From Professional Intuition to Teaching Awareness:

A Long Way Home!?

Claudia Finkbeiner

The presentation focuses on the role of language awareness in the teaching of English as a foreign language. This implies that our attention is on the following question: How aware are EFL teachers of their own teaching?

The talk is based on outcomes of an empirical study that examined the subjective  theories of foreign language teachers. The study was part of a multitrait-multimethod research project on the role of reading strategies and interests. In addition to the students' data teachers' data were collected.

The focus was on teachers' beliefs and cognitions about reading, with particular regard to the following reader profiles: what is a "good" versus a "bad" foreign language reader, a "strategic" versus a "non-strategic" foreign language reader and a "highly interested" versus a "non-interested" foreign language reader? As the teacher study was a sub-study within the framework of a complex research project it allowed us to triangulate data from different data sources.

The following results are of major importance:

1) Most teachers could only vaguely describe what a "bad" or a "good" reader  was, however, they were not reluctant to list names of so-called "bad" and "good" readers in their class.

2) Even though the teachers had hardly any knowledge on strategies and strategy use, they attributed the "appropriate" use of reading strategies to the "good" readers and the lack of such use to the "bad" readers.

The outcomes suggest that the teachers were confident as far as their professional intuitions on those question were concerned. According to attribution theory this can have uncontrollable effects on students' future actions. Suggestions on how to develop a more elaborate kind of teaching awareness include diagnostic skills, autobiographic teacher-oriented approaches, and tandem teaching.