Literature Review Language Teacher Education Education Essay

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In the scope of language teacher education, the three terms namely teacher training, teacher education and teacher development have been of researchers' interest since the beginning of the field. As "language teacher education is an ongoing process that includes interpersonal, communicative and professionalization issues" (Kelly et al, 2004:14), the scope of these terms and the relationship between them have involved interesting long-lasting discussions.

In a commonsense understanding, teacher training refers to providing teacher learners with necessary knowledge of discrete and trainable skills in their profession (Richards, 1990). He suggests different activities such as teaching assistantships, simulations or microteaching as training experiences for student teachers. Sharing this view, Widdowson (1997) describes teacher training as solution-oriented with the idea that "teachers are to be given specific instruction in practical techniques to cope with predictable events" (p.121). With respect to the stage in teacher learning process, formal courses at colleges or universities which grant successful candidates a certificate such as BATEFL (Bachelor in Teaching English as a Foreign Language) make its distinction to the others as clarified by Ur (1997).

On the other hand, according to Richards (1990), teacher education is likely to be used as an indication of the macro approach of teacher preparation in comparison with the micro one of teacher training. This domain focuses on "clarifying and elucidating the concepts and thinking processes that guide the effective second language teacher" (p.14). In other words, student teachers are educated with the awareness of principles related to the development of language knowledge, language teaching and learning (Crandall, 2000), which will facilitate their teaching activities. Therefore, teacher education is problem-oriented in terms of clarifying theories that underlines particular practices (Widdowson, 1997).

Last but not least, as its own name, teacher development is generally understood as "professional learning by teachers already engaged in professional practice" (Ur, 1997). In this sense, the definition refers to in-service teacher training with a tendency of encouraging reflective discussions on teachers' classroom experience. Such conception, to a certain extent, reflects what Lange (1990) implies as it considers the continued growth both before and throughout a career, together with the notion of a life-long process supported by Crandall (2000).

To some points, the ideas presented above seem to create the distinction among three terms. However, these concepts do not independently exist in the field, but have a mutual relationship. Teacher education is regarded as a comprehensive term that includes "pre-service programs for prospective teachers, induction programs for beginning teachers and in-service programs for practicing teachers" (Lee & Yanger, 1996:15). Specifically, in the field of second language teaching and learning, Richards (1990) is claimed the one who coined the term "second language teacher education" to cover both the training and education perspective in second language teacher preparation. In a later study, Richards and Farrell (2005) broaden the scope of teacher education which identifies two kinds of goals namely training and development in case the former indicates short-term and immediate goal and the latter pursues the long-term one. Furthermore, conceptually concerning training with skills, education with knowledge, and development with understanding, Tedick (2005) makes an important point to declare that all notions are relevant at all stages of teacher's career but the balance between them may be varied in different periods.

To summarize, the term "language teacher education" (LTE henceforth) used in this study refers to a broad view of the notion scope. Its targets are professional programmes which consist of both prospective, beginning and practicing language teachers in their short-term or long-term goals. The purposes of these programmes are to provide trainee teachers with adequate knowledge of both theories and practices of language teaching, as well as to develop their self awareness and reflective practice in their profession. Due to the focus of this project, the study will examine a pre-service English language teacher education programme (ELTE henceforward) in English as a foreign language (EFL) context, which prepares student teachers for their future career. In this sense, the understanding of LTE programs originally sticks with "initial/pre-service teacher training/education" as Richards (1990:15) argues that "the intent of second language teacher education must be to provide opportunities for the novice to acquire the skills and competencies of effective teachers and to discover the working rules that effective teachers use." From now on, the term "second language teacher education" (SLTE hereafter), under specific conditions, means foreign LTE as well because SLTE has become an umbrella term for LTE in TESOL (or ELT) regardless controversies related to "second language" conception (Wright, 2010).

The knowledge base of language teacher education

Knowledge base, i.e teacher knowledge, has been of concern in the LTE field, thus has stimulated many long-lasting discussions. The aim of all these discussion is to answer the questions about what student teachers should know and how they should learn, as well as whether what they have been taught is applicable in their future teaching context (Freeman, 2009). The arguments are much related to its components which are considered to build up the essential profession background of prospective teachers.

According to Richards (2008), the two different kinds of knowledge which play the key role in any LTE programs are "knowledge about" and "knowledge how". Firstly, it is "knowledge about" or content knowledge delivered through language-based courses and methodology courses (Richards, 2008). Language courses are traditionally expected to prepare prospective teachers for subject knowledge including personal language proficiency, knowledge about language and knowledge about culture. With regards to language proficiency, Richards (1998) underscores that a teacher needs to achieve a certain 'threshold level of proficiency' for effective teaching of the target language; particularly if they are nonnative speakers of the language they teach. This acquired level will affect teachers' instructional discourse in their classroom as well as their teaching skills (Heaton, 1981, cited by Richards, 1998). For example, if language skills are improved, particular teaching skills which involves such skills are also expected to enhance. Along with language proficiency, the knowledge about language plays an irresistibly key part in this field. Even though it is a very broad category, Bartels (2009:125) summarizes its main components as "knowledge of language modes (speaking, listening, writing, reading), how language is used (e.g pragmatics, discourse analysis, etc) and language learning (including ways of second language teaching based on conceptions of language)". For that reason, many LTE programmes covering both undergraduate and graduate level have chosen a number of courses to help student teachers with this type of knowledge such as grammar, phonetics and phonology, second language acquisition, sociolinguistics and so forth (Richards, 1998). Last but not least, it is the knowledge about culture of countries from which the target language is fostered. Particularizing with the case of English, the cultures of English speaking countries appear to be one of the focal points in many teacher education programmes with country and cross-cultural/ intercultural communication courses.

"Knowledge about", on the other hand, consists of methodology courses which assists trainee teachers with a guidance of pedagogical skills and techniques. Simply speaking, they show teachers how to teach the knowledge they have gained in language-based courses (Richards, 2008). Traditional LTE conception of this aspect demonstrates classroom teaching skills and pedagogic issues which both Shulman (1987) and Roberts (1998) consider 'general pedagogical knowledge'. This notion first has essential characteristics in common with the one in teacher education of other subjects such as principles and strategies for classroom management, testing and evaluation and classroom management skills. Additionally, Roberts (1998) has pointed out its own feature of repertoire of English language teaching (ELT) activities. In other words, the teacher can only work well if the program prepares him for theories of teaching and learning, knowledge of learners and learning, and different methods of ELT.

It seems that with such preparation in both subject knowledge and pedagogical knowledge, future teachers will be able to manage their teaching effectively and deal with critical incidents in the classroom. However, recent research (e.g Bartels, 2005, cited by Richards, 2008) reveals that teachers are actually not successful in applying the provided knowledge in real situations. The implementation of Communicative Language Teaching approach can be a typical instance when many teachers still have a tendency of following the traditional Grammar Translation method despite the theoretical and practical understandings of the up-to-date approach. Hence, it appears to be reasonable for Richards (2008) to recommend a third strand of the core content of SLTE which is named "knowledge how". "Central to knowledge how are concepts such as pedagogical content knowledge (the capacity to transform content into knowledge and thinking) and practical knowledge, all of which refer to the knowledge and thinking that teachers make use of in facilitating learning in their classrooms" (Richards, 2008:162). In this statement, pedagogical content knowledge which has been of thorough discussions since the early days of the SLTE field continues to prove its prime importance in teacher learning. The term was brought to the research field by Shulman (1987) when he recommended necessary reforms of the LTE knowledge base. As claiming that the teachers' subject knowledge and pedagogy were treated mutually exclusive in research at that time, Shulman introduced "pedagogical content knowledge" as an "amalgam" mixing up the two strands and is teachers' own special form of professional understanding. The later clarification Roberts (1998) offers again confirms its unique idea of restructuring the language content for purposes of pedagogy. It means student teachers need learn how to adapt the linguistic content and adopt an appropriate pedagogy towards the target language to make it accessible to learners in highly contextualized classroom settings. In brief, "knowledge how" with the consideration on both pedagogical content knowledge and practical knowledge gained by teachers' own experience has expanded the knowledge base of SLTE to "the process of teaching and teacher-learning and the beliefs, theories and knowledge that informs teaching" (Richards, 2008:162).

More proposals for the content of SLTE programmes are much related to contextual knowledge. Freeman and Johnson (1998) in their argument to reconceptualize the knowledge base of teacher education suggest a new framework of three domains namely teacher-learner, social context and pedagogical context. Specifically, contrasting with conventional perspectives that assume the provision of discrete knowledge and one-fit-all teaching contexts, the two authors stress the important role of social context or "sociocultural environments" referring to "the place where teacher-learners carry out their work" (p.408). In this sense, the future teaching context is recommended to be paid attention in teacher education because the program should prepare prospective teachers for how the teaching activities are taking place, how students learn the target language behave, what the expectations of the society are and so forth. Roberts (1998) categorizes all these features in three groups known as "learners", "school" and "community". Such preparation may help novice teachers avoid the "reality shock" from their vision which Johnson (1996) does unearth in his study. To sum up, teacher learning is actually a "dynamic social activity" which always has a relation to the current educational situations (Johnson, 2006).

As a further attempt, researchers have other recommendations on the SLTE content. Roberts (1998) adds curricular knowledge of the official language curriculum and of resources and process knowledge which indicates a number of enabling skills. Similarly, Shulman (1987) sees the importance of curriculum in his LTE knowledge base model. In addition, support knowledge which stands for psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and research methods is demonstrated by Day and Conklin (1992).

In conclusion, the knowledge base of language teacher education is undoubtedly a complex area that may see different frameworks proposed in various studies. However, regardless of its complicatedness, the questions of what prospective teachers should be taught and how they will teach in their future profession are central in the field. Therefore, the present project will examine the knowledge base of LTE programs in the light of its key aspects including teachers' personal language proficiency, knowledge about language, knowledge about culture, general pedagogical knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and contextual knowledge. Such selection is conducted through the analysis of existing studies to figure out essential components of language teacher knowledge. It would be hard to cover all suggested aspects, rather than the researcher would like to concentrate on outstanding perspectives.

Models of language teacher education

In addition to concerns about the knowledge base of teacher education, the research field has paid considerable attention to the models of teacher learning, i.e how the professional education is organized (Wallace, 1991). The issue not only cares about its instructional practices but also expands to the overall approach of the program's pedagogy. Different models probably build up different future teachers' perspectives on their teaching behaviors.

Wallace (1991) has so far had a crucial contribution to the research area with his presentation of three current models in the 1990s, which are still applying in many LTE programmes at present. In the first place, the "craft" model is adopted from the traditional apprenticeship of other disciplines such as carpentry or metallurgy (Atkin, 1968, cited by Wallace, 1991). Like an apprentice, the trainee follows one expert of the field to learn and imitate his/her techniques and skills. The case is generally similar in LTE when student teachers learn how to teach from the experience teachers' model. Thus, "craft/apprenticeship-based teacher education shares the view of teacher learning as essentially imitative in process and model-based in content" (Roberts, 1998:16). This view shares Grenfell et al (2003)'s perspective in terms of regarding teacher learning as a process of absorption, observation, imitation, questioning and guidance. Hence, the trainee is seen as the recipient of knowledge and teaching knowledge belongs to a process of transmission from generation to generation. To a certain extent, this model does support inexperienced teachers by providing them with a "living example" to learn and cultivate their own manner. Moreover, the apprenticeship of teacher training seems to be cheaper than higher education institution, so this approach may be suitable where the resources are limited. On the other hand, it has to face up with obvious shortcomings of applying an imitative approach in the teacher education. It seems that teachers' cognition, beliefs and experience can not be made use of in this model.

The second model is known as the "applied science" - a "traditionally and probably the most prevalent model underlying most training or education programmes for the professions" in different areas including teaching (Wallace, 1991:8). This one-way model choose a top-down approach to first introduce student teachers to scientific knowledge which are conveyed by experts in the area, then guides them how to apply such knowledge to their professions, and finally put the theory into practice. In case the trainee is not successful, the reasons perhaps lie in his improper understandings of the findings or inappropriate application of what have been taught, rather than the problems of the scientific base. There is no doubt that trainees will obtain a rich background of teaching theories in their teacher education, which in many cases does facilitate their practice. Nevertheless, that the knowledge is proposed by some experts with limited experiments may not work well in real situations because they are not drawn out by practitioners who actually engage in the profession practice (Wallace, 1991).

The last model Wallace (1991) presents in his paper is known as "reflective". Dated back to its birth, Schön (1987) proposed the term with the notion that "reflective practice" considers one's own experiences in applying knowledge to practice during the training procedure. This concept probably becomes a bridge between theory and practice, and Wallace (1991) already shared a same point of view with Schön's research. His description of the model has shown that reflection takes place in the whole process, from the time when trainees learn the input of teaching theories until their practice. Students' "received knowledge" and "experiential knowledge" (knowledge-in-action) both contribute to the procedure. That is to say, trainee teachers are truly active in their learning, rather than "vessels to be filled with knowledge". They do have a chance to reflect on their values, beliefs and experience; improve their practices and apply what they are educated into the classroom by a number of activities such as dialogue journals and group discussions (Ojanean 1993, cited by Wu 2006). This model has gained a great amount of attention in the last twenty years, and still one of key approaches in many LTE programs because reflection is a key component in teacher development (Richards, 1990).

Last but not least, it is standard-based model, i.e competency-based model which has achieved a great care since the beginning of the 21st century. Katz and Snow (2009) argue that with specific requirements of standards, a teacher education program can set out clear expectations for all related subjects. For instance, teacher educators can have their lists of competencies that prospective teachers are required to obtain and then direct their education towards achieving these standards. Similarly, student teachers set clear performance expectations to assist them to understand what they should know. The teaching capacity is based on a list of competencies which do not put the contextual factors into much concern (Murray, 2009). Examples of applying this model in countries as Egypt and China, and TESOL organizations have proved its present popularity in LTE. The "common language" for all stakeholders involving authorities, teacher educators and trainee teachers is explained to give the direction of teacher preparation and make life easier to the procedure. However, the lack of consensus on what constitutes teachers' expertise as well as the less important role of contextual factors may lead to some challenges to this approach.

Each model involves a different procedure of instructing teacher learning. However, this paper will present a multi-activities approach (Gebhard et.al, 1990) that can represent all models in various aspects. The most traditional activity is "lecture mode" which provides straight input for learners in a one-way process (Wallace, 1991). Together with lectures, Ellis (1990) suggests providing student teachers with "readings" from articles and books on second/foreign language teaching to get more input on their own, as well as the use of "group discussion and seminars" to promote learners' active participation and reflection. "Observation" of real class teaching or video recordings of actual lessons proves its popularity in Day (1990), Ellis (1990), and Gebhard et.al (1990). They are considered potentially rich sources of data supporting students to understand about what actually happens in class. After building an idea of what to teach and how to teach, student teachers are recommended to do "microteaching" and "teaching practice" which are of the most common activities in teacher education. All the papers above share their viewpoint of microteaching that is beneficial to both instructors and students with respect to reflective practice. Others activities such as lesson transcription, workshops, and case studies are also applicable in methods courses.

To sum up, the paper has reviewed four popular models in LTE generally and particularly in English LTE programs. In fact, there is no flawless model or better and worse model of teacher education among them because their application depends on contextual factors. The analysis above is expected to make us aware of both pros and cons of each model, as a result, acknowledge why a specific LTE program chooses to follow only one suggestion and has a mixed choice of recommendations. Few last words are for the list of learning and teaching modes that may occur in more than one model of teacher preparation.

The evaluation of language teacher education programmes

What is program evaluation?

Before going into details with the idea of program evaluation, it would be better to briefly explain the term "evaluation". Perhaps, defining this notion is not difficult if we make use of the dictionary statement: "to judge or calculate the quality, importance, amount or value of something" suggested by Cambridge dictionary. Referring to an authorized definition, Scriven (1967, cited by Worthen et al 1997) annotates the terms as "judging the worth or merit of something" while Worthen et al (1997) has a very-much-alike conception which states that "evaluation is determining the worth or merit of an evaluation object" (p.5). Even though there seems to be no consensus in giving the final definition of the term and each author may have his own perception on this issue, the central concern of evaluation is normally related to examining and judging. This study will develop from this aspect of the term understanding for further explanation.

Regarding program evaluation with a limited scope of judgment, the understanding appears to be more specific as well. Allison (2007:1) defines it as "a systematic method for collecting, analyzing, and using information to answer basic questions about a program". To this extent, the evaluation is systematized and a number of questions will need to be done beforehand to facilitate the judgment process. Robinson (2003:199), in an earlier attempt, explains the term as "the collection, analysis, and interpretation of information… for forming judgments about the value of a particular programme". What she aims at is to provide information of "perceptions on a programme's values as well as to seek feedback from different channels. Importantly, her recommendation calls for building evaluation plans in advance.

In brief, for the purpose of this research, I adopted both perspectives on the program evaluation made by Robinson (2003) and Allison (2007). The programme evaluation will be conducted with guided questions and has its foremost goal of investigating people's perceptions on the programme's values from their feedback.

Fundamentals to programme evaluation

According to Richards (2001), different aspects of a program known as curriculum design, syllabus, classroom processes, materials, teachers and students themselves can be of central in programme evaluation. Sequentially, these facets are under the investigation to meet the two purposes: accountability and development (Weir and Roberts, 1994, cited by Salli-Copur, 2008). While "accountability" sets its goal to judge the effects of a program probably for potential attendants, "development" focuses on the improvement of programme quality. In a discussion specializing on SLTE programmes, Freeman (2009) also makes an important contribution when he acknowledges the notion of "applicability". This idea concerns how the programme adequately prepares all participants from their future working contexts, i.e classroom and schooling situations. Consequently, the programme evaluation generally and LTE programme evaluation in particular are expected to discover its whole process and post effects for the programme development and the benefits of the participants.

Due to such various goals, evaluating a program can be undertaken from a number of approaches. Scriven (1967, cited by Worthen et al, 1997) first compared and contrasted the two types of evaluation namely "formative" and "summative". The former is usually carried out during the programme schedule for modifications and revisions where possible and hence has programme personnel as its audiences. On the contrary, it is not until the program completes do evaluators make the latter one. This kind of evaluation aims at providing "decision makers and potential consumers with judgments about that program's worth or merit in relation to important criteria" (Worthen et al, 1997:14). It can be seen these two distinctions are essential because they are mutually supportive in the development of any programmes.

What is more, programme evaluation can be divided into internal and external as Worthen et al (1997) adds. The difference lies in the case whether the evaluator works in the examined programme or plays the part of an outsider. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. The internal evaluation may have more access to the programme information, especially be familiar with important contextual information; however, its objectivity can be a question. On the other hand, the external one possibly avoids its subjectivity to some extent, but seems not to fully approach the programme. Additionally, Worthen et al (1997) pointed out that these two dimensions can go hand in hand with the abovementioned "formative" and "summative" evaluation. Although the connection is not simply made, the researchers recommend that formative is related to internal evaluation and summative refers to external evaluation in the most common sense.

In summation, a review has been made to present considerations and approaches in conducting a programme evaluation. The action is perhaps undertaken from a variety of perspectives owing to the evaluator's purposes. Whatever dimension is, it is necessary to follow typical characteristics of the specific evaluation type.

Previous studies on evaluating language teacher education programmes

If the 1960s and 1970s see research's great interests on second/foreign language teaching and learning, the shift of focus has gradually moved to teacher education of the field in the last thirty years. Therefore, researchers become more interested in the evaluation of both pre-service and in-service teacher preparation programmes. The concerns about the quality of programmes and the evolution of LTE standards may explain the causes of this concentration (Gaies, 1992). Moreover, Peacock (2009) emphasizes that evaluating these programmes is the starting point on the way towards professionalization of the ELT field. The following review will summarize some studies in this area regarding their educational contexts and research methodology.

With regards to context, LTE program evaluations have been conducted in a number of institutions around the world. Al-Gaeed (1983, cited by Coskun & Daloglu, 2010) unearthed the strong points and drawbacks of an English teacher education program in Saudi Arabia by investigating the perspectives of programme students and graduates. Later, Gaies (1992) undertook an evaluation of training programs for ESL teachers at University of Northern Iowa, United States. Due to their teaching context, Richards and Pennington (1998) and Peacock (2009) both investigated the Bachelor TESL program at a Hong Kong university. Since then, an amount of research has been done in other countries and territories such as Singapore (Chong & Cheah, 2009) and Turkey (Salli-Corpur, 2008; Coskun & Daloglu, 2010); especially, the Profile Project for European Language Teacher Education completed in 2004 with case studies of 11 evaluated countries.

In terms of research methodology, a number of instruments can be listed from the pertaining studies. Questionnaire and interview have proven their widespread popularity in many projects pursued by Al-Gaeed (1983), Peacock (2009), Salli-Corpur (2008) and other related papers. The questions particularly target at their perspectives and judgments towards the program aspects. As a method to assess students' outcomes in Gaies (1992)'s project, portfolios have been seen of importance in making student knowledge base, skills, and values "a focal point for program evaluation", promotes students' active attitudes in evaluating the program and so forth. Last not but least, this type of evaluation has involved other data collection instruments such as reflection sheets (Richard & Pennington, 1998) and course materials (Peacock, 2009). Generally, research tools in this field can vary and much depend on the scope, the purposes and participants to be selected.

For the purpose of this project, Salli-Corpur (2008) and Peacock (2009) will be put into an in-depth review regarding their research approaches. Taking the recent graduates of a Turkish foreign language teacher education programme for his study, Salli-Corpur (2008) investigates their perceptions of their competencies as EFL teachers and the extent the programme components are successful in helping them gain these competencies. 109 graduates and 8 employers of theirs from different institutions took part in the project by doing two questionnaires for the two abovementioned aims. The findings of the first questionnaire uncovered participants' positive perceptions towards most of their teaching areas and the need to improve programme elements Similarly, the second questionnaire also revealed a need for revision of key components of the programme regarding their content, instructional practices and assessment. In terms of research methodology, the wide range of research subjects, which covers students graduating from 2002 to 2006, has strengthened the reliability of the study. Furthermore, the use of programme components to evaluate its effectiveness in preparing trainee teachers' neccessary competencies in their profession also has certain contribution to the research field.

Peacock (2009) internally evaluated a pre-service TEFL (Teaching English as foreign language) university program in Hong Kong. Having been conducted in several years with 166 participants, this project was expected to test the evaluation procedure of FLTE program by collecting responses from students, instructors, course coordinators, the alumni via questionnaire, interview, student essay on the program philosophy, as well as evaluating course documents. Both strengths and weaknesses of the program have been reported together with implications to improve the course and suggestions for further research in other contexts. The study is seen to be a pioneer making a systematic evaluation of LTE program by recommending a reliable comprehensive model with the involvements of different groups and the use of six data collection methods. Importantly, the program was evaluated from a list of fifteen questions which cover key features of program philosophy, knowledge base and model of teacher education. At the same time, it must be said that time is a matter for such long-term research.

In summary, the evaluation of LTE programmes generally and SLTE/FLTE programmes particularly have recently undergone continued development. The review of previous studies helps build up an interesting picture of what has been done and what need to be conducted in the future. Each project has its own useful characteristics from which the present project can learn, apply and adapt.

Beginning teachers in their teaching profession

This section is going to discuss beginning teachers who are in the early years of their career with respect to the transition from preparation courses to the real teaching environment, challenges and solutions, as well as the role of teacher preparation programmes.

Firstly, the notion of 'beginning teachers" needs to be made clear. Normally, this concept is much close to the "novice teachers" who are usually defined as "teachers have completed their teacher-education program and have just commenced teaching in an educational instituation" (Farrell, 2009). The novice teacher' experience, therefore, is often about one year. However, the scope of beginning teachers which the present research would like to cover may be broadened. Their teaching experience can be expanded to more than one year and about three years at most, which includes both their induction period and early professional development. This examination not only aims at evaluating how novice teachers experience their first year of teaching but also helps them to reflect their own changes during the period of time. A common feature in this group of teacher is their "special needs and interests that are different from their more experienced colleagues (Calderhead, 1992, cited by Farrell, 2003:95).

As Farrell (2009) argues, what beginning teachers have formed in their mind of the future teaching may greatly change when they have to face up with the realities of teaching contexts. Many graduates tend to assume that they will be able to apply what they have been prepared in the teacher education programmes. Actually, a lot of them have experienced a type of "reality shock" (Veenman, 1984) since the start of their profession. Farrell (2003) has revealed daunting challenges a first-year teacher encountered by data collected from researcher's field notes, teacher's journal, classroom observation and interview during the school year. The difficulties include the great work load, classroom management, the relationship with students and the shortage of support from his colleagues except for the headmaster. In an earlier project, Richards and Pennington (1998) also carefully investigated the early working days of five graduates of a pre-service ELTE programs in Hong Kong. Accumulated from questionnaire, classroom observation, reflection sheets and monthly meetings, the data has unearthed that these teachers could not apply what they had learnt from the program into their teaching in terms of methodology, teacher roles and relationship with students. From the results of two among a number of studies on new teachers in their profession (Veenman, 1984; Warford & Reeves, 2003; Farrell, 2008), this specific group of practitioners has come across many obstacles due to the gap between the ideals and the reality.

There is no doubt that disillusions may appear at times; nevertheless, many teachers have found their ways to solve problems rather than to surrender. For instance, the teacher in Farrell (2003, 2006) has survived in the "sink-or-swim" situation (Varah et al, 1996; cited by Farrell, 2009) by enhancing his communication skills, innovation of teaching ideas, empathy to students and so forth. It is crucial for him to recognize his students' needs as one of the key consideration in his teaching activities. Referring back to Richards and Pennington's story, those teachers seemed to adapt themselves to the teaching culture of the current context and consequently ignore many key principles from their teacher education program. In this case, the context has proved its influence on teachers' style of practice.

The analysis of beginning teachers' problems and solutions during their first years has aroused a serious concern towards the role of LTE programmes in preparing teachers-to-be for the reality of their profession. Despite factors related to the teachers themselves, there is a burning question for issues future teachers should have experienced and been instructed to resolve. Obviously, the programmes cannot prepare for all potential situations but it may be useful if teachers are trained for common incidents and have a background of their teaching context.

To summarize, the literature review has fulfilled its tasks to critically reflect important theoretical and practical features in the evaluation of second/foreign language teacher education programmes. Despite controversies, SLTE has been considered to cover a multi-layered range of knowledge base and be under the influence of different models since its birth. The field has also been of research interest in the last two decades with both short-term and long-term projects evaluating the LTE programs from student teachers, instructors, administrators and graduates. However, the concern about the "applicability" of the program in the real teaching practice and the review of beginning teachers in their profession has raised an important question. It is how graduates perceive the program with a certain period of official teaching and "how relevant the preparation teachers-to-be receive to the tasks they confront" in their future context to minimize their "reality shock" (Richards and Pennington, 1998). The current project aims at investigating graduates' perspectives to find an answer to these considerations.

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