The current recommendation by The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is that communication in the target language should comprise at least 90% of instructional time in the second language classroom (ACTFL, 2012). This constructivist mixedmethod study contributes to the literature on the oral skills of practicing high school teachers and the oral skills training they receive in teacher preparation programs. Data for the study were collected in two phases, from nine face-to-face interviews, and from electronic survey respondents. Surveys were sent out to two hundred four teachers and responses were received from sixty-eight.
Identified themes that emerged from interview participants’ experiences were: 1) use of target language vs. English in class, 2) challenges target language teaching presented for teachers, and 3) teachers’ responses to these challenges. A twenty-one question electronic survey was created based upon these themes and sent out state-wide to high school Spanish teachers.
In a significant finding, while participants indicated an overall feeling of being sufficiently proficient in their own oral skills and supporting use of the target language as much as possible in classroom activities, slightly more than one-half of teachers surveyed reported they were not adequately prepared to teach in a Standards-based curriculum which emphasizes the use of target language. Findings also indicated that consideration should be given to providing additional professional development opportunities regarding knowledge of and implementation of the Standards, as well as creation of further opportunities for target language maintenance for currently practicing teachers and additional opportunities for pre-service teachers in their university programs to improve their oral proficiency. In addition, this study revealed that, in this state, the taking and passing of the Oral Proficiency Interview or not needing to do so did not significantly impact the amount of target language used in class by teachers or student. Regarding length of teaching career and use of Spanish in class, this study showed a higher use of the target language by both teachers newer to the profession and those more senior teachers with less Spanish use in class reported by teachers who had been teaching between six and ten years.
Suggestions for future research were offered such as expanding studies to include middle school and elementary school levels, conducting similar studies with teachers of other languages than Spanish, and investigating other state’s teachers’ perspectives. Further data could provide more in-depth insights if the amounts of target language spoken for the various purposes were broken out into percentages by each level of language taught by instructors.
|Commitee:||Boeder, Shane, Nicoud, Jon|
|School Location:||United States -- Wisconsin|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Foreign language education, Teacher education|
|Keywords:||Foreign language standards, High school Spanish education, Oral proficiency, Oral proficiency interview, Second language acquisiiton, Teacher education|
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