Exploration of ESP Teacher Knowledge and Practices at Tertiary and Applied Colleges in Kuwait: Implications for Pre- and In-service ESP Teacher Training
Date: 9 January 2015
University of Exeter
PhD in Education
Researching teachers’ professional knowledge and its impact on classroom decisions and actions is a relatively recent endeavor in language education. A few studies have investigated the links between what teachers think and how they act in teaching English for general purposes (EGP). However, in teaching English for specific purposes ...
Researching teachers’ professional knowledge and its impact on classroom decisions and actions is a relatively recent endeavor in language education. A few studies have investigated the links between what teachers think and how they act in teaching English for general purposes (EGP). However, in teaching English for specific purposes (ESP) this kind of study is scarce. Moreover, exploring the effects of teachers’ knowledge on action in the classroom, and investigating the practical and professional needs of ESP teachers in the context of this study is lacking from the existing literature on ESP teaching and teacher development. In an attempt to address this gap in literature, this study embarked to explore teachers’ knowledge of ESP at tertiary and practical colleges in Kuwait. It also aimed at observing the links between ESP teachers’ knowledge and practices and the potential impacts of contextual factors on teachers’ knowledge in action. In order to capture a holistic understanding of ESP teachers’ knowledge and pedagogical underpinnings, eleven ESP teachers from various vocational colleges were interviewed – nine experienced ESP teachers and two relatively younger participants shared their stories about their understanding of ESP and its practices. Three participants from the above sample agreed to be observed in their classrooms and interviewed after each observation session. Moreover, a group discussion session was observed for further information and data triangulation. In collecting data for this study, qualitative interpretive methodology was employed. The data collection techniques were mainly interviews, classroom observations, stimulated recall interviews, and a group discussion. The results of the study agreed with the existing literature on the impact of context on teachers’ knowledge and practices. They suggested that context played a significant role in shaping teachers’ knowledge and understanding of the nature of ESP practices in Kuwait, and had a profound influence on their pedagogical and practical choices. The study also indicated a gap between teachers’ “knowledge-for-practice” (theoretical knowledge) and their “knowledge-in-practice” (practical knowledge) that has been attributed to the overwhelming contextual factors. The lack of awareness of some ESP practitioner’s roles and responsibilities, and overlooking certain ESP classroom activities seemed to be another factor impeding the implementation of knowledge in practice in the context of this study. The implications of this study can help improve ESP teachers and specialists’ awareness in Kuwait about the significant requirements for successful ESP programmes by addressing questions such as: what constitute ESP teachers’ knowledge and what factors influence the implementation of this knowledge in practice? It can also inform ESP course developers to design ESP courses that take into consideration all the factors that escalate the effectiveness of the ESP courses. Finally, this study can be used as a reference for ESP teacher development programmes to get insights into teachers’ ‘lacks’, ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, and to focus on significant issues that ESP training courses need to embrace to acquaint humanity-trained language teachers with the knowledge base and the specific pedagogical content knowledge needed in the ESP domain.
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