Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Perceptions of an In-service Diploma Course

Northcott, Joy (2010). Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Perceptions of an In-service Diploma Course. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000eb54


This thesis reports a study in the area of continuing professional development for teachers of English as a foreign language (TEFL). The research focuses on teachers' retrospective views of their in-service Diploma course, specifically their reasons for taking the course, their learning experience during the course and their perspectives on its impact.

This appears to be an under-researched area, so, in an attempt to frame it, the literature is drawn from a number of different areas: teacher training impact studies within both EFL and mainstream teaching; writing in the area of teachers' careers, motivation and receptivity to professional learning; teacher learning and development; teacher professional identity; and supervision and mentoring of teachers. In terms of methodology, the study takes a case study approach with data analysed through a framework drawn from phenomenography, and investigates the topic through the use of several stages of qualitative, semi-structured, individual interviews.

Some writers in the field of teacher education have taken the view that in-service professional development has little impact on practice but the findings from this study, although tentative and small-scale, are much more optimistic about the long-term value of CPO in the chosen field. Despite having varied opinions of their respective courses, almost all the interviewees could give concrete examples of sustained impact in the context of their subsequent practice, and in many instances it was possible to suggest tentative links between what had made the experience life-changing or otherwise. There was some considerable variation in the types of impact perceived and there also appeared to be a difference in the 'depth' of outcomes. Potential links between impact and other key issues are explored in detail, for example, motivation and receptivity to professional learning, self-identity and self-confidence as a teacher, the importance of prior teaching experience, and the role of course tutors.

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