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The shape of the language teacher

Authors:
Pulverness, A. (Ed.) (2002).
IATEFL 2002
: York Conference Selections.
Whitstable
, Kent: IATEFL, 75
-
78.
A
slightly revised
version
,
in which the references and bibliography
(
omitted
in this volume)
have been restored
,
is available from
:
ERIC
:
http://eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2/content_storage_01/0000000b/80/22/33/37.pdf
and
The
Teacher Trainers and Educators
ITEFL Special Interest Group website:
http://www.dudeney.com/iatefl/ttedsig/resources/articles/31.doc
4.3 The shape of the language teacher
Costas Gabrielatos
Lancaster University, England
Introduction
There are two broad views on what makes a language teacher effective. One focuses on
teachers' language and methodological knowledge/skills, the other on teachers'
personality. Here I present a framework which:
re
conciles these views, giving equal weight to all elements
proposes a way to visualise their interrelations
takes into account research findings indicating that teachers' practices are mostly
in
fluenced by their
interpretation
of methodologies.
75
Elements
I have expanded Julian Edge's term 'person-
who
-
teaches
1
into 'person-
who
-
teaches
-
language'. Each word points towards an indispensable element in a language teacher's
profile (Fig. 1).
PERSON
TEACHES
LANGUAGE
Personality
Methodology:
knowledge and skills
Language:
knowledge and use
Fig I
The following tables show the key aspects of each element.
Personality
Self
-
awareness
Interpersonal skills
Ability to observe, think critically,
use experience
Sensitivity to context
Attitude towards change,
development,
diversity, quality, co
-
operation,
authority
Perception of learning,
teacher/learner roles, development
Methodology
Knowledge
Skills
Views on methodology
Available materials
Own views on learning/teaching
Seeing implications of theory
Planning and teaching
Balancing support and challenge
Action research
Language
Knowledge
Skills
Views on language
Awareness of own views on
language
Own language use
Ability to see the implications of
language analysis, draw conclusions
from own contact with language
Sensitivity to learners' language level
Interrelations
This framework depicts a teacher's effectiveness as the area of a triangle, with each
side representing the degree of develo
pment
of an
el
ement
(Fig. 2). The larger the area,
the higher the effectiveness.
Language
Methodology
Personality
Fig. 2
Apart from comparing different triangles, it Is also helpful to compare the sides of
individual triangles, that is, examine the
relative degree
of
development
of each element.
1
All elements are
equally
developed.
They are utilised to their full capacity and
combined to maximum effect (Fig. 2).
2
One element is far
less
developed.
The less developed element limits the effect of
the
others (Fig. 3). This representation can also explain why teachers using different
methodologies show comparable success: combinations of different levels of
develo
pment
can produce equal triangles.
Fig.
3
3
One element is far
more
developed
. The more de
veloped element cannot be fully
utilised
(Fig. 4).
There is some overlap between the elements. For example, teachers' perception/
knowledge of language will influence their teaching; their general level of self-
awareness
will affect their awareness of their beliefs about language/learning.
77
76
Fig. 4
Some observations
An equilateral triangle will have the largest area of any triangle of the same perimeter.
This can be seen as a metaphor for the benefits of well
-
balanced development.
It is essential that all three elements are above
a
'threshold of acceptability'. True,
such cut-off points are arbitrary, but such thresholds are already used in education and in
determining entrance to professions.
Limited/faulty language knowledge will communicate inaccuracies. Inappropriate
methodology will make learning too time-consuming and may discourage learners. An
uninterested or offensive teacher will offer little support and few opportunities, and may
demo
tivate learners.
Reservations
The triangle framework is a crude representation of the complex interrelations that make
up the profile of a language teacher. It is proposed as a point of departure, a way to
visualise the interaction of the basic elements contributing to a language teacher's
effectiveness.
E-
mail: costas@gabrielatos.com
Website: www.gabrielatos.com
78
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... The effectiveness of a language teacher is determined by two broad views: language and methodological knowledge/ skills, and personality. Gabrielatos (2002) combined these two views into one framework that includes three main elements: personality, methodology, and language. Gabrielatos elaborated on Edge's (2002, as cited in Gabrielatos, 2002 term "person-who-teaches" in which personality of teacher is stressed. ...
... The findings have showed that very little research, if not, has been conducted about the qualities of effective EFL teachers in students' perspective in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this study will make use of Gabrielatos's (2002) framework of effective EFL teacher that focuses on three areas: personality, methodology, and language to answer the following questions: ...
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