Spanish language teachers' mediation practices in Higher Education

Cobo Palacios, Isabel (2023). Spanish language teachers' mediation practices in Higher Education. PhD thesis The Open University.



The discussion of the concept ‘mediation’ in foreign language education has rapidly increased over the last few years. However, mediation from the teacher’s point of view and their agency in mediation processes in the foreign language classroom is a field that still requires further exploration. In response to the need to get a better understanding of how language teachers actually create opportunities for their learners to establish connections between languages and cultures, this thesis aims to explore the explicit mechanisms used by Spanish teachers in higher education (HE) when they mediate target language and culture in online and face-to-face teaching practices.
For this research, a deliberately small sample of four Spanish practitioners in HE was selected, and a first-hand corpus of naturally occurring instances of mediation in the classroom is analysed through an inductive constructivist approach informed by thematic analytic methods. The methodology applied follows an interpretive inquiry model using qualitative methods and it includes different tools: classroom observations, stimulated recall (SR) sessions and interviews. The analysis of the examples of mediation practices in the classroom indicate that the strategies used are overlapping and multilayered which allow the creation of an effective, multidimensional way to facilitate mediation for students.
Hence, this study offers empirical and detailed evidence of real instances of mediation strategies in language classrooms in HE in the UK, and it breaks new ground by discovering how this is achieved in practice through combining different strategies together. It finds that mediation has multiple implications for language teacher education, and discusses the further implications for foreign language teacher training in the light of the results of this research.

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