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Student teaching in foreign languages: A phenomenological study

Purdue University
Publication Date
  • Education
  • Teacher Training|Education
  • Curriculum And Instruction
  • Education
  • Literature
  • Philosophy


The purpose of this research study was to uncover and document foreign language student teachers' understanding of their learning-to-teach process from their own perspective. A qualitative study using the lenses of phenomenology was used to capture the lived experiences of three student teachers throughout their student teaching term. The study was conducted in the foreign language department of a large high school in the Midwest during the spring semester of 1999. Data collection methods included: (a) interviews with the participants, their cooperating teachers, and other informants; (b) class observations; (c) video recording of participants' lesson; (d) a belief questionnaire; and (e) collection of relevant documentation such as lesson plans and materials. ^ The major findings indicated that student teaching represented a crucial chapter in the journey of becoming a foreign language teacher for the three participants in this study. They viewed it as the most important and decisive phase of their teacher education program. However, there were some substantial differences in the way they construed their initial teaching practice and the growth they experienced. The interplay of three main factors appeared to have determined significantly the participants' growth. The factors included the participants' educational biography, the investment they put into student teaching, and the type of mentoring relationship the participants established with their respective cooperating teachers. The findings also indicate that the cooperating teacher was the most influential force behind the development of the participants' pedagogical content knowledge and procedural knowledge. ^

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