Friday, November 21, 2014

#Entry 35 IDT1415 The power of the teacher

In response to Victoria's forum post on the power of the teacher...

I could not agree more with Victoria when she says: 'I believe we, as teachers, have a great power to instill negative or positive feelings in our students towards the subject matter'. After reading all Roed 2003, von Worde 2003, Horwitz 1986 and Hurd's 2007 articles I was left with the impression that most of the teachers involved in the studies are, by no means tutors who love their job or know much about pedagogy. This is especially evident in von Worde's as it reminds me of my own experience as a tutor and teacher trainer of what I have witnessed while working in university settings. Now, this is of course limited to my own experiences and by no means it is an attack or critique of all university contexts. However, the feedback given by those students in von Worde's (p6-7 especially) study simply sounded so real and disturbing at the same time.  My argument here is simply that more often than not lecturers know their subject very well but very little about pedagogy and so students at the receiving end always have to suffer this as supported by the evidence given in von Worde's (2003). Again, as an experienced teacher trainer I could not help myself but crying out loud when reading the articles whenever vital and basic student-centred behaviours were lacking and the cause of such negativity from those interviewed e.g. putting students on the spot, being intimidating, condescending,  apathetic, not grading one's language and speech rate, and lack of scaffolding just to name a few of those mentioned.

Again I agree with Victoria that we must challenge their pessimism through reinforcement of positive behaviours so that they can try and emulate us.   Kessler and Klapan's article from week 5 is ever so relevant because as they say) teacher attitude, whether positive or negative, plays a central role in their confidence and directly affects the integration process so opportunities to identify and foster a positive attitude need to be included for normalisation to be reached (2008:270). Although it is true that here they are talking about integration, I would argue that such positive (or negative) attitude also plays a central role in how students perceive their learning environment and the teacher. Certainly, should they have perceived a positive attitude from their teachers the studies carried out and especially von Worde's would have given very different results.

I fully identify with Karina when she says that 'It was clear my teachers loved what they were teaching, and that passion was passed on to me.' because it is exactly what I argue above. In terms of my own learning experiences in high school, I would say that it was a mix between positive and negative experiences and those negative ones were the ones that led me to become a teacher and teacher educator. I wanted to prove to them in my imaginary but also to provide myself with further evidence that learning (for one cannot teach if one has not learnt) and teaching could be/was/is fun.

Generally speaking, I agree with the recommendations made by the different researchers in their articles, but would strongly suggest that those tutors would greatly benefit from attending an initial teacher training course such as the University of Cambridge CELTA as most of the behaviours mentioned as lacking are, again, basic common day-to-day practice and evidence of a student-centred approach.

In terms of strategy training I definitely support Victoria and her explicit approach as there is a body of research supporting the effectiveness of strategy training which shows how the focus went from 'what' was being learned to 'how' it should be learnt - metacognitive strategies awareness raising - in the 1990s thanks to the work of Rubin & Thompson (1987), O’Malley, Chamot and Küpper (1989) and Oxford (1990).


Horwitz, E.K., Horwitz, M.B. & Cope, J., 2010. Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety. , 70(2), pp.125–132. Online. Available at: [Accessed November 17, 2014].

Hurd, S., 2007. Anxiety and non-anxiety in a distance language learning environment: The distance factor as a modifying influence. System, 35(4), pp.487–508. Online. Available at: [Accessed November 16, 2014].

Kessler, G. and Klapan, L. 2008. Does Teacher's Confidence with CALL equal Innovative and Integrated Use?, [online] Computer Assisted Language Learning, 21:3, 269-282, DOL:10.1080/09588220802090303 Online at: [accessed: October 29, 2014]
Martinez, R. 2012. Beliefs and Practices in the Initial Teacher Training Community regarding Receptive Skills Development and the Pre-Teaching of Vocabulary. MA in TESOL. Sheffield Hallam University.

O’Malley, M., Chamot, A., and Kϋpper, L., 1989. Listening Comprehension Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 10 (4), 418-437.

Oxford, R. L., 2011. Teaching and Researching Language Learning Strategies. Applied Linguistics in Action Series. Eds. C.N. Candlin and D.R. Hall. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Roed J. 2003. Language Learner Behaviour in a Virtual Environment, Computer Assisted Language Learning, 16:2-3, 155-172 Online. Available at [Accessed November 17, 2014].

Rubin, J. and Thompson, I., 1987. How to Be a More Successful Language Learner. 2nd edition. Heinle & Heinle Publishers, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Von Worde, R., 2003. Students’ Perspectives on Foreign Language Anxiety. Inquiry, 8(1), pp.1–15. Online. Available at [Accessed November 17, 2014].

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