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Examining Teachersí Beliefs And Instructional Practices In secondary Foreign Language Classes On Honors And Non Honors Tracks: The Role Of Teaching For Communication

by Michael Morris - 2008

Background/Context: Little research to date has examined the honors foreign language classroom or how it differs from its non-honors counterpart. This study examines possible differences between the two kinds of classrooms and what factors may affect these differences.

Purpose/objective/research question/focus on study: The researcher observed a total of 54 honors and non-honors French and Spanish classes at all levels at a high school in a Midwestern state to ascertain the instructional practices used therein. He also administered questionnaires to and interviewed the seven teachers of these classes regarding the classroom practices he observed and the factors that may have influenced these practices, focusing particularly on any differences between the high- and low-tier classes.

Setting: A high school of 1,900 students in a small town in a Midwestern state.

Subjects: Seven high school teachers of French and Spanish.

Research Design: This study incorporates analysis of the lesson content of the two kinds of classes using the chi-square technique and qualitative techniques to analyze the data yielded by questionnaires and open-ended interviews with each teacher.

Findings: A highly significant statistical relationship exists between the tier of class (honors v. non-honors) and the type of language activity (form-focused v. communicative). Analysis of teachersí narratives also reveals several factors that enter into play in shaping their instructional practices. These include: (1) studentsí preferences for specific teaching styles and instructional emphases; (2) honors studentsí desire for the prestige that comes from enrollment in high-tier classes; (3) studentsí level of motivation for language learning; and (4) studentsí level of engagement in their language learning.

Conclusions: The researcher concludes that foreign language educators must address the issue of reserving communicative teaching for elite students for the professionís future viability.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 5, 2008, p. 1065-1087
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14674, Date Accessed: 9/19/2021 12:54:45 PM

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About the Author
  • Michael Morris
    Northern Illinois University
    E-mail Author
    MICHAEL MORRIS (PhD, The University of Iowa) is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Northern Illinois University, where he is coordinator of the Foreign Language Teacher Development program and teaches courses in language teaching methodology and Spanish language and linguistics. His research interests include analysis of language teachers' beliefs and practices and foreign language program assessment. He has taught and spoken in Australia, Europe, Latin America, and Canada. Among the venues in which his work has previously appeared are Foreign Language Annals, Hispania, The Modern Language Journal, The Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development, and the annual series of the American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators of Foreign Languages.
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