Form-focused instruction: A case study of Vietnamese teachers’ beliefs and practices
Le, V. C. (2011). Form-focused instruction: A case study of Vietnamese teachers’ beliefs and practices (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5253
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5253
Despite the reported powerful influence of teachers’ beliefs on their pedagogical practices in the classroom, very few in-depth case studies of foreign language teachers’ beliefs and the correspondence between their beliefs and instructional strategies have been internationally published – Woods (1996) being an important exception. Moreover, not a single in-depth study has ever been conducted in the context of Vietnamese state secondary schools, where teachers are non-native speakers, resources are minimal, and access to published scholarship and research is very limited. The present qualitative case study seeks to occupy this research space because contextual factors such as limited access to expert knowledge, teachers’ isolation, a prescribed curriculum, time constraints, and high-stake examinations need to be part of any analysis of teachers’ beliefs and the correlation between beliefs and practices. It has explored the beliefs about form-focused instruction held by a group of eight teachers with teaching experience ranging from 24 to 2 years and the relationship between their beliefs and practices as well as factors shaping their beliefs. Eighteen interviews (ranging from 30 to 60 minutes long) and observations of 24 naturally occurring form-focused lessons in 12 groups of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, i.e., all grades of the upper secondary school level, and 18 hours of stimulated recall interviews were conducted to collect the data. The audio- and video-recorded data were fully transcribed and translated from Vietnamese into English, and were subjected to a process of interpretative analysis through a constant comparison and contrast of the various data. As it is revealed in the study that teachers showed a strong inclination to adopt a deductive approach to grammar with pupils memorising of grammatical rules and terminology, and doing the controlled grammar exercises in the textbook as the best way of learning grammar. Neither their beliefs nor practices were related to either current theories of language learning within the mainstream Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research or to the methodology promoted in the prescribed curriculum. Findings of the study also indiate that while teachers’ beliefs were affected by multiple contetxual factors, experiences which were accumulated through the process of socialisation in their professional community played the most influential role. Such beliefs constituted their personal theories for practice, which shaped what they did in the classroom and how they did it. Thus, these teachers shared a ‘collectively normative pedagogy’, which was underpinned by their common beliefs and justified by their common pattern of beliefs and practices. Although this is a case study and as such it is not valid to make generalisations, it has some significant contributions to add to an understanding of teachers’ beliefs in terms of research methodology and theoretical understanding with reference to teacher cognition and teacher professional development in the specific educational context where the teaching of English is undertaken by non-native-English-speaking teachers. These are discussed in the concluding chapter, Chapter VII.
University of Waikato
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