"The English Class of My Dreams!" : Envisioning Teaching a Foreign Language

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"The English Class of My Dreams!" : Envisioning Teaching a Foreign Language

The psychology of the second (or foreign) language learner has been extensively researched since the mid-1950s. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the psychology of the teacher. Of the psychological make-up of the learner, motivation has been found to be one of the key issues affecting not only the outcome but also the process of learning second (or foreign) languages. Much less is known of the motivation of the teachers involved in these efforts. The teaching of English as a foreign language is faced with new challenges because of the rapid spread of the language in different parts of the world, including Finland. Here, this has meant reconsidering the status of the language, with consequent revisions in the curricula of both schools and teacher education. In this chapter, our concern is with university students of English and how they keep up their motivation as future teachers. More specifically, our concern is the development of their pedagogical knowledge in teaching the language before they start their careers as qualified teachers in Finland and their ability to turn this knowledge into principles and practices that they could imagine applying in their future classes of English. Related to their motivation and identities as future professionals, it is their ability to envision, or the visions of these students, which the study will look into. For this purpose, a group of pre-service teachers were asked to visualise and draw an image of their ideal class of English to be given in the not-so-distant future and elaborate on the picture in writing: where would the class take place, what would be taught and how? This chapter is organised as follows. First, some background is provided for the present study by reviewing such key issues as teacher motivation, envisioning and narratives, and by summarising some related studies. After this, the study that was carried out is reported in more detail, including its aims, data collection and analysis, and findings. Finally, the implications of the study are discussed.

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