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Responding to change

Wayne Trotman looks at a volume of TT case studies

International Perspectives on English Language Teacher Education: Innovations from the Field

Edited by Thomas S.C. Farrell, Palgrave Macmillan;


In spite of the movement away from behaviourist to constructive models of teacher education over the last two decades, series editors Sue Garton and Keith Richards explain in their preface to this new publication that second language teacher education (SLTE) ‘is still failing to prepare novice teachers for what happens when they leave their programmes and embark on their new careers’. The dozen case studies here provide analyses of how teacher educators around the world have responded to changes and emerging needs in order to address such challenges on their SLTE programmes in innovative ways.

Thomas Farrell in the first chapter provides what he terms a ‘reality check’, concluding that although the gap between theory gained on preparation programmes and practice in classrooms still needs to be narrowed his suggestion of a ‘novice-service language teacher education programme’ may provide the necessary bridge. In chapter two, writing about a Turkish context, Simon Phipps explains how aspects of the Delta were innovatively integrated into an MA in language teaching. Farrell returns in chapter three (with the second of his three contributions), this time writing of a Canadian context in order to discuss the beneficial results of the reflections of MA applied linguistics graduates, and especially how they successfully incorporated their knowledge of sociolinguistics.

Noticing how teachers of mathematics in New York City classrooms were faced with the problem of explaining language points, Margo DelliCarpini and Orlando B. Alonso in chapter four outline how their innovations helped to surmount this obstacle, while in chapter five John Macalister and Jill Musgrave describe the benefits of a relatively short SLTE course in New Zealand containing not only a practicum but also scenarios that novice teachers were asked to analyse before making decisions. Following this, in chapter six Jack C. Richards provides a case study of involvement in materials design in South East Asia that consisted of teachers from a wide range of cultures, histories and traditions. Richards explains how he adopted the role of the teacher while participants became his students, following which the ‘class’ reflected on matters such as the strengths and weaknesses of material used.

Later chapters outline first Leketi Makalela’s work in Guateng Province in South Africa which explored the benefits of ‘translanguaging’ in reading instructions, then Lubna Alsagoff’s Singaporean case study, which describes a response to government demands for changes in language competency. Helen Donaghue’s work in chapter nine focuses on the adoption of cutting-edge technology in the tertiary-level language classroom: the iPad. Continuing the theme of technology, Steve Mann writes of his work in the UK on the use of freely available screen capture software (SCS), in order to improve the value of feedback on teachers’ assignments. Of particular interest are his comparisons of now almost historical types of feedback, ranging from cassette tapes to mp3 files and now SCS, which encompasses text, sound and vision. Ending the book are studies by Hao Xu, who describes lesson study with novice teachers in China, and Thomas Farrell who summarises and reflects on the contents of this superb title. Considering both its wide-ranging content and contexts, this title will have immense appeal to all involved in pre- and in-service teacher education, and will, one hopes, help provide the nuts and bolts required to bridge the gap between them.

Wayne Trotman is a teacher educator at Izmir Katip Çelebi University, Turkey