Learning to Teach English: Untrained Beginning Teachers During their First Year of Teaching in Syria
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
There is a growing consensus that learning to teach is a complex process. It is not only a simple matter of extending the pedagogical repertoire of content expertise. It is also about establishing oneself as a teacher within the institutional and instructional contexts of schools and classrooms and learning the norms of behaviour as well as how to respond to different sets of forces and dilemmas in the workplace. While the process of learning to teach has been well documented in general education, detailed studies on this phenomenon in the field of ELT have been rather limited in number. Further, the learning-to-teach literature has been focusing on teachers who have attended previous teacher education, but has rarely addressed the experiences of beginning teachers who start teaching without any previous preparation for the profession. This study narrates the story of learning to teach within the field of ELT as experienced by untrained beginning teachers in the first year of their teaching experience in Syria. Using multiple research methods such as autobiographical accounts, different kinds of interviews and classroom observation, the study aims to understand how these beginning teachers learn to teach English in private language centres. Findings suggest that the first-year experiences of learning to teach are shaped by pre-practice influences and in-practice influences. The pre-practice influences come in the form of personal beliefs formulated during teachers’ prior school experiences. These beliefs are held either consciously or unconsciously and have clear impacts on beginning teachers’ current conceptions and classroom practices. The in-practice influences, on the other hand, come from the workplace settings where beginning teachers work. In these settings, beginning teachers encounter a wide range of complications and challenges and show diverse responses to both macro- and micro-level sets of contextual factors within their educational institutions and classrooms. These findings could be used as a point of departure in order to introduce changes into the curricula of teacher education programmes in the Higher Institute of Languages at the University of Aleppo and other teacher education institutions in the region.
PhD in Education