in the early years of life. This research paper conducted could focus more at a specific issue on foreign language teaching in early years of primary education instead of research questions or hypothesis alone. Furthermore, the sample population of this research paper could be increased in order to have more sound results. In addition, the case study which was only performed on one school in Eskisehir does not give significant results due to fact it is the only school which offers English courses to Kindergarten, first, second and third grades. Thus, more samples and further studies need to be conducted in order to fulfil the grand goal of learning a foreign language in the early phases of primary education.

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