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Early Career ESOL Teachers’ Practical Knowledge of Teaching Speaking

Webster, Simon James (2015) Early Career ESOL Teachers’ Practical Knowledge of Teaching Speaking. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis presents the findings of qualitative multiple-case study research investigating ESOL teachers’ practical knowledge of teaching speaking. Although there has been increased recognition of the value of practical knowledge research in recent years, such research remains extremely limited and the practical knowledge and teachers in an ESOL context and in the curricular domain of teaching speaking skills were previously unexplored areas. The four research participants were all early career ESOL teachers in the United Kingdom. Classroom observation data and interview data were generated at multiple points over the course of an academic year. This methodological approach introduced a longitudinal dimension to the research enabling any possible practical knowledge growth to be investigated. The research identified the largely contemporary nature of the ESOL teachers’ practices in teaching speaking. However, the teachers’ practical knowledge was identified as being atheoretical: teachers did not refer to public theory in the explanations of their practices. Instead, the findings suggest that teachers may experience a process of socialisation (both institutional and sectorial) through which many practices are adopted without a theoretical basis. A significant degree of commonality was identified amongst the teachers’ practical knowledge. Individual differences appeared to be significant, however, and were identifiable both in teachers’ practices and the beliefs underlying them. Teachers’ exercising of significant agency in their practices meant that these differences were evident despite certain sectorial pressure on teachers, particularly through exam washback. There was very limited evidence of growth in the teachers’ practical knowledge of teaching speaking. The research indicated a number of factors which appeared to inhibit such growth. The study discusses the implications of these findings for ESOL teacher development programmes. Recommendations for teacher development programmes include constructivist approaches to teacher engagement with public theory and institutional mechanisms for a sharing of practices amongst teachers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Early career, ESOL, practical knowledge, teacher cognition, speaking
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Education (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.655261
Depositing User: Mr Simon Webster
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2015 12:53
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9136

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