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Student modern foreign languages teachers learning to teach: beliefs, attitudes and the development of a methodological landscape

By Ann Barnes


This study examines the motivations, beliefs and attitudes of beginning modern foreign languages teachers towards foreign language teaching and learning during their initial teacher education and the changes in attitudes towards and beliefs about their subject and its methodology. In so doing, the study uncovers the students' initial and developing methodological landscapes.\ud The scope of the study is unusual in its breadth of response'a! nd in its multi-method approach incorporating qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, identifying interconnections in the data. A total of 235 student teachers' responses contribute to the research: the pre-course beliefs of eight cohorts of beginning teachers are analysed to establish a basis for exploring any change. The research subsequently adopts a longitudinal approach, where data' is obtained through a series of ten snapshot questionnaires administered to three separate cohorts of student teachers. This data is supplemented by smaller samples from two cohorts in a different initial teacher education institution. It is further triangulated through twelve group discussions on video from two cohorts. Analysis is of whole and aggregated cohorts and also by gender and native speaker.\ud Views indicated by the beginning teachers' stated perceptions of their development incorporate elements from a variety of learning-to-teach theories. Some more generic themes which emerge as important in student teachers' thinking throughout the year include the desire for fantasy solutions and the process of future-wishing, both of which serve as attempts to avoid a true (and difficult) developmental process. Stability of fundamental beliefs is evident, but substantial change occurs in perceptions of items contributing to the methodological landscape, particularly in the areas of target language and grammar

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