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Malaysian teachers belief Malaysian teachers belief Document Transcript

  • INFORMATION TO USERS This manuscript has been reproduced from the microfilm master. UMI films the text directly from the original or copy submitted. Thus, some thesis and dissertation copies are in typewriter face, while others may be from any type of computer printer. The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. Broken or indistinct print, colored or poor quality illustrations and photographs, print bleedthrough, substandard margins, and improper alignment can adversely affect reproduction. In the unlikely event that the author did not send UMI a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if unauthorized copyright material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. Oversize materials (e.g., maps, drawings, charts) are reproduced by sectioning the original, beginning at the upper left-hand comer and continuing from left to right in equal sections with small overlaps. Each original is also photographed in one exposure and is included in reduced form at the back of the book. Photographs included in the original manuscript have been reproduced xerographically in this copy. Higher quality 6" x 9" black and white photographic prints are available for any photographs or illustrations appearing in this copy for an additional charge. Contact UMI directly to order. University Microfilms International A Bell & Howell Information Company 300 North Zeeb Road. Ann Arbor. Ml 48106-1346 USA 313/761-4700 800/521-0600 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
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  • Order Number 9500383 A n investigation of the beliefs and practices of Malaysian teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) Ashari, Habibah, Ph.D. Indiana University, 1994 Copyright © 1994 by Ashari, Habibah. All rights reserved. U M I300 N. ZeebRd. Ann Arbor, MI 48106 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • AN INVESTIGATION OF THE BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF MALAYSIAN TEACHERS OF ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE (ESL) Habibah Ashari Submitted to the faculty of the University Graduate School in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Education Indiana University March 1994 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Accepted by the Graduate Faculty, Indiana University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Doctoral Committee Date of Oral Examination L. Gradman, Ph.D.Har: Thomas B. Gregory, Ph.D. /<//.// rCcrt IMartha Nyikos, Ph.D. March 24, 1994 ii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • C 1994 Habibah Ashari ALL RIGHTS RESERVED iii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Dedicated to my mother, the greatest woman in my life. iv Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Tne doctoral journey I made from beginning to end would not have been possible without the support of my husband, Kieran. He believed in me and constantly reminded me that it was a journey I could make. To him I owe my heartfelt thanks. Thanks also to my children, Adam and Chi Chi, who understood "Mommy" was writing her dissertation and who managed to keep out of the way when I was busy at the computer. I also owe special thanks to my family in Malaysia whose "over the wire" encouragement and prayers kept me going. I would also like to thank my committee members for their helpful suggestions and their willingness and patience to work with me. Special thanks go to Dr. Overly, the first person I met when I embarked on this journey; throughout this study, he offered useful advice and encouragement when I most needed them. My heartfelt thanks to my dinner group whose support, encouragement, and laughter I could not have done without. Thanks also to Bobbie and Sara for their help. My special gratitude goes to the four teachers who graciously welcomed me into their classes and shared with me their stories. With their support, this work was made possible. v Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Finally, my utmost gratitude goes to Institut Teknologi Mara, Shah Alam, Malaysia and the Indiana University Overseas Fellowship Program whose financial support made this journey possible. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter One: Introduction to the Study..................1 Chapter Two: Review of Related Literature............. 24 Chapter Three: Methodology...............................41 Chapter Four: The Soldier................................ 62 Chapter Five: The Fun Lover..............................93 Chapter Six: The Actor.................................130 Chapter Seven: The Doer..................................172 Chapter Eight: Analysis and Interpretations............ 208 Chapter Nine: Summary, Conclusions and Implications....248 References: 268 Appendices: 275 vii Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Overview Teachers and their teaching have been probed from many- different angles. Researchers have looked at teachers' thought processes (Shavelson & Stern, 1981; Clark & Peterson, 1986), teachers' personal knowledge (Clandinin & Connelly, 1987), and teachers' practical knowledge (Elbaz, 1981) in an attempt to illuminate the relation between teachers' lives and the pedagogical events of their classrooms. A significant aspect of teachers' lives that has received much attention in recent years is teachers' beliefs. Teachers' beliefs have been probed through the lens of specific subject areas such as mathematics (Becker & Pence, 199 0; Ernest, 1989; Kloosterman & Stage, 1989) and reading (Hollingsworth, 1989), or at specific level, such as the preservice level (Lasley, 1980; Hollingsworth, 1989). However, not much has been written about teachers' beliefs in the field of ESL (English as a Second Language). Although attempts to look at students' beliefs about language learning have been carried out (see Horwitz, 1985, 1988), the critical area of ESL teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching has been strangely neglected. l Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • As I reflected on the void in this area, it seemed that a study of ESL teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching might provide insightful answers to how teachers effectively teach a language and help their students acquire a second language. Hence I thought it important to add the voices of ESL teachers to the current research on teachers' beliefs. It promised to be a particularly rich area of study because language learning is such an intensely personal activity. The purposes of this study were three-fold. The first purpose was to elicit and examine the beliefs about language learning and teaching of a selected group of ESL teachers in a teacher education program in Malaysia. The second purpose was to determine the relationship between teachers' beliefs and their classroom practices. The final purpose was to determine the factors that encourage or hinder the translation of beliefs into practices. This chapter will first portray my personal perspective and interest in this study. Following this perspective is a description of the setting which situates this study in a specific context. The statement of the problem and the research questions that guided this study come next. To enhance clarity, a section defining frequently used terms has been included. The chapter closes with a discussion of the potential significance of this study to ESL teaching in general, and to ESL teacher education in particular. 2 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Personal Perspective The source of my interest in examining the beliefs and practices of English as a second language (ESL) teachers has been my own involvement in the field as an ESL student, an ESL teacher, and a teacher educator in Malaysia. I entered Standard (Grade) 1 in 1964 in a school in which the language of instruction was English, and this continued throughout my school years, 1964-1975. The experience I had was akin to what Dulay, Burt, and Krashen (1982) refer to as being in an "immersion" program. They give the example of the St. Lambert program in Canada where English-speaking children are enrolled in a program in which French is the medium of instruction. In my case, I am Malaysian and I come from a Bahasa Malaysia language environment but my instructional environment was English. I entered the professional field in 1979, having learned English as a second language. Bahasa Malaysia, the national language of Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957, is the language I learned from birth. However, the learning of English in my generation was advanced by the fact that English was then the medium of instruction in Malaysian public schools. In this system, memorization of rules and sentence patterns and drills were the premier methods of teaching English. I remember, among other things, memorizing vocabulary lists; learning grammar through drills; memorizing and reciting poetry; reading 3 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • aloud in class, either individually or in unison with my classmates, and having pronunciation corrected immediately; doing translations; writing daily news; and taking spelling tests. My acquisition of English was further advanced by the fact that I was taught other subjects such as geography, science, history, civics, literature, and mathematics in English. Other influences were family members, books, and the media, both print and broadcast. Although my parents did not speak English, they sent their children to state- supported English schools on the assumption that an English education would provide us with a necessary ingredient for academic success. There were also state-supported Malay schools where they could have sent their children, but because my eldest sister was already in an English school, my parents thought that it would be fair if everyone went to English schools. My elder sisters, who were already in school when I was born, always spoke English to one another. Thus I was always surrounded by spoken English. As I grew up, it became necessary for me to learn English in order to be included in their conversations. We were also encouraged to read books in English, and I remember setting aside some weekly pocket money to buy Enid Blyton's books and comic books in English. Malaysia had, and still has, national English newspapers, and radio and television programs in English. My sisters, who were avid fans of English pop 4 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • music, listened to it all the time on the radio. Listening to and copying down the lyrics of our favorite songs gave us further opportunity to acquire and improve our English. Since English had always been my favorite subject in school, when I went to the university I elected to major in English literature. For three years I read and studied novels, poetry, and plays by both European and American writers. After I graduated, I applied for a teaching position at a college, and was accepted to teach English language. When I first began teaching, I taught English the way I had been taught in schools. Just as I had, my students filled in blanks, memorized vocabulary lists, read aloud in class, took dictation, and learned and memorized grammar rules; in a sense, during my first years of teaching, I followed faithfully the language exercises in the textbooks provided and acted according to what I perceived, at that time, to be the right way to teach English. Since my first degree was in English literature, I had never been trained formally to teach the structure and mechanics of the English language nor had I been trained in the philosophy and theories of education; thus my only recourse for teaching English was to teach it the way I had learned it. During my ESL methods class in the master's program in the United States, I learned about the prominent methods of teaching ESL such as the grammar-translation method and the 5 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • audio-lingual method. Besides these two, I was also introduced to other innovative approaches to teaching English, for example, the Total Physical Response (TPR) approach, the Silent Way, Counseling-Learning, the Communicative approach, the Notional-Functional approach, and Suggestopedia (Blair, 1991). I learned, then, that there were possible ways of teaching English other than the strict use of grammar sentence patterns, drills, and memorization of rules. However, when I went back to Malaysia to teach, the classroom atmosphere was hardly conducive to using those innovative approaches. I found time limitations, physical limitations such as heat and noise, class size, the requirement to cover the syllabus, and testing requirements to be some of the constraints that worked against using the new approaches in class. Many features of the various methods seemed not to lend themselves to being used in a large class, or in an educational setting that requires teachers to complete the syllabus within a specified time in order for students to have an equal opportunity in examinations at the end of the semester. For example, the use of commands to teach language, which is prominent in the Total Physical Response (TPR) approach, was regarded with incredulity by many teachers who were more used to teaching English by asking students to fill in the blanks or to make use of substitution tables. Some teachers also expressed 6 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • the opinion that TPR, while great with absolute beginners, is hardly appropriate for college-level ESL learners who have had, presumably, eleven years of learning English in schools. In the midst of a flurry of academic as well as administrative duties, I have often wondered what it would be like to teach without constraints. What would it be like to teach a smaller class? To have the luxury of time? To have access to an unlimited amount of resources? To be able to create for students a language environment that is most conducive to language acquisition? And to be able to act upon one's own beliefs about language learning and teaching? My ruminations about what ESL teachers actually believe about the nature of language learning and teaching, and about what they actually do in the classrooms directed me to the current study. Hence my interest in this study is both personally, as well as pedagogically, driven. The Setting The context of this study is a teacher education program in one of the large institutions of higher learning in Malaysia--a small rapidly-industrializing nation in Southeast Asia. Unlike many teacher education programs in the United States, and even in Malaysia, where the teacher education programs typically prepare student teachers for the various grade levels, and in various subject areas such 7 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • as mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies by conducting them through a series of general methodological, instructional, and philosophical or theoretical courses and experiences, this program is unique in its exclusive focus on the preparation of students to become teachers of English as a second language (ESL) for Malaysian secondary schools. This six-year program is divided into two parts. The first two years encompass the Intensive English Program (or the matriculation program as it is generally referred to) in which students are taught basic, intermediate, and advanced skills in the areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking, oracy (a course dealing with speaking skills), news update, critical thinking, grammar, and literature. This component of the preparation is required as the students' English language proficiency, at that point, is inadequate to allow them to undergo a full-fledged undergraduate program. When the students have successfully completed the matriculation program, they proceed to the second level of the program. Students who do not meet the requirements for admission into the degree program have their scholarship, and hence their association with the teacher education program, terminated at that juncture; however in some cases, they are given a chance to re-take courses they have failed before they are allowed to proceed to the next level. The second part is the four-year degree 8 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • program in which students are educated in ESL methods, theories and principles of education, theories and principles of linguistics, language learning and teaching, testing and measurement, literature, classroom management and organization, and student teaching. Students entering the matriculation program have all graduated from Malaysian high schools, have obtained a distinction or strong credit in their English papers, and have obtained a Grade One (the highest grade) in the national high school examinations, Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) or the Malaysian Certificate of Examination as it is known in English. Their education is fully sponsored by the Ministry of Education and they have undergone a rigorous selection process to gain admission into the program. This includes obtaining a Grade One in the SPM, performing well on a written language examination, and passing a personal interview. Since establishing the program in 1988, the ministry has received over five hundred applications each year from students wishing to join the program. Out of these, only 100-150 students have been selected for each academic year. The ESL instructors in this program are all college- trained teachers who have received their professional education either in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or a teacher education program at a Malaysian university. All the teachers in the program 9 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • except three are non-native speakers of English. By non­ native English speakers, I mean that the main language of these teachers is a language other than English. The first language could be Bahasa Malaysia (the national language), Tamil, or any dialect of the Chinese language. The teachers have also experienced the process of learning a second language, have undergone professional teacher education, and have received certification to teach ESL and ESL methods to their students. The other three teachers, who are hired on a special contract, are British nationals and are native speakers of English. . It was anticipated that the various experiences that these teachers encountered in initially learning English as a second language at home and in schools, in professional education courses and ESL methods classes, and in their professional careers as teachers, has led to the set of beliefs they hold regarding the nature of language learning and teaching. Further, it was anticipated that these experiences lead to decisions either to adhere or not to adhere to their beliefs in classroom practices. It was this concern about the nature of teachers' beliefs and the role of beliefs in classroom practices that gave rise to this study. 10 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Statement of the Problem The purpose of this study was to discover the beliefs about language learning and teaching of a select group of teachers in an ESL teacher education program in Malaysia, and to investigate whether their beliefs are consistent with theoretical developments in the field of ESL, their professional education, and their own classroom practices. It has been widely acknowledged in the field of teacher education that teachers' practices in the classroom are an expression of their beliefs and educational philosophies, and that beliefs play an important role in their conceptualization of instructional tasks and activities (Pajares, 1992; Nespor, 1987; Clark & Peterson, 1986; Dobson & Dobson, 1983; Fensterxnacher, 1979). Dobson and Dobson (1983) argue that we create and invent our own belief system and that the belief system acts as a beacon in guiding our daily lives. It is reasonable to expect that we will choose to act in accordance with our beliefs; but there are also times when our actions do not conform to our beliefs. Dobson and Dobson further suggest that "classroom teachers seldom {my emphasis) adopt a teaching model that is in accordance with their professed beliefs" (p. 21). Thus gaps between beliefs and classroom instructional practices are thought to develop. Teaching without recourse to a set of beliefs may become an activity 11 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • where the motivation and controlling guide is simply to get things done. According to Pajares (1992), the study of teachers' beliefs has typically been avoided by educational researchers who have considered beliefs to be a "messy" construct (p. 307). They have also concluded that the constructs, "beliefs," and "belief systems" are difficult to define (Abelson, 1979; Eisenhart, Shrum, Harding, & Cuthbert, 1988; Pajares, 1992). They see the study of beliefs to be so steeped in mystery that it has often been left to the confines of philosophy or theology. Pajares (1992) suggests that the difficulty also lies in the various definitions researchers assign to the construct "beliefs," and to methodological and design flaws. Munby (1984) further suggests that the traditional ways of measuring beliefs, i.e., by using instruments such as questionnaires and rating scales, have two inherent drawbacks. The first is that the test score of an individual has meaning only within the test, and the second is that test items are thought up by researchers and not the teachers. He has suggested that a qualitative study of teachers' beliefs would provide a better picture of teachers' beliefs "within a context determined by [the] teacher" (p. 38). Pajares (1992) acknowledges that "beliefs are a subject of legitimate inquiry in fields as diverse as medicine, law, 12 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • anthropology, sociology, political science, and business, as well as psychology, where attitudes and values have long been a focus of social and personality research, 11 (p. 308). However, in the educational field, although beliefs are an important component of a teachers' thought processes (Clark & Peterson, 198 6) and play an important role in teachers' planning of instructional activities (Nespor, 1987), the study of teachers' beliefs remain "lightly traveled" (Pajares, 1992, p. 326). But the assumptions remain that beliefs are important indicators of how teachers will conduct their classroom instructional activities. It is held as an item of faith that teachers pursue methods they believe to be effective ways of teaching. Nespor (1987) gives an example of a teacher, Ms. Skylark, who had a particularly bad time as a pupil. As a teacher, Ms. Skylark believed that classes should be fun and friendly. She strived hard to achieve a relaxed atmosphere in her classes; as a result of this, she was not able to control her class nor complete any instructional tasks with her students. This suggests that teachers have experiences that guide and inform their beliefs about certain teaching behaviors, and as they experience various interactions with other individuals, they make generalizations and value judgments that form their belief structures. The relationship between experience and beliefs and the subsequent relationship between beliefs and classroom 13 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • practices are crucial to understanding the teachers' pedagogy. When research studies and theorizing about teacher beliefs and practices are overlaid on the Malaysian experience and particularly ESL teaching by persons whose native language is not English what may we find? First, the teachers have had a Malay experience; they also have had a language learning experience and a pedagogy learning experience; they have had social and family experiences. The list could go on and on, depending on how creative one wished to be in formulating different categories and perspectives. Initial language learning experiences may have an influence on teachers' early conceptions of the nature of language learning. Subsequently, during formal professional ESL methods classes at the undergraduate and graduate level, the teachers are exposed to another set of theories, methodologies, and approaches to learning English. These various exposures to the learning of English, and to the subsequent ESL methods classes, contribute to the formulation of a host of beliefs regarding the teaching of English. Over and above the exposure to different methods of learning English, exposure to different instructors at various levels may also influence teachers' beliefs about language learning. At the elementary and secondary school levels in Malaysia, it is highly likely ESL teachers would 14 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • have had non-native speakers of English as their English instructors; if they had been educated in English-speaking countries for their professional education courses, the teachers would certainly have encountered instructors who were native speakers of English. The experiences with different sets of English teachers, be they native or non­ native speakers of English, are presumed to have a strong influence on the way beliefs about language learning are acquired and formed. It is likely, therefore, that ESL teachers have competing belief structures that may make it impossible for them to act upon their beliefs while teaching. The competing belief structures may have arisen from a variety of other experiences as well: curricular or organizational constraints, an inability or unwillingness to question or explore one's own beliefs and assumptions about language teaching and learning, and participation in a field that is constantly evolving and changing (Sinclair, 1984; Pennycook, 1989) . Because of the inherent complexity of the theoretical points of influence and decision-making, I elected in this study to examine the beliefs about language learning and teaching of a select group of Malaysian ESL teachers who were teaching in an ESL teacher education program. I also proposed to examine the relationship of their beliefs to their instructional practices and to explore the factors 15 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • that encouraged or hindered the translation of their beliefs into practices. The study was carried out through the exploration of the backgrounds, both personal and professional, and language learning experiences of these teachers. Objectives and research questions In order to explore these teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching, and to examine the extent of the relationships between their beliefs and their classroom instructional practices, this study pursued the following research questions. 1. What are the beliefs about language learning and teaching of a selected group of ESL teachers in Malaysia? 2. To what extent are teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching related to their classroom instructional practices? 3. What do teachers believe to be factors that encourage and/or hinder the translation of beliefs into practices? By probing these questions with teachers, I have attempted to identify the beliefs and assumptions that a selected group of teacher educators in an ESL program have about teaching English, the relationship of their beliefs to their practices, the implications of their beliefs for the 16 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • interpretation and presentation of the curriculum, and on how they educate future teachers of English to enter the workforce. Definition of terms In order to enhance clarity, some of the terms frequently used in this study have been defined. I have sought to define them within the framework that prevails in current research. These are terms such as beliefs and belief systems; English as a Second Language, commonly referred to as ESL; language learning and teaching; also terms such as standard and form as used in the Malaysian school system; and finally the terms Bahasa Malaysia and Malay. Beliefs and belief system--Beliefs are not easy to define, nor do they lend themselves to easy conceptualization. It is not uncommon to hear people prefacing their statements with the phrase, "I believe...," in normal everyday conversations. Because of the intangible nature of beliefs, in this study beliefs are defined based on an amalgam of interpretations that have been used by various researchers. Beliefs are viewed as evaluative, resistant to change and non-consensual (Abelson, 1979); beliefs are a way of describing relationships between tasks, events, actions, or people, and people's attitudes toward them, (Eisenhart, Shrum, Harding, & Cuthbert, 1988a); and 17 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • beliefs are personally-held perceptions about the way one learns and does certain things (Lester, 1990). It is the premise of this study that beliefs are formed through our experiences and interpretations of events that happen to and around us, as well as through our interactions with others. The way we experience schooling and teachers in our youth may have an influence on the way we perceive and conduct ourselves as teachers. If our experiences with a strict disciplinarian have been particularly traumatic for us, we might come to believe that being a strict teacher might not make for a good or an effective teacher. In summary then, the present study views beliefs as evaluative and based on personal experiences; beliefs are non- consensual, i.e., we know that some beliefs we hold dear may not be held by others; and beliefs are personally held convictions about the way certain actions, in this study language learning and teaching, are carried out. A belief system would then constitute the interconnected set of beliefs or convictions one has regarding a certain feature of teaching language; for instance, convictions about the nature of the reading process and the nature of teaching reading would form one's belief system about the broad topic of reading. ESL and EFL--Prator (1991) acknowledges the confusion and disagreement often assigned to the terms English as a second language (ESL) and English as a foreign language 18 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • (EFL). In the United States and United Kingdom, ESL has often been defined as teaching English to students whose home language is not English. The main objective in such a program would be to assimilate these students into the mainstream English-speaking culture by teaching them the language that is used in academic, business, and social circles. For many people in nations such as the Philippines, Nigeria, Singapore, and Malaysia--nations formerly colonized by the United States or Britain-- English language is not considered "foreign" or "alien" to their culture (Prator, 1991, p. 19), and hence cannot be considered a foreign language. Therefore in these countries, English is considered a second language which is still used quite widely for social and official purposes. Thus by using this definition, one can say that teaching English in non-English speaking countries would constitute teaching English as a foreign language. In countries such as Germany and Japan--countries which were never colonized by English-speaking peoples--English is considered a foreign language; the teaching of English in these countries is, hence, teaching it as a foreign language. Indeed this situation is similar to the teaching of French, Italian, or Japanese in American schools. Language learning--Language learning is defined as the formal or informal acquisition of linguistic competence. In 19 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • this study language learning refers to the learning of English experienced by non-native speakers of English in a non-English speaking environment. Formal acquisition of English refers to learning from language instruction that occurs in an institutionalized setting such as in a school; informal acquisition of English may occur initially at home or through the direct and vicarious experience of being exposed to the language via the media and the social environment. Language teaching--Language teaching is defined as the formal instruction of language in an institutionalized setting such as a school. In the program under investigation in this study, English language teaching is carried out, specifically at the matriculation level, through the division of the language into specific components through courses concentrating on reading, writing, listening and speaking, grammar, and literature. Standard and form--In the Malaysian school system, students go through six years of elementary or primary school and five years of secondary school. The six years of primary school are referred to as standard one through standard six; the equivalent American term is "grade." The five years of secondary school are referred to as Form I through Form V; again the equivalent American term is grade but Form I is equivalent to grade seven. 20 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Bahasa Malaysia and Malay--Vlhen Malaysia changed its language policies soon after independence from Britain in 1957, Bahasa Malaysia, the native language of the Malay people which was formerly referred to as the Malay language, became the official language of Malaysia. In this study the terms Malay and Bahasa Malaysia are often used interchangeably with little change in meaning. The term Malay is also used to refer to the Malay people, one of the three major ethnic groups in Malaysia; the other two being the Chinese and Indian people. Potential significance A significant aspect of this study is that it provides evidence of personal reflections of a selected group of Malaysian ESL teachers and evidence of classroom behavior that informs and illuminates our understanding of the ways they function in the classroom. Certainly the personal experiences they have undergone in the process of learning English as a second language and in their professional training to become ESL teachers differ from the experiences ESL teachers in America might experience; the major difference being the fact that for the Malaysian teachers English is not their primary home language. But more importantly, it provides a beginning for developing a clearer picture of teacher beliefs, practices, and the way they intersect. 21 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Teacher beliefs are considered a powerful conceptual tool by which to interpret teacher behaviors and the forces that guide these behaviors. The deepening awareness and explication of their own beliefs about teaching and their practice of teaching may help individual ESL teachers and other ESL teacher educators model for their ESL preservice teachers pedagogical practices that are congruent with teachers' beliefs about effective ways of teaching and acquiring English. Indeed, the teaching models that the preservice teachers are exposed to while learning English might have an important effect on how they themselves might teach English in the future. Furthermore, these students are experiencing an apprenticeship in teaching, and the ESL instructors they observe or read about are the models who, it is hoped, will have a strong influence on them. Indeed, as Clark (1988) said, Students begin teacher education programs with their own ideas and beliefs about what it takes to be a successful teacher. These preconceptions are formed from thousands of hours of observations of teachers, good and bad, over the previous fifteen or so years. Undoubtedly, students' conceptions of teaching are incomplete, for they typically see and hear only the performance side of classroom teaching (p. 7). Collecting evidence of the areas in which beliefs and practices intersect offers a basis for developing a deeper understanding of the relationship between beliefs and practices. Congruence or inconsistences between these two constructs need to be better understood in order to inform 22 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • language teachers and language teacher educators of the conditions and variables that exist in the education of student teachers. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER TWO REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to provide a review of literature relevant to this study. It begins with a brief review of the historical development of English Language Teaching (ELT), both in Britain and the United States, and in non-English speaking countries, especially Malaysia. It is followed by a discussion of the development of the various theoretical underpinnings of ELT, and the methods that grew out of them. Subsequently, a review of research on teachers' beliefs and their relationship to instructional practices is presented. A Brief Overview of English Language Teaching (ELT) English Language Teaching (ELT) in Britain and the United States has evolved tremendously since the turn of the 20th century. Over time, it has generated further distinction, notably the teaching of English as a second language, at first in the British empire, later in the Commonwealth, and then in Britain itself. According to Howatt (1984), the teaching of English as a foreign language emerged as an autonomous profession in the first half of this century. 24 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • The next development evolved through the reinterpretation of the role of English in the Empire. Howatt (1984) suggests that the teaching of English in colonial schools in the 19th century followed largely the patterns of English taught to native speakers. There was hardly any attempt to design language activities that addressed the needs of the non-native speakers. Subsequently, in the early 1920s there emerged a utilitarian function for the communication of knowledge in the teaching of English to non-native speakers. In many formerly colonized nations such as Kenya, Nigeria, India, Singapore, and Malaysia, English was introduced during the colonial era and was at first spoken mainly by the native speakers of the language. However, when there arose a need for locally-recruited clerks and other employees for the government offices and other businesses, schools were established in which English was taught (Platt, Weber, & Ho, 1984). Subsequently, English was used as the language of instruction for other subjects. In a sense, English was taught to enable the local people to serve the colonial masters. It was only in the fifties that the distinction between English as a "second" and as a "foreign" language (ESL and EFL) emerged. In defining the terms English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL), I have used the definitions formulated by Hammerly (1985) who 25 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • said, "tS]econd language means any language other than the native language of the learner, whether spoken right in the community or only in a distant and exotic land" (p. xii). For the sake of clarity, in this study, English as a second language refers to the teaching of English in former British colonies like West Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, Ceylon, and India (Platt et al., 1984). In these countries, English was the official language and the language of instruction before these countries gained independence, and even now English is still the lingua franca, and considered a language of importance, not only for commerce, science, and technology, but also as an international language of communication. Before Malaysia gained independence in 1957, English was regarded as the official language for government, business, and education. In the early years after independence, the new Federation implemented a new language policy, and adopted Malay or Bahasa Malaysia (as it is now known), as the official language of the nation (Edwards, 1985). The rationale for doing this was to unite its diverse peoples under a common language (Noor, 1986). In the primary and secondary schools in the U.S., ESL and in some cases bilingual education, refers to the teaching of English to immigrant children and Limited English Proficient (LEP) students whose home language is a language other than English; this entails providing special instruction in the English language (Grant & Secada, 1990). 26 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • In most cases, the special instruction requires that an ESL student be "pulled out" of mainstream classes to receive English lessons, or to have an ESL teacher work closely with the regular classroom teacher. While ESL teachers in the United States are usually native speakers of English, ESL teachers in Malaysia are customarily second language speakers of English. An example of English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching, defined as teaching English in a host country situation, is English teaching in countries such as Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Germany. In these countries, English is taught as one of the subjects in the curriculum. Indeed, it may not even be required in order to obtain a high school diploma. English is taught in these countries in much the same way as French or German is taught in the U.S.--as another foreign language. In Malaysia, some people have argued that English is becoming more akin to a foreign language rather than a second language as more and more of its citizens become less proficient in English. I maintain, however, that the second language status will continue to be preserved as the government becomes more aware of the need to have the citizens proficient in English in the interest of international trade and industry, science and technology, and international communication. Indeed, as the country moves into the 21st century and achieves the status of an 27 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • industrialized nation, similar to that already achieved by Taiwan, Korea, and Singapore, it is likely that English learning will gain momentum and regain some, if not all, of its former importance. Theoretical Development of ELT Various approaches or methods to the teaching of English as a second/foreign language have evolved since the beginning of this century. Hammerly (1985) argues that comprehensive theories of language teaching have only developed in recent years. He further says that the history of language teaching has been largely one of methods based on implicit partial theories. According to Hammerly (1985), the theories that have been in use are the Logico-Literary Theory, the Structural-Behaviorist Theory, the Naturalistic Theory, the Sociopsychological Theory, and the Sociolinguistic Theory. A discussion of the theoretical developments of English language teaching follows in order to provide a clearer illustration of the developments. The Logico-Literary Theory spawned the Grammar- Translation Method in which translation is used to practice grammar. A fundamental purpose of learning a foreign language using this method is to be able to read its literature. Little emphasis is accorded to the development of the student's ability to communicate in the target language, and the student's native language is used 28 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • liberally during instruction (Larsen-Freeman, 1986). One consequence of this is that graduates of grammar-translation programs are able to describe language linguistically and read the literature, but can hardly speak with any measure of fluency. The Structural-Behaviorist Theory accounted for the development of the Audio-Lingual Method--a method which had significant impact during the Second World War (Krashen & Terrell, 1983). At that time, the public became aware that the available methods of teaching foreign languages were deficient especially if speaking profiency were the goal. Language educators had to find a quick and effective way for soldiers to communicate in the native language of the country in which they were stationed. Hence, the Audio- Lingual Method was born--a method that emphasized the learning of dialogues through drills and memorization. Language learning, according to this method, is a process of habit formation, and the teacher serves as a model speaker of the target language (Larsen-Freeman, 1986). In contrast to the Grammar-Translation method, the use of the student's native language is religiously avoided under the assumption that its use would interfere with the acquisiton of the target language. However, a contrastive analysis of the two languages is used by the teachers in order to predict possible grammatical or pronunciation difficulties. In the teaching of English to Bahasa Malaysia speakers, for 29 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • example, an ESL teacher might predict difficulty for the learners acquiring or learning the verb "to be" as verb conjugations do not exist in Bahasa Malaysia. Another theory in use is the Naturalistic Theory in which language learning is thought to be more successful if it imitates as closely as possible the process of natural language acquisition, i.e., the learning of the first language/mother tongue. Methods that share some features of this theory are the Direct Method, the Total Physical Response method(Asher, 1977), and the Natural Approach (Krashen & Terrell, 1983). A feature of the Total Physical Response (TPR) approach is that language teaching should closely imitate that which an infant hears, that is, commands and instructions from a caregiver. A principle of the Natural Approach is that comprehension precedes production. Thus there is a period of silence before a speaker can produce speech. An important feature of the Natural Approach is the requirement that a learner's "affective filter" to learning a language must be lowered in order to maximize acquisition. "Affective filter" is defined as the positive or negative feelings a learner has toward the target language people and culture. The higher the affective filter, the higher is the resistance to learning, and hence, the more difficult it will be to acquire the target language (Krashen & Terrell, 1983). 30 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Other theories that have been popular in the field of second language teaching are the Sociopsychological Theory and the Sociolinguistic Theory. The former generated various methods such as the Silent Way (Gattegno, 1972), Community Language Learning (Curran, 1976), and Suggestopedia (Lozanov, 1978) . These methods stress the importance of the learners' feelings. According to Hammerly (1985) these methods went well with the mood of the sixties and seventies which emphasized that young people wanted to "do their own thing" (p. 18). The latter theory produced the Communicative Approach in which communication is valued over grammatical accuracy. All of these theories, and the methods that grew out of them, have led to a diversity in the ways English is taught and learned. This diversity is reflected in the ways teachers make sense of the curriculum and, subsequently, make decisions about instructional practices, for example, one teacher may regard a reading text and its accompanying exercises as strictly the transmission of information and that the interpretation of the text is strictly the author's own; another teacher, however, may judge reading as involving the students' prior knowledge or schema and that the students' own interpretations of the text are equally valid. The plethora of methods available to the language teachers has significant implications for English teaching 31 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • and learning, especially for second language learners. For one thing, it means that students have been exposed to a particular method depending on the time they learned English and the convictions of their teachers. For another, non­ native English language instructors who were trained in a methods course when a certain method was prominent are likely to have been taught that particular method. Consequently, the way these teachers may have initially learned English may be different from the way they were taught pedagogical skills in the ESL methods class. This may lead to the development of conflicting beliefs or uncertainties about the best way to teach English. Thus it is important to discover whether exposure to different methods while initially learning the language, and then while taking professional ESL methods classes, have influenced teachers to teach in differing styles. Teachers' Beliefs and Practices Many attempts to define beliefs have generally considered beliefs in relation to knowledge (Pajares, 1992; Nespor, 1987; Abelson, 1979). Abelson (1979) noted that with the advent of cognitive science, it became possible to examine belief systems in relation to other aspects of human cognition and human affect. Although the study of belief systems is closely related to the study of knowledge systems, Abelson asserted that the former have sufficient 32 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • unique features to warrant their study as a separate topic. Abelson, and subsequently, Nespor (1987), identified seven distinguishing features between beliefs/belief systems and knowledge. As opposed to knowledge, beliefs are 1) non- consensual, 2) based on existence or non-existence of certain conceptual entities, 3) representations of alternative worlds, 4) dependent on evaluative and affective components, 5) dependent on critical episodes in life, 6) unbounded, and 7) held with varying degrees of certitude. These features, according to the authors, differentiate beliefs from knowledge. For example, the non-consensual nature of beliefs may be seen in the following situation. In English language teaching, although two teachers may possess the same knowledge about grammar, the way they teach it may differ. One teacher may believe that teaching grammar is a matter of memorizing rules, while another may believe that teaching grammar must involve meaningful use of the language. Thus beliefs can be considered as the lens through which teachers interpret knowledge that guide their behaviors. In a comprehensive study of the research literature on teachers' beliefs, Pajares (1992) noted that the difficulty in defining the term "belief" has compounded the examination of teachers' beliefs. He suggested that defining beliefs is at best a game of player's choice. According to him, beliefs have travelled under the guise of "attitudes, 33 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • values, judgments, axioms, opinions, ideology, perceptions, conceptions... implicit theories, explicit theories, personal theories, internal mental processes, repertoires of understanding..." (p. 309). Other researchers have offered other definitions. Eisenhart, Shrum, Harding, and Cuthbert (1988a) offer axioms, culture, perspective, social strategy, rules of practice, practical principles, and cognitive style, as some of the terms or synonyms used to describe teachers' beliefs prevalent in educational research literature. They also noted, " [A] belief is a way to describe a relationship between a task, an action, an event, or another person and an attitude of a person toward it." (p. 53). Kagan (1992a) says that teachers' beliefs are a provocative form of personal knowledge; and although somewhat misleading, teacher beliefs have generally been defined as preservice or inservice teachers' implicit assumptions about students, learning, classrooms, and the subject matter to be taught. Clark and Peterson (1986) regard teachers' theories and beliefs as an important component of teachers' thought processes. Although not a focus of this study, other components of teachers' thought processes are teacher planning (preactive and postactive thoughts) and teachers' interactive thoughts and decisions. They suggest that teaching innovations that take teachers' beliefs into consideration are more likely to be regarded with 34 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • enthusiasm, persistence, and thoroughness. They also say that teachers' beliefs are one basis for teachers' classroom decisions. However the other components of teachers' thought processes are also reflective of and contributory to beliefs and practices. Eisenhart, Cuthbert, Shrum, and Harding (1988b) echo this sentiment. In a study of the effects of policy changes on teachers' work, they discovered that educational policies that are implemented without attention to teachers' beliefs are seldom implemented the way researchers suggested. For example, the inclusion of resume-writing in an English curriculum was not accepted by a group of teachers in their study who believed that it was not their job to teach students to write job resumes. For another group of teachers, however, teaching resume writing was a welcomed relief from the tedium of teaching English grammar rules. These researchers identified three domains of teachers' beliefs toward their work activities. These were positive, mixed or ambivalent, and negative attitudes toward activities. Teachers in their study felt most positively toward activities that pertained directly to classroom instruction, for example, fostering student achievement. In contrast, teachers felt least positively toward activities outside their immediate classroom milieu, for example, developing new curricula. Hollingsworth (1989) studied the beliefs of preservice teachers prior to, during, and after a 35 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • 9-month graduate teacher education program. In that study, she discovered that "preprogram beliefs served as filters for processing program content and making sense of classroom contexts" (p. 168). Horwitz (1988) makes no distinction between beliefs about language learning and beliefs about language teaching. She says that there is a degree of overlap between the two. In her study assessing the beliefs of students regarding the learning of a foreign or second language (1985), she discovered that it is essential for students to assess their beliefs and assumptions about language learning in order to either reject or support long-held beliefs about language acquisition. For example, students who believe that learning a foreign language is easy will be disappointed if their experiences do not mirror their expectations. In the same manner, teachers who perceive language learning to be easy will place unnecessary expectations on their students, and will be disappointed if the students are not making the expected progress within a certain period. Consequently, teachers must also assess or question their own beliefs about language learning. Their expectations of students' achievement should be realistic in order to facilitate both their own teaching and the students' learning. Horwitz (1985) further says that the assessment of the linguistic backgrounds of both teachers and students will insure the most effective language teaching. An 36 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • awareness of the differences and/or similarities between the linguistic backgrounds and experiences of teachers and students might alert teachers to possible problems and difficulties that their students are likely to encounter in learning a new language. In a study on developing a measure for assessing ethnic beliefs, Murphy (1985) suggests that it is essential for teachers to assess the beliefs that students might have toward the speakers of the language they are learning. The example he provided related to American students' beliefs regarding the German people. An evaluation of the students' beliefs about the Germans revealed both positive and negative attitudes toward the Germans. For example, a student whose steel town was facing economic difficulties, blamed the German steel industry. According to Krashen and Terrell (1983), a negative attitude might lead to high anxiety which in turn prohibits effective learning of the target language. In a similar manner, teachers' beliefs and positive or negative attitudes toward the target language group may facilitate or hinder their own teaching. Fenstermacher (1979) argues convincingly that if policymakers want teachers to change their practice, it is necessary that teachers' existing beliefs be examined. Only when knowledge about their beliefs is available will teachers scrutinize their classroom actions, and think about whether they need to make changes or modifications to their 37 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • existing practices. It is thus important that ESL instructors' beliefs about English be examined in order for them to be as effective as possible in their practice, as well as in helping their students to acquire the language. However, the study of ESL instructors' beliefs must also include reflection about them on the part of the believers, not just by researchers. In Malaysia, most ESL instructors, either at the college or public school level, have experienced the process of learning English as a second language. The initial learning took place in schools or at home, and subsequent learning has taken place at the tertiary (college) level. Other experiences of learning English may have come from the television, radio, and newspapers, and from members of their family and friends who are proficient in English. It is likely that these teachers were exposed to different styles of teaching and different methods of learning English, depending on the method prevailing at that time. Subsequently, in their own training as ESL teachers and in their ESL methods classes, they may have been introduced to yet another different approach to teaching English. The exposure to different styles and methods of learning English, whether formally or informally, and then to the ESL methods classes may lead to the development of competing belief systems regarding the teaching of English. Furthermore, this exposure may also lead to different styles 3 8 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • of teaching that may or may not be congruent with the teachers' own beliefs about language learning and teaching. Conclusion The review outlined above demonstrates to us the evolving field of English Language Teaching (ELT), and presents recent research on teachers' beliefs. The evolving nature of English language teaching has the potential to affect not only students, but also their teachers who have to keep pace with developments in teaching methods and theories. Certainly, the constant development in the field will- contribute significant influences on the way teachers design instructional activities, on the way they present these activities to their students, on whether teachers keep up with the theoretical and pedagogical developments in the field, and on whether they remain comfortable with what they perceive to be the tried and tested ways of teaching the language. Discussions about method remain hotly debated in the field. Many researchers inevitably include discussions of the orthodoxy or dominance of certain methods in their writings (see Prabhu, 1990; Pennycook, 1989; Howatt, 1984; Richards, 19 84; Richards & Rodgers, 1982). Celce-Murcia (1991) made an interesting observation that often language teachers are unaware of the history of the field and of the developments in language teaching. Teachers, certainly, 39 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • must be informed of the history of language teaching and of past and current theories about the nature of language learning and teaching; this is essential in order for them to formulate a coherent set of beliefs about teaching methods that can better inform them of their practices, the subject matter they teach and the clients they serve. By examining the beliefs of the ESL instructors, and by exploring with them their own instructional practices, I hope to discover what teachers' beliefs are about language learning and teaching, whether teachers' beliefs are consistent with their classroom practices, and find out the conditions and variables that encourage or inhibit teachers' practice of what they believe to be best practices in language learning in their classrooms. 40 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY Overview This study examined the beliefs about language learning and teaching of a selected group of Malaysian ESL teachers. It also examined the nature of the relationship between teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching and their classroom practices. A descriptive case study methodology was used. In case studies, descriptions are likely to be complex, holistic, and involve a myriad of related variables (Stake, 1983). The case study method was used because description and explanation were sought rather than prediction based on cause and effect (Merriam, 1988). Selection of Participants A large group interview was planned between a group of ESL teachers and me to permit me to introduce my research and seek their assistance. But because I was in the United States without the possibility of a short trip to Malaysia, another option was considered in order to facilitate the decision-making process. Before I returned to Malaysia from the U.S. to arrange for my study, I sent a packet of documents to a teacher in the program whom I had asked in an earlier visit to act as my assistant. The packet contained 41 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • copies of 1) a form letter addressed to the teachers explaining the nature and purpose of my research, (see Appendix A), 2) an abstract of the dissertation proposal, and 3) the Informed Consent Statement (see Appendix B). The purpose of sending these documents ahead of my visit was to inform the teachers of my research intention, and to allow them time to think through the possibility of becoming involved in the study before I arrived at the site. As soon as I arrived at the site, I immediately conferred with my assistant and discussed possible participants for the research study. Several times during the first week of my visit there, I met and spoke informally with the teachers in the program from which the subjects were to be selected to find out who might be interested in participating in the study. I explained the nature and purposes of the research inquiry, and what would be expected of the teachers should they decide to participate. I also replied to their questions and concerns regarding the intention and direction of the study. As it was well into the third week of their semester, I thought teachers would have smoothed out any snags in their timetables and would be in a better position to say whether or not they could participate in the study. From these informal meetings, four instructors were invited to participate in the in-depth study. Selection was based on clarity of educational and theoretical beliefs 42 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • espoused in our initial discussions, and also on what I projected to be possible differences of theoretical orientations among the individuals. Another criterion for selection was the respondents' sincere interest and willingness to participate in an intensive. A further factor that was considered was that these four participants were representative of the two spectrums of Malaysian ESL teachers. Two of them were educated when the language of instruction in schools was English, and the other two were educated in the early years when the medium of instruction changed to Bahasa Malaysia. I conjectured that looking at two sets of teachers educated in two different mediums of instruction might offer two contrasting descriptions of teachers' experiences. The four participants were college-level ESL instructors who have bachelor's degrees in either education or ESL, and master's degrees in applied linguistics or education. One has also obtained a doctoral degree in sociolinguistics. All of them have learned English as a second language either beginning at home or in the Malaysian public schools. The language of instruction in these schools could have been all-English or all-Bahasa Malaysia, or it could have been in transition from all-English to all- Bahasa Malaysia (the language of instruction in schools changed from English to Bahasa Malaysia in the early seventies). Three of the participants have obtained some 43 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • part of their professional training in universities in the United Kingdom, and the fourth received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in the United States. Two of them also received their first degrees in Malaysia. Three of the participants have taught at the public school level prior to teaching at the college level. At the time of this study, the participants had teaching experiences ranging from three to 37 years. These instructors have taught the various components of English such as grammar, reading comprehension, writing, and listening and speaking, and critical thinking at the matriculation level. This is the way the ESL curriculum is divided in this program. Of the four participants, only one has taught in the degree program. Data sources Multiple data sources were used in order to obtain a holistic picture of the teachers. These were semi­ structured interviews with the participants in the study (Merriam, 1990); observations of their classrooms; semi­ structured interviews with teacher-selected students in order to elicit their views about language learning; examination of documents such as teachers' lesson plans, handouts, homework assignments, student journals, and others that were identified as the study progressed; informal conversations with non-participant teachers in the faculty 44 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • lounge; and informal conversation with the supervisor of the TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teacher preparation program. Students who participated in the study were selected by the teachers involved in the study. The students represented a spectrum of abilities, from weak, to average, to good based on the teachers' evaluations. The students were not the focus of this study, but their input was considered important as a form of triangulation of teacher reported and researcher observed teaching by the participants. The key participants were interviewed three times outside of their class times. These interviews which were usually between one to two hours were conducted in the privacy of the Faculty Resource Room, the Conference Room, or in the teachers' own offices. Other secondary sources were interviewed in an informal manner, either in the faculty lounge or along the corridor. The interviews with the non-participant teachers and teacher-selected students were a way of triangulating data. For example, the interview with some students of the participants enabled me to find out whether teachers articulated their language beliefs to their students, and whether, if they did so, their students were able to identify these beliefs in their daily interactions with their teachers. Another data source was observations of the classroom teaching of the selected participants. Initially two 45 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • observation sessions of their classroom teaching were planned for each instructor; however, illness and an unscheduled week-long mandatory inservice workshop for the teachers prevented the observation of two of the subjects for the second time. I was able to observe two teachers twice in their classrooms, each observation period was one hour. The other two teachers were observed once each, one for a two-hour period and the other for a one-hour period. Following Merriam (1988), my role was as "observer as participant" in which my involvement as participant in the class activities was regarded as definitely secondary to my role as information gatherer. All the teachers introduced me to the class the first time I observed them; invariably, I was greeted very politely by the students. The observations focussed on instructional features that teachers professed they carry out in class, for example, the use of lectures, group work, grammar drills, communicative activities, handouts; the general behavior of the teachers and students; and student and teacher interactions. As it was impossible to concentrate on all aspects of classroom action at the same time, I only concentrated on features that I anticipated would illuminate my research questions. These were teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching; the relationship of beliefs to instructional practices; and the 46 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • factors that encourage and/or inhibit the translation of beliefs into practices. The interviews with and observations of selected teachers constituted primary data sources for the study; data from the students and the supervisor, the informal conversations with faculty, and the documents constituted secondary data sources. Data collection techniques The interviews were tape-recorded in order to allow me to concentrate on such things as "non-verbal behaviour and physical environment of activities" (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983, p. 159). The use of the tape-recorder allowed for accuracy, and also provided accurate documentation for quotations, or illustrations in support of my interpretation of the data. As mentioned earlier, the primary participants were interviewed three times. The first interview was rather exploratory; we discussed the personal and professional developments of the teachers. Their language learning experiences were also discussed at this interview. In addition I asked preliminary questions about their theoretical orientations and beliefs of the participants, and the sources of their beliefs if they could identify them in their personal history as students and teachers. 47 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • The second interview was an in-depth session which followed a classroom observation. To follow Elbaz (1981), after the first, and before subsequent interviews, I played the tape-recording of the interview several times in order to make preliminary notes and to write down questions to be asked at the next interview session. The second interview served to clarify questions that I had regarding the classroom observation; teachers were also invited to explain and elaborate on some of their classroom actions. It was also an opportunity for them to ask me questions regarding the progress and direction of the study. At this interview, too, I shared my preliminary interpretations about their conversations with me, and sought clarification about these interpretations. In the interviews we talked about students, the syllabus, the theories and nature of language learning, and their professional experiences. We also continued our discussion about their beliefs and classroom practices. The last interview followed the last classroom observation. Besides clarifying certain observation features with them, it also served as a debriefing session, at which time I confirmed with my respondents individually my exploratory interpretations of their words and classroom behaviors. This reconfirmation was carried out by asking them again certain questions that I had posed at the previous meeting. When there was a need, for example when 48 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • participants wanted to confirm what they had said previously, portions of the recording were played back to them, or excerpts from the fieldnotes read to them. I also apprised them of the subsequent steps in my research study, and informed them of the possibility that I might need to contact them further for clarification should the occasion arise. This interview also served another purpose, i.e., the respondents were encouraged to affirm, modify, or repudiate my interpretations of what they had said in the preceding interviews. Classroom observations were initially tape-recorded in order to provide accurate documentation of events. The purpose was also to enable me to concentrate on other features or activities in the classroom that could not be captured on tape. However, the use of the tape-recorder was subsequently discarded as the background noise that came from the outside was constant, and prevented a clear tape- recording from being obtained. Perhaps, it is important to note here that none of the classrooms was air-conditioned; in order to facilitate the flow of air and, hopefully, a cooling breeze into the classroom, each classroom was equipped with windows on the left and right side of the room. The classrooms were also separated from one another by thin walls that did little to filter out the noise coming from one classroom to the other. Although many times during the observations, I had to strain my ears in order to hear 49 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • what the teachers and students were saying, the students and teachers generally seemed to be oblivious to this irritating distraction. Noise came from vehicles coming in and out of the compound, from the blowing of the horns of mobile vendors, from other classrooms, from the shrieks and laughter of children playing outside their houses close to the building, and even from the raucous chirping of the birds which could be heard very clearly. Another source of noise came from the hum and whirr of the four ceiling fans in the classrooms that valiantly attempted to provide some cooling breeze. As mentioned earlier, observations focussed on practices that teachers said they followed in their teaching. I had also hoped to observe atypical happenings, things that might not illustrate teachers' beliefs but might highlight occurrences peculiar to that situation. There might be incongruence between beliefs and practices. Merriam (1988) says, "As an outsider an observer will notice things that have become routine to the participants themselves, things which may lead to understanding the context" (p. 88). In the subsequent interviews, teachers were asked to clarify or explain any perceived incongruence. Another data source was the fieldnotes which I consistently wrote during both the interviews and observations. The observation fieldnotes were kept in a 50 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • separate folder that I had created for each participant. Any class handouts or lesson plans that I received from them were identified and included in the folder. I also kept a research journal in which I jotted down pertinent ideas about each participant and questions that I considered important to ask at the subsequent meetings. As soon as each interview was over, and as soon as time allowed, I reviewed the fieldnotes, and wrote narratives based on the interviews. I followed Erickson's (1986) suggestion that a fundamental principle of this subsequent reflection and write-up was that it should be completed before returning to the .field to do further observation. When time did not allow, I narrated my observations into a tape recorder. In order to avoid fatigue and memory lapses, I interviewed only one participant a day. The fieldnotes were used to record the participants' non-verbal language like facial expressions or hand gestures, and descriptions of settings-- features that would certainly be missed on the recording. When all the interviews had been conducted and the data gathered, I transcribed verbatim each tape-recording of the interviews; important information such as the time, date, and place where the interviews occurred were recorded. During the transcription process, I continued to make notes of ideas that arose or to jot down on the wide margins of the pages themes or questions that frequently emerged. The pages of each interview transcript were numbered to 51 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • facilitate reference and retrieval of information in the writing up process of the study. During analysis, and subsequent writing, fieldnotes were juxtaposed against the transcripts as a means of verifying and amplifying data. The data sets--verbatim transcriptions of each interview, fieldnotes, and personal analytic memos--were combined to produce individual case studies of the participants. Data analysis techniques Preliminary and exploratory analysis was ongoing, beginning with the first interview and observation. This aided in the formulation and clarification of research questions that continued into the process of writing up the study (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983). In other words, "theory building and data collection are dialectically linked," (p. 175). The process of data collection and analysis was recursive and dynamic--the initial interview was followed up by subsequent interviews to allow for clarification and modification; analysis became more intensive once all the data had been collected although it had been a continuous activity (Merriam, 1988). Following Merriam, the data that had been gathered were organized in sets in order to build the case report for each respondent, for example, interview transcripts, observation fieldnotes, lesson plans, syllabus, and class handouts, were gathered together into a single folder for each participant. 52 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Before I embarked on the actual writing of the study, I perused each data set in its entirety several times to allow themes or topics to emerge. According to Merriam (1988), "[a]t this stage the researcher is virtually holding a conversation with the data, asking questions of it, making comments, and so on" (p. 131). During these readings, I continued to take notes, make comments, and note queries, and these were recorded in the margins of the field notes, or in my journal. I also made a list of general themes for each participant which aided in the subsequent coding activity. After these readings, I began coding the data into the themes that emerged, for example, personal history, family influences, formal and informal language learning experiences, main influences in learning, professional education, teaching experiences, instructional practices, and language beliefs. These data were then transferred onto index cards, for the first case study, and computer files for the subsequent case studies; these data were identified by a code I had assigned for each respondent. The manual transfer of units of information onto index cards was subsequently replaced in favor of the faster transfer of information on computer files, this latter technique mirrored closely what was done manually with the index cards. The interview number and page number of the interview transcript were also recorded at the top of each 53 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • index card and computer file. Information that was recorded on each index card and computer file pertained to the themes that were dominant for each respondent. These data were subsequently categorized into the broader themes that guided the write up of each case study. The categories that were developed related to l) the respondents' personal history, 2) their language learning experiences, and 3) their language beliefs and teaching practices. Data from documents such as lesson plans and class handouts were scrutinized and summarized according to the features of methods that they embodied, or that the teachers identified as embodying certain methods of teaching English. This information was interwoven into the themes that emerged in order to illustrate further the relationship between a teacher's instructional practices and beliefs. The fieldnotes from the observations and other documents were juxtaposed against the interview transcripts in order to provide a narrative rendering of each respondent. In the writing phase, I used the words of the respondents in order to capture the essence of their speech and to minimize misinterpretation on my part. Although the data were from formal interviews, it must be noted that these speeches occurred in a conversational manner. Although I had a set of interview protocol to guide me (see Appendix C), occasionally we also discussed other issues that did not pertain directly to the research questions but 54 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • which contributed a natural ambience to the atmosphere. This was encouraged in order to make the tone of the interviews less threatening to the respondents and to help them open up to me more spontaneously. As is to be expected, the interview sessions reflected normal speech in that they were often characterized by fillers, false starts, pauses and hesitations, repetitions, and simultaneous speech by both respondent and researcher. Another characteristic of conversational speech is that there is less monitoring of speech and less attention paid to grammatical accuracy, a fact of normal speech. Although by any standards these respondents are considered to be very fluent speakers of English, the reader may find some grammatical idiosyncracies of Malaysian speech such as the deletion of verb endings, the misuse of certain modality, the use of the historical present, and some occasional turns of phrases or word choices that might sound unfamiliar to the native-speaker readers but which are extremely common in the Malaysian variety of English, a fact acknowledged by Platt, Weber, and Ho (1984). Initially I used "sic" to indicate when the respondents used non-standard English. However, that seemed to be more distracting than helpful. Therefore in the final presentation, I have not used "sic." These quotations, which have been footnoted according to the interview number and page number of the interview transcript, have been reproduced verbatim in the case 55 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • studies. The use of ellipses indicates a pause in the conversation. The first number in the parenthesis indicates the number in the series of interviews for each respondent; the number after the colon indicates the page number of the interview transcript. Whenever data from the observation fieldnotes are directly quoted, they are footnoted according to the number of the observation; this information is then followed by the date and month when the observation occurred. Data from student interviews are footnoted according to the date when they occurred. Establishing trustworthiness In qualitative studies it is essential that the researcher outlines his or her method for establishing that the studies have been conducted in the most trustworthy manner possible. In experimental studies the issues of internal and external validity are already built into the process of research design. But since this was a qualitative study it was necessary to follow Merriam's (1988) broad concepts of internal validity, reliability, and external validity in order to establish the study's trustworthiness. Internal validity deals with the issue of how the findings matched reality. In this study, the issue of internal validity was dealt with first by triangulation, in which multiple sources of data and multiple methods were 56 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • used to confirm findings to assure that the information from various sources were consistent. Multiple sources referred to the various groups of people who were interviewed in the study--the primary participants, the students, and the non­ participant instructors--the syllabi, the texts and other supporting documents. The multiple methods criterion was met by a series of interviews and observations that I engaged in. A second method used to establish internal validity was member checking in which data and interpretations that initially were made by me were taken back to the participants at subsequent interviews for confirmation or modification. During the second and last interviews I reminded subjects about what they had said in previous interviews and asked them to confirm, modify, or change what they had said earlier. This was considered to be neccessary as during the analysis and writing process, the subjects were not easily-reached by me. The last method was persistent observation, the purpose of which was to permit me to identify those characteristics and elements in the situation that were most relevant to the problem or issue being pursued (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Persistent observation also allowed me to identify and assess salient factors and crucial atypical happenings. Persistent observation is distinct from prolonged engagement whose purpose is to allow a researcher to learn the culture of the setting. If a researcher is totally new to a 57 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • setting, he or she would have to spend a considerable amount of time learning the norms, procedures, and culture of the environment. Erickson (1986) says that oftentimes researchers must conduct a comprehensive survey of the setting and its surrounding environments prior to beginning the research activity. This entails that the researchers be at particular places at particular times. This "sequential sampling" (p. 143) allows the researchers to obtain the full range of events that occurred in the day. Because of my previous experience as teacher and coordinator of the program, and my familiarity with many of the teachers, the length of time needed to reacquaint myself with the culture was indeed shortened. However, that previous experience did not negate the necessity to reorientate myself to the recent changes and developments in the program both in terms of policies and curriculum, and change in staff and faculty. According to Merriam (1988), "[R]eliability is problematic in the social sciences as a whole simply because human behavior is never static" (p. 170). Merriam further says, "Because what is being studied in education is assumed to be in flux, multifaceted, and highly contextual, because information gathered is a function of who gives it and how skilled the researcher is at getting it, and because the emergent design of qualitative studies precludes a priori controls, achieving reliability in the traditional sense is not only fanciful but impossible" (p. 171). However, there 58 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • are ways to ensure reliability in qualitative studies. Merriam suggests making clear the researcher's positions vis-a-vis his or her biases, assumptions, and theories. In order to be clear, I kept a reflexive journal which was "a kind of diary in which the investigator on a daily basis, or as needed, records a variety of information about 'self’ .and method" (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 327). Another was triangulation in that multiple sources of data and multiple methods of collecting data were used. A summary report of my reflection is presented in Appendix D to permit the reader to assess the validity of my report. External validity deals with whether findings of one study can be applied to another. In the traditional sense, this refers to the generalizability of the study. Lincoln and Guba (1985) suggest providing a rich, thick description of the phenomenon under study. They say this is necessary in order to "enable someone interested in making a transfer to reach a conclusion about whether transfer can be contemplated as a possibility" (p. 316). This study employed such a method to ensure external validity. I have described the program, the setting, the student body, and the individual faculty members, and most importantly, the way in which the faculty members make sense of their own beliefs and practices. The last issue to be dealt with in this section is the question of ethics. Ethical standards outlined in the Human 59 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Subjects Form were met. Each participant filled out and signed the Informed Consent Statement (see Appendix B) to indicate agreement to participate in the study. As has been mentioned in another section, participants were invited to participate in the study. The purposes of the study were outlined to them, as were the methods to be used. Steps have been taken in order to ensure the anonymity of the participants and the setting. Pseudonyms have been used for all proper names, program, and place names. Details regarding special places and people were altered to protect the anonymity of both the setting and the participants. Presentation of the study The study is presented in four case studies of the four subject teachers. Under each case, the experiences and interpretations of the participants are organized and presented according to themes that emerged. According to Merriam (1988), "[A] theme is an over-arching concept or theoretical formulation that has emerged from data analysis," (p. 190). Further, a theme is large enough to encompass much of the data collected and analyzed. Discussion of overall findings involved a cross-case analysis of the various cases studied; this is presented in Chapter Eight. Cross-case analysis increases the potential for generalizing beyond a single case, and would provide evidence of similarities and points of divergence in beliefs 60 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • and practices of the subjects. As Merriam (1988) notes, the cross-case analysis makes the conclusions more compelling for a wider population and helps confirm or disconfirm data in the individual cases. Data that had been gathered were summarized by themes in which findings from other sources and literature were interwoven and integrated into the narrative. The conclusion and implications of the findings from this study and implications for future research are discussed in the concluding chapter. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER FOUR THE SOLDIER This is the story of Mr. Sarjit, a 37 year veteran of teaching. Although the central focus of this study was an examination of teacher beliefs about language learning and teaching, it was considered important to include a portrait of the respondent's early years because it is during this time that the foundation for language learning is set. For Mr. Sarjit, it was when he learned to speak English and his initial experiences as a student of language played a large role in influencing his beliefs about learning a language. The data for this story were collected from a series of formal and informal encounters. I interviewed him three times, each time between one and one and a half hours. To ensure privacy and maximum tape-recording quality, the interviews with Mr. Sarjit were conducted either in the conference room at his school or in an unoccupied office. Verbal permission to record the interviews had already been sought prior to the interviews. Formal permission was included in the Informed Consent Statement which he read and signed before the study began. Mr. Sarjit did not seem perturbed by the presence of the tape-recorder, although at first, he was leaning forward toward the recorder which was placed on the table separating the two of us and speaking 62 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • more to the machine than to me. We also met informally on several different occasions in the faculty lounge and along the corridor, and sometimes we carried on a conversation during those times. I observed him two times while he was teaching, once in a writing class and the other time in a grammar class which was, admittedly, his favorite subject. At the time of this study, Mr. Sarjit was teaching five hours of writing and ten hours of grammar per week. His story presents a portrait of a man who witnessed WWII, who lived in Malaya when it was still colonized by the British, and who came into teaching during a time of national development. Mr. Sarjit also represents a group of teachers whom one might call, sadly, a "dying breed". In present-day Malaysia, it is uncommon to find a teacher whose formative years were spent when Malaya was under British rule and whose education singularly followed the British system of education. Most of these teachers have retired from the profession. The Making of a Teacher Mr. Sarjit was born into a Punjabi-speaking family in 1930 in a small town in the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia. This was twenty-seven years before Malaya (now Malaysia) gained independence from Britain, and twelve years before the onset of World War II. He began primary school in his hometown in 1938 and it was here that he started to 63 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • learn English, a language then used for public communication as well as for instruction. His schooling continued until 1942 when WWII erupted in his part of the world with the arrival of Japanese troops in Malaya. The Japanese were successful in driving the British army from Malaya and they stayed on until their surrender to the Allies in 1945. Mr. Sarjit's early years in school did not follow what one could consider to be a conventional pattern of schooling. As mentioned earlier, his first years of primary schooling were interrupted by the arrival of the Japanese army. During the first year of the Japanese occupation, Mr. Sarjit went to a Japanese school where he was required to learn the Japanese language. He did not remain long at the Japanese school, however. He fell ill and his parents sent him to a temple to recuperate and to learn the Punjabi language (his first language) more extensively. But even so, he learned Japanese. I was quite fluent up until five or six years after the war. And then it all rotted. (1:11) He attributed his loss of Japanese speaking ability to a lack of usage, which to him is an important factor in learning a language, and because it was no longer necessary to speak Japanese in then British Malaya. After the war ended he went to school for another year. The old British school system was immediately re- instituted at war's end. But this once more was interrupted because his parents decided to go back to India where they 64 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • had come from. He disagreed with that decision and left home. Although he was only sixteen, he went to another state in the Federation of Malaya and enlisted in the naval police force. At the time he declared that he was eighteen. For the next three years he stayed on as a policeman. The experience provided him with more opportunity to speak English, an opportunity denied him in the early years of schooling because of frequent interruptions. His superiors were all British officers who, presumably, issued commands in English to their underlings. Throughout his career in the police force, he remained in touch, however, with his hometown friends, former teachers and headmaster. It was largely due to their persuasion that he returned home to resume his education in 1949. He continued with his secondary schooling, and in 1952, when he was already twenty two years old, he sat for the Senior Cambridge examinations. Traditionally students take the examination at seventeen, but the war provided a compelling reason for Mr. Sarjit to take the examination at an older age. Similar to the SPM examinations (see explanation in Chapter 1), this examination is a standardized examination taken during the final year of secondary schooling. The results are used to determine the direction a person takes upon its successful completion. Even as a young man, Mr. Sarjit realized the importance of the examination to his future career. 65 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • It was a bread and butter problem with me. I knew that if I didn't do well in my Senior Cambridge, I will ot get a job. (1:34) The fact that he was also a second generation Punjabi and the eldest son made him realize what his family expected from him. His sense of wanting to succeed in school and in learning English was very apparent. You must remember why the Punjabis migrated from India. They migrated for better pastures. So here they want to use the language that will bring in the income, that will give them jobs, you see. So the children will have to study the language that will give them the jobs. (1:17) After passing the Senior Cambridge examination, Mr. Sarjit was selected to go to a teacher-training college at Acton in England. At that time the training of Malayan teachers was carried out in England. When asked what he majored in at Acton, he said, Ah...the system was, you were trained as a general teacher. So in the first year we had to take 14 basic subjects...art, music, physical education, science, mathematics and so on...basic subjects. And then, in the second year, the languages. English language was continued in the second year. We had the theory of education, practice of education, practical teaching, and then we had an optional subject. In my case, I took English as my option. (1:9/10) He did his practical teaching in the second year, and taught English and mathematics to standard four pupils. He also taught at the secondary level for part of his training. When questioned about whether he had any qualms about teaching English to children whose native language was 66 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • English, this impeccably dressed man who speaks in a precise and clipped manner said, I had no qualms, I had no problems. I had no discipline problems ever. (1:12) After completing the two years of teacher training at Acton, Mr. Sarjit returned to Malaya in 1955, and began his lifetime career as a teacher. His first few years of teaching were marked by frequent transfers to different schools. As a matter of fact, I was in that school [Ismail School] for about one month when they transferred me to Padang for about one month. Then they transferred me back to Kintan for about two months, and then I went on this course to Kuala Lumpur. (1:2) During his initial teaching he taught at the primary level. He was also sent on several inservice courses, all of themcourses on teaching woodworking. The mainreason for going was that "other teachers did not want to go to [the] woodwork course because they did not want to be posted back to Kintan. They were trying to get out of Kintan. The condition of the course was that you would be willing to go back there" (1:4). After a few years of teaching in various primary schools and attending inservice courses, Mr. Sarjit was again selected to go for a course in Acton, this time to be trained in becoming a teacher trainer. I was selected to go back to Acton for a teacher trainers' course....Then we learned to prepare lectures and how to lecture to teacher trainees, and what to expect from them. Of course, our 67 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • lectures had to be suitable for the standard of the teacher trainees, basic techniques of teaching, basic techniques of teachingthe language, basic techniques of organizing a library. (1:24) Mr. Sarjit was at Acton for one year studying how to teach teachers. Despite this training, he has never taught at any teacher training college in Malaysia. On his return home, he taught at a public school near hishometown for a few months, and then was selected to become a headmaster of a post-primary school. This school was for children who had failed the Standard 6 examination and who were considered not fit to continue with their secondary education. Students stayed in the post-primary school for three years, and then were let free on the job market. Mr. Sarjit was a headmaster at Ibrahim School for seventeen years, and saw it through various changes in policies and curriculum. After a few years, the post-primary school system was abolished throughout Malaya and Ibrahim School became a lower secondary school. At the same time the Standard 6 entrance examination into secondary school was also abolished, and all primary school children were promoted to the secondary level. According to Mr. Sarjit, he went through a lot of hardships during his initial years of headship. As a headmaster, administration, finances, discipline, promotions and demotions were all my problems. In the then school system, we did not have subject teachers, we did not have counselors, we did not have sweepers, we did not have gardeners, we did not have school clerks.... 68 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • my office was my car, my classroom was under the tree. I was the sweeper, the gardener, the peon, the school clerk, and the administrator. (1:40) At the time of his headship, Mr. Sarjit was considered a non-graduate teacher. This meant that he was college trained and not university trained. Towards the end of his term as headmaster, a policy change occurred in the Malaysian school system which stated that a non-graduate teacher was no longer deemed suitable to be a headmaster. On realizing this situation, in the latter half of the 1970s, Mr. Sarjit began a part-time off-campus (or correspondence) study at a local university. In 1980, at fifty years of age, he was awarded a bachelor's degree in history. Upon graduation he continued being a teacher and remained one until his retirement. He considered the last five years of teaching in school as "sheer pleasure." He was given more pay and had fewer responsibilities. He did not have to deal with the problems of students, teachers, school administrators, or parents. He said, "I was given a time-table and I followed [it]" (1:40) . This characteristic of Mr. Sarjit is very evocative of his nature as a teacher, and will be explored later in the discussion about his teaching at the college level. Except for a single moment of rebellion over his parents' decision to return to India, Mr. Sarjit seemed to be a person who adhered to both familial and community expectations. This was evident in his fulfillment of his 69 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • parents' expectations for his success; success which is to be found in an adopted homeland, the impetus for his parents' emigration from India to Malaya. He could have remained a policeman, and probably would have been successful as one, but again his realization that only an education would bring him success in life at a level commensurate with his family's and his own expectations made him return to school to complete his schooling. As a teacher, when other teachers refused to go on inservice courses he went; he always realized the need to be better educated. When the winds of change brought a policy shift about the status of teachers, he went ahead and got himself a degree; as a teacher he followed the timetable and the rules; as a headmaster, he expected those below him to follow the rules. Seventeen years as a headmaster surely made him used to giving orders and having those orders carried out. His sense of responsibility to superiors is very strong as evidenced by a parting remark he made to me, "There are only two things you must remember: 1. The boss is always right, and 2. Always remember the first rule" (9/4/93). This remark has remained etched in my mind, and its deeper meaning seems to characterize Mr. Sarjit's nature as a teacher. He retired at 55, the official retirement age for government workers in Malaysia. However, he neither remained long nor comfortable in retirement, and soon after, 70 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • he began teaching English at a private college where he continued for two years. Then after a 7-month hiatus, he began teaching English at the ESL teacher education program, the site of the present study. On learning English Mr. Sarjit learned English in school. His teachers were mostly Malayan teachers, and only when he was in Form Five did he have a British teacher. At home only the Punjabi language was spoken which meant that he did not practice English there. No...no practice...because there was nobody in the house who spoke English. My father was illiterate; my stepmother was illiterate. My [step-siblings] were too young at that time to be really any company for me. (1:8) He considered his English lessons at school to be rather successful in helping him to acquire the language. Well, I think it was done very well because the method of teaching those days was the drill method....you had to be drilled in every aspect of the language. Of course there was a system. You did not learn everything right at the beginning. We started with the alphabet and then we progressed. By the time we were in Form Three, we were very fluent in English. We had already learned our clause analysis and other parts of grammar. (1:5) Mr. Sarjit did not receive any practice in speaking English at home, but according to him, he had many Malay and Chinese friends with whom he practicedthe language. It was common practice at that time for people from the different ethnic groups to communicate with each other in English, a 71 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • language used in school as well as in social contexts. He also seemed to be the kind of person who listened to his teachers. Well, I was in the English medium school. Everything was taught in English only and I spoke English with my friends all the time because the teacher said so. We were told to talk in English at all times and everywhere, so if you practice it you get better. (1:4) Despite not receiving any encouragement to speak English at home, it was probably much easier for him to acquire the language than for his current batch of students who attended schools in which Bahasa Malaysia is the language of instruction. All the subjects taught in school during Mr. Sarjit's time were taught in English. It was Mr. Sarjit's impression that for his teachers every lesson was considered a language lesson first. So even if you were doing geography, you had to say it in correct English sentences. If you are doing history, you had to give your answers in correct English sentences. If you are doing mathematics, you had to write your answers in correct English sentences. (1:5) Indeed, when asked how he acquired English, he remarked, I acquired English very naturally. I went to an English medium school and we learned everything in English. And gradually we built up our vocabulary and grammar and basic writing technique. (1:29) Besides school, other influences Mr. Sarjit received in learning English came from friends and reading. As television had not even made an appearance in Malaya, and he had no money to go to the local cinema, one form of entertainment for Mr. Sarjit was to meet up with friends for 72 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • play on the field or by the river. The main language they used for communication was English, albeit perhaps, a broken or pidginized form of English. Reading also seemed to be an important factor in influencing his acquisition of English. According to him, he was persuaded by his teachers to do a lot of reading. He mentioned that he used to read alot of stories such as Lamb's Tales which provided him with many hours of entertainment. Frequently, he read simplified versions of books by Twain, Shakespeare, and Dickens which were available in school. When asked about his English classes, he said, • We had clause...uh...grammar parts explained to us. We had writing. We had reading. We had to listen via dictation. We had to recite poetry. So the English lesson was a part of a series of English lessons that were devised to incorporate all the elements of the language. (1:6) According to Mr. Sarjit, his teachers regarded correcting their students' English as very important. Although this characteristic of language teachers may not be attributed to any particular teaching method, such as the audio-lingual method which consciously strives to prevent learner errors (Celce-Murcia, 1991), Mr. Sarjit demonstrated his subscription to the belief that the correction of mistakes must be carried out immediately in order to prevent fossilization of incorrect structures. His recollection of having his English corrected, even in his geography class, seems to have had a strong impact on his teaching. I noticed in his class that he not only corrected his 73 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • students' mistakes, he corrected them on the spot. In the grammar class I observed, during a practice session marking the end of the period, Mr. Sarjit immediately corrected a student who had made a mistake in using the past tense when making a sentence. Mr. Sarjit's learning of English, especially formal instruction in schools, was very traditional, typified by a focus on the ability to read, remember grammatical structures and rules, and recite and memorize poems. The method or methods used by his teachers reflected the prevailing methods at that time. Evidently, they did not hinder Mr. Sarjit's subsequent acquisition of English. These methods, the use of drills and memorizing rules, coincided with the dominant methods of teaching languages in use both in Britain and the United States at that time, i.e., during the thirties and forties (see Celce-Murcia, 1991). Thus, it would be safe to assume that language teaching practices prevalent in both countries, but most especially in Britain, would mirror practices in Malaya since many Malayan language teachers were trained at teaching colleges in Britain. The practices he experienced as a student learning English seemed to have led to similar practices he demonstrated as a teacher. The importance of learning discrete grammatical forms in his learning of English seems 74 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • to be reflected in the importance he accorded to the teaching of those structures. On teaching English: beliefs and practices Throughout Mr. Sarjit's thirty-seven year public school career, he has taught English and mathematics. Although he was also trained to teach woodworking, and indeed, attended several woodworking courses, he only taught it for a few months. He remarked sarcastically that "the headmasters were not trained to accept woodworking as a respectable subject. So they felt that it was only those duds who could not read or write who were suitable to go to woodwork classes" (1:23). As mentioned earlier, although he retired when he turned 55, Mr. Sarjit did not remain long in retirement, and soon after, he taught English at the college level at a private institution in his home state. That experience provided him with his first college-level teaching. He taught there for two and a half years and left when his contract expired and was not renewed. He remarked that the program was in shambles and there was a lot of politicking among the administrators at the college. When the present program opened up, Mr. Sarjit applied to teach English and was accepted. He has been with the program ever since its establishment in 1988. He is what everyone on the faculty calls one of the "oldtimers." He 75 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • brims with health and energy, and he keeps himself fit by playing golf. In his younger days he used to play field hockey and cricket. He dresses neatly and keeps his sparse grey hair trimmed and suitably in place with pomade. He prides himself in not having once called in sick during his five years with the program. Although Mr. Sarjit has taught English for most of his public school career, and an examination of his teaching style then would certainly enhance the portrayal of Mr. Sarjit as a teacher, the focus of this study is on his teaching which has occurred since he joined the teacher education program. Nonetheless, for the sake of clarity and continuity, certain features of his teaching in schools have been interwoven in the narrative. For the last five years, Mr. Sarjit has taught grammar, and this semester marks the first time that he is also teaching writing, another component of English in the curriculum. Although teaching writing presents no problem to him other than additional preparation time, he remarked, In my opinion, the person who is best at teaching grammar should be teaching grammar. The person who is best at [teaching] writing should be teaching writing....[This is like] fitting square holes with round pegs and round holes with square pegs. (3:37) On the whole, the teaching of grammar in the intensive English program (or the matriculation level as it is called in the program) focusses wholly on the structure and form of the English language. Upon examination of the grammar 76 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • syllabus for the matriculation level, I noted that different weeks in the semester are devoted to different aspects of grammatical structures, for example, five hours or one week is devoted to the teaching of adverbs, and another week devoted to the teaching of prepositions. I was also present at a meeting when the grammar teachers at the matriculation level were discussing a quiz they were going to write. Again, quiz items were divided into very discrete skill areas, for example, a section was on filling in the blanks with the correct prepositions and another on the use of adverbials. Mr. Sarjit agrees with me that the teaching of grammar in the program focusses heavily on the forms and structures of the language. Although at one point he mentioned that grammar should be taught holistically, which I took to mean teaching grammar alongside its social function and meaning, he also attributed the need to teach the students discrete grammatical structures and rules to the constraints imposed by time. Language should be taught as a whole. But we are here suffering the time constraint. So to be practical [this] is the better way of doing. Since we are doing it in a hurry, we are not giving them the long time to think. So here also, the grammar we are doing. We are saying, 'Alright, this is how we use [the forms].' We are acquainting themselves with the grammatical areas. And correctly we should follow up by writing. But we don't have the time. And they should follow up by speaking. (2:11) 77 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Mr. Sarjit seemed to be most in his element when teaching grammar. In the grammar class I observed, he held forth like a seasoned orator, very sure of his subject. He paced the floor in front of the blackboard, gesturing expansively with his hands, and gaining the attention of his students. Frequently, he wrote on the board the grammatical structures he was teaching. The students had their handouts opened on the tables in front of them and seemed to be absorbed in what the teacher was putting forth. Some students had glazed looks in their eyes and expressionless faces. It did not seem that learning the rules of English aroused a sense of joy in them. Although a few students held a pencil or pen in their hands, I did not notice the students writing down anything either in their notebooks or in the handouts. I assumed that everything the teacher was saying could be found in the handouts and no clarifying information needed to be written down. Mr. Sarjit acknowledged the importance of both reading and writing to the students' acquisition of language, but he admitted that without knowing and learning grammar, their acquisition would, at best, be faulty. If they have not learned what are articles, what are nouns, what are adjectives, then again, we'll have problems. So somewhere along the line, all that will have to be pointed out to them. They must know what the parts of speech are and what their functions [are]. And if they [the students] do not know their functions, they won't be able to think how to use them. (2:12) 78 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • He teaches grammar points discretely, focussing quite narrowly on the morphological and syntactical elements of the language. Grammar is thus taught deductively, that is, rules are presented first before examples of their use in sentences are given to the students. In the lesson on pronouns, he wrote the pronouns to be learned on the board and gave an extensive explanation of the differences between subject and object pronouns, and between singular and plural use. At no point in the grammar class did he call upon any student to explain the rules. Unlike the writing class in which the students responded rather spontaneously, the interaction between students and teacher in the grammar class was rather stilted. The students did not freely offer answers and usually waited to be called upon by the teacher. Mr. Sarjit frequently provided his own sentences as examples and pointed to students with his forefinger when he wanted them to respond. Occasionally, students answered in unison, and Mr. Sarjit reminded them sternly that only one might answer at any given time. At one point, Mr. Sarjit became exasperated by the lack of response from the students and admonished them about wasting government money, a not so subtle reminder of the scholarship they received from the government and, hence, on their commitment to learning. After that, the students did respond, but always awaiting 79 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • their turn and always rather haltingly and unsure of the correctness of their answers. This emphasis on correction and the feedback he received seemed to provide him with strong evidence for his belief that mistakes should be corrected immediately. During an interview Mr. Sarjit asserted, Well, every time a student utters a sentence in the classroom which is incorrect grammatically, I correct it, and ask him to repeat it on the spot. (1 :26) This is reminiscent of his own language learning experiences in school when he mentioned that frequently his English was corrected by his teachers. It is also evident in his preference, although seldom carried out because of time constraints, to have students write essays in class rather than at home because in class he could point out students' errors "on the spot" as he was wont to say. Students seemed to be hesitant about giving answers, perhaps out of fear of making a mistake. Well, if they speak, they must use all the grammatical items that are required in a particular sentence that they are uttering. And if they write, they must also use the correct terms in their sentences....So if they don't, I'll underline them and explain to them why. (2:5) Mr. Sarjit does not limit correcting students only to his class. He feels no qualms about reminding other students to use the target language. Indeed, he said, When I go around in campus, I don't worry whether the students like it or not, I just tell them that this is an English-speaking place. Do speak English. (1:28) 80 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • He is also not one to let the students forget their responsibilities. Whenever I hear the students speaking in any language other than English, I remind them that they are supposed to practice English. Otherwise, they'll never improve. (2:2) Another aspect of language teaching that he believes to be important is usage of the language. He adheres to the adage "practice makes perfect." This usage or practice, however, is closely tied to the students' correct use of grammatical structures, for example, when to use "to" and "from" and "take" and "bring" (2:6). Mr. Sarjit's interpretation of usage is not similar to the sense of usage dominant in the Communicative Approach which encourages learners to use language for purposes of communication (Celce-Murcia, 1991). At one point, Mr. Sarjit said, I usually spare about 5 minutes at the end of every lesson and this is not possible at the end of every lesson, but I try, that students must make a sentence in English. For example, last week I was teaching adjectives. So they had to make a sentence in which they use an adjective and they had to say which word was the adjective. (1:27) This practice was also evident in the grammar class I observed. True to his words, Mr. Sarjit called upon each student to make a sentence using the past tense. Since students sat in a U-shaped formation, a formation that did not deviate in any of the classes I observed and indeed is dominant throughout the whole building, Mr. Sarjit began first with the student on his left. Once she had given her 81 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • answer, the exercise proceeded to the next student until it ended with the last student on the right. There was no pause in the practice when answers given were correct, but when answers were wrong, the students were given another answer and were told to repeat the correct form. A striking thing that was lacking in this exercise was any confirmation that the students understood what they were saying. It seemed that they retreated back into their shell once their turn was over, comforted, perhaps, in the knowledge that classroom routines dictated that they would not be called upon again. The students mechanically provided answers without seeming to process them for understanding. There was hardly any student-to-student interaction. Pair work or group work, which might have encouraged communication between students and which would have represented an attempt to use language quite naturally, was not utilized by the teacher. The teacher felt that students were not able to do that yet as their language ability was still minimal. Mr. Sarjit also believes in making students write in his grammar class. Although a strict adherent to the syllabus, a characteristic of Mr. Sarjit's that I will deal with later, in his grammar class, Mr. Sarjit dared to deviate from the norm. The basic technique is usage. In my grammar lessons here, I make my students write [essays] every week, whether the syllabus indicates or not. Because if they don't write, how are they going to use the grammar items that they have learned? And when I ask them to write, it is free writing. I 82 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • don't worry about the writing techniques too much. As long as the articles, tenses, and subject-verb agreement are there, I am satisfied. I am not interested in the material here. I am more interested in the types of sentences they make. Are they grammatically correct or otherwise? (1:25) Indeed, when asked to describe his ideal conception of a grammar class Mr. Sarjit said, Well...I would ask them to write a composition. And then, that composition we'll pull apart. And [I'd] say, "Here are the noun errors, here are the adjective errors, here are your article errors." (2 :11/12) Thus, strict teaching of morphological and syntactical elements of English, what Celce-Murcia (1991) refers to as teaching grammar "as an autonomous system to be learned for its own sake" (p. 459), characterized the nature of Mr. Sarjit's grammar lesson. It is ironic, then, that in the writing class which he is teaching for the first time, Mr. Sarjit seemed to be more at ease. It is conceivable that layers and layers of experience and beliefs which may have sedimented in teaching grammar have not had a chance to form in the writing class. I observed teacher and student interaction that was more spontaneous than was evident in the grammar class. The students were more animated in this class, often challenging the teacher and making jokes with him. There was also much laughter. In the writing class, Mr. Sarjit taught a topic on thesis statements. Other points related to thesis 83 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • statements were topics on "controlling ideas,” "supporting details," and "opinions versus facts" (Obs. 2: 8/19/93). Although the class started slowly, the students became more responsive once they warmed up to the topic. There was a lot of interaction between teacher and students, with the teacher questioning and the students shouting out their answers in unison. Strangely enough, Mr. Sarjit did not reprimand the students for doing this. Although my presence was obviously felt the first five minutes or so, the students soon forgot about me and stopped giving me surreptitious looks from the corner of their eyes. There were eighteen students altogether, only one a male student who was also the quietest of the group. All the female students wore the colorful and flowery Malay national dress, which was also the female dress code for the institution. Most of the female students also wore the head covering deemed proper for Muslim women. Although there was more student-to-teacher interaction in this class, I would not characterize the method or approach to be of a communicative nature. The blackboard and lesson handouts still seemed to be the main pedagogical tools for the class. Again, as in the grammar class, Mr. Sarjit paced up and down the length of the blackboard, never venturing into the students' territory. He made heavy use of the blackboard, writing down the terms he was going to teach and the ideas the students shouted out in unison from 84 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • their seats. The class began with a review of mistakes students frequently made in their writing. Mr. Sarjit declared that the students were still writing sentence fragments and tended to forget their verbs. He wrote several examples of sentence fragments such as "I rice" and "The tiger dead" on the board and asked students to correct them (Obs. 2: 8/19/93). After that, the class continued with the lesson already planned. Mr. Sarjit wrote the word "opinion" on the board and asked students to state the difference between opinions and facts. Both students and teacher provided answers which were then written on the board. The teacher said that opinions were usually open to arguments and that opinion statements, not factual statements, were required in writing a thesis statement. This discussion nicely segued into a discussion of thesis statements. An example thesis statement was written on the board and students provided examples of controlling ideas or supporting details. Mr. Sarjit explained all the technical terms to the students and when I asked him later why the students were not asked to provide their own definitions, he said, Uh...they can't. They haven't got the ability to speak fluently yet. Perhaps, by the end of the year, they should be able to do this. (3:14) The lesson on thesis statements made way for a discussion of the essay. Mr. Sarjit explained to the students what an essay should look like based on the diagram 85 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • in the handout. The same diagram was also copied on the board; discussion continued on the different elements of an essay, for example, the introduction, the body of the essay, and the conclusion. Again, Mr. Sarjit explained the terms. In a later interview, Mr Sarjit complained to me that students often didn't remember definitions and needed constant reminders. So I have to tell them. I have to remind them. Then I have to retell, reremind them, and retell them. (3:8) Mr. Sarjit continued to explain the essay by reading from the handout. Other than once asking the teacher to repeat a word which was said a little too fast, the students did not directly ask questions pertinent to essay-writing. Mr. Sarjit also read aloud a sample essay written on the handout. At this point, too, Mr. Sarjit taught finer grammatical details such as the use of transition words in writing. At various intervals, Mr. Sarjit asked whether there were any questions, and when met with silence, he muttered, "There never are" (Obs. 2: 8/18/93). When a student asked Mr. Sarjit to explain the difference between a main idea and a controlling idea, he launched into an explanation of the two constructs. Mr. Sarjit seemed to relish explaining terms to the students and never hesitated. When a student mentioned that she did not know what to write on a certain topic, Mr. Sarjit advised her to write on something she was familiar with. The class 86 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • ended with the teacher reminding the students to check that all of their handouts were in order, and that any questions they might have should be brought up at the next session. Since Mr. Sarjit was free the next period, I managed to ask him some questions about writing and to look at his lesson plan. Mr. Sarjit is of the opinion that there is too much emphasis on the mechanics of writing in the first semester, and that this aspect of writing should be postponed to the second semester. The students should concentrate on free writing the first semester. He emphatically said, [T]hey have not built up their vocabulary and their language ability. The main thing is, it's not that they can't do it, but they do not have the language foundation. So they cannot understand even if we give them notes. They read, they don't understand. Once they have built up their vocabulary, and they have built up their techniques of writing correct sentences...not the techniques of technical writing...they would also have picked up more English words...they will be more fluent by the end of the first semester. (3:14/15/16) Nonetheless, being the person he is, he followed the syllabus which leads us yet to another characteristic of Mr. Sarjit as a teacher. Well, I suppose...we have to have a syllabus. So whoever drew up the syllabus must have something in mind. So it's...I go along, see what happens. So in other words, as far as I am concerned, it's still an experiment. (3:16) On the topics assigned for the writing syllabus, he said, We are giving them topics which are not necessarily my taste of topics. They are on the syllabus; we do them. So we do them rather 87 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • impersonally, not because of personal interest. (2:29) However, because of standardization which is quite the norm in the program, Mr. Sarjit sees the need for the syllabus to be followed. Oh yes...because we are, a number of us are teaching the subject. So if we don't follow the syllabus, we'll go wrong somewhere. Because the syllabus is aimed to maintain a certain standard or reach a certain standard. So we have to try and get that. (2:29/30) Mr. Sarjit believes that reading is very important to the students' overall acquisition of language. But he also admits that this is rather difficult to achieve because the students' reading habits are atrocious. And I make them read but that is more difficult. I can only persuade them, I can only suggest to them. Every Friday when I leave the class, I said, "Don't forget to read the newspaper on Sunday." Hopefully they do so. I'll find out about half will say yes...and the other half? Some of them will say, "We glanced." I'll say, "Glancing is not as good as reading. It'll be better if you read one single article in the newspaper than to glance at the whole newspaper because you don't read sentences when you glanced." (2:2) Mr. Sarjit is not very particular about what the students read; the main thing is that they develop the habit. So some of the books are beyond their vocabulary and understanding. So then I say, "You can't read that. You must get something simpler." And what subjects they read, I don't worry. They can have their spy stories, or their romance, or whatever they prefer. Of course, the second advice I give them is, "Borrow a book that you like, not books that you don't like. Then you will not read them. You will read about five pages and then put it aside." (2:25) 88 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • In addition to encouraging students to read on any subject they want, Mr. Sarjit also encourages students to read simplified or abridged versions of English novels. He feels that the important thing is to cultivate the interest and once it is cultivated, the students can then go on to read the unabridged novels. He said that was the practice he adopted when learning English. Conclusion Mr. Sarjit holds strong beliefs about teaching English; these beliefs can be categorized into four broad areas which are 1) the importance of learning grammar, 2) the importance of language usage, 3) the value of immediate correction of students' errors, and 4) the importance of developing good reading habits. First and foremost is the importance he accords to the teaching of grammar. As mentioned earlier, grammar teaching is governed by a focus on the learning of the grammatical elements of English. Mr. Sarjit is of the opinion that since the students are going to become language teachers, it is imperative that they know grammar rules. The value he places on grammar is evident not only in his grammar class, but also in his writing class when he interrupted part of that class to concentrate on the finer details of grammar, i.e., on the use of transition words in writing paragraphs. Even his own learning of English was characterized by an emphasis on grammar as evident when he 89 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • recounted the way he learned English. This belief regarding the importance of learning grammar coincides with the behaviorist view that language is a set of habits that need to be learned and that for a learner to acquire a language he or she must be acquainted with the structure and rules of the language. Mr. Sarjit believes in the usage of language; to be proficient, a student must use the language. No one can deny the importance of practice in a person's acquisition of another language. Learning a language and maintaining one's ability to speak the language cannot be equated to riding a bicycle: one never loses the ability to ride once one has learned to ride, even if one may lose one's balance. On the contrary, a person's ability to speak another language diminishes when the language is not used--one forgets vocabulary, one forgets grammar, one forgets sentence patterns, and eventually, one recalls with sadness a time when one could speak another language. In Mr. Sarjit's case, the opportunity for his students to practice the language orally was limited to the last five minutes of class when the students each made a sentence using a particular grammatical structure. He lamented the fact that students don't use the language outside of class, but he also acknowledged the fact that in a non-English speaking environment, it is quite difficult to get students to speak English among themselves and on their own initiative. 90 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Another important element of Mr. Sarjit's belief system about language learning is the importance he places on the immediate correction of students' errors. He said students' grammatical mistakes must be corrected immediately lest they become ingrained in the students' language system. This was evident in the fact that he prefers to assign writing tasks in class so that he would be able to point out their mistakes "on the spot" (1:26) as he was fond of saying. It was also evident in the classroom observation that I conducted of his class when in the last five minutes of class, the students were required to practice the grammar rule of the day, for example, the adjectives. The correct use of the adjectives was tacitly acknowledged while the incorrect use of that particular part of speech was immediately pointed out to the student who was then required to repeat the correct answer. Mr. Sarjit believes students must read extensively in English in order to acquire the language. However, he admitted that it is difficult to monitor students' reading habits. Without a system for systematically policing their reading habits, Mr. Sarjit said that he could only persuade and suggest to the students the importance of reading. In class he frequently informs them of books available in the library and advises them to read an English newspaper. He does not mind whether they read an abridged version of a novel or the complete version as long as they read something 91 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • and develop good reading habits. However, whether they read is very much left to the students' own initiative. A constraint to teaching that Mr. Sarjit expressed during the interviews was the time constraint. He felt that the time within which these students have been given to learn English fluently and accurately in order to become ESL teachers was very different from the length of time he had experienced. Several times he said that unrealistic expectations were put on the students. According to him these students had to learn in six months what he learned in six years. He also said that the time allotted for learning grammatical rules was also too short; an examination of the syllabus revealed that grammar teachers were only allotted two weeks to spend on adverbs. Mr. Sarjit is also the kind of person who adheres to the regulations, usually as stated, with seemingly little or no interpretation on his part. He teaches the subjects assigned to him although it is his personal opinion that a person should teach what a person knows best. He covers the topics in the syllabus although there are some topics that he does not agree with. Mr. Sarjit's strong sense of responsibility leads him to believe that it is his duty to transmit to the students what is stated in the curriculum. In summary, the faithful transmission of the curriculum fulfills his obligation as a teacher. 9 2 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER FIVE THE FUN LOVER Ms. Khadijah was the second teacher I interviewed and observed. The data for her story were obtained from a series of formal and informal interviews and an observation of her class teaching. I interviewed her three times in her office, each time between one and a half to two hours. The interviews were tape-recorded in order to obtain accurate documentation for her story. I also kept fieldnotes during each interview session which I used to record facial expressions and gestures. In addition, we met informally several times, either at the faculty lounge or during lunches to which I was invited. I managed to observe her once while she was teaching, but the single observation was equivalent to the others in length because it was a two-hour class. In some ways it was of added value since in two hours her normal pattern of teaching was more likely to be made manifest. During the time I was data collecting at the program, teachers of the Islamic faith were required to attend a one week mandatory course held at an academy in another state, thus interrupting a week of teaching for all the Moslem teachers and my research schedule. This course, typically religious in nature, was one of a series of courses that the 93 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • institution annually organized for its Moslem staff and faculty. Since the institution was a predominantly Moslem institution, the top administrators often perceived themselves to be the religious and moral guardians of the staff and faculty members. Non-Moslem faculty members were often required to attend similar courses but often non- Islamic in nature. Unlike American institutions where there is typically a separation of state and church, in Malaysia religion is not separated from schools, institutions, or any governmental institutions. At the time of this study, Ms. Khadijah was teaching ten hours per week: five hours of oracy to the second-year matriculation students and five hours of introduction to language and linguistics for the first year undergraduate students. Oracy I and II offered in the second year of the maticulation level are a continuation of the listening and speaking component students had in the first year; the linguistics course is one of the first linguistics courses taken by students who have successfully completed the matriculation level. Ms. Khadijah has 18 years of teaching experience, all of these at the college level and at the same institution. Twice during her teaching career, she left Malaysia for England to further her studies: the first time to do her master's degree in linguistics and English language teaching, and the second to do her doctoral degree in 94 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • sociolinguistics. She has taught many different components of English--reading, literature, grammar, drama and oral skills--but according to her, her forte has always been in the area of spoken discourse. Ms. Khadijah is bespectacled, tiny and perky, with shoulder-length wavy, black hair and she loves to wear big, chunky earrings. Her youthful appearance and demeanor belie her age. She laughs and giggles a lot, and our interviews were always interspersed with peals of laughter; this is especially so when she recalls something mischievous that she did when she was a teenager. She is a very articulate person and speaks English with an almost native-like accuracy and fluency. She is also a bright and intelligent woman who does not hesitate to speak her mind. Personal history Ms. Khadijah was born into a large bilingual-speaking (Malay and English) family in 1952 in a big town in a southern state of Malaysia. This state is close to Singapore and is considered to be one of the most westernized of the 13 states in Malaysia. Ms. Khadijah is the third child in a family that includes three sisters and three brothers. According to her, both her parents worked: her father was head of a survey department; her mother was a draughtswoman in the same office. 95 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ms. Khadijah began primary school in 1959, two years after Malaysia gained independence. Throughout her school years the medium of instruction was still English, which according to her was a major factor in her almost native­ like acquisition of English. After completing her primary school, she continued with her secondary level education at the Sultan Samad Girls' School--one of the few all-girls' schools in the state. At 17, she completed her secondary schooling with a Grade One in the standardized national high school examination--the Malaysian Certificate of Education-- an examination not unlike the SPM (see explanation in Chapter 1). After that she was offered the opportunity to do her sixth form at one of the schools in her hometown which was also one of two prestigious all-girl government boarding schools in the country. There were no private boarding schools at that time. She refused to go there because "it was too close to my house" (1:18). Her father then sent her to a college in another state in order for her to complete her Form VI. Undergoing two years at the Form VI level and taking the Higher School Certificate (HSC) examination at the end of the two years was then a requirement for any high school student wanting to continue his or her study at the university level. After completing her Form VI and successfully passing the HSC, Ms. Khadijah gained admission into the country's oldest university located in the capital city of Kuala 96 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Lumpur. In the first year, she took general required courses such as history and English and in the second year, she was given the chance to specialize or major in one of two areas--international relations or English literature. She chose to major in English literature because she thought that would be the easier of the two. She said she would have loved to major in international relations but that would have entailed joining the diplomatic corps upon graduation which was then an all-male bastion. In fact, she did attend an interview with the Malaysian foreign service after she graduated, but was discouraged from joining. In a firm but almost indignant tone she said, At that time, there was no woman in the diplomatic service. So chauvinistic. They [were] very sexist. Not encouraged. In fact I went to the interview and I was told off for wanting to be in the diplomatic service because I was young and single and pretty. And if I was going into the diplomatic service...I would remain single for the rest of my life. And I was told to be a teacher. That was appropriate. And that was the last thing I wanted to do. (1:24) She did, nevertheless, become a teacher and started teaching at a college in 1975. She joined the Language Centre of the college and was assigned to teach English. Her wish to teach literature was thwarted by the head of the department. I wanted to teach English literature but Zaharah [her boss] again is a very strong influence in my career, you know. She said, 'No, you teach English.' But I said, 'I don't have any background in teaching English as a second language or a foreign language. Let me teach English literature.' So the first three years of my teaching before my master's, I had no linguistics background. (1:30) 97 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Much of what she knows and practices in teaching ESL has been acquired through sheer experience, not formal training. She recalled having to purchase and read books on English grammar in order to equip herself with the necessary tools to teach the language. In fact when I started teaching, I was quite worried that I actually didn't go through a course which tells me this is how you learn English which actually equates to this is how you teach the language, you see. I had to do reading on grammar. I had to find Quirk's book, for example, and look through conditionals. These are the rules that apply. Subject-verb agreement. Ah...this is what it's all about. I keep thinking, ah...this is an exception to the rule and that's what my teacher used to tell me. (3:4) Ms. Khadijah taught English at the preparatory level for four years. Learning intensive English at the preparatory level was a requirement for students who came from the Malay medium schools. Although at that time Malay was the language of instruction in public schools, English was still widely-used at the college and university level. This was because a majority of the faculty members were able to deliver lectures only in English as many of them were educated when the medium of instruction was English and because many of the textbooks and reference books used at the higher institutions of learning in the country were still written in English. The transition to Bahasa Malaysia as the language of instruction at the tertiary level began in the early eighties. 98 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • After the first fours years of teaching, Ms. Khadijah was offered a scholarship to do her master's degree in England. She majored in linguistics and English language teaching. Upon completing her course, she returned to the same institution to continue teaching. In 1982, she was appointed the coordinator of the Australian matriculation and A-Level programs, two programs that prepared government- sponsored students to learn English intensively in order to undertake their undergraduate study in Australia and Britain respectively. These two programs were joint programs between the governments of Malaysia and Australia and Britain, and were carried out at the college where Ms. Khadijah was teaching. She was the coordinator of the two programs for four years and was again offered a scholarship to carry out her doctoral studies in England. After she had completed her dissertation, she returned to the same institution to resume teaching. She started teaching at the ESL teacher education program, another department in the same institution which is also the site of the present study, in the middle of 1991. On learning English For Ms. Khadijah, the exposure to English began very early at home even before she started school. Her parents were educated in the English language and her two older sisters had begun to learn English formally in school. 99 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ah...I think the pattern that I followed was more that of a native speaker of English because the exposure started from when I was very- young. ..young girl. From the age when I knew how to speak English or Malay...it's definitely pre­ kindergarten stage. (1:1) She attributed this to the fact that she comes from a mixed background: Malay, Chinese, and Indian. And that's because of the mixed background I come from. My grandfather's Indian. He couldn't speak Malay well enough, you know, for us to speak to him only in Malay. So he spoke very poor Malay. And very often he had to speak English to us. My parents were both educated in English...in the English language. (1:1) Ms. Khadijah's grandfather who was Indian and her grandmother who was Malay adopted her mother who is ethnic Chinese, but who was brought up as a Malay. It was quite a common practice in Malaysia at that time for Chinese baby girls to be given up for adoption to Malay families. Ms. Khadijah's father was Malay. Indeed when I asked her to characterize the language situation at home, she said, "If we were to analyze the communication system at home, it was one where we code-switched all the time. We used a lot more English than Malay" (1:10). Code-switching usually occurs in bilingual families where two languages are used interchangeably for communication. Her parents were strong influences in her learning of English. Ms. Khadijah remembered speaking to her grandfather and parents in English, although "my mother was less of an influence because she was very shy" (1:2). Even so, her mother understood English and Ms. Khadijah 100 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • remembered that she could never talk about her mother in English in her presence. She remembered that her mother used to skimp on clothes or toys in order to get books for the children, "My mother was very much into buying books. She bought us a lot of reading materials in English" (1:6). Ms. Khadijah went to an English kindergarten and the teachers in her school came from the different ethnic groups. She recalled her year at the kindergarten with glee. They read a lot of books to us. In kindergarten I remember the teachers reading a lot of story books to us. And they taught us songs. And we had to do a lot of things like: A man in a pen A pen in a man Yeah, a lot more of rhyming than what we have now with the kids. Umm...I think we were making like lots of mistakes but it didn't matter, it was fun. I remember learning English was fun. (1:3/4) On learning rhymes in the kindergarten, Ms. Khadijah remembered this important aspect. I suppose you learned more the melody but you don't really know the meaning of the words, the lyrics. You know when you are young you tend to follow what is nice to follow. You imitate a lot. I can't actually remember how I was taught those rhymes but I rememberwe werenever given the meaning of the rhymes. It was more themelody that was important. And even though we made some pronunciation errors, it didn't matter. But it was fun...finding out the meaning and I remember after a few years you realize, "Ooops, you've actually been pronouncing it [word] wrong." (1:7) Another exposure to English that Ms. Khadijah remembers came from her neighbors. When she was growing up, Ms. Khadijah's family lived in an area in town which had a lot 101 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • of expatriate British families, and her family was particularly close to one expatriate couple. She befriended the middle-aged woman and her husband. Yeah...I was like their adopted daughter. They called me Dolly because I was such a small giri. And they couldn't speak Malay, you know. So they were speaking English to me and I could understand them. (1:2) Thus, exposure to native speakers of English came very early in her life. And this exposure continues until the present time as Ms. Khadijah still has many friends who are native speakers of English. Another important factor that contributed to her learning of English came from reading. Ms. Khadijah is an avid reader of English books so much so that she could only remember reading two novels in her own native language: Salina and Tenggelamnva Kapal Van der Wiik. When she was growing up she heard her sisters, who were already in school, speaking in English all the time. Often with relish, Ms. Khadijah recounted the years when she was growing up and the influence books had in her learning of English. She would then lean back in her black faux leather swivel chair, run her fingers through her hair, wave her arms with a flourish, the eyes behind the spectacles glinting with hidden laughter or widening in horror. According to Ms. Khadijah, ...the books that we had were all in English. Classics. I mean we read Enid Blyton--the whole lot. And Mills and Boons. Right up to our teenage years when we got hold of books which were 102 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • even banned. Like Kamasutra. Yeah! Lady Chatterley's Lover...yeah, I remember those. Comics...lots of comics in English. (1:3) Indeed reading became some kind of a race between her and her older sisters. With a slight chortle she said, I think I was very fortunate to be the third girl because everything my sisters read, [it] was like a competition. Everything they read, I must be the next one to read. So it's like, if my mother bought a novel, a classic...I remember Tom Sawyer...my eldest sister would be the first one to read and she has to read it really fast because the second sister wants to read it, then I'll read. And I was fortunate because whatever they read would be passed over to me. So I had lots of reading materials. We were never stopped from reading, right, anything and everything. (1:11/12) According to Ms. Khadijah, there was an abundance of reading materials at home, sometimes even those that were beyond her understanding. There was always a newspaper at home. There was always Straits Time for us to read. My mother would buy books on knowledge...we had medical books...even though we weren't medically inclined. I mean there was no way I was going to be a medical student...nor my sister Hanum. We were like referring to medical books.... (1:20) Even when she was in secondary school the situation was similar; she even volunteered to become a library monitor in secondary school so that she could have access to books, especially new ones. It was like a race, you know, with my friends when I was young because I was with a group of girls who were very ambitious. We must speak the best English in school. Uh...when one person reads a story book in secondary school, I must read that book as well. It was very competitive in that sense...when it comes to English. And we passed books to each other. We never spoke in Malay. (1:17) 103 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ms. Khadijah remarked that the spirit of competitiveness between her and her friends and the need to be accepted by her peers played a large role in her acquisition of English. The friends that I attached myself to...the different cliques. And you know it was like the "in" thing to be in the choir, the "in" thing to be in operas, in the theater, in school plays, in singing. (1:29) On the same topic she continued, I had a group of friends who are very successful now...one is a registrar of companies...several lawyers, you know. And we were very much into...quite Anglicised, you know. We were very competitive but in a constructive way. We passed books around, novels, you know, around and it was .positive competition. I mean we never spoke in Malay. There was always English. I suppose at that time also if you can speak English, well, you belong. You can be assured that you belong to a certain elite group. (3:8) Television and music also played a part in her learning of English. I remember TV was just introduced when I was in secondary school and we saw a lot of British comedies. And it was like a lot of talk, very little slapstick. And because there was a lot of talk, you have to understand. But my father was always there to explain things to us... I remember there was a lot more films in English, British English. And because there was very little to do in terms of places to go to, you know, we listened to a lot of radio. Beatles, Dave Clark Five. On top of that, my family is musically-oriented. My brothers bought their own guitars and every evening we had a singing session, jam session we used to call it. My father would join us sometime and my mother bought us a lot of songbooks in English. And we sang and we sang. And we used to have friends coming over. (1:10) 104 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • The role of learning English in a formal manner for Ms. Khadijah, especially at the primary level, is less clear. With a faraway look in her eyes and a deep furrow creasing her forehead as she tried to recall her memory she said, "I can't remember being taught grammar...to be honest. Because to me there was so little of grammar classes. I was never taught subject-verb agreement. Because English wasn't a subject" (1:8/9). In fact, she attributed much of her ability to speak English to being in an English school. Everything was in English. I learned mathematics, arithmetics, history, geography, all the sciences in English. We did have English classes but it was more like "man and a pen," "how now brown cow." More of speaking exercises, I think. They could be in some kind of a drill form but it was quite enjoyable. We didn't have to go to the [language] laboratory. Nothing was played on the recorder. I can't remember anything on the tape- recorder ever being used in class. But I do remember the teachers. We had exercise books...we had to do a lot of the repetition exercises. But it was quite fun because nobody laughed at your mistakes. We laughed at each other. And we were never reprimanded for making mistakes. (1:9) For Ms. Khadijah, not being scolded for making mistakeswas important as it allowed her to take risks when formingnew sentences or using new words in her second language. Later, during the same interview, we continued our discussion on how she learned English. She recalled, We did have English classes but they were more like revision of grammar, not so much emphasis on verbs, nouns. But I remember writing a lot of essays...based on whatever stories you've read. Ah...it slowly progressed to discussive types of essays, I think, where you have to discuss, you have to put down your points of view, you have to argue things. That was very much later. But the 105 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • only part of secondary education I remember...I wrote a lot of stories, essay types, a lot of stories. (1:12) Subsequently, Ms. Khadijah also added, Yeah, I remember a little bit about how grammar was taught in secondary school. I remember like we were given a lot of exercises related to a story and we have to fill in blanks. I suppose like a cloze passage. But the cloze passage was not decontextualized. It is part of a story we have read. It was part of reading comprehension. They said "fill in the blanks" and it wasn't specified whether it was a grammatical item or a lexical item. But I can't remember actually doing just "prepositions," verbs "to be," changing tense, verb tense. I can't remember that at all. That's what I mean by, it wasn't...the subject wasn't decontextualized. Grammar wasn't taught as a grammar class. It was very much part of that ongoing activity, you know, and we did a lot of reading comprehension exercise, more on reasoning. And I remember, it wasn't like multiple choice reading comprehension passages that we have [sic] to do. It was actually writing out the answers, you know, it was like some were open-ended questions requiring long answers. It wasn't one- word sort of answer that was required. It required us to give reasons, to explain. (1:14) During her sixth form, she took five subjects for her Higher School Certificate examinations and she remembered especially the value of one subject: General Paper. This paper was a required subject to take at the sixth form level, and briefly, it was similar to a course in critical thinking and general world knowledge. General Paper was a demanding paper because it requires you to be knowledgeable of world issues...anything that's current...science and technology and politics. So I consider that quite demanding, whereas the other content subjects require a lot of facts, memory work, memorizing facts.... [General Paper taught me to] be quite critical. How to use my common sense ability. (1:19/20) 106 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • At the university Ms. Khadijah majored in English literature. Of her university experience she remembered most the influence of drama, and related much of that experience to her subsequent interest in oral skills. The most important aspect of my university was actually being involved in the cultural [group] and in the drama. That was fun. I got to do a lot of plays in English. I was very involved in cultural activities, in dramas, stage work, you know. At the same time I also took drama as an option paper. I got an A for that. We had to write scripts, we had to act, we had to do makeup. Yeah, I learned how to be clear when I speak. Stage work is very good in terms of building confidence in you...it gives you the necessary skills to be on stage. And for stage, for theater, you don't have microphones. You have to learn how to project your voice. You learn how to stand properly and breath. You have to learn movements on stage. You should never give your back too long, for example. You learn how to carry yourself. (1:27) She was very active in the university's cultural troupe and indeed involved herself in the acting and production of several plays. Ms. Khadijah continued studying at the university, and after three years graduated with an honors degree in English literature. In summary, Ms. Khadijah attributed much of her ability to use English fluently to the early introduction that she had to the language when she was young. She likened the pattern of learning English that she was exposed to as similar to the exposure a native speaker might have experienced. In fact during our last interview, she admitted being much more comfortable using English than Bahasa Malaysia. According to her she is very much at home 107 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • with colloquial Bahasa Malaysia but is quite deficient in using it in formal, academic contexts. Although there is no empirical evidence to support this claim, the phenomenon of being more comfortable using English than Bahasa Malaysia is a common phenomenon among many Malaysians who received their education entirely in English. For Ms. Khadijah, although English may not have been spoken a hundred percent of the time at home, there were enough English speakers there to enable her to be comfortable with the language. She spoke in English to her parents, who encouraged her to read and indeed provided her and her siblings with a lot of reading materials. In school she said learning English was fun; she sang, recited a lot of poetry, read stories, and wrote essays. She did not remember learning grammar consciously; she believed grammar was always integrated into the exercises that she was required to do in school. She also said that an important feature of learning English that she remembered most was that she and her classmates were never scolded for making mistakes. She believed that aspect of her learning was important because she was not discouraged from using the language. Certainly, the language learning environment that Ms. Khadijah was exposed to early in life appeared natural and seemed to be less threatening than what students might usually encounter in a formal language class. 108 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • On teaching English: beliefs and practices Ms. Khadijah, who has never had any experience teaching at the primary or secondary level, gained all her teaching experience by teaching English at the college level. As noted earlier at the time of the study, Ms. Khadijah was teaching oracy and an introductory course in language and linguistics. According to her, both are subjects she likes and in which she excels. Although the focus of the study is on her teaching practices at the teacher education program, I deemed it necessary to explore earlier segments of her teaching career in order to gain a holistic picture of Ms. Khadijah as she was initiated into her teaching career. Because Ms. Khadijah did not go through any formal training to become an English language teacher, much of her initial learning to teach English was self-taught. She had majored in English literatue at the university, thus precluding any formal training in the pedagogy of teaching English either as a second language or a foreign language. When asked how she acquired the skills to teach, she leaned forward in her seat and emphatically remarked, I read. I read a lot of books on teaching English as a second language or a foreign language. A lot of books on grammar. A lot of grammar books...to acquaint myself with the rules because it was very rule-oriented, you know. (3:10) In a perfect imitation of Indian-accented English, she mimicked one of the older Indian teachers whom she encountered when she started teaching. 109 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • I remember Mr. Gopal very well. "You have to go to class and teach grammatical items and today you start with present tense and you go up to the sophisticated past perfect tense," or something like that. I didn't know these terms exist...to be honest. And a lot of it I acquired through reading, through my own reading. That was how I equipped myself. (3:10) To Ms. Khadijah, many of these older teachers were oriented in the traditional manner of teaching English, i.e., teaching grammatical rules and making students learn and remember the rules were important. Thus language was broken down into a set of rules that a learner has to master. So it was not surprising that her initial teaching experience was marked by an emphasis on teaching students grammar and patterned responses. She also discovered that the way she acquired English was markedly different from the way her students were being taught the language. I realize that when I looked at the syllabus, the scheme of work, that I had to do a lot of reading myself. Oh yeah...because I realize that I didn't actually go through learning a language in the same way as the students are. Because [for me] there was no formal instruction on grammar...or on usage.... (3:9/10) . As she was teaching a group of Malay students who had gone through their entire education in Bahasa Malaysia she said, "I realize that I couldn't apply what I had gone through in my teaching because they were at a stage where it would have been difficult to have an integrated approach" (3:9). As a novice teacher, Ms. Khadijah initially taught English by the method that was predominant at that time or at least she 110 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • tried to do so; however, she did not remain comfortable doing that. One of the most important aspects of teaching and indeed of teaching language for Ms. Khadijah was the need to establish rapport between her and her students in order for students to have confidence in learning English. This seemed to be quite evident in the oracy class that I observed. Much interaction, which indicated the level of trust and confidence they had with one another, was evident between students and teacher, and between students and students. For instance, some students did not hesitate to point out a mistake that another student made during the lesson to Ms. Khadijah and the other students. When a student who was presenting said, "...an engineer, two factories workers, a housewife..." (Obs. 1; 8/16/93), they were quick to point out that it should be "two factory workers." For Ms. Khadijah, Learning language is being able to use it comfortably so the atmosphere in class must be comfortable. You must feel comfortable not only in the environment, you must feel comfortable with yourself and each other. And especially with your teachers. (2:3) Later on in another interview, on the same topic she said, The first thing I do when I go to a new class is I establish rapport. It's rapport-building; it's breaking the ice. And this, I must stress, it doesn't happen with all my classes before this. Whether I'm teaching them grammar or reading or writing--that to me is the most important thing. (3:28) 111 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • She admitted that establishing rapport in class is very- difficult for some teachers because of the traditional image of the teacher in Malaysian society. You know what the image of the teacher is like in this country. You are so high up there and cannot come down to your [students'] level. I'm a qualified...I'm the authority in this case, in the use of language. I don't think that assymmetrical [relations] should be extended in class especially in my area when I teach speaking, when I teach oral skills. I try not to make them feel that I am an authority because once you have that imbalance...uh...there's always a fear of making mistakes. (2:3) Ms. Khadijah then explained to me how she establishes rapport with her students. First thing...I open up. They must see me as an open book. I cannot be too mysterious to them.... If I'm angry, you must know I'm angry. If I'm happy, you must know I'm happy. If I'm sad, you must know I'm sad. You know, if I'm serious, you must know I'm serious, and vice versa. I expect them to dance in tango with my moods and I do the same thing with them. (2:25) When I asked whether a teacher is an authority figure in class she added, It shouldn't be. You can have a very solid foundation. You can be an authority in your own profession, in your career. Yeah, I'm a specialist, yes. But that shouldn't be extended in class because I feel that curbs learning. I think a lot of teachers... they are very scared of going down to the level of the students. They don't like the students laughing at them when they [teachers] make mistakes. They don't like students pointing out their mistakes....I, I purposely make mistakes in my classes [to see whether] students are sharp enough with the...it's self-assessment, isn't it? (2:3/4) To Ms. Khadijah it is important that rapport is achieved among the members of a class because a certain 112 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • level of comfort can reduce the anxiety the students might have about learning a second language; an anxiety that is not uncommon in a language class. As the students are going to be ESL teachers, it is important that they not be inhibited in their own process of learning English. In promoting the natural approach to teaching language, Krashen and Terrell (1983) suggested that an atmosphere of high anxiety in class often interferes with effective learning of a language. According to Ms. Khadijah, [I]f they have confidence, you know, that they are going to learn and they are going to make mistakes...they are going to make mistakes, a hell of a lot of mistakes, and that they are not going to be scolded or told off all the time, or made fun off all the time, they are going to be comfortable. And they have to know each other. I hate classes where students only come for that class. I like the idea of group rapport. That's very important for confidence-building. Because a lot of learning a language is dependent on how comfortable you are with your friends. You know they are going to laugh at you, you know they are going to make mistakes, you are going to make mistakes. You are going to correct each other very often. You see, you cannot take to heart all the time. You cannot be too sensitive in the kind of environment that I would like students to experience. So that's why I think rapport-builing is very important at the very beginning. (3:28) The perception that Ms. Khadijah has about the importance of rapport between friends or between classmates is related to the experience she had as a child. According to her, the friends she had played a large role in helping her to learn and acquire English as they spoke to one another in English all the time. 113 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ms. Khadijah also believes that it is important for her students to have fun when learning a language because of her own experience learning a language. Nobody learns anything when the subject matter is boring. And English is...well...if you want to think about learning grammar and reading and writing...it's quite boring, isn't it? It's so skill-oriented and so precise. Language study needs to be fun because the whole thing about language, using languages, you have to be creative. And to be fun, you have to be creative, to make things interesting. To come out with new things, you have to be creative. (2:1) Fun is an elusive concept to define because an activity that is considered a "fun" activity for one teacher may not be considered fun by another teacher or even by the students. However, I dare to interpret the concept of fun as I observed it in Ms. Khadijah's class. Fun in Ms. Khadijah's view, at least as demonstrated in her class, meant conducting a variety of activities such as pair presentation, simulations, and role-playing. In her class one does not see the dreaded exercise of listening and repeating of grammatical structures after the teacher, such as one might see in a traditional Latin class often portrayed in movies (see Dead Poets Society); one does not see the mindless, repetitive conjugation of verbs; indeed one sees and hears much laughter as students are entertained by the amateurish acting of some of the students as they act out their simulations and role-play. This concept of having fun in class can also be related to the image Ms. Khadijah has of herself as a teacher. 114 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • I emit a lot of fun. The image I have, I think, for my students is one of a very fun-loving person, very carefree, very jovial. I laugh [my emphasis] a lot, I'm very friendly. I don't have to make an extra effort to he silly. I can laugh at myself. I try to make [students] feel that when they make a mistake, it's...it's good to laugh. And if anyone else laughs at them, it's okay, you know. Because one should not be over­ sensitive about making mistakes. Ok, so I made a mistake, I laugh about it. And if I make the same mistake, I laugh again about it. (2:2) During the oracy class, there were two main activities: first, presentation of the findings from the opinion poll that the students had carried out the previous week, and second, simulations of portions of the interviews that each group or pair had carried out with their respondents. The opinion poll encompassed a broad range of subjects which were mainly those that would interest a young person; these were topics on growing up, juvenile delinquency, and living together out of wedlock. Each pair took turns presenting the findings, often using information written on index cards to remind them of their facts. Frequently, however, the students spoke extemporaneously which indicated to me the degree of confidence the students had with their language ability. The students also made use of visuals such as pie charts and diagrams which were drawn on the blackboard to present their findings. Although I did notice students making some grammatical mistakes when speaking, Ms. Khadijah did not make any effort to correct their mistakes, an important feature in her belief about learning a language. 115 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ms. Khadijah summed up the way she corrected the students' mistakes. You realize that students make mistakes, often, and then you use that as a teaching strategy. Why are they making these mistakes all the time? How do I go about telling them? I don't believe that one should correct the students all the time...I gather their mistakes and then I sit back and say, "Okay, so they make a lot of mistakes in oral skills. They make a lot of mistaken pronouncing a certain sound." And then I make sure that I emphasize this in class before we start on a [new topic] . (2:4/5) The presentation of the findings lasted approximately one hour. After each presentation, Ms. Khadijah would get up from her temporary seat at the back of the classroom and would often ask the presenters questions about their experiences conducting the surveys and she never failed to praise the students for the work they had carried out. She would also ask other students for their opinions regarding the presentation. During the time when students were preparing for the role-playing, Ms. Khadijah showed me the assessment sheet she was using for the student evaluation. The presentation was also used as part of the assessment for the students' final grades. Ms. Khadijah explained to me that they had not done any formal skill-building yet, notably public speaking and formal interviewing skills, which had been suggested at the beginning of the semester by the director of the program. She believed that at this stage students should still be exposed to casual, informal situations for their role-playing. Public speaking skills 116 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • and the writing and producing of plays would be introduced during the last few weeks of the semester. Indeed this was evident when I examined the syllabus and information sheet that Ms. Khadijah made available to me toward the middle of my sojourn with the program. During the second half of the class, the students acted out portions of the interviews they had conducted for the opinion poll and took on the roles of the people they had interviewed. Several times during this period Ms. Khadijah overheard her students speaking softly in Bahasa Malaysia to one another and she reminded them, "No BM in speech class" (Obs.l; 8/16/93). She also chided two students who were obviously not paying attention. It was apparent that both students and teacher enjoyed this part of the class as evident from the laughter that could be heard at this time as they were entertained by the amateurish acting of their classmates. Indeed, I felt that the students were quite good at acting and imitating the peculiar English accents of the various ethnic groups in Malaysia. Although, at this stage, drama skills had not been introduced formally, it was obvious that dramatic presentations played a large role in Ms. Khadijah's class. This reflected strongly Ms. Khadijah's love for plays and dramas which seemed to be transferred to her students. Her class was also marked by the value she places on learner-centeredness. 117 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • In oracy, it's very learner-centered. We've made that very clear, that they are the ones who are learning. We guide them. We give them input where necessary. But you are there, you have to guide them. Even their learning, you are responsible to a certain extent. To a large extent, I think, you are the teacher. You are responsible in manipulating the situation in such a way that they are learning....You are responsible for making sure that the class is learner-centered. One very obvious way is that you shut up [my emphasis]. And you make the environment comfortable for them to learn to speak, to interact. I think I have done that quite successfully. (3:27/28) This belief of hers, that classes should be learner- centered, is clearly evident in the class I visited. During the two hours I was there, Ms. Khadijah sat at the back of class among her students. The students were allowed to decide on the order of presentations and were given much freedom in the way they conducted the presentation. The only times when Ms. Khadijah's voice was heard were after each presentation when she asked the presenters questions about their survey and entertained questions from other students. Occasionally, Ms. Khadijah offered constructive feedback as when she walked to the front of the class, stood behind a female student, steered her by the shoulders, and showed her how to stand so that her voice could be heard more clearly by the other classmates. Ms. Khadijah also suggested to the same student that she tie back her long hair which had covered half her face as she was acting her part in the role-play. Other students also chimed in at this time and gave their opinions and feedback about how the 118 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • pair should stand in order to maximize voice production. Ms. Khadijah also used that opportunity to complain about the U-shaped arrangement of the desks and chairs and exhorted the students to use their "ingenuity" to come up with a better class arrangement. Reading, which featured strongly in her language learning experiences, is another important element in her beliefs about language acquisition. Although Ms. Khadijah is not too particular about the types of materials students read, be they "trash" or otherwise, she has strong beliefs, however, about whom students should read. As far as I am concerned, you know, at this level, they can read anything, even trash. I think everyone should develop the habit of reading the easiest, reading [about] events, newspapers, current events, reading about anything. I also feel that they should read classics, you know, because that is language at its best, huh? Um...I think that one should read classics from...written by native speakers first. (2:8/9) This mirrored her own experience of reading classics. When I asked her whether it would suffice for students to read Asian or African literature in English which has been written by non-native speakers of English she said, Uhm. ..I feel that one should read...classics from...written by native speakers first. Oh, this is personal, huh. I never had a chance to read a lot of books by non-native speakers. South African literature is fairly new, Asian literature is fairly new. I believe that students should read what is written about native culture first. And then they'll have a better understanding of books written by, you know, African writers, Asian writers about their literature. Because we write differently. Our perception is very different from the native speakers... so I feel that if you 119 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • really want to master English literature or the English language as it is written and spoken by the native speakers, then one should go to that first. And then once you have a deep understanding of that, a good grasp of it, then you go to the local writers. (2:9/10) During the interview, I then related this to whether students need to have a knowledge of the target culture in order to learn a language. Ms. Khadijah said, Yeah, because the language develops with the culture. It is a manifestation of the...urn...the culture. Whatever happens, whatever develops in the culture, whatever that is there is manifested in the language. The language has to cope with the social behavior of the people, the norms.... I don't mean that one should be English but one must have a very good knowledge of (culture]. And [culture] should be used as something additional for you to understand why the language is used in a different way. That's why I say it's good to understand, it's good to read classics, books written by native speakers first because that helps, that gives you an insight into their culture. (2:10) Ms. Khadijah also related how her own experience of reading classics helped her to acquire English and why she often advised her students to read English classics. I would insist...I would advise my students, nowadays, to go to classics. Don't read an abridged version, eh. I also feel that with that constant exposure... constant consistent exposure to the language, to the use of the language, eh, I get an insight into how English is used by native speakers, to their world views, to their perspectives. (3:5) On the same topic, she further added, Because a lot of native speakers who write books, eh, they don't know much about the grammar of the language. They acquired the language intuitively. They have already internalized the rules, the use, you know, the appropriate use of the language. 120 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • And that is manifested in the language that they produce. (3:5) Ms. Khadijah believes that students must read books or magazines that absorb them so that their interest is sustained. She related much of this to her own experience, You can force the students, you can make them read certain things, you know, like they can refer to encyclopedias, they can refer to texts which are theoretical.... But you musn't forget that they need to read also for interest. I find that after I did English literature, my first degree huh, I lost a bit of interest in reading because I had to study those books. I lost the pleasure in reading. So it's very important that this interest is there. I had to rekindle the interest by reading trash. (2:13) Even though I was not able to visit Ms. Khadijah's linguistics class, a course which she requested to teach, she did manage to explain in great detail how the class was conducted. Briefly, the linguistics class met five hours per week and had two components: a two hour mass lecture and a three hour tutorial. The 80 students in the mass lecture were then divided into five smaller tutorial groups; Ms. Khadijah was in charge of one tutorial group. The students attended the two hour lectures given by a British teacher, and then met with their respective teachers for the tutorial component. According to Ms. Khadijah, she had to attend the mass lecture in order to know what the students were learning. The tutorial served the purpose of discussing in depth the topics introduced in the mass lecture. Again, similar to the oracy class, Ms. Khadijah who likened her role in class as similar to a guide, said that 121 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • she strived hard to make the class learner-centered. By this she meant that the students were responsible for their own learning and took charge of class procedures. The 18 students she had in the tutorial class were divided into five groups and every week the groups were responsible for doing the research and presenting the findings of the assigned tutorial questions. And I don't have to tell them which group has to do which questions. They work it out. All I'm interested in is listening to their presentation and then, I will tell them this is incomplete, this is inadequate, this is not specific. (3:44) According to her, specificity in defining linguistic terms is very important. She encouraged students to keep good notes and write summaries. Writing out answers to, you know, like short paragraphs ...specific, using specific language is important and specific acquisition of linguistic terms and knowledge. Like there's no vagueness. In linguistics, you must be scientific. It's very objective. You either know the answers or you don't. (3:43) Ms. Khadijah's preference to teach linguistics and oracy stemmed from her interest in drama and her desire to have an integrated approach in her class. And one reason why I've always liked to teach spoken skills is because there, that's one area where I can have an integrated approach. I can teach in a contextualized way. I don't have to teach discrete items.... I still use situations to get them to speak. And [drama] was very good training for anyone who wants to teach oral skills...because it teaches you how to project your voice, how to speak clearly, body movements, gestures, facial expressions and all that. (2:11) 122 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Her propensity for teaching these two areas was also engendered by the realization that she did not like the way English was traditionally taught. I think the interest started, so to speak, because I realize that I don't actually like the way English is taught. I don't like rules, giving rules all the time to the students. I hate drills. It's so artificial. Coz' I didn't go through that, why should I make the students go through that? And it's so boring. Sometimes to me, it doesn't serve any purpose because outside the classroom, these kids can't perform, eh. They do very well in their classes, in their drills, and listen and repeat after me. Yeah, I remember going to the language lab and it was the most boring thing that I had to do in my teaching career. (2:12) Thus, at least, for that semester Ms. Khadijah was able to teach two courses that she likes. Conclusion From the interviews and the observation that I conducted with Ms. Khadijah, it is apparent that she holds strong beliefs about language learning and teaching. Some beliefs, nonetheless, are more evident in practice than others, and some beliefs are more strongly held than others. That, indeed, is the very essence and nature of beliefs, i.e., there are beliefs that one holds strongly and there are also beliefs that are tentatively held and await further confirmation. In summary, her beliefs are centered on the various elements of learning a language. These are 1) the importance of building rapport in her class in order to 123 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • provide the opportunity for her students to build their own confidence about learning English and to lower the anxiety level in the classroom, 2) the value of making her classes fun so as to maximize the students' capacity for learning, 3) the importance of achieving a learner-centered environment in her class in order to encourage students to be responsible for their learning, and 4) the value of reading in building a solid cultural basis for language, thus facilitating the process of language acquisition for her students. Ms. Khadijah recognizes the importance of building rapport with her students and the need to establish rapport right from the beginning. It is her opinion that without rapport among her students and even between her and her students, there would not be a class environment conducive to learning a language. She acknowledges the fact that the teacher is the authority in the class and the specialist in the subject matter but this asymmetrical relationship should not be extended in the classroom particularly in the area she is teaching--oracy--because the imbalance between teacher and students might curb learning. Oracy, by itself, implies the necessity to speak and interact with others, and the absence of rapport or confidence in one's ability to speak will minimize the student's opportunity to learn a language. 124 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Evidence of rapport is apparent in Ms. Khadijah's class and is interpreted by the level of comfort that existed in the class I had observed. Students were given the responsibility and freedom to conduct the presentations of their surveys. I did not hear the teacher giving them instructions on how to conduct the presentations. Rapport among students was also clearly discernible by the ease in which students offered their feedback after the two main activities in the class: the presentation and the role- playing. Ms. Khadijah also appeared willing to accept the students' opinions. During my visits to the program, several times I noticed Ms. Khadijah being stopped along the corridor or on the steps by her students. Often she would dispense advice or explain an assignment to a student or give a welcoming word to a dismissed student who had been reinstated. Rapport-building or confidence-building can also be related to Ms. Khadijah's views about correcting students' mistakes. It is her belief that students be allowed to make mistakes when learning English, and that indeed the students will make mistakes. However, mistakes are not to be corrected all the time as that might curb learning. Her strategy for correcting mistakes is to collect all the common mistakes students make and present and discuss them in class as a whole so that no one student is identified or stigmatized as having made a particular mistake. 125 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ms. Khadijah also believes that language classes should be fun, otherwise boredom sets in. The value she bestows upon fun, which can aid in lowering the anxiety level of the students, matched the experience she had learning English when she was young. She regarded her early language lessons of learning and reciting poems and singing songs as having been fun. Perhaps, this is why she considered it important for her students to experience an atmosphere of fun and comfort while learning a second language. The role-play segment evoked much laughter among the students and teacher and they seemed to clearly enjoy the class. Ms. Khadijah's image of herself as a friendly and fun-loving person is also evident from the close interaction that exists between her and her students. My stay at the program also coincided with her birthday which the teacher and students celebrated in class. Learner-centeredness is another important feature of her beliefs about teaching language. Although a single observation of her class might not provide definitive evidence that indeed it happens in her class, I see no reason to doubt this characterization of her class. From the class that I had observed I noticed more student talk than teacher talk. Indeed at our last interview she stressed the importance that in order to achieve a learner- centered environment a teacher must be able to judge when it is necessary to remain quiet. Her students were given the 126 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • responsibility and freedom to conduct their own presentations and she was there only to act as a guide and to provide some feedback which was quite frequently offered by the students themselves. Although the importance of reading figured prominently in her belief system about teaching a language, and indeed played an important role in her own acquisition of English, this belief was not clearly exhibited in class. Perhaps because it was a listening class, this aspect of her belief about learning a language was not so evident in the class I observed. This, however, does not indicate that students neither read nor are discouraged from reading. Perhaps, more observations of her class would have provided further substantiation for this facet of her belief. I have sought to provide a depiction of Ms.Khadijah's beliefs and practices about teaching language based on the data collected from the interviews and observation. Ms. Khadijah asserted that as far as possible her instructional practices conform to the beliefs she holds regarding teaching language. Teaching for her, however, does not occur without constraints and these are related to physical and administrative constraints. To a certain extent, physical constraints such as heat and noise are unavoidable although they can make teaching uncomfortable. In a building that was not designed to include the air- conditioning of classrooms, windows are generally left open 127 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • to facilitate air flow. Further, in a tropical country such as Malaysia where the average daily temperature is 95 degrees fahrenheit, ceiling fans that are used to cool the classrooms did little to minimize the heat. As an observer, I was able to notice the heat and noise that came from the outside; many times during the observations, I was uncomfortable under those same conditions. Ironically, the open windows which allowed a cool breeze to blow into the classrooms also facilitated noise from other classrooms and motorized vehicles coming in and out of the compound to interfere with the teaching. I cannot, without further proof or evidence, come to the conclusion that heat and noise would inhibit the translation of teachers' beliefs into practice. The administrative or organizational constraint she referred to related to her repeated requests to teach linguistics before the onset of the semester. According to Ms. Khadijah, her request which was made at a faculty meeting was ignored by the director of the program. It was only after the request was pointed out by a colleague was she offered the opportunity to teach linguistics, a course which was, according to her, clearly her specialty and consistent with her doctorate. Even though she eventually taught the course, she was obviously unhappy by the apparent neglect she endured initially. Emphatically and rather indignantly she said, 128 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Not being given a course to teach that you are interested in. Not being asked for your knowledge or expertise.... I'm an expert in my area, right? But I'm being made to feel that I'm not an expert in my area. My expertise is not acknowledged. (3:49/50) Although there are obviously constraints to teaching, the constraints that Ms. Khadijah endured do not appear to be factors that might inhibit the translation of her beliefs into practices. It may be that a constraint such as heat might make the teaching environment uncomfortable, it does not seem to relate much, however, to her language teaching. She was also able to teach the subjects she wanted although at the beginning her request was ignored. 129 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER SIX THE ACTOR Mr. Jamil was the first teacher who agreed to be involved in this study. The data for his story were collected from a series of formal and informal encounters and two observations of his classroom teaching. I interviewed him three times, each time between one and a half to two hours. The interviews were all tape-recorded so that I could obtain accurate information for my subsequent interpretation of his beliefs and practices about teaching ESL. Prior to the interviews, he graciously complied with my request to record the interviews. We also met several times for lunch which both of us had bought at one of the nearby restaurants that dotted the area surrounding the campus and which catered to the large student population. It was the custom at the school that packed lunches were consumed at one of the two big black-topped tables in the faculty lounge which also frequently served as a site for meetings. I observed him twice while he was teaching: the first time was his literature class and the second his Oracy class. Both observation sessions occurred during the first period which was one of the most comfortable times to observe as it coincided with the coolest part of the day. I 130 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • tape-recorded the first observation but was not able to make use of the data as noise from the vehicles and the hawkers outside the compound severely impaired the clarity of the recording. It was fortunate that, at the same time, I had kept extensive fieldnotes of the observation which served to provide documentation for Mr. Jamil's story. With the second observation, I kept only fieldnotes. At the time of the study, Mr. Jamil was beginning his fifth year of teaching. During that semester, he was teaching 13 hours per week: ten hours of oracy to two groups of second-year matriculation students, and three hours of introduction to literature to another group of second-year matriculation students. In the third week of the semester, he also assumed responsibility for another oracy class whose teacher was seriously injured in a car accident. Although the curriculum specified that oracy meets a total of five hours a week, because of his heavy schedule and other responsibilities, Mr. Jamil could only manage to meet the latter group of students three hours a week. Before he started teaching at the program, Mr. Jamil had taught for seven months at a premier residential school for boys located in the northern part of Malaysia. He left the school because he did not think he stood much chance of bettering his career while teaching in a school system. When he left the school, he joined the teaching staff at the ESL teacher education program, the site of the present 131 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • study. At his first school, he taught English at different levels: forms two, four, and five. In the present program, he has taught grammar, writing, listening and speaking, oracy, and at the time of this study he was also teaching his favorite subject--English literature. Mr. Jamil represents one of the first groups of students who received his entire public school education in Bahasa Malaysia. He began school at a time when the Malaysian school system was undergoing important policy changes, i.e., the gradual transition in the language used for instruction, and the divorce from the British education system to what was to be, tentatively, the beginning of the Malaysian school system. This transformation was particularly important at the elementary level where the initial stages of policy and curricular changes occurred. Mr. Jamil is considered to be quite tall and rather dark-complexioned for a Malay man. He has thick, wavy black hair that curls slightly at the nape and large piercing black eyes that look directly at you. Occasionally, a lock of hair would fall over his forehead, and he would throw it back with a slight toss of the head. He also has slightly chubby cheeks which give him a rather babyish look; this he tries to hide behind his slight mustache. He wears baggy and comfortable shirts and long pants, and with his long legs, he seems to saunter rather than walk. Although he is a very articulate young man, his spoken English falters 132 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • occasionally; however that did not render the communication between us ineffective. A teacher as a young man In the year that Mr. Jamil was born, Malaysia was undergoing fundamental changes in its quest for identity as a sovereign nation. Sabah and Sarawak, two large states in the island of Borneo which subsequently became known as East Malaysia, had joined the Malaysian federation in 1963; in the year Mr. Jamil was born, 1965, Singapore seceded amicably from Malaysia and became an independent city-state. Mr. Jamil was born into a Malay-speaking family in the capital city of Malaysia eight years after Malaysia gained independence from Britain. He is the middle child in a family that includes an elder sister and a younger brother. His father had worked in the British army and his mother is a housewife. He began formal education at a Chinese kindergarten at the age of five and a half. At seven he began his primary education at Gambir 2, a school very close to his home. Even today he still sees the school everyday on his way to and from work. He enjoyed primary school and learned a great deal by being in school. I liked to fool around when I was in school, go swimming and so on. That was quite funny and fun to be in school.... I learned a lot when I was in primary school, not so much in the classroom but outside the classroom, which is quite important, I think. Things like being self-confident which is 133 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • not taught in school; how to make friends which is not taught in school; how to make friends with the different races which is not taught in school. These I found valuable beside the things that I learned in school. (1:1) At the time he began primary school in 1972, the Malaysian primary schools were experiencing one of the first and most dramatic changes in curriculum, the shift in the language of instruction. Just transferred to Malay [Bahasa Malaysia] from English because formerly all subjects were taught in English and just before I came in, they changed that into the national curriculum. (1:2) It was in school that Mr. Jamil was instructed in the English language formally. However, English was not alien to him because while he was growing up, he did hear the language being spoken at home as his parents occasionally used it interchangeably with Bahasa Malaysia. I did learn a little bit from my parents.... [they are] not English-speaking but you know, we mix English and Bahasa Malaysia all the time. (1:6) He described the language situation at home as one where they used both languages quite comfortably although Bahasa Malaysia was dominant. He admitted that he and his siblings did not speak English specifically all the time but, ...if we hear a question in English, most probably we'll answer in English or a mixture of both. If we hear a question in Malay, we'll answer in BM or a mixture of both. (1:7) According to Mr. Jamil, there were also other influences that helped him to learn English. [D]efinitely radio, TV, and newspaper, I must say. I don't come from a very rich family so we only 134 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • get papers every Sunday. So when the paper man throws the paper...we will wait at 7.30 a.m. or 8 o'clock just to rush for the paper because we were into that cartoon section, TV and sports. It was quite interesting.... My favorite [TV program] is [sic] Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons. (1:7/8) Another powerful influence came from friends. As mentioned earlier, Mr. Jamil was born, grew up and continues to live in the capital city. The area where he grew up was populated by the three main ethnic groups in Malaysia: Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Hence it was quite natural for Mr. Jamil and his multi-ethnic friends to communicate with one another using the common language that they all knew, English. The school he attended was also populated by the three ethnic groups. When asked whether he spoke English outside of class he said, Yes, I did to non-Malay friends. To Malay friends, I would indulge myself in Bahasa Melayu. To Indians, there would be a mixture of English and Malay. To Chinese, most of the time in English especially in Virginia Institution. (1:11) Mr. Jamil did not display much regard for the way he was taught English in primary school. In my former primary school... teachers take it for granted that all students in standard one or two, I feel, have the same English skills in the classroom because they did not divide the students into the good ones and the bad ones. And so we start with the basic like A, B, C, D, E, and pronunciation and so on. Most of the time it is the teacher who does the talking. It's not us. We just take our exercise book and copy whatever is written on the board and she will tell us to turn to whatever page in the textbook and we do the exercises in the textbook. (1:8) 135 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • According to Mr. Jamil, only one English teacher taught English slightly differently from the others, and this occurred when he was in standard four. There was one teacher, Cikgu [teacher] Amnah. She is a good teacher in the sense that she will give different assignments to different students in the classroom based on the same skill or grammar point. She would divide us into groups unlike the other English teachers who would just come in and teach whatever he or she feels like teaching. But Cikgu Amnah was different. She would come in and divide the class into groups, usually two, sometimes three, and we would focus on the same skills but do different things. And that I thought was really good. My friends enjoyed it. (1:9) At our next interview, I asked him to elaborate on Cikgu Amnah's teaching technique which he considered to be quite good. ...things like spelling, yeah. Okay there'll be two groups and she would do it really quickly. Now group A, you spell "apple," group B, "refrigerator," alright? You see what I mean. So that was a typical tactic of Amnah. (2:16) Aside from that, it was his impression that his other teachers did not deviate from the norm in their teaching technique. Leaning forward and placing both elbows at the edge of the table separating us, he explained at great lengths and in a rather sarcastic tone of voice how English was taught when he was in primary school. The norm for English teaching in my school was come to class, check whether the students have done their homework given on the previous day or previous week. Check the homework if the teacher doesn't feel like marking in class by swapping books.... I mean the teachers may write the answer on the board, collect the books and distribute the books back not to the partner because our partner 136 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • tends to correct the wrong answer...to get more marks, which is a bit silly but that happens. Maybe sometimes the boys will give the girls and the girls give the boys. After marking the homework, we will be given the lesson of the day. Sometimes the explanation is quite clear, sometimes not. And when it's not clear, students do not usually raise their hands to ask further information. (1:9/10) Mr. Jamil said that he, typically, did not ask questions either and whether he or his classmates did so in class depended on several things. I think when we talk about whether we are going to ask teachers depends on mood, depends on the teacher. Sometimes the teacher ridicule the student and that's embarrassing in class.... Sometimes with the weaker student it's embarrassing to ask questions for fear that the good students would ridicule you, not just the teacher. So the good student will look down on you. So as such not many people raise their hands when they did not understand things. (1:10) After he completed six years of primary schooling, Mr. Jamil went to the then premier all-boys' public school in the country, Virginia Institution, located in the heart of the city. V.I. (as it is lovingly referred to by its students and alumni) is one of the oldest English secondary schools to be established in Malaysia, and during its heyday was often touted as a school that most resembled a British school. Again, similar to his primary school, V.I. had a mixture of students from the various ethnic groups. Mr. Jamil regarded the manner in which English was taught at his secondary school as no different from his primary school experience, although he admitted there were slight variations. 137 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • I think it was similar to primary school. It's just that teachers tend to look at it in a deeper way, you know, at subjects. Let's say you are teaching prepositions, okay, the different prepositions that you have, different usage of the same preposition, but the teaching mode is still the same. Some teachers come in and ask you to swap books...(1:11) With a smile, Mr. Jamil said that they used the same textbook from the same publication company throughout the five years of secondary schooling. He considered the English lessons to be rather teacher-centered. ...the lessons are very teacher-orientated [sic]. She or he would do the teaching rather than us learning it together. So she will be presenting all the facts...we listen, and then she will tell us to turn to this page or that page. She's going to use the blackboard for everything but more so for grammar and writing...yeah...grammar and writing. For reading not so much but when we talk about secondary school, we are not really talking about dividing it into skills. When I was in V.I., it was divided into chapters and units rather than skills. (1:12) He elaborated on the way a chapter or a unit in the textbook was frequently taught by his English teacher. Oh...you start off with...a picture of...before reading a passage...the picture would be based on a reading passage. There would be some objective comprehension questions, subjective comprehension questions. After that they may use some grammar points taken out from the passage or taken out from the style of answering the passage and give some work based on the grammar passage. The last one maybe being a writing section whereby you are supposed to write something out of what you have read. (1:13) A feature of learning English that he remembered most and which he subsequently regarded as useful in his learning 138 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • of English was being asked to memorize a novel, the purpose for which was not made clear to me. And when I was in Form I, we had to memorize Around the World in Eighty Days like word for word, even the articles and prepositions. Word for word, we have to memorize. The whole story. If it's like ten pages, you memorize word for word ten pages. If it's like short stories from Asia-- that was one of the set texts in form one--we had to memorize word for word. As such when you see a bad sentence, though you cannot explain why it is bad, you know it is bad because you remember that in the story I memorize a different structure from this. (1:14) In a resigned manner, he speculated that the reason for the somewhat mechanical way in which his teachers taught English was related to the heavy demands of teaching. They have a target to meet, they have to satisfy, I don't know, the headmaster, I suppose. They have to complete a certain unit so as such they have to make sure that they finish like three units or four units a month so that means a unit a week. (1:13) From his own testimony it did not appear that he learned much English through being formally instructed. Much English was acquired rather involuntarily through watching television, listening to the radio, and communicating with friends and family. He succinctly described his own perception of how he learned English. I suppose you can divide it into "conscious" and "unconscious" learning. The unconscious learning helps a person to improve English. When I say unconscious, I mean when I was small, I was exposed to Indian friends, Chinese friends...besides the Malay friends I was exposed to, and I was interested in watching English movies, English documentaries, English news. So the media played a major role. I was lucky enough to have parents who understood vocabulary and 139 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • phrases and sentences and they themselves spoke a bit of English. In V.I., in school, I was exposed to Chinese and Indian students who spoke English. The teachers that I had in V.I. especially were good English teachers in that they introduced many different types of ways of learning English like I mentioned memorizing passages which I thought was a bit strange then but now I understand why. (1:19/20) He completed his secondary education at 17 and passed the SPM examination (see explanation in Chapter 1) with a Grade One. However, before the results were announced, Mr. Jamil was asked to attend an interview given by the British Council office which was then interviewing and subsequently offering scholarships to students who had been very active in extra-curricular activities throughout their secondary school years. He was successful in the interview and was offered the opportunity to pursue his A-levels at Cranston College in England. His entire A-levels education was funded by the British government under the auspices of the British Council. He took four subjects for his A-levels-- literature, linguistics, law, and politics--subjects that would eventually determine the course of his professional career. According to Mr. Jamil, studying in England provided him with more opportunities to learn and acquire English in a natural setting. In UK...in England, I was exposed to a variety of accents, all in English. When I first started I had a Scottish lecturer...Yvonne...who taught me political science. I didn't understand a word she was saying in the first few weeks but I understood a few weeks after that. She was speaking English, 140 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • not Scottish! I was also exposed to Irish lecturers, Cockney lecturers and a variety of other English variations. (1:20) By the time Mr. Jamil passed his A-levels examination, the funds from the British government were exhausted; but fortunately for him, the Malaysian Ministry of Education came to his rescue and offered him a scholarship to pursue his bachelor's degree in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). Mr. Jamil did not have much say in the choice of majors as this had been determined by the ministry officials who came to England to interview him. The shortage of English language teachers in Malaysian schools and the fact that Mr. Jamil had taken linguistics and literature for his A-levels were the factors that compelled the ministry officials to offer him the scholarship to pursue his studies specifically in TESL. It was also one of the pre-conditions for the contract. He thus began his undergraduate teacher education program at a university in Canterbury. He experienced his first practice teaching observation, which he carried out at his former secondary school, at the end of the first year of study. When asked whether the observation provided him with any useful information about teaching, he said, I didn't like all the teachers in fact. Even it was my former school but I didn't like it. I thought that, you know, I mean it's 2 o'clock in the afternoon and you are teaching that or it's 11 o'clock in the morning and you're teaching this. The subject matter is okay. Doesn't matter what subject you're teaching but the way you do it, the 141 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • way you get the students involved is very important. (2:8/9) When I pressed him further about whether the observation practice offered good learning experiences for the novice preservice teachers he said, It really depends on the individual. Uh...some of them would just go for the observation because it's part of the requirement. But they would be conscious that that's what they are going to do at the end of the four years. And having this conscience that they would have to come up to class and stand and perform...uh...I think they would realize what is good and what is bad in teaching. It doesn't matter whether they are in the first year, second or third year, as long as they get the experience. And about the observation, it wasn't just classroom observation, it was also looking at the staff room, it was also looking at how to prepare [teaching materials]. [T]alking with them [teachers]. To see how pathetic some of them are, you know. I mean they go to the canteen, you know. And the students have to wait for about 20 or 30 minutes, then they just pop in, they do that, class cancelled, and things like that. (2:10) For Mr. Jamil, the experience accorded him valuable knowledge about which practices to avoid in class; this subsequently helped in molding his personal belief about the concept of a teacher and the nature of teaching. Although he acknowledged that teachers might not display their natural selves while being observed, nevertheless, the gains student teachers obtain from the observation experience far outweigh the inconveniences that might be experienced by the cooperating teacher. Definitely. Because even though the teaching done won't be as natural...because the teachers and students would be conscious that there's someone sitting at the back, alright? But the students, 142 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • like me I was a student sitting at the back, would learn something about the school ethos, the school environment, the classroom environment, what I'm supposed to do when I stand up there. I learned what not to do...what not to do. If the teacher goes on and on talking about the subject for 30 minutes, and I see Ali and Abu yawning at the back, I know that's not a good style to use in order to make the students learn something. In fact, in the Malaysian context, I learned more what not to do. Though I learn something. (2:6) On the same topic, he affirmed the contribution which the observation experience made in helping him to reformulate and reconstruct his concept of a teacher. This was similar to the concept of apprenticeship that Clark and Peterson (1986) referred to as being an important influence in shaping student teachers' images of teaching. Mr. Jamil said sitting at the back of the class as a preservice teacher and not as a student offered him a new perspective on what teaching was all about. Yeah...because my concept of a teacher came from what I saw or perceived teachers to be when I was from standard one till form five. Now I know what I'm supposed to do, okay? If I'm supposed to behave like Mrs. Lum, then I have to come in to class and do this and open that book. Okay, I know what to do. Now by sitting at the back of the class, I know now why what Mrs. Lum did was wrong.... Like I know what teaching is all about from my experiences in primary and secondary school. Like Mrs. Nathan would come in and she would say, "Open this page, read that, and answer the comprehension questions." To me that's the norm, okay. So a teacher has to do that. Now when I sit at the back of the class, I look at the same thing, what's happening, I think again and say, "This is wrong." Now I'm looking at those people, the students, and I know that they are not interested in what the teacher is doing. So I learn more what not to do. (2:7/8) 143 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • While in England, he was also actively involved in several student activities and vehemently denied the mere suggestion that he joined these activities in order to improve his English as he was going to become an English teacher. I did not join these groups or be active in university or college or school because I thought I am going to become an English teacher... that's why I have to do this, no. I indulge myself because that's my personality, I think. More so than knowing that I want to become an English teacher.... So it's my personality. But there is no excuse for Malaysian students...not to participate in anything. It's just like doing your degree in local [university] in Malaysia, I think. It's a waste. (1:21) Mr. Jamil believes in being involved actively in student activities, even as a teacher. His basic nature seems to focus on being actively involved and having those around him involved. Although the initial impetus for joining student activities while in England was a factor of his personality rather than an extrinsic need to meet people, he admitted that it did help in improving his English and he perceives that a student can improve his or her language skills by being involved in activities that use the target language as a means of communication. The thing about improving yourself is again up to you. There are students in UK, who went to UK for six years like I did, but came back with the same proficiency level, I think. They were doing English. This is because English is just a subject to them and they take English as a class matter or lecture matter, not outside the classroom. So not that I'm a social sort of 144 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • person but I do go out...I do organize things for the English students, too. I was involved with the student council. I carried banners which were reported in the English dailies. And I had hoped that the MSD [Malaysian Students' Department] would not have seen that. Of course I would have been thrown out. I was involved with the students' activities and they elected me the edj tor of the university newspaper and the foreign student member and so on. So I had a lot of contacts with English students, English counterparts. As such I had to force myself to speak English...and I had to force myself to speak clear English that not only Malaysians understood, but...English [people] understood. So if you force yourself outside the classroom, you force yourself to indulge into all these activities, then of course you would be improving yourself. (1 :20/21) While Mr. Jamil was very clear in explicating the virt.ues of teaching observation he was less definitive about the contributions of his ESL methods class. Frequently he could not recall explicitly the theories he learned about language learning or about methods he was taught to teach English. Nonetheless, this lacuna in his theoretical knowledge about ESL theories and teaching method did not negate or minimize his effectiveness as a teacher, an aspect that will be explored in a discussion of his professional life. About his methods class he said, [i]t's still a bit loose now in the way it is presented...in the way the professors presented their teaching. I was not told whether, okay, this is one type of teaching and that's another type. That was introduced in the second or third year. (1:22/23) Although I thought I was over-stepping at this stage, I prodded and prompted him further as a means of encouraging him to tell me more about his methods class. I mentioned 145 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • several common ESL teaching methods in an attempt to jog his memory. Nodding his head several times in a somewhat resigned manner he said, Yes, yes, I have, I have. I have been exposed but I can't recall. We were given examples. If I am not mistaken, we were given articles from books. We were given articles from local books printed in Malaysia and Singapore on methods used in Malaysia. We were introduced to many different methods organized by Prabhu...and a few other books I can't remember now. (1:23/24) Mr. Jamil said his methods class was taken as a two- year sequence: students were first introduced to the theories and then to the methodologies. Out of the many ESL teaching methods prevailing in the field, Mr. Jamil could only remember one, perhaps, because it made the most sense to him. Like one is learner-centered approach where the teacher is not a teacher...a person that teach. But he or she is just a moderator, goes around moderating the students and activities is given, and notes are given, maybe, and students are supposed to stay in groups and discuss whatever outcome they can come out from a given topic and the teacher will be there to guide them rather than telling them whether what they are doing is right or wrong. So in the end, final results are collected from all the groups and presented on the blackboard and the teacher will give his input on what he thinks is right or wrong. (1:24/25) A fact Mr. Jamil remembered most about his methods class was what his teachers told the students about teaching English. They came up with all these theories but they told us that this is not the right way.... Like you said TPR, that plus another one. I can't remember the name or term--a French lesson. They asked us to learn all these vocabulary on the blackboard 146 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • and after one or two days they tested us on what we have remembered. That's one way of learning language according to them. (1:28/29) Further, Mr. Jamil said this of his methods class, [T]hese lecturers come in and say this is not what we want you to do in class. In class they want you to do what is most effective for the students. And that you will discover after you have visited the Japanese school, to the British school. From the observation that you have done. Yes, yes, we introduce all these theories. You go out and get all these experience. And for your teaching practice, you present to us what you think is best for your students...which I think is perfect. You have all the background that you are told, you must know the theories...you must get all the experience. When you go to school, you can apply or you can create another theory in school because most of the theories are done in the western world. (1:29) In a sense, his teacher's advice was similar to what Johnson (1989) referred to as the "pick and choose" (p. 7) method preferred by many language teachers. Frequently a teacher cannot strictly adhere to the techniques or principles extolled by one particular teaching approach and must react instinctively and intuitively to classroom situations. For example, Mr. Jamil added, Yes, yes. We are not told that there is one correct way to teaching English which is a fair assessment. I mean, sometimes like in Malaysia, the climate in the classroom itself, what I mean is the students' climate, the way they are thinking at that time. Some of them may be feeling a bit low because they had this three-day session in the mosque, you see. So they are not into studying. The actual physical climate in the afternoon...that's one effect. The lecturer's climate--sometimes you come in and you know that you have no steam anymore, you can't go on forever, so depend, depends. What method you use would depend on so many things. (1:29) 147 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • This pick and choose nature of language teaching reminded me of the "combination plate" one can usually order in restaurants where a customer can sample small portions of several different dishes on a plate; using this metaphor, teachers might use certain features of different methods to teach English. Mr. Jamil then elaborated on the same subj ect, Yes, it may be a combination of all these theories, it may be a combination of all the past experiences he or she has had. It may be a new thing that nobody has thought of before.... Whatever you do as long as it works, i.e., you come in to the classroom, you want to teach them transcription. They know nothing about transcription. When you leave some of them know a bit about transcription, some of them know a lot about transcription, then you have done your job. As long as they get something in the end...they do not just stare at you for 40 min. or one hour, you've got something done, you have taught them. (1:30/31) Mr. Jamil carried out his practical teaching at two schools in England: the first a Japanese school and the other a British school. Teaching English at the Japanese school provided him with a different kind of experience--a very structured and regulated type of experience. During his final year, another practical teaching stint was carried out at a secondary school on the east coast of Malaysia. On teaching English: Beliefs and Practices In accordance with the contract between him and his sponsor, the Ministry of Education, upon graduating with a bachelor's degree, Mr. Jamil was posted to a residential 148 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • boys' school to begin teaching in order to fulfill the conditions of the agreement. He started teaching in 1989 at the age of 24. At the school, he taught English to students in different levels from the lower secondary to the upper secondary. He stayed there for only seven months and left because he felt that teaching in school neither offered him the chance to better himself nor the opportunity to teach according to his inclination. When he left, he joined the teaching staff at the present program, but not before pursuing some legal maneuvers with his sponsors. He subsequently obtained official release from his sponsors and was free to teach at the college-level. When he first joined the program, he taught grammar, writing, and listening and speaking. At the time of the study he was teaching oracy and literature, the latter a subject he enjoyed immensely. Previously I have painted a picture of Mr. Jamil as a teacher whose theoretical knowledge about teaching English might display a certain gap. Although theories might not play a large role in his teaching life, he does display pedagogical content knowledge of his craft. He might not have been able to name the methods or the theories about teaching ESL, a fact of tacit versus explicit knowledge, but he knows instinctively how to teach. I infer that this instinctive knowledge has been culled from the thousands of hours he spent as an "apprentice" to teaching, i.e., years he has spent as a 149 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • student. This seemed to suggest that his knowledge about learning to teach came more from his own experiences than from being formally instructed and during one of the interviews he defined the nature of his learning. [B]ut the strange thing is...uh...only some of them came from the classroom. Most of them came outside the classroom, I think I have stated that. Like meeting with friends. I go to class and I tell them [students], okay you want to contact someone from Telekom Malaysia for some sponsorship. What do you do? They don't know anything about this, yeah.... They don't know what to do. I think there's a lot of things that you learn outside the classroom. You can pass it over to the students. Something that may not be relevant to the language skills. (2:30) One of the most important factors for learning a language, according to Mr. Jamil, is that the teachersmust make the students active in class in order to make themmore involved in their own learning, an element that I witnessed in his class. I believe in any subject you teach be it literature or grammar or writing...English, especially, there must be students who are more active than the teachers. If the teacher is the most active participant in the classroom then there would be problems because you would not know whether A is as active as B in the classroom. If you have 20 students, how do you know that five students are sleeping during the 40 minutes? You must activate them in the classroom, as active as you are or even more active than you are in the classroom. (1:25) He attributed this to the experience he had when he was a student and not to the fact that he is an active individual. No, not because I am more active. But I discovered that the teachers did not make us active. As such I found those lessons boring.... So when the students found the lesson boring, they 150 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • don't learn much. So it's not wise for the teacher to come in and bombard the students with points and tell the students to open such and such a page to do the homework, then leaves. I don't think students learn much that way. It's better to get the students involved. You introduce one or two points, get them to think about the points rather than giving them so many points. (1:26) According to Mr. Jamil, motivation plays an important function in enabling students to learn a language and a teacher can achieve this by including "active activities" (1:27) in class. Uh...about language learning? Language learning...uh...that it would be nice if it is intrinsic. It would be nice if it were up to the students like they really want to learn something. But not necessarily so. If you cannot find . intrinsic motivation in the student, you, as a teacher, must put forward your case in such a manner that this intrinsic motivation will be built in to their lives, get it? So if they come to the classroom, they are not interested to learn literature, okay. So there's no intrinsic motivation but because the way you acted, the way you pushed them, the way you divided them into groups, the way you handled the activity, that sparked the interest. So that is building the intrinsic motivation. So that is one theory of learning, I suppose. (2:38) In the two classes I observed, Mr. Jamil was able to have several activities in each class, a key factor in his teaching. He believes that having different types of activities in each class period would relieve some of the boredom students might experience in learning a language. In the one-hour literature class there were discussions on themes and characters in a short story, plot lines, and impromptu acting of certain parts of the short story. In the oracy class, students made impromptu speeches and there 151 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • were discussions and a brief lecture on the elements of good public speaking. In his actual classroom teaching, his characterization of teacher as actor which I have thus far not depicted, emerged more clearly. He sauntered into his literature class, greeted the students cheerily and was likewise reciprocated; the image I had was that of an actor stepping onto the stage. On a lark, he would sometimes limp into his classroom sporting a pained expression on his face. This he would do to evoke sympathy from the students. Sometimes I walk to the literature class, I limp, you know, as though something happen to my leg. And then I ask them, "You know how I feel today...after knocking my leg." "What happened, Mr. J?" Then they'll be really sad and so on. So I wanted them to get into that mode [sic] because there's a story about...they have to be sad when they read the story.... So when they are in that mode, when I read the story, the sad story, they would be able to feel the sadness. Because when I came into class, they usually laugh and we have a good time. So it's quite difficult, yeah. So at the end of class, I would just run out and you know, they laughed. (3:21/22) Further on the same topic he described the teacher's role as an actor; whether teachers are in the mood to teach, the show must go on. Teachers cannot simply abrogate their duties on mere whim. Yeah, teachers are more of an actor than anyone else in the world because actors know that they have to perform at 8.00 in the evening, for example, and they will go on for two weeks, the show. Humans, we act all the time. Sometimes when we hate our spouse, we have to smile at times, huh? (3:22) 152 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • On the day I observed, the students had smiles on their faces and obviously seemed happy to see their teacher who immediately engaged them in casual "breaking the ice" type of conversation. Teacher and students discussed a Malaysian production and adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play "A Streetcar Named Desire" that was playing at the civic hall in the city. He urged them to describe the characters in the play as well as the setting; the students interacted very well with the teacher and spoke articulately in English. Some of the students had not been to the play and Mr. Jamil urged them to do so soon. Mr. Jamil regards his role as a teacher very seriously. He believes that for students to get the most out of learning, they must be actively engaged in their own learning; he said it is the teacher's responsibility to engage the students in the act of learning. [Y]ou have to be active when you learn a subject. So if you are active, then I believe you'll [students] be able to absorb more.... If the students are not active like they just sit passively for 45 minutes to an hour.... Yes, they'll get something in the end but I believe not as much as they want to. And the other thing about learning is, maybe you get the same amount whether you sit passively or actively. But if you do it actively you look forward, I feel, to the next class because you know it's not going to be like a "sit-down" thing, you know, all right. (2:38) In class, Mr. Jamil never once sat down at the teacher's table and constantly paced up and down the room, gesturing with his hands and using facial expressions to 153 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • convey his emotions: displaying a quizzical expression on his face if he could not understand them, cupping both hands to his ears if he could not hear them, clapping his hands in gusto when he enjoyed their performances. He frequently stopped in front of the students' desks to examine their notes, to check on the progress of their group work or simply to answer questions. When a student asked what the word "withered" (Obs. 1: 8/5/93) meant, Mr. Jamil used his hands and body movements to elaborately explain the meaning of the word; it was not sufficient just to give the dictionary meaning of the word, he had to act out the meaning. His interaction with his students was continuous; students were not left to flounder on their own. After he had managed to get the students warmed upfor the literature class by discussing a common experience, he began with the lesson that had been planned: a discussion of William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," a short story they had begun reading the previous week. Mr. Jamil first asked whether the students were sitting next to their partners and after he had received a combined 'yes' from them, they discussed the theme of 'death,' physical as well as emotional, that was dominant in the short story. From their seats, the students excitedly shouted answers in unison; they became more excited when the theme of love was discussed, a topic that appeared to be very much in the minds of the young people. 154 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • While this discussion was going on two female students and a male student drew diagrams that depicted the plot lines of the short story on the blackboard. These were jagged lines going upwards interspersed with several sharp points depicting conflicts; the apex representing the climax. The purpose of this exercise was to discuss the plot of "A Rose..." and to compare the different groups' interpretations of the plot, i.e., conflicts, climax, and resolutions. Each group then explained their own interpretation of how the story developed based on their group discussions and presented justifications for their explanation. There was active involvement at this point as each group defended its own interpretation of the plot and challenged another group's interpretation of it. An interesting facet of this exercise was that Mr. Jamil accepted the students' interpretations of plot lines and rarely imposed his own views. Mr. Jamil's enjoyment of literature was very apparent in class and he explained it thus, I really like literature, so when I teach literature, I indulge myself in the literature. I am the author; so when I do that...I let the students think that they are one of the characters as well. So we get into literature itself, not just if we are to do plot and my assignment that week is just to analyze plot and what a plotting line is. At the end of the week, they would not only know what a plotting line is...they would know how to act out a plotting line in a given story. (1:33/34) 155 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Another activity that I found interesting was group acting of parts of the play. Obviously this activity had already been planned as the students came prepared with music and other props to aid in the acting. Although the acting was amateurish and the characters frequently forgot their lines and had to be prompted, this activity was clearly enjoyed by the rest of the students who showed their appreciation by laughing and clapping their hands. This activity made way for a discussion of the contributions the minor characters made to "A Rose..." Again students were encouraged to give their own opinions about the characters. Mr. Jamil believed that it is the teacher's role "to spark things off" (1:33) in class. My role as a teacher is to give them input or knowledge based on what I have been assigned to do, no. 1. No. 2, in presenting this knowledge, I must do it in such a manner that they would find it interesting to learn. So these two things...I think the main word that comes out is "creativity." In Malaysia, English to some people is not a second language. It's a foreign language so if the teacher is not creative enough, then there would be problems. (1:32) Although he acknowledged the fact that a teacher has to follow the syllabus, a teacher can add "more spice" (1:32) and humor to the content in order to make the class creative. To Mr. Jamil, creativity relates to motivation; if a teacher is creative the students will be motivated. He also places a lot of the burden for making a class creative on the teacher; this stems from his perception that his own English teachers taught English in a rather lifeless manner. 156 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Number one, the teaching must be creative. Now when we say creative, there are many things we talked about; how we organize the students, how we organize the students' thoughts, yeah. And then from then on, hopefully, we come up with suitable teaching methods which would be suitable for the whole class. Yes, I mean all of them are related but on the learning, No. 1, I don't think that it's fair to say if the students are not interested then it's difficult for them to learn because there won't be this intrinsic/extrinsic motivation and so on. I think that's a bit crappy because if they are not interested...but if the teacher can make the class interesting enough, then they would be interested. (2:19/20) Teachers, according to Mr. Jamil, are also more responsible than the students for the latter's learning and for cultivating their interest to learn English. You see, if there is a bit of interest, as I told you it needs only 5% or 10%. It is the teacher who has to increase that percentage depending on how he teaches or what he teaches, how he goes about it. So if there is a bit of interest and I'm sure there is a bit of interest in all the students, not a lot, maybe a bit, then it's up to the teacher to increase the interest. And how he or she goes about it would depend on his or her performance in class and the subject and so on. So the responsibility is both ways but more for the teacher. (3:25) Gaining the students' attention in order to make them more alert and receptive in class is also an important facet of his teaching. [I]f whatever you say is interesting enough, they will look at you, you know. They will follow you and this is one form of an exercise, I believe. If you are static, you are bound to drop and sleep. If you are moving--what is he up to?--you are looking up the roof and down, I think that's one way to instigate them, besides humor...and your actual appearance. Like the way you dress...you don't have to be good-looking and so on. The way you dress and present yourself, of course is very important. It may be three in the 157 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • afternoon and you are not into it and you come to class looking haggard and so on. Of course the students are looking haggard at three in the afternoon. If you are as such as well, that's it, end of lesson. You'll see zombies standing in front of the classroom.... (3:49) Physical movements seem to be an important element in his teaching. When he is teaching, he is constantly moving, pacing up and down the classroom. He makes his students move by having them write on the blackboard, stand and deliver a speech in the middle of the classroom, and act out certain parts of a short story. Other students are urged to participate by applauding good performances and throwing pieces of chalk at what they consider poor performances (Obs. 2: 8/17/93). All this he does to prevent the students from falling asleep. Part of the reason for this was a result of his practical teaching experience in Malaysia. As a student teacher carrying out his teaching observation requirement, he noticed students falling asleep listening to the drone of the teacher's voice chanting grammar rules. Because of this he vowed that he would not do the same thing in his own classroom. Of the cooperating teachers he said, I have picked up a lot of their good habits and have pushed out most of their bad habits. So I'm not a perfect teacher but I suppose I strive and try hard...to No.l--make them [students] wake up. It's really difficult. All of them are awake but to make them really awake and get the concept. It's really difficult. Like I said, you come in to the classroom and they are at zero and when you leave...uh...when I leave the classroom, they have something. Now to make sure that they have something is really difficult. That's where, again, creativity comes in. (2:19) 158 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • The second class I observed was the oracy class. During this observation I chose to sit in the front of the classroom so that I could see the interaction between teacher and students more clearly. For this class several activities had been planned by the teacher; the first was a group work discussion of the themes on the movie "Problem Child," the second was impromptu public speaking by three students, and the last was a note-taking exercise on the elements of good public speaking. Mr. Jamil's use of humor to gain students' attention was evident here. When they were listing the themes in the movie, wearing a poker face, Mr. Jamil intoned, "...adulthood, childhood, Robin Hood...," (Obs. 2: 8/17/93). The students burst out laughing when they realized that Mr. Jamil was making a play on the word "hood." The students then presented their group discussion of the themes on "growing up," "adulthood," "juvenile delinquency," "parenthood," "women and society," and "aging" (Obs. 2: 8/17/93). Mr. Jamil wrote the themes on the blackboard. After this activity, the students were asked to get into groups of three, which they did immediately, to compare the notes that they had prepared at home on the same movie. Mr. Jamil jokingly urged the students to scold those who had not prepared their notes. While the students were carrying out this exercise, he walked around the class, stopping to explain an assignment to one group and to check the notes of 159 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • another group. Calling him "sir," a title usually conferred on male teachers, the students, too, did not hesitate to stop him in order to ask questions or merely to have small talk. Note-taking, an important aspect of the oracy component, is a skill that is taught consciously in the matriculation program. It is also a skill that will be of great importance once the students are in the academic program. Mr. Jamil explained it this way. You see "Problem Child" was because they had to watch the movie critically. That means they had to produce a set of notes with it as well and they had to answer five questions which came with the movie.... The main purpose is actually note- taking. We did exercises on note-taking. They have to listen and produce a good set of notes. We taught them six or seven different ways of taking notes and it's not the fact that we are going to assess them on how they take the notes, but it's for them to be aware that it would be good for them to have a good set of notes for them to refer to. See after a year of writing notes, they would be able to refer to them. ..that was the main reason for watching the movie. (3:17/18) The next activity was an impromptu public speaking exercise and the students were given only five minutes to prepare for this. Mr. Jamil explained the purpose of this exercise to me later. Uh...just to show students what the lecturers look for and what is good and effective public speaking. And what is a bad public speech. So when a person performed, you can see...ah...that's good because he's making me laugh and he's making me open my eyes. And that's bad because this girl doesn't know what she's talking about. She's got no points, nothing. So they learn from their performance. (3:13) 160 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Since the students had no idea who was going to be called upon to give a speech, everyone had to be prepared. Mr. Jamil had a very ingenious way of selecting students to participate. Before that activity, he had written three numbers on the blackboard and hidden them from view with a piece of paper. He then asked the students to each pick a number and after they had done that, he revealed the number to them. There were groans from the students whose numbers appeared on the board and sighs of relief from those who were spared the task this time. I commented on this later and Mr. Jamil told me that was usually his way of making sure that every student prepared the speeches. Impromptu and in random. I usually hide the numbers behind the curtains and so on. And they'll wait. They know that they may be the one, so everyone was prepared.... The idea is to make sure that all of them prepared their speech. Because the person who made the speech today, that doesn't mean that he won't be called up tomorrow. Depends on the number. (3:14/15) Three students came up one by one to give their three- minute speeches. The first began his speech by asking his classmates whether they liked grasshoppers, and when they excitedly shouted "no," he launched into the reasons why he liked grasshoppers. When he said that he liked grasshoppers because of their long, sexy legs, the students laughed and some of them threw small pieces of chalk at the speaker to express their disgust at him. The teacher also threw a piece of chalk at him. Both teacher and students rated the speaker after he had finished and the students did not 161 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • hesitate to grade him and to offer feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the speech. The speaker accepted all the comments graciously and bowed before he left the floor. The second speaker spoke on the topic "Iced Tea" and after she had finished delivering her speech, Mr. Jamil asked students what other areas she could have explored on the same topic. After the students had shouted the words "taste," "color," and "types of tea," Mr. Jamil reminded them that it is not easy to deliver a speech and that oftentimes, the content of a speech had to be planned. The next speaker gave a speech on "durian," a local fruit that has a very distinctive odor. She was rather shy and faltered occasionally. Again as with the other speakers, the last speaker was similarly evaluated by the teacher and students. Good points as well as weak were equally pointed out. This last activity for the period was taking notes on the important elements of good public speaking--vocal, visual and content. Mr. Jamil sat on the table and read from his notes while the students wrote furiously in their notebooks. At one point, Mr. Jamil said that to be a good speaker a person has to be "handsome" and when the students realized that he was making a joke, they looked up from their notes and laughed immediately. Mr. Jamil took this opportunity to remind them that it was very important to pay attention in class and not to write down everything he 162 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • dictated. At a later interview, Mr. Jamil explained to me that the ad hoc presentations by the students was one way of introducing the last segment of the class. You see, there are three parts to that public speaking thing. So they have covered one quite in detail--that's the actual speech production, the intonation and so on. But we didn't cover the visual and the content. Just before that [the presentation of the visual and content], I thought it would be a good sort of introduction and revision for them to do an ad hoc speech and see what's good and bad about it. So when I introduced the visual and the message part, they would be able to understand...ah...that is what Mr. J. is taking about. That was lacking in A's speech or B's speech. (3:16) Further he asserted, Yeah, those were formal notes on public speaking. Now that I'm aware that they have got the concept about what is a good public speaking performance, the three parts of public speaking, what they have to cover, then only I would give them the notes.... If you had gone to the other class, I just said that the visual effects of public speaking is important because the person hasto be handsome and toothless and so on, they copied. So when the students copy something, they copy without thinking, all right? So when they have done it, they know what it is. So when they go back to refer back to the notes, they understand what it's all about. Yes, action [my emphasis] first and then reveal what it means. I like it when students said, "Oh, yes!" you know. If I give them the notes first, they said, "Mr. J., what does it mean?" Feel it first, then reflect upon it. (3:19/20) Mr. Jamil considered that it is the teacher's role to present materials in an interesting and effective manner. Yes, that's where our role as teachers is important. If it's just me coming in and giving notes on what is good public speaking, then yes, they would write the notes, and I don't think they'll remember as much.... (3:17) 163 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • He attributed much of his teaching style to the influence of one teacher in England whom he called a "weirdo" (3:30): this teacher would often walk into the classroom through the window instead of the door because it was a shorter distance. This teacher would often plan several group activities before presenting the theories; Mr. Jamil considered that to be very effective. Because of that Mr. Jamil believes in having activities first and presenting the facts after the activities have been carried out, a trait which he demonstarted in class. After the note-taking exercise was completed, in unison the students waved a cheery goodbye to Mr. Jamil as he hurriedly left for another class. A characteristic of Mr. Jamil which defines him distinctly as a man of action is his active involvement in student activities outside of the classroom. This was also the characteristic that won him the scholarship to go to England the first time. Mr. Jamil was the teacher in charge of the drama and debating club and earlier in the year, the debating team that he coached won the varsity trophy. He proudly reminded me to look at the trophy displayed in the director's office. When I was data-collecting at the program, Mr. Jamil also invited me to attend an audition held for a play that the students were going to produce. Together with a few other teachers, Mr. Jamil conducted the audition at one of 164 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • the lecture halls in the program. I was told that drama presentations were to be the culmination of the oracy component, and the event was usually attended by the faculty and students. Mr. Jamil told me that he was often kept busy by student activities and would often stay at the program till late at night to help them with their rehearsals. Mr. Jamil was also on several committees in the program and during the time I was there the director invited me to a meeting regarding the commencement ceremony they were going to hold for graduating students; Mr. Jamil was in charge of getting the auditorium ready for the ceremony. One of the last discussions we had was on Mr. Jamil's use of current ESL theories in his teaching. Again in this respect, formal theories do not seem to be of much importance to him. He attended language workshops held at the language center of the college but the reason for going was because attendance was mandatory. His readings seem to have been limited to the articles that the director of the program occasionally distributed to the faculty. On the topic of current readings to keep him abreast of the field of ESL he said, Honestly, no. Time would be the reason most of time. We have talks in the room...uh...with the other staff. We have talks in the staff room. I read the handouts that the boss passed over, yeah. That's about it. Otherwise I don't go out to buy new books printed [written] by linguists on new theories of language. I don't go out of my way.... Uh yeah, if I'm in the library...maybe I'll take one. But honestly, no. Not unless I'm 165 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • in the library. I won't go out of my way to learn something new about language teaching. (2:35) I then asked him to make the distinction between whether he would not read or merely did not have the time to read and he said, At the moment, I won't. I won't because, as it is, there are so many things that have to be implemented in the classroom which have not been implemented. There are so many things that the students are shortchanged, you know. So as it is people know that this is a good thing to do and people write about what the good things to do in the classroom but come on, honestly, do teachers like take these theories to the classroom and do it? Do all the teachers do that? No, I don't think so. So you as a teacher, you know, you do what is best for the students. (2:35) He seems to be skeptical of the value theories play in the classroom and is rather suspicious of whether teachers do use theories or methods that have been recommended by language theorists. He seems to be a teacher who reacts quite instinctively to the classroom situations and the syllabus. At one point, he did mention that a teacher has to follow the syllabus but the interpretation of the syllabus into classroom actions is very much a factor of the teacher's personality and skill. Yes...the purpose of the syllabus is not only to guide me but also to make sure that whatever I do is relevant to what is given and for the students to pass exams. As such I have no option but to adhere to the syllabus. But the style, the content of the syllabus may be modified according to my taste, but I have to finish the syllabus, yes. I must adhere to the syllabus. (3:21) Although Mr. Jamil displayed a lack of knowledge about formal theories, a lack I attribute to him not keeping 166 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • abreast of current theories through reading and not to sheer ignorance, Mr. Jamil informed me of his own theory of language teaching which he has culled from his experiences and his observations of teaching. He called his theory the MAHA theory which, with a gleeful expression, he succinctly described below. I came up with this theory and I want to say it before someone else does. It's called MAHA theory. Maha in Tamil means great, big, great. And the theory relates to you being a creative creature in the classroom. MAHA is an abbreviation of Movement, Appearance, Humor, and all these you put into Action. So I hope that one day I can write a book about the Maha theory and how it can work in the classroom.... This is besides the actual content that you are going to teach. So you add these spices into your content, you get a successful class. (3:47/48) He believes that a teacher needs to do several things in order to sustain the students' interest and increase their motivation to learn a language: a teacher should project a good image in the classroom by being active and alert, a teacher should have several activities planned for variety, and a teacher should inject humor into his or her teaching. Conclusion In the preceding pages I have painted a picture of Mr. Jamil as a student learning English and as a teacher of English as a second language. He grew up and went to school when the Malaysian school system was going through a fundamental curricular change: the transition in the 167 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • language of instruction from English to Bahasa Malaysia in the early seventies. In Mr. Jamil, we find a person who acquired English more through his association and exposure to friends and relatives who spoke English than through being formally instructed. Although he enjoyed school, his English language classes were something else. He characterized the language teaching in his schools as very routinized; teachers frequently came to classes, asked students to check homework, and then proceeded with the lesson in order to fulfill the requirements of the syllabus or the textbook. The experiences he had in school and his practical teaching observations during his professional training guided much of his teaching style; he emphasized that from the teachers he observed he learned more the things to avoid in class than the actions to implement in the class. According to Mr. Jamil, his concept of a teacher was formed from the many hours he spent as a student under their tutelage but this concept was reformulated as he underwent his undergraduate education, gained more practical knowledge about language teaching, and formed his own beliefs about the nature of language teaching and learning. Mr. Jamil holds certain beliefs about language teaching and learning but these beliefs do not specifically relate to any particular element of the acquisition of a language skill, for example, the correct use of the tenses or the 168 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • ability to conjugate verbs. His beliefs pertain to the rather global aspect of the conditions of teaching and learning. One of the most important beliefs he has regarding teaching is that a teacher has to be active in class. By active, he means that a teacher has to actively engage the students in the act of learning; a teacher cannot merely stand in front of class and deliver his or her lecture to a group of soporific students. The teacher and students must physically move so that neither party falls prey to boredom. His teaching is characterized by constant physical movements for both teacher and students. The teacher constantly moved around the room in order to have face-to-face interactions with the students. His explanation of difficult words often involved him acting out the meaning of the word instead of merely giving a dictionary definition. The students, too, physically moved by carrying on role-playing activities, acting out portions of short stories discussed, or delivering speeches. He also believes in using creative activities in class. He defines creativity as the ability to use language in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes. As mentioned earlier, in his literature class students acted out excerpts from short stories being discussed; often the acting is based on the students' interpretations and adaptation of what actually happened in the story. In his oracy class, students performed impromptu public speaking 169 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • activities, hence using language in a more formal sense. There were also a variety of activities in the classes I observed, a characteristic of the teacher that I link to his belief that teaching must be creative in order to ensure and sustain the students' interest in learning a second language. Although he answered in the negative when asked to explicate his sources of knowledge for teaching and whether he keeps abreast with current readings in the field, his teaching reflects one of the salient features of the Communicative Approach as explicated by Celce-Murcia (1991) . According to her, in this approach, "[c]lassroom materials and activities are often authentic to reflect real-life situations and demands” (p. 7) . Further, in this approach a teacher is a facilitator who actively engages the students in the acquisition of linguistic competence. Mr. Jamil, too, possesses his own theory about language teaching which he invoked quite frequently in his classroom instructional practices. This theory was formed through his experiences of observing teaching during the time he was a student and as a preservice teacher. Some of the principles of his theory included the need for the teacher to use humor and action in order to facilitate and maximize learning conditions in the classroom. Although Mr. Jamil demonstrated a gap in his knowledge about formal theories, in his classroom teaching he is nonetheless effective. He 170 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • engages the students in active learning; he demonstrates his ability to teach intuitively and to react instinctively to student needs and classroom contexts. 171 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER SEVEN THE DOER Ms. Amal was the fourth teacher to participate in this study. The data for her story were collected through a series of formal and informal interviews and a single observation ofher classroom teaching. I interviewed her formally three times, each time between one to two hours. I also met her informally in the faculty lounge especially when she breezed in to check her mailbox or to confer with one of the teachers whose office was in one of the blocked off sections of the faculty lounge. At the onset of my study, the director of the program offered me the use of one of the vacant cubicles in the faculty lounge; subsequently it became my temporary office for the duration of my sojourn with the program. That made it easy for me to seeMs. Amal even outside of our scheduled meetings as she would sometime spend some of her precious free time in the sitting room area of the lounge absentmindedly hunched over an old newspaper left on the coffee table or sharing some grouses over a memo or a new regulation with a few teachers who usually happened to be there. I frequently took these opportunities to blend in with the faculty members and join in their conversations. These usually occurred during the half hour recess at ten in 172 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • the morning or during the lunch hour. The director also invited me to attend a committee meeting of which Ms. Amal was a member; the meeting was held to discuss the upcoming graduation ceremony for students who had successfully completed their matriculation program. At our initial discussion about the study, two observation sessions of her classroom teaching were agreed upon but only one was carried out; this was because of an interruption for a mandatory week-long seminar that Ms. Amal attended and an illness she suffered during the time the subsequent observation session was agreed upon. Hence I observed her once for an hour during her writing class. I expressed my concern about this to Ms. Amal but she calmly assured me that she was teaching the same writing topic and using the same technique even though it would be to another group of students. She also added that I would not miss a thing. At the time of the study Ms. Amal was beginning her fourth year of teaching at the ESL teacher education program and had a teaching load of 12 hours a week: ten hours of writing to two groups of matriculation students and one hour each of News Update and Critical Thinking to another group of students. The last two courses were recent additions to the ESL matriculation curriculum. Prior to joining the faculty at the program under investigation, Ms. Amal had taught English at three places: 173 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • a convent school in the capital city; a private college, also in the city; and at another program in the same institution which also houses the site of the present study. She taught at the convent for two months and while there she taught English to Form II pupils (equivalent to the eighth grade in American schools); at the private college she taught English literature to students preparing to go to the United States for their further studies; and at her third place of employment she taught writing, reading, spoken skills, and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) preparation, the last being a language test that was required of all non-English speaking students wishing to pursue academic work at universities in the United States. Ms. Amal represents one of the first groups of primary school children who began school when the language of instruction changed from English to Bahasa Malaysia. Ms. Amal is a slender young woman and of average height. She has shoulder length straight black hair which she highlights with streaks of gold, especially around the bangs, in order to keep up with fashion trends. Occasionally to counter the heat, she would bunch up her hair in a little ponytail. She is a fashionably dressed young woman and most of the time she wears western style dresses such as tailored slim skirts and blouses which she accessorized with colorful chunky earrings and bracelets; she wears the Malaysian traditional dress only on Fridays, a religious day for the Muslims. She 174 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • is also one of the few lecturers at the program whom one never sees without make-up. Ms. Amal is also one person who does not seem to be easily flustered by inconveniences; she laughs and smiles a lot and when she does her eyes seem to crinkle up. She is fond of wearing high heels which clatter noisily as she hurries along the corridor, often with her arms laden with student journals, files or books, going from her office to her class and vice versa. Ms. Amal seems to be in a hurry most of the time but with her naturally ebullient nature, she never fails to wave or smile at students whom she passes along the corridor. Ms. Amal's Earlv Years and Professional Education Ms. Amal was born into a Malay-speaking family in 1964 in one of Malaysia's northern states which was also regarded as the rice bowl of the nation. She was the youngest child in a family that includes three older brothers and an elder sister. Her family lived in the capital of the state and her parents were both employed in the clerical department of one of the government offices. Ms. Amal learned and acquired English beginning at home. Her parents went to English medium schools and were able to speak English although it was her impression that they were not very fluent in the language. Her brothers and sister also attended English medium schools, hence in the years she was growing up she had already heard English being 175 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • spoken around her. She attributed her initial language learning experiences to her family. My parents both went to English medium school. I'm the youngest in the family so I have three brothers and a sister who speak English at home. I mean not all the time but we do communicate in English. So it wasn't something that I had to learn hard...I mean...when I went to school, I knew words in English so it was just a matter of putting them in proper sentences. (1:1/2) Other influences in acquiring English during her preschool years came from books. With a smile on her face, Ms. Amal recalled that when she was young she was very fond of looking through her brothers' and sister's books, a trait which seems to be quite common among little children. Books, books I would read.... Not story books, not novels. As we didn't have the money to buy...I mean I never had the chance to buy my own storybooks. It was all school books...my brothers' and my sister's. They have those comprehension reading and comprehension questions would follow. So I would read all those... Just for fun. (1:2) When I exclaimed insurprise that at a young age shewould read a textbook, she asserted that they were indeed, "Textbooks.... They were not story books." (1:2) According to her, television which had only made a recent appearance in Malaysia in the early sixties was also another influence in her learning of English. Most television programs at that time came from England and the United States. ...and TV also, a little bit. We watched TV. Not news but just, you know, understanding from words.... I would follow TV programs. (1:3) 176 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ms. Amal started school in 1971, the first year that the language of instruction in primary schools changed from English to Bahasa Malaysia. However since she attended a convent school, St. Peter's Convent, the English language was not totally divorced from her life. It was also a common belief in Malaysia at that time that students who attended convent schools were considered to be very proficient in English as they were exposed to the nuns who ran the school, many of whom had come from England or Ireland. While at the convent Ms. Amal was placed in an "express" class which is equivalent to the gifted classes in American schools. Being in the express class also meant that Ms Amal skipped a grade and was in primary school for only five years instead of the customary six years. She regarded her experience there as helping her in learning English. But because I was in express class, most of my classmates were Chinese.... I mean I remember speaking a lot more in English though not in perfect English. In class I was speaking more English...more English in class than at home. (1:3) Ms. Amal considered her exposure to English as very natural and asserted that she was not very conscious of learning English. It was quite natural. It was, you know, spontaneous and when I go home I wouldn't be speaking in perfect English or everything in English. But with neighbors...not very much because I can remember talking to them in Malay, a lot more in Malay than English. (1:4) 177 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • She remembered very little of her English classes. When asked to describe what she remembered of her language learning experiences, she laughed as if to question my unexpressed sentiment that there would be other ways of learning English other than the customary drill method and in a shrill voice she said, Drills! Pronunciation drills, that I remember very clearly, spelling...all those phonics. That I remember very well...the sounds...sound system. (1:4) She further said this about her language lessons, I remember saying them but I didn't think I knew what...it meant. I didn't know it was grammar. I didn't know that we were saying present tense or past tense. I cannot remember my teacher telling me this is present tense, past. But it was just drills. I remember saying them aloud. (1:5/6) Ms. Amal considered her English teachers to be good because she remembered understanding what they said and not being scared of them. However, her classes were boring as they were characterized by an emphasis on the drill method and reading aloud together with her classmates. There were only two aspects of learning English that she enjoyed, one was writing the daily news and the other was reciting poems. She laughed when she recounted the experience. Hmmm...writing...if you talk about primary school...I only remember doing the journals, you know, daily news, everyday activity and then we have to draw. So I only remember that one in primary school. That one I enjoyed a lot. I looked forward to writing that. Both in Malay and in English.... I guess because I get to draw. Not that I am good at it [drawing] but I get to draw...to show what I meant. (1:5) 178 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • She also enjoyed poetry recitations because during those times she and her classmates were allowed to get out of their assigned seats in order to sit in a circle on the floor in front of the classroom. Poems...because we get to get out off our seats and go to the front and listen to the teacher reciting the poem first and then we read it out together...sitting down because we get out of our chairs. (1:6) Ms. Amal spent the first two years of her primary education in the express class and after that was placed in the regular classes. She said that was also when she began to speak English less. In fact, I think after I joined the normal streaming, after I, I got out of express classes, I joined the normal classes, I spoke less English. Yes, I remember because that's when I started to say all these, you know, use slang in Malay, you know. Yes, because I think I had more Malay friends when I went into the normal classrooms. (1:7) She described her experience in the express classes as unreal. I think the environment in the express class made me feel...I don't know...it's like I didn't realize what was going on outside my classroom. Everybody was studying, everybody was really competing, you know, and it was so natural to be speaking in English. And it's like we were totally different groups. (1:7/8) After completing her primary education, she began secondary education, also at the same convent. Similar to the experience she had in primary school, she did not remember much of the formal aspects of being instructed in the English language. Ms. Amal remembered though that they 179 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • no longer had journal writing, an aspect of learning English that she had enjoyed very much in primary school. I can't remember much...it was so vague. I mean it's like...we didn't have journal writing anymore. We still had the comprehension...reading comprehension, and then it was only in form five that I remember that we were doing a lot of conversation, projects, assignments, if I'm not mistaken. Like we had to come up with a menu or an album. (1:8/9) Understandably, it was only in the final year of her high school, which was also the year when she had to sit for the national high school examinations, that she remembered her English classes and the influence of one particular teacher, her formteacher, Mrs. Heng. She was verystrict, very strict.She made us do our work and finish on time. She was verystern in thatsense...no fooling around in class and do your work and she made us practice a lot of essays, and kept reminding us of SPM and all that. And I think without what she was telling us, you know, we would be very much carried away by...I mean not studying and all that. She made us buy these books...for preparation for SPM...like workbook, like predictions, questions predicted for SPM and all that. So we were doing a lot of that. We did comprehension, we did the passages in there, and we were practicing. Because she thought we could speak English well but that doesn't mean you can write...she made us practice all that. (1:9/10) Learning English during her Form V was the only aspect of formal language learning that Ms. Amal remembered. Much of the influence she received learning English came from outside factors such as being involved in school activities. Well...I was very active in the societies, clubs at school. I was...can't remember what my position was but I was one of those people, you know, in the committee members of English Society. 180 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • I was in the Career Guidance society. I was the company leader for Girl Guides for two years.... I think I use a lot of English then. Because I had to communicate with the other people from the other schools and the teachers, you know. They were Malays but we were asked to speak English because we were from convent school. (1:10) As mentioned previously, it was a common expectation that students from convent schools must speak in English. Another major influence came from writing letters to pen friends, cousins, and boys that she met at the tuition centers. Tuition centers are places where students attend, usually at their parents' own expense, extra help classes in important examination subjects such as mathematics, science and English. The flirt in her emerged as she recalled those years. Her eyes lit up as she leaned back in her chair and smiled, showing two rows of white teeth. ...I write a lot. I have pen pals...local and abroad...so I was writing in English to them. And with boys from other schools. At tuition centers, you know...there'11 be other students from other schools.... If the boys or girls know that we are from convent school...it's kind of expected that we speak English. So I was speaking English with them. Writing to people. In fact I do write to my cousins and we write in English. Like we go for holidays and I write to my mother in English. It was something natural to do that. (1:11) Ms. Amal completed her Form V in 1980 and while waiting for her SPM results, she attended Form VI for a few months and left after she was offered a scholarship to do an undergraduate program in English in the United States. At that time the Public Services Commission and the Ministry of Education, under the aegis of the Malaysian government, 181 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • pursued a policy of sending high school graduates who had shown an aptitude for the English language to pursue ESL teacher education programs in the United States, Britain, and Canada. Ms. Amal was one of the scores of Malaysian students sent overseas in the early eighties. Thus at the tender age of sixteen, Ms. Amal left home to go to the United States to pursue a program of studies she did not even have a clue about at that time. Her choice of country in which to pursue her studies was also left very much to fate. I chose to go to the US. I didn't know why I did that.... I wasn't afraid of going to English speaking countries. I was more afraid of leaving the family and all that. I had difficulties in understanding words...some words you know...how they ask.... Like the way they ask time and so on, like, "Do you have the time?" instead of "What's the time now?" Yeah, yeah, sothose were the things I had difficulties with and I also knew my English was not good. Not in the sense that I can speak as fluent as.... I stillfeel I can be better...a lot better...and at that time I planned to improve my English. Not just because I was there but because I was going into TESL. So it's like just right that I should improve my English. (1 :12) Although Ms. Amal went to the United States under the understanding that she would pursue a course of studies in teaching English as a language and would subsequently return to Malaysia to teach English in schools, the course of study that she actually pursued was in education and English literature. It was a common mistake at that time to blurr the distinction between the study of English literature and the study of teaching English as a second language both of 182 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • which came under the umbrella term of English. The general impression at that time was that if an individual has undertaken a course of study in English literature, he or she can thus teach English as a language. If one were to scratch the surface, one could find many ESL teachers in Malaysia who were literature majors. Her first experience of academic life in the U.S. was attending the intensive English program. So we were placed at this Institute for Multicultural Understanding in Seattle where we had to do our intensive. So we were asked to do a placement test and there were five levels at that school. I was fortunate and I was placed at the highest level. So that gave me more confidence. There were like 25 of us that went...in the same group. So after the test...being placed in the highest level...it really boosted my confidence...I thought.... And then towards the end of Fall we applied for schools and I got Washington State. I started my freshman year in 1982. (1:13/14) Ms. Amal faced some difficulties when she initially started studying in the U.S. However, the difficulties she experienced lay more with socialization into an American academic culture rather than socialization into the general American culture. Ms. Amal's gregarious nature made it easy for her to make friends and many of the Malaysian students in the same group that went with her have remained her friends and even colleagues. Ms. Amal described her difficulties thus, [T]he first quarter was difficult because I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know about GPA thing. I didn't know that there were classes for international students...I don't want to blame the 183 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • adviser because I was quite ignorant myself. So I took history, western civilization. It was very difficult. I don't think I can even understand even if I take it now...I took psychology, English 110, I think. I got a C for western civilization, C for freshman English and an A for psychology because I did a paper, supposedly a good one, so I don't know. I thought I did not do that well especially getting a C in freshman English. So I felt bad but after that I kind of bounced back. (1:14) In her junior and senior year at the university, she said she took more education and literature courses, "American literature, English literature, world literature, Russian, Japanese, all kinds." (1:15) In her final year of undergraduate studies, she carried out her practicum teaching in some schools around Seattle. A couple of times she did not get along with her cooperating teachers and had to be transferred to another school. Finally she found a cooperating teacher and a school that she could work with; her first teaching experience was teaching English to a group of refugees at Sharpton High School. On the advice of her supervising teacher, she taught using the Total Physical Response (TPR) method because these students had zero English and her supervising teacher felt that using that method would be the easiest for her. She admitted however that she did not wholly follow that method nor did she understand it. After she had completed her undergraduate degree program, she continued to do her master's degree, this time in TESL. She remembered that she did not take education 184 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • courses anymore, rather she took courses in linguistics such as "testing," "measurement," "grammar," "sociolinguistics," "psycholinguistics," and "second language acquisition" (1:18). Ms. Amal mentioned that she was introduced to the various methods of teaching English but added, "We learned (methods] but never actually tried them in class," (1:19). Although Ms. Amal's methods teacher suggested to the students that they should employ some of the methods they learned in their teaching, many of the students did not follow her advice. Instead she and her classmates continued to teach in the conventional method, a method that the preservice teachers seemed to be most comfortable with. Of a peer teaching session Ms. Amal said, So we...most of us explain what the term is about...you know like if I get.... It was part of speech like nouns...explain what nouns are, give examples of nouns, give exercises. That was it.... Except for we had games, role-playing. That's about it. (1:20) Ms. Amal also carried out a teaching practicum during her master's program and she characterized her teaching then as using more of the communicative approach which was typified by the use of role-plays and simulations. I remember teaching this group of people who were doing this summer school. Foreigners, Japanese. I was teaching them. I think that was part of my practice teaching. It was just English...it was more of conversation...we had a lot of group work, role-playing...we were doing a lot of that...using a lot of Penny Ur's "Discussions that Work" you know. We were doing a lot of things from that [book]. Because I think that at that time in the 80s they were into communicative competence.... Late 80s. (1:21/22) 185 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ms. Amal, who did not seem to display much regard for her master's program, said she enjoyed her undergraduate program more. So you know, somehow or other, I guess, unconsciously, I'm more interested in literature because I spent four years doing that. And only two years in TESL. It was like...so fast... Everything was done in a hasty manner, that I don't know how I managed.... BA was longer and more relaxed. I did a lot of readings and I can still remember the plays, the stories and novels that I read, you know, and teachers who were good in it. In master's...I can't place whom I like because they were all so busy with own thing also. There was no time to go in and even talk about class. You have to like go through books and papers to even go and see the prof. It was very difficult. Subconsciously I think I still prefer the more relaxed manner, the discussion, the analyzing of characters, the plots and so on. (1:24/25) The regard she has towards her experience in the graduate program has important implications for her subsequent teaching of ESL; this aspect will be explored later. In December of 1987, at twenty-three years of age, Ms. Amal returned home to Malaysia with a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in TESL and a contract to fulfill with her sponsors. On Being a Teacher: Beliefs and Practices Upon her return to Malaysia, Ms. Amal was posted to teach at a convent school in the capital city of Malaysia; this was according to the terms set forth in her contract with the Ministry of Education. Nevertheless, she did not immediately fulfil the terms of the contract and began her 186 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • teaching career teaching English literature at a privately- established institution, Birch College. However, she was subsequently tracked down by her sponsors and was assigned to teach at the convent. She spent a few months teaching English at the convent and described the experience as of minimal value for her and the students. And then I went to Convent Saint Mary's.... Until today I don't consider myself teaching anything much because I wasn't interested. The students were...they were good; they were very verbal. But they were not very serious about lessons.... I was teaching quite a good class. We talked a lot.... I don't think I was doing much there. And then I came here, I was employed, and I was sent to [an American] program. (3:20/21) •After two months at the convent, Ms. Amal's sponsor transferred her to the American program where she taught reading, writing, spoken skills and TOEFL preparation to government -sponsored Malaysian students who were preparing to go to the United States. Since Ms. Amal was a ministry scholar, under the terms of her contract, her sponsor could transfer her wherever there is a need for her services. Briefly, the American program was a joint venture program between an American university and a Malaysian university in which government-sponsored students were prepared for the first two years of an American baccalaureate degree program. Upon successfully completing the first two years in Malaysia, the students will be transferred to a university in the U.S. to continue with their junior and senior years. Although the program was funded by the Malaysian government, 187 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • it followed closely the academic requirements of an American university. Ms. Amal's role at the program was to prepare students in the English language so that they could not only take the TOEFL (a language test required of all non-native speakers of English wishing to pursue academic studies in the U.S.), but could also be linguistically-adequate to understand and follow lectures given in English. These government-sponsored students have undergone their primary and secondary education entirely in Bahasa Malaysia. Ms. Amal team taught with an American teacher the first semester she was there. We were sharing classes--my partner was Betty, and we were doing things a lot the American way. They said that we were new. So we were supposed to learn from the natives. And then after one semester I was sharing a class with another local lecturer. So it was like I've learned how things were going there.... I don't think it was so much of language or whatever. It was the way things are going over there. So I was doing a lot like the Americans--meaning a lot of discussions, tests were developed on our own. We just had to show it to the core person. In fact share and put it in a file and just take a look at what other people are doing. I had more freedom, I would say.... (3:21) Ms. Amal spent two years teaching at the American program and in the second half of 1990, she was transferred to the ESL teacher education program because the latter program, which was under the same administration, needed ESL teachers. Thus after acquainting and learning the system at the American program, Ms. Amal experienced some stress in initially teaching at the ESL teacher education program. 188 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • The only comfort was that several of her new colleagues were her former classmates in Seattle. So when I came here I felt so restricted because everything had to be...I was so shocked when we had to go into that room [where examination papers were kept], open the lock and take out the papers, calibration, you know. I was going crazy the... the first six months.... The first semester I was going crazy over it. I did not like it at all.... I was very uncomfortable and I was complaining. I was complaining to Badar and Ismail.... So after a while I learned to adjust. That's why I said here I feel more restrictions. There are pros and cons, I guess.... It's so strict here but no one observes us . So how do you know we are sticking to the rules, too? (3:21/22) There were other adjustment experiences that Ms. Amal had to undergo before being socialized into the teaching culture at the ESL program. And then I also find it difficult here because I was teaching one subject here. I mean over at the American program, I was teaching three different subjects, or even four with different classes, you know. So I had to prepare a lot...it's good, too, that I started that way, so when I came here and I was teaching one subject, just writing or College Reading and Writing II...I thought it was easy, easy job. One preparation and that's it. It was okay for me and everybody was complaining. Like, "How can we handle this?", you know. And I was quiet and I was telling my friends, "Thisis what we've been doing." I don't mind this at all. It's good that I started over there. (3:21/22) With her naturally ebullient nature and take-it-easy attitude towards teaching, Ms. Amal adjusted and settled in quickly into her new teaching experience. At the time of this study, Ms.Amal had been withthe program slightly over two years andduring the semester I was interviewing her, she was teaching 12 hours per week. 189 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • She taught writing, newsupdate and critical thinking and was also one of the fourdesigners of the interim syllabus for the matriculation level. Ms. Amal and another colleague were in charge of developing the syllabus for the writing and listening and speaking components. Under a new administration beginning that semester, the program was then undergoing a syllabus revision for the intensive English curriculum. The study skills component was replaced with two new components: newsupdate and critical thinking. News Update involves the students inthe active use of language and uses authentic materials such as the English newspapers to enable students to be more exposed to the real-life use of English, an exposure that had to be consciously created and planned for students whose exposure to the English language was, at best, minimal in nature. Another was to develop students' reading habits. The purpose of the critical thinking component was to develop the students' critical thinking and evaluative skills. Ms. Amal willingly shared with me the syllabus document that she had helped prepare. It was a thick document outlining the various components of the matriculation program together with a week-by-week lesson plan for each component (see Interim Syllabus, 1993). She also shared with me some of her students' writing journals and during my observation of her writing class, Ms. Amal did not fail to 190 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • share her lesson handouts with me. She discussed with me the processes she went through in designing the syllabus. We referred to a lot of books, a lot of books, and like, for example, writing is easier because it's a process. We know what to start with. It's always pre-writing and so we kind of do a lot of things during prewriting and then the writing part. So writing was not very difficult. It's just that getting examples from books, explanations, definitions of certain things from books. Listening and Speaking was difficult because we don't know where to start. So we decided to have everything start at the same time which is listening and then speaking. So we divided it into three parts--all done in the same week. One hour of just listening, one hour of pronunciation and two hours.... The other half is for communicative strategies. Yes, role playing and all that. Because before this things were like concentrated. And we believed that when we do LS [listening & speaking], we want to start everything together. Like listen, and then you pronounce and then you practice. So we were referring to a lot of books also. (3:13) One of the things I noticed while perusing the syllabus was that on the whole teachers were exhorted to use any methods as long as they reflected a learner-centered approach and the integration of the four skills. When probed about suggestions for teaching methods Ms. Amal said, Yes, the two of us discussed [method] but I guess our mistake is that we did not put it down on paper on how to teach. We kind of talked about it, okay, how are they supposed to do this, you know. And we would brainstorm on that. Oh yeah, alright, that's easy, but kind of not being sensitive enough. Maybe other people don't know. So we were just looking at things we put down.... Unless they asked us...we won't tell. We would assume that they know. Because...uh...we...at that time we felt that teachers might feel [imposed upon]. Yeah, you know like "as if I don't know how to handle this." So that is the reason why we did not put in on paper. We were afraid that they might feel offended. (3:12 & 14) 191 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • This fear relates to the fear of offending similarly- qualified colleagues by imposing on them the method to teach a certain subject. It would be like telling the teachers that they don't know how to teach and need to be told prescriptively how to teach. Nonetheless, this fear could very well be unfounded. One of her beliefs about teaching English was that her students should not be bored by the lessons. I cannot stand it, I'm very sensitive to facial expressions. I get very upset when I know...when I notice some people making faces, you know. Bored, like, "Why is she doing this? I know all this." I cannot stand that. So I wanna make sure that the class goes on. It's like they don't realize the time has gone..you know...time has passed. So what I plan usually is to have some activities. I would like to have a fun class because I get bored too. (2:7) Ms. Amal did not clearly define the concept of fun, however, but one can interpret fun through the students' enjoyment in participating in class activities, the level of comfort they have in using English, and the success that the teacher has in establishing rapport with her students. During the observation, Ms. Amal organized a pair activity for her students, and later at an interview she elaborated on the reason. I think it's fun and I think students like it...pair work or group work. I think students can get help from one another if one doesn't know or doesn't really understand. Then maybe the other one could help. So it makes it easier for the other person. So she doesn't feel too pressured at that time maybe coming up with something, you know, at least, if it's thewrong answer, they both then, you know, kind of 192 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • get...they both will get embarrassed by it but not one person only. I feel bad if students answer wrongly. And I have to tell them, no, that's wrong because I don't know how to say it the other way, you know. I would say that it's not right and I know if someone were to say that to me I would feel offended and I won't try again. So if it's two people, they get moral support in some sense. (2:4/5) In this sense, having an enjoyable class for Ms. Amal is equated to lowering the anxiety level students might have toward learning a language, acknowledging the pressure that is normally present in a language class, and designing activities that attempt to lower students' anxiety level. As mentioned previously, I observed Ms. Amal's writing class. We both walked in and while I was placing my things on the desk at the back of the class, Ms. Amal introduced me to her class and told them not to act during that period She began the class by engaging them in casual talk about the weekend; an activity that many did was shopping (Obs. 1 8/19/93) . At a later interview Ms. Amal told me that she talked a lot in class and that she frequently advised her students to talk as a means of improving their English. Yes...because I like to talk. I like to have conversations with people and I'm, I always tell people to do that, like even if you are at the bank or anywhere, you know, at all, start talking, It doesn't matter. And I guess it helps. It will help more if you can have native speakers as friends, I think. (2:2) She began her class by writing the phrase "Thesis Statement" on the board, the topic of discussion for that day. However, before she started on the new topic she said 193 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • that a review of topic sentences which they had covered the previous week was necessary to ensure that students did not forget what they were. The students chose a topic to discuss--shopping--and Ms. Amal teased them about shopping being a favorite topic with them. Some students laughed when she said this. The students were given ten minutes to carry out this task and while this was going on, Ms. Amal walked behind the students' and frequently stopped and peered over the students' shoulders to look at their work and to discuus the topic with them. I was not able to listen in on her conversations with the students as her voice was very low. To compound matters, since it was close to lunchtime, the noise from outside the classroom was incessant. Noise came from motorized vehicles as well as from other classes; the heat of the tropical afternoon was also becoming more noticeable. After she had completed walking one round the length of the L-shaped arrangement of the desks and chairs, Ms. Amal began walking a second round. Again, she stopped and checked the students' progress or answered their questions. Fifteen minutes into the hour, there was a slight knock on the door. Ms. Amal went to the door and spoke to a female student for a few minutes who then left; she had apparently been to see a doctor and was turning in her medical certificate to the teacher to indicate that she was allowed to be absent for that day. It was a policy at the program 194 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • that any absences must be accompanied by a doctor's examination. After the time allotted for the task was up, Ms. Amal asked students whether they had any difficulties and when the students said, "No," she gave her feedback on the exercise. Ms. Amal noted that many of them seemed to have forgotten how to write topic sentences and wondered whether their weekend shopping activity had contributed to their memory loss. She then distributed the first handout to the students; this was on the essay. Ms. Amal, who gave a lecture based on the handout, explained that writing an essay is similar to writing the topic sentence, an element of writing they had previously discussed. Similar to the topic sentence, an essay has to have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. This lecture was then followed by a discussion on thesis statements--the topic of the day. Ms. Amal explained the difference between a topic sentence and a thesis statement. She then outlined some of the rules to be remembered when writing a thesis statement, for example, a thesis should express an opinion and that it should be expressed in a complete sentence. Her lesson, thus far, was very much governed by the lesson handout which was taken from an American college writing textbook. One of the words that appeared during the discussion of thesis statements was "midwest" and since neither the teacher offered an 195 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • explanation nor did the students seek one, I couldn't help wondering whether students knew what midwest referred to. After Ms. Amal had explained the mechanics of writing and had asked the students whether they understood, she then distributed the third page of the handout and the discussion on thesis statements continued. By this time, the teacher who must have been tired from walking around the class several times during the first activity decided to sit on the table. There was also no movement from the other students as they faithfully turned the pages of the lesson handout. This segment was followed by a pair activity on completing an exercise in the handout; it was on identifying thesis statements and students were given ten minutes to complete the task. The noise level in the class increased as they discussed the exercise and I noticed that the students used English all the time. Teacher and students then discussed which sentences were thesis statements and which were not. There was much interaction between teacher and students during this time as students offered their opinions. After this exercise, Ms. Amal asked whether the students wanted to try turning the factual statements into statements which would express opinions and on receiving a "yes," the students, working in pairs, proceeded with that task. The subsequent discussions of the last activity concluded that particular class period. The teacher asked the students whether they liked thesis statements, and while 196 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • some said yes, more said that thesis statements were confusing. There was, however, no time left for discussion and I presume that the discussion might be picked up in the next class. I remarked during an interview that Ms. Amal was very systematic in her delivery of content. She said, Uh...I tend to review what I did the day before even if I think it's boring. It bores the students but I do that anyway, I don't care.... I think it's helpful to some if not all the students, you know, and it's helpful to me because I'd like to know if they had understood what I told them yesterday. And I think I have been using that pattern for...ever since I started teaching, at any level at all.... It's not just intensive or matriculation. (2:3) This seemed to be contradictory, however, to what she had mentioned earlier which was that students should have fun while learning a language. But she explained it this way, ...they should learn, not just have fun. I mean they should learn and they should remember like when I do the review, the revision the next day, they should be able to say something about what's been learned or, at least, remember even terms, just to show that they were listening even a bit of what I was talking about. Uhhh...they should learn, they should have fun. (2:26) I asked her whether she followed any methods that she was taught in her master's program and wrinkling her forehead in an attempt to remember she said, Uh...I wouldn't know what to say. I don't know if the way I teach can be based, or is an adaptation of any one of the methods, whether it is grammar- translation or audio-lingual, whatever. I can't place it right now. I don't know what to say about it.... But I know I have my own system. It's like review, and then start on a new subject, and then, I mean review, explain, 197 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • introduce a new topic, do some exercises, at least, on the board or handout--let them see. They have something to look at. And then we do some exercises. And I like discussion. I like talking so that I can know whether they are understanding me at that time. (2:4) She also believed that it was important for the teacher to build rapport with the students so that they are comfortable while learning the language. She said that she has been able to establish rapport with her students. ...I have good rapport with students not just as in they can talk to me, though I don't entertain their problems, you know. They can talk to me about anything outside class, but even in class. Sometimes we put like three or four minutes aside and just talk about weekends and what you've been doing and all that. And I can also see them improve and they are not afraid to ask because they have told me this. They say they are more at ease when they are in my class. And that is one of the happiest things, you know, when students actually tell me that they feel comfortable. They feel comfortable and they are not scared to ask. Even if I screamed at them and I do. Like, "You mean you don't know. I told you yesterday!" But they still smile. They know I'm not really angry. It's just that I was angry because she didn't listen properly or whatever. I do scream and they know that. I scream once in a while but still they say it's okay. They can still let me know that, "Oh, we were surprised that you would actually scream at us." (2:23/24) Ms. Amal also believed in monitoring her students' progress and maintaining a close physical distance with them which I witnessed in the class I observed. Yes, I think I do that a lot. That's why I like writing because I can go to these people individually, you know. It's like I can actually look at what they are doing. I don't know. I have never taught reading. But I feel that in writing, I'm closer to the students. I can know...we have closer rapport. I can tell if they have difficulties in their vocabulary words or how 198 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • to write.... I wished my teachers would have done that in the past. Yeah...within reach, you know. Like anytime they look up...I don't have to call on her. It's like facial expressions, I can tell if students want me to go near and want help, you know, I guess by now I can tell that. Yes, I can sense it. So I like doing that. I think most of our students here are too shy to put up their hands and say, "I don't understand. Could you explain on the board?" So when I'm closer to them they are less shy. (2:5/6/7) When they were carrying out their tasks, she walked behind them. When I remarked on this she threw her head back and laughed, "I like going around the class.... I like to walk around the class. I don't like to sit down" (2:6). Ms. Amal said that the writing syllabus was designed based on past students' performances. Uh...in the past...because based on the...uh...past performance, students' performance. People say that students cannot write a proper essay, you know. So we have to like start from the very beginning with them. The prewriting especially. Okay, like this semester, we have prewriting and then we go into thesis statement and then full essay, expository and process, I think. Second semester, they go to other types of essays: compare/contrast, cause effect, and all that. Argumentative is the last because it's considered to be the most difficult. (3:16 & 18) According to M s . Amal the writing syllabus is very rigid and structured. It's pretty rigid, you know. Now. Even graded assignments. Things you talk in class. It's just how you deliver is different. It's still up to us. Okay, let's say you are using one particular book, that Smalley book for writing.... During the meeting she [coreperson] will tell us...we are going to cover this, this, this. So this is what you are going to cover. And then there'll be a graded assignment based on what we decide on. So 199 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • there's no...freedom there. It's up to you how to make it interesting in class. (3:25/26) She also found the graded assignments that the writing teachers had to assign to students and grade collectively with the other teachers to be cumbersome. The purpose of this was to achieve some form of standardization in the way assessments were carried out. Like for writing recently, we had one graded assignment based on the paragraph. We have to calibrate, we have to calibrate. It was very difficult. My paper was so dirty because I graded the first time the way I thought...I know my students...so I thought, okay one spelling error, I'm not going to look at that one. Doesn't matter to me. But another teacher said, "No, that is a fault, that is an error. We have to cut marks." You know...to me it's a hassle. I don't like it. Maybe a bigger exam, a midterm, standardized. (3:26) Despite some shortcomings of the syllabus, Ms. Amal did not think of her role as simply to complete it. No...not really. I want them to understand. I want them to understand. In fact this week I have actually...hmmm.... I did not do a lot of what I have been asked to do, I mean, according to the syllabus just because students did not do the right thing. For example, we are supposed to already have written the paragraph.... But some students still find it difficult to have unity, coherence in that particular paragraph.... So...1 have not done that. I'm still on sentences. And I know I'm going to be late and that it has to be brought forward. (1:27) Ironically, Ms. Amal was instrumental in designing the very syllabus with which she was experiencing some difficulties, and unabashedly she pointed that out to me. And it's more difficult in my position because I was the one who wrote the syllabus and the scheme- of-work. Not that I wanted to do it that way but 200 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • it was required that we have it done that way. You know certain objectives at a certain week. (1:28) Although Ms. Amal often hoped that her classes would be fun, her main concern when she entered a class was that her work was carried out. I have my lessons planned. It's not in a very specific manner but I would know what I'm going to do first, what I'm going to do next. But it's very seldom that I would actually look at it twice and think, "Will the students be bored by this?" What I have in mind is, I'm going to do this much and it's going to be done, you know, very much scheme-of-work oriented, I'd say. (1:23/24) I continued to question her about her ideal class and she said, "I've never thought about it, you know. It's been like this for so long." (1:24) Ms. Amal perceived herself to be a lenient teacher. Some people find me very lenient, I don't know. I mean, very nice in class because I don't normally, I don't scold them you know. I'm very flexible. I don't know whether it's right but I talk to them outside of class as like friends. Umm...I usually accept excuses, you know, good reasons, good excuses. I normally accept like late work or late assignments. If given good excuses, I don't mind. Maybe sometimes students might take advantage of that but so far they haven't because I told them...I make sure I tell them on the first day of class that I'm like this but just don't take advantage of my flexibility. (1:26/27) Many times during the interview sessions Ms. Amal demonstrated some ambivalent feelings towards teaching. Once she mentioned that she was in a rut, "...it's just that I don't like what I'm doing right now. I wish I could do something else" (1:28/29). At another time she said, 201 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • I'm always happy, I think, in class. I think because I don't...I hate to say this but I don't take this thing so seriously... like...because we talk with the other teachers, you know, and some teachers get so tensed if... I feel like if I don't really know what's going on or if I don't really know what I'm going to teach, I, I would still go to class and just go on from there. It's like whatever comes, we'll do it as long as we are not wasting time. I don't really feel tensed and I'm, I'm always happy, unless which is very, very rare I have some problem. I usually try to avoid bringing it to class. (2:16/17) Ms. Amal was also concerned about the image she portrayed to the students and was conscious of the fact that she represented a teaching role model to them. Yeah. That's why I'm quite conscious of that you know. Uhm....I ask students about class, if it's not directly, indirectly, like in the journals or whatever, just to make sure I'm doing the right thing and they like it. But if there's something that they don't like but it's a must, then I will also let them know, you know, this may be boring but we'll try to work on it or we'll try group work or we'll try some ways so that you won't feel the boredom. Ummm....the thing is that I'm..,uh...I would like students to feel at ease and that I want them to also know that a teacher is not just supposed to be a knowledgeable person about that subject or about that particular thing because they have this mental image of the teacher. I do, too.... That a teacher must be like this. She must know everything about what she is teaching...a walking dictionary, she's everything. And I want them to know it's not like that, you know, it takes more than just having knowledge about that subject. It's understanding the students, sensitive to their needs and...umm...all that, all that comes with it. (2:22/23) Ms. Amal admitted frankly that she hardly kept up with the development in her field. Although a member of the Malaysian English Language Teachers' Association (MELTA), she did not feel involved with the association and 202 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • characterized her attending seminars merely for the sake of attending. Frankly speaking, no, but I like to know. I do attend seminars and courses but...like MELTA... They always have like new methods in doing something. It's like I go, I come back, I forget about it. I go, I take notes, I ask questions, I come back, I don't...it's nice to know.... (2:30/31) Her one attempt at presenting her own research at a seminar ended in disaster and she swore that she would never do it again. ...I only presented a paper once, in '89, I think. I was working with Sally Ward from [an American Program]. She did something on grammar and I did on what we were doing [there] that time--content - based module.... The writing or researching part was not difficult because I had help from [colleagues]. It's just presenting it. But I didn't think I did a good job presenting it because the audience...I was very nervous...I didn't know...it wasn't structured, it's like I was so nervous and the audience was Chinese school teachers and they don't give a damn about what content-based was all about...and I didn't know. They couldn't be bothered. They didn't even ask questions, you know, and it was only at the concluding part that I realized this is a bomb, this is a bomb, and I think I remember mentioning that I was not aware of the [audience]. Dr. Lee came to my rescue. He kind of wrapped it up in a sense that maybe this would be good if you had a different audience, then you'd probably have more questions.... Because, like I said, I was very sensitive to the facial expressions. So when I was doing it and they don't bother. They were speaking in Chinese, you know. They were talking to each other...so what I had was in a mess.... Everything was like alright you don't care, I don't care. I just want to finish this. It was a bomb. And I don't think I'll present one in a long, long time. (2:34/35/36) Since that time Ms. Amal has neither conducted any research nor presented a paper at any conference. 203 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Thus far the beliefs expressed by Ms. Amal about language teaching and learning have not been directly related to the acquisition of specific language skills. Rather her beliefs have centered more on teacher behaviors and the conditions of learning that a teacher should create for her students. Ms. Amal summed up her beliefs quite succinctly. I believe that classes shouldn't be boring. Yeah, I think that's one of my beliefs. That a teacher should be more than just knowledgeable. She should be sensitive, knowledgeable, friendly, understanding, should be, should be prepared going to class. And she should be prepared because otherwise you can't talk for the whole one hour. I believe I should prepare myself. And I also believe I don't have to follow what I plan if that day students cannot go on.... If there's a genuine reason that they are so bored, so tired or whatever. I won't be forcing things into them...and I believe that, like I said, it should be some fun, some sense of humor in class, humor in class. That's what I have been doing, I think. Because everytime I go to class, I have this in mind...God...help me. Please don't make this a boring class. I think what I have is suitable and usually I succeed, you know. I think it has been okay. What I planned, no matter how simple or difficult, you know, but I have not received complaints. Not that I know of. So I think what I believe in and what I practice have been okay. (2:37/38/39) Despite her earlier ambivalence towards her work Ms. Amal said, "I'm quite satisfied, quite contented at the moment with what I'm doing. Except maybe the salary part. But other than that it's fine" (2:36). This ambivalence is also reflected in her own feelings about teaching; at one point she likes teaching, at another she has entertained thoughts about leaving the profession. 204 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Conclusion Although one of the purposes of this study was to discover ESL teachers' specific beliefs about language teaching and learning, I was not able to obtain much information that directly pertained to language from Ms. Amal. This could be due to my own inadequacy as an interviewer in ferreting out vital information from her or to Ms. Amal's own lack of concern about such matters. Her beliefs centered on what can be considered matters that directly concerned the conditions of learning rather than on the exclusive teaching of a particular skill, information or content. Many times my questions revolved around topics such as the method she uses to teach English or the acquisition of a certain language skill, yet, many times the discussion reverted back to what teachers should do in the classroom in terms of creating conditions of learning for the students. Ms. Amal believes that classes should be fun so that the students are not bored by the lesson. Fun, according to her, is the inclusion of several types of activities such as pair work, individual work, as well as a lecture. She believes that having several different types of activities in a single class period would counter the feeling of boredom that students might experienced. Although creating a "fun" class is important for her, she still maintains that her main concern is that 205 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • the students learn the lesson that has been planned. Then fun takes a back seat to learning. She also believes in the importance of building rapport with her students. She feels that will enable the students to feel comfortable asking her questions about things they don't know; she established this in the writing class that I observed by maintaining close physical distance with her students, exhibited by her continuous walking around the class. She feels that she has to be within easy reach of her students and that whenever they need her, she is there for them. She also expressed the lament that her own teachers never did that with her. Ms. Amal's teaching style, as demonstrated during the observation, can be regarded as conventional, typified by the need to complete the tasks in the lesson handout. Although some leeway is given to the students on whether certain tasks are completed by a certain time, the driving force is still the completion of the exercises in the particular handout. Several times Ms. Amal mentioned her main concern is that she does her job and that the students are responding to her teaching. Ms. Amal admits she is not widely read in the field and does not consider this to be very important at that stage in her life. She summed up herself as a teacher very poignantly, "I don't think I'm a good teacher, but I think I'm a nice teacher" (3:48). 206 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Ms. Amal seems to be a teacher still struggling with the needs and dictates of the content and syllabus. She has not succinctly found a teaching style or a philosophy of teaching that fits her and sees her job as carrying out the lessons that have been decided by the syllabus. Many times during my conversations with her I could sense her despair with her perception that she is not a good teacher. It seemed to me that the desire to get out of the confines and limitations of the text and syllabus is there, however, the skill to do so is elusive, at least, in Ms. Amal's judgment. She still has not come to terms with the method or technique that she uses in her class and frequently displays ambivalent feelings toward her job. 207 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER EIGHT ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION The relationship between teachers' beliefs and curriculum-making is analogous to the relationship between an orchestra conductor and a musical score. Insofar as a conductor interprets and translates the musical score according to his or her beliefs, perceptions, skills and attitudes about what the music should sound like, so does a language teacher interpret and translate the curriculum and, subsequently, the content of what he or she has to teach according to his or her beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, and skills about what constitutes good and effective language learning. Famed conductor George Solti might conduct the score of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" in a different way than would equally famous Zubin Mehta. The score could be the same but the connoisseur of music would be able to detect subtle differences and nuances in each conductor's rendition. Using the same analogy, a teacher might be faced with the task of teaching students a second or a foreign language, but even within a rigid or pre-set curriculum and syllabus, the interpretation of this event would be based very much on what teachers believe about language learning and how teachers translate these beliefs into classroom instructional practices. 208 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Hence, although the four ESL teachers in this study are charged with the same task of teaching English to their students so that the students can, in the future, become ESL teachers, the way the teachers plan, make decisions about their instructional activities and teach is very much a factor of what they believe about language learning and teaching. Dobson and Dobson (1983) put forth the argument that teaching does not occur in a vacuum and that a teacher who does not question his or her value orientations remains permanently immature. They further said, "There is no such thing as value-neutral actions: teaching practices, whether consciously or unconsciously chosen, are an expression of the beliefs held by the person" (p. 20). The genesis of this study was my own personal involvement in the field of ESL experienced in three stages of my life: the first stage was my own acquisition of English as my second language (my first language is Malay); the second stage was my own experience as an English language teacher; and the last stage was my evolution from ESL teacher to ESL teacher educator. During the course of formulating this study and reacquainting myself with the theories and developments in the field approximately two years ago, I sought answers to my own beliefs and practices about language learning. I reflected on my own practices and it was disconcerting to find discrepancies between what I believed to be best practices in language learning and 209 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • what I actually implemented in my own classroom teaching. Much to my chagrin, my reflection revealed that I had not wholly practiced in my classroom what I really believed about the nature of language learning and teaching nor did I question my assumptions about language learning. When I taught grammar I courted my students' positive evaluations of my teaching and was dismayed when students reported that, although my teaching was clear, they were bored with learning the rules and with routinely filling in the blanks. I discovered that my teaching was very much governed by the syllabus and the content of the textbook that was assigned, and the requirements of tests and examinations. I did not question my students' needs, purposes, and objectives in learning English nor did I make any conscious attempt to create and plan for my students a learning environment that maximized their capability to learn English. I expected students who experienced my classes to be proficient and accurate in their ability to speak English. I lamented the fact that these students might never be fluent and accurate in their language use. I was not alone, however, in expressing this lament; many times my colleagues and I expressed it in a rather haphazard and informal manner and in the absence of any evaluation of the conditions and variables in which these students had undergone the initial and subsequent learning of English. Prabhu (1990) outlined the conditions and 210 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • variables to encompass language environment, language policy, and language attitude; we never authentically questioned these factors. Without a questioning of our beliefs, value orientations, and assumptions about the nature of language learning and the learning variables that exist for our students, our teaching of language remains conventional and mechanical and typified by a strict adherence to the curriculum and syllabus, textbooks, and testing requirements. In the words of Dobson and Dobson (1983), ’’[We] remain permanently immature" (p. 20). The purpose of this study was to seek answers to questions raised by my experiences relating to ESL teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching, the relationship of these beliefs to their classroom instructional practices, and finally the factors that encourage or inhibit the translation of beliefs into practices. This chapter presents my analysis and interpretations of the findings that were gathered from the interview and observation phases of the study I conducted with four ESL teachers and the examination of teacher- supplied documents such as lesson plans, lesson handouts, and syllabi. Frequently during the analysis I will refer to events that have been described in the case studies in Chapters 4, 5, 6, & 7; these will be accompanied by page numbers referring to those data. My analysis will cover the three main areas of the research study: teachers' beliefs, 211 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • the relationship between beliefs and practices, and finally, the factors that encourage and/or inhibit the translation of beliefs into practices. Teachers' Beliefs about Language Learning and Teaching The answer to my first question "What are the beliefs about language learning and teaching of a selected group of ESL teachers in Malaysia?" is yes; these teachers do articulate beliefs about language learning and teaching. There are individually held beliefs as well as shared beliefs; the beliefs they shared reveal subtle differences in degree of conviction. This is understandable as these teachers grew up and learned English under different conditions and at different times. Two of the teachers, Mr. Sarjit and Ms. Khadijah went to school when the language of instruction in Malaysian schools was totally in English, while the other two, Mr. Jamil and Ms. Amal, began school at a crucial period in the Malaysian educational system, the transition from English to Bahasa Malaysia as the language of instruction. It was also a time of heightened national pride about the newly-christened national language--Bahasa Malaysia--and a time of renewed scorn for the language of the former colonizers. Although not a focus of this study (indeed it would be a fascinating study in and of itself), the issue of the change in medium of instruction is important in that it made a difference in the degree of 212 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • comfort these two sets of teachers displayed toward English. Mr. Sarjit and Ms. Khadijah continually demonstrated during the interviews that they felt more comfortable using English than the other two did. In general, all four teachers have beliefs about language learning and teaching which they were able to articulate. Some beliefs were shared while there were some beliefs about language teaching that were individually held; this supported the idea of the non-consensual nature of beliefs as expressed by Abelson (1979) and Nespor (1987), i.e., a belief that is held by one person may not necessarily be held by another. To enhance clarity these beliefs are grouped according to the degree of consensuality or non-consensuality that they exhibited. Consensual beliefs Classes should be fun--One of the beliefs shared by at least three teachers was that language classes should be fun and that students should not be bored by the lessons. Fun, which is an elusive concept to define, was interpreted by the teachers' ability to achieve a relaxed atmosphere in class during which students derived a great deal of enjoyment and pleasure from the activities that were designed by their teachers. Creating a relaxed and enjoyable class was also the advice that Dulay et al. (1982) offered to language teachers when planning classroom 213 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • activities. An obvious indicator of fun was laughter that could be heard among the students and the sustained interest that students displayed as they were learning the language. It seemed clear that student fun or appreciation also contributed to a positive teacher attitude towards his or her performance. When students enjoy the lesson, teachers feel rewarded and their self-worth as teachers is enhanced. In discussing the social realities of teaching Lieberman and Miller (1991) noted that teachers experience the greatest satisfaction when they feel rewarded by their students especially when students show interest in lessons, complete tasks successfully, and perform well on tests. Teachers in this study, too, expressed a similar sentiment. Ms. Amal, who regards herself as sensitive to facial expressions and gets upset when she notices students' bored expressions, often prays that her students would not be bored by her classes (p. 204). According to her, although student learning is her primary objective, she still wants her classes to be regarded as enjoyable. Ms. Khadijah based the belief that classes should be fun on the fact that her own initial language learning experiences were fun and that she does not want to subject her students to the rigors and anxieties of learning a new language. This feeling is congruent with one of the principles of the Natural Approach which states that a person who experiences a high anxiety towards learning a language is not going to 214 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • be an effective learner of the target language (Krashen & Terrell, 1983). Ms. Khadijah enjoyed learning rhymes and poetry; she did not experience the rote learning of grammar and therefore questioned the curricular requirement that students learn grammar prescriptively (p. 114). Her class was characterized by the importance she placed on having activities that not only achieved the lesson objectives but also sustained the interest of her students. Similar to Ms. Khadijah, Mr. Jamil based his belief that classes should be fun on his own experiences during his initial learning of English and during his teaching practicum. In the teaching practicum, he had to observe classes as part of his learning-to-teach requirement and during that time, he noticed students dozing off at the back of the class while listening to the teachers' mechanical chanting of grammar rules (p. 158). In his own teaching he incorporated enjoyable activities so that his students would not be bored in class. One of Mr. Jamil's students remarked that the way he presented his lessons prevented them from falling asleep in class (8/17/93). As demonstrated during his teaching, he included many activities and encouraged his students to use English in a variety of creative ways such as acting, role-playing, and giving impromptu speeches. In contrast to the other three teachers in the study, the subject of fun never appeared in Mr. Sarjit's vocabulary nor did he consider it to be important to create an 215 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • enjoyable class. For him, the completion of the lessons as specified by the syllabus seemed to be his primary function as a teacher. The strict and straightforward manner in which he presented his lessons especially as observed in his grammar class provided further evidence that he paid scant attention to the creation of an enjoyable class. The value of reading- -Another belief that these teachers articulated is that reading in the target language plays an important role in the students' overall acquisition of English. This shared belief was clearly based on their own personal experiences; the experiential nature of beliefs is clearly supported in the literature. Nespor (1987) stated that beliefs are often based on an individual's evaluation of certain episodes or experiences in life. It seemed that the source of this belief came from the teachers' evaluations of the value of reading and how their own habits of reading, which were formed in early childhood, contributed to their own language acquisition. All the teachers grew up surrounded by reading materials in English such as story books, comics, and newspapers. Ms. Khadijah was provided with abundant reading material by her parents; Ms. Amal obtained books from her elder siblings; Mr. Jamil read the Sunday newspapers; Mr. Sarjit obtained books from school. 216 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • All four teachers valued the role reading had played in their own acquisition of English and were convinced that reading widely and extensively in English was a key element in helping their students in their own process of learning the language. Reading certainly provides language input that seems to be the easiest to obtain for the students, especially in a second language environment such as the one found in Malaysia, an environment that is not very rich in target language input. An examination of the library located near the building revealed that there are available reading materials that were targeted for young adults, for example science fiction, spy stories and paperback romances. In addition, there were two Malaysian newspapers written in English available in the library. Attempts to bombard students with visual linguistics seemed to be evident on the bulletin boards in the program. All notices about club and society meetings as well as announcements from the program office were written in English, an exception to the official rule of the institution that all public notices must be written in Bahasa Malaysia. This exception was granted to the ESL program on the recognition that the students in the program were being trained to become ESL teachers. One student revealed that her teachers frequently advised their students to read but she herself lamented the fact that students do not read outside of the assignments (8/17/93). Another student commented that while her reading 217 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • habits had been further developed since joining the program, it was her opinion that her other classmates did not read as much as she did, even though the students were required to turn in their reading logs which were part of the reading component (8/19/93) . The purpose of the reading logs was to enable students to keep a record of any outside readings that they had carried out (see Interim Syllabus, 1993). This was an attempt on the part of the reading teachers to inculcate good reading habits in the students and to vary the types of exposure to English that students receive. The question of whether attempts were made by the teachers in the program to involve students in meaningful in-class discussions of what they had read remains unanswered as I did not have the opportunity to interview any reading teachers. It seemed possible, however, that student entries in the reading journals were a convenient way for teachers to keep a record of what and how much students read. Reading journals appeared to operate as a convenient way to keep records rather than as a stimulus to discussions between students and teachers in class. The importance of correction--The belief in the importance of error correction was shared in varying degrees by the teachers as an important component of language learning and instruction. The degree of conviction that a person holds about a certain proposition is a distinctive feature of 218 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • beliefs which Abelson (1979) mentioned when making the distinction between knowledge and beliefs: one can believe in something strongly, however, "one would not say that one knew a fact strongly" (p. 360). Thus beliefs can be strongly embraced or only tentatively acknowledged. The belief in the importance of correction was expressed strongly by Mr. Sarjit during the interviews and observed consistently in his teaching. During one of the interviews, Mr. Sarjit said that he would correct a student's mistake immediately and would make that student repeat the correct structure. In his own class, during the practice session he interrupted students who made grammatical mistakes in their practice and tacitly urged others who did not make mistakes to carry on (p. 82) . At the end of that grammar class, I managed to ask a male student, who was corrected and who had argued with the teacher about his sentence, what his feelings were about being corrected. The young man, whose displeasure with being corrected was clearly evident in his unsmiling face, resignedly acquiesced that perhaps his teacher was right and he was wrong (8/10/93). It seemed that the authoritarian manner in which Mr. Sarjit corrected his students stemmed from his own childhood experiences of being consistently corrected by his own teachers. The fact that he considered himself to be an expert in grammar seemed to dominate his 219 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • teaching; it also appeared as if he were trying to make the students aware of who the expert was in the classroom. In contrast to Mr. Sarjit, Ms. Khadijah believes in engaging students in collective correction; she would gather the frequently-made mistakes and teacher and students would go through the mistakes together (p. 116). According to Ms. Khadijah, by using this method no one student was stigmatized as having made a particular error. Although she believed that correction was necessary, it was equally important to her that students not be discouraged by frequent corrections of their language errors. The difference these two teachers displayed in the style of correcting student mistakes seemed to be dependent on the teachers' personality and beliefs about the value of correcting mistakes. While Mr. Sarjit believes in immediate correction which was consistently displayed in his classroom actions, Ms. Khadijah believes in collective correction. Neither Ms. Amal nor Mr. Jamil elaborated on this facet of their teaching. Correction of students' mistakes did not seem to be an integral part of their teaching. However I was able to examine the writing journals of Ms. Amal's students, and while there were mistakes in sentence structures, word choices, and tenses in the students' entries, I did not notice her making any written comments on the students' grammatical mistakes. Rather her responses to their journal entries were directed to the general content 220 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • of the entries; this practice was congruent with the objective of the writing journal as stated in the syllabus. The writing journal was used to encourage the students to express themselves freely without fear of having their English corrected (see Interim Syllabus, 1993). Ms. Amal's and Mr. Jamil's failure to mention correction as an important component of language learning did not seem to indicate that that there was an absence of teacher-led correction in their classes; it merely indicated that it did not happen during the time I was there and, possibly, more observations of their classroom teaching might have revealed this aspect more clearly. Learner-centeredness- -Two of the teachers agreed on the importance of learner-centeredness when providing instruction in learning a language. Both Ms. Khadijah's and Mr. Jamil's classes were characterized by a substantial amount of student talk versus teacher talk. Students organized and carried out the various activities that had been decided upon; they acted, participated in role-playing activities, and made impromptu speeches. They used language in a variety of ways. This factor could also be explained by the fact that both of these teachers were teaching a subject, listening and speaking, that lent itself to such activities; yet it could also be attributed to the personality of the teachers. Both appeared to be outgoing 221 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • teachers who were able to transcend the standardized syllabus and involve their students in acquiring language in a meaningful manner. Both also confessed to liking acting and performing and the instructional activities that they designed for their students such as role-playing and simulations often involved the students in "performances." In the writing classes of both Mr. Sarjit and Ms. Amal, although there were attempts to include students in much of the discussion, the teaching was still governed by the class handouts and the requirement to complete the lesson. The syllabus of the writing course seemed to drive their teaching and the two teachers appeared to be constrained by its requirements. However, it is conceivable that even in a writing class a teacher who is able to transcend the syllabus could design activities that engage learners actively in the learning of a language. The listening and speaking component in Ms. Khadijah's and Mr. Jamil's classes could be described as using the communicative approach to teaching language as outlined by Celce-Murcia (1991) , an approach which is typified by the use of authentic and real-life materials and the inclusion of a variety of activities. This was also indicated in the syllabus which stated that one of the objectives of the listening and speaking component was to engage students in interactive and participative activities. Mr. Jamil and Ms. Khadijah seemed to have been successful in achieving this 222 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • objective and thus enhanced the learner-centeredness of their classes. The writing class, in contrast, was dominated by the need to impart to the students knowledge about the various elements of writing an essay, beginning at the sentence level and graduating to the paragraph level and finally to the essay level. The main objective of the writing component was indeed the teaching of writing skills that would subsequently help the students in writing for academic purposes (see Interim Syllabus, 1993). The difference between the objectives of the writing component, with its emphasis on teaching students to acquire academic writing skills, and the listening and speaking component, with its emphasis on teaching students to acquire interactive and participative skills, resulted in the different styles of teaching displayed by these two sets of teachers. It appeared that the syllabus as much as the belief systems of the teachers guided and directed their teaching. Rapport-building--It should not be surprising that students who have a closer rapport with their teachers would look upon their own learning in a more positive way. Students who are intimidated by their teachers might not derive as much from a language class as students who feel comfortable with their teachers. The teachers in this study, notably Ms. Khadijah, Mr. Jamil and Ms. Amal, acknowledged the 223 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • importance of building rapport with their students. Rapport was indicated by the ease of communication between students and teachers. Ms. Amal said that students found her to be easy to communicate with and that they were welcomed to come to her with their problems (p. 198). Although I did not witness any interchange between Ms. Amal and her students that would support her own self-perceived claim about her easy-going nature, it would not be easy to doubt her as she seemed to be a very friendly and outgoing individual. Mr. Jamil's style of teaching, casual yet on task, seemed to achieve rapport much more easily than any conscious attempts to gain it. One of the students I interviewed said that she liked the way Mr. Jamil managed to get the students to be interested and to participate in his classes especially his way of using humor to gain their attention (8/17/93). Ms. Khadijah placed a premium on building rapport with her students and rapport-building activities were usually fixtures of her initial meetings with her students (p. Ill). Although Mr. Sarjit seemed to be the most traditional of all the teachers, practicing a pattern of teaching not usually identified with an emphasis on rapport-building, in his writing class there appeared to be close interaction between him and his students. Although he considered himself to be a strict teacher, students were able to joke with him and much laughter was heard in the class (p. 83). 224 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • However, this same interaction was not demonstrated in his grammar class, indicating perhaps that an expert knowledge of the subject matter made him more authoritarian in his instruction. The differences I witnessed in Mr. Sarjit's manner of teaching the two subjects seemed to be precipitated by the differences in the content of the two courses. While grammar has a finite set of rules or a codified body of knowledge deemed important for students to learn and acquire, the writing component seems to be rather flexible and open to interpretation. Thus while he posited the stance of an "expert" in his grammar class, he seemed tentative in his approach to his writing class--a course he was teaching for the first time. Language usage--Providing opportunities for supervised use of oral language seemed to be another important component of the teachers' belief systems about language instruction. In Mr. Sarjit's class, due to time constraints that he frequently referred to, usage was limited to the last five minutes of class; this involved the use of a particular part of speech in making sentences. After a 55-minute lecture on grammar rules and structure, Mr. Sarjit provided his students with the opportunity to practice the rules just learned. This practice seemed to be less a desire to reinforce rules learned in order to facilitate discussion among students and subsequent acquisition of a particular 225 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • linguistic skill but more a desire on Mr. Sarjit's part to translate his belief into practice, albeit in a very- restrictive sense. In the classes of Mr. Jamil and Ms. Khadijah, usage was defined as the active use of English in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes and audiences as the students carried out the activities that were designed by their teachers. For Ms. Amal, however, oral usage involved the casual use of language in which she engaged her students by sharing with them her own experiences in learning English and in asking them to share with their classmates stories about their weekend activities. This was verified by her former student at the convent who was also attending the teacher education program; she said that when she was in Form II, Ms. Amal taught her English and would frequently regale the students with stories about her experiences while in the United States (8/17/93). Another student I interviewed remarked that although many of the students in the program know that constant oral language practice is important in improving their speaking skills, the students hardly speak in English outside of the classroom for fear of being ridiculed by other classmates for speaking in broken English (8/17/93). Another pervasive fear that prevents students from speaking in English is that those who speak it are considered to be "show-offs." The elitist notion that is attached to persons speaking English, 226 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • especially among the Malays, can primarily be attributed to a cultural fear of losing their identity as a Malay people-- a people once colonized by the British. Non-consensual beliefs The importance of grammar--Of the four teachers, only Mr. Sarjit emphasized the importance of grammar. The important thing for him was that students must learn the rules and structure of English especially since they are going to become ESL teachers (p. 89). Even in his writing class, he believed in strict adherence to the lesson handout, and corrected his students' mistakes. His own learning of English, too, was characterized by the importance that was placed on learning the structures of the language. He believes that an important principle of language learning is the learning and acquisition of the morphological and syntactical elements of the language which Celce-Murcia (1991) referred to as learning grammar "for its own sake" (p. 459). It appeared that Mr. Sarjit valued the way he was taught English, i.e., through the use of drills, memorization and immediate correction. This led to similar actions in his own classes. His students' lack of enthusiasm in learning finite rules and structures as evidenced by their expressionless faces and mechanical responses to questions posed by their teacher did not seem 227 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • to change Mr. Sarjit's behavior at all. Perhaps he expected grammar to not be enjoyable. While many people have decried the strict and exclusive teaching of grammatical structures, grammar teaching does have an important place in the program. Celce-Murcia (1985) identified learner variables such as age, proficiency level, and educational needs, and instructional variables such as skill, formal or informal register, and need or use as important indicators for making informed decisions about the grammar curriculum. Since these preservice students are going to become ESL teachers, it does not seem unreasonable to expect them to learn some of the essential tools of the trade, although the exclusive teaching of language rules in the absence of their accompanying meaningful social use and function seems to be equally meaningless. In brief, the beliefs that these teachers hold are beliefs that many language teachers would have about learning and teaching a second or a foreign language, for example, the importance of reading and language practice in facilitating the learner's process of acquiring linguistic competence. The main differences lie in the degree of conviction that teachers possess regarding these particular beliefs; while some teachers hold more strongly to particular beliefs, exhibit them more clearly in their practice and are able to articulate their beliefs more strongly, other beliefs are given a cursory treatment. 228 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Beliefs in some areas are also characterized by their non- consensual nature; some are shared while others, for example, the importance of grammar, are individually held. The teachers in this study appeared to have developed a highly personalized pedagogy and belief system regarding the teaching of language. Although these teachers had undergone formal education in teaching English either through baccalaureate and graduate work or through in-service courses, constant references to early language experiences seemed to form the core of their pedagogical beliefs and resultant practices. The constant references to early experiences support the idea of how stable and inflexible preexisting beliefs and images are to a teacher's professional growth (Kagan, 1992b). Relationship of beliefs and practices In this section I make connections between the beliefs these teachers professed and their classroom instructional practices in the attempt to answer the second research question, "To what extent are teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching related to their classroom instructional practices?" This is necessary in order to examine whether teachers do practice what they believe or merely pay lip service to certain ideas. The beliefs that have been outlined above are examined in turn. 229 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Classes should be fun--If fun were to be interpreted as students' obvious enjoyment and interest in learning English and the teachers' obvious enjoyment in teaching, then through the lens of my own observation of their teaching, only Ms. Khadijah and Mr. Jamil were able to evoke much fun in their classes. Through the various activities that these teachers planned and subsequently carried out for the listening and speaking classes, students continually displayed the pleasure they derived from the activities as evidenced by their keen interest and excitement in carrying out their tasks. A student I interviewed expressed her delight in being in Ms. Khadijah's listening and speaking class (8/17/93). Both Ms. Khadijah and Mr. Jamil succeeded in engaging their students in the active use of language. Teaching and learning were not merely the routine completion of exercises but they also involved the active "doing" of the activities. In the role-play situations, the students were not only exposed to language use in class but also language use that might occur in social contexts. By carrying out role- playing activities and acting, students were engaged in the creative use of language in a variety of situations, both formal and informal; this mirrored the real-life situations that students might encounter in their actual use of English outside the classroom. Indeed the creative and interactive use of the language is one of the main objectives of the 230 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • listening and speaking component as outlined in the syllabus (see Interim Syllabus, 1993). By designing interactive and participatory activities, students were provided with the opportunities to become actively involved in the acquisition of linguistic forms and structures and to gain more confidence in producing language. This aspect is crucial to the students' overall language acquisition. Although many times during the interviews Ms. Amal stated that classes should be enjoyable, I was not able to observe activities that, had I been a student in her class, I would have considered to be enjoyable. I observed her dutifully carrying out her instructional activities as strictly indicated by the lesson handouts which she shared with me. Thus, similar to the students, I was able to follow the lesson. Although there was pair work that Ms. Amal perceived to be a "fun" activity because it differed from her conception of traditional lectures, it was difficult to evaluate whether pair work is enjoyable or otherwise for her class. Ms. Amal seemed to have a restricted view of "fun." It also seemed that the students were dutifully carrying out the task that had been assigned by the teacher. It is quite conceivable that my concept of fun is different from Ms. Amal's. However one defines fun, it would be essential for Ms. Amal to re-evaluate her notion of fun in order for her to achieve in her classes what she expresses as her belief. The notion of fun never entered 231 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Mr. Sarjit's vocabulary; the transmission of knowledge is more important to him than the creation of "fun" activities. The value of reading--All four teachers believe that reading in the target language is an important component of language acquisition, although only Mr. Sarjit and Ms. Khadijah made specific references to this matter. All of them related having read in English early in their lives; reading materials they experienced ranged from story books and comics to newspapers and textbooks. Mr. Sarjit did not consider what students read to be important, whether the books were abridged or otherwise and whether written by native speakers of English or otherwise, as long as they read something in which they had an interest in order to develop good reading habits (p. 88). Ms. Khadijah believes, on the other hand, that students should read books written by native speakers of English; this belief was based on her conviction that students should be exposed to standard English (p. 119). The other two teachers in the study did not specifically state how reading was thought to be valuable although the question was asked. However, the obvious results of reading can be seen in Ms. Khadijah's and Mr. Jamil's listening and speaking classes as evidenced in their discussions of wide-ranging general interest topics such as juvenile delinquency and teenage behaviors (see Chapters 5 & 6). A knowledge, on the part of the students, 232 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • of such topics could only have come from having read, at the very least, the newspapers. The question of the relationship between the belief that reading is important and the way this belief is manifested in class, however, is still unclear. This could be due to the fact that none of these teachers was teaching the reading component; practices that are common in a reading class such as the keeping of reading journals were not manifested in these teachers' classes. Nonetheless this does not negate the necessity for these teachers to re­ evaluate and re-focus their attention on how they implement this belief in their classes. Beliefs that are merely assumed and not practiced are likely to remain invisible to their students. In a language environment in which these students are not constantly bombarded by the target language such as that available for ESL students in English-speaking countries, reading, especially of the extra-curricular type, provides a rich and an easily-obtainable store of linguistic input for the students; further, a cursory examination of the resources available in the program library revealed that valuable resources were easily accessible there. The importance of correction--Only Nr. Sarjit mentioned the importance of immediate correction of students' mistakes and as mentioned in a previous section, he did this faithfully. He feared that if mistakes were not immediately corrected 233 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • incorrect structures would remain fossilized in the students' repertoire of linguistic knowledge. Ms. Khadijah, too, expressed belief in correction but her style of correcting students was different from Mr. Sarjit's; she gathered the mistakes and discussed them together with her students. In the classes that I observed, neither Mr. Jamil nor Ms. Amal corrected their students' English. These teachers seemed to regard the communication of ideas as more important than the correction of mistakes. Indeed the professional literature indicates there are contrasting views of how frequently mistakes should be corrected (see Dulay et al, 1982). Learner-centeredness--It is not surprising in the present concern with collaborative learning and at a time when there is a recognition of the importance of students' roles in determining their own learning that many teachers consider it important to achieve a certain degree of learneir- centeredness in their classes. The concept of learner- centeredness is defined as the importance that is accorded to the learners' active participation in their own language learning and it is characterized by teachers' behaviors that facilitate and encourage the students to be responsible for carrying out the tasks that have been designed for them. Both Ms. Khadijah and Mr. Jamil were able to achieve this in their classes primarily due to the subject that they 234 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • were teaching--listening and speaking--and to their own beliefs in the interactive nature and meaning-making aspect of language. These two teachers made use of a variety of activities in the classroom such as role-playing, impromptu speeches and acting in order to effect acquisition of linguistic skills among their students. That these two teachers observed and heard their students using language in a variety of ways might inform them that, at least, some form of learning was taking place. While the classes of Ms. Khadijah and Mr. Jamil were characterized by the students taking command of most of the activities, the writing classes of both Mr. Sarjit and Ms. Amal were characterized by activities directed toward meeting the requirements of the teacher designed lessons and the syllabus. The observations of their teaching and an examination of their lesson handouts revealed that the teachers observed the dictates of the lesson. Even the classroom routines followed the order found in the lesson handout. In acknowledging the routinized nature of the lesson as a planned curriculum sequence and of patterned social activity, Prabhu (1992) made the observation that teachers need to question the protective nature of classroom routines. The protective routines of daily classroom procedures allow teachers to have control over teaching--an occupation that is often fraught with uncertainties (Lortie, 1975). Perhaps knowing that the lessons that were planned 235 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • had been completed provided some measure of comfort for Mr. Sarjit and Ms. Amal; that they were able to complete their lessons indicated the existence of some form of control they have over the vagaries of teaching. Mr. Sarjit's behavior in the grammar class seemed to fit the image of a teacher as "knower," students as "vessels," and teaching as "conduit." Rapport-building--The importance of developing rapport between students and teachers cannot be denied. Perhaps the attempts to use the terms "facilitator" or "moderator" when referring to teachers represent an effort to reduce the authoritative nature of the teachers, especially in an extremely top-down environment such as that found in a Malaysian instructional environment--an environment that still places much authority and responsibility on the teacher. Ms. Khadijah and Ms. Amal considered it necessary to achieve rapport with their students. Ms. Khadijah mentioned that she consciously designs activities that will break the ice with her students. Although she admitted that this does not usually happen in all the classes, it is still something that she strives for. Ms. Amal said that her easy-going nature made it easy for her students to approach her; she continued to say that many times her students had told her that they felt comfortable in her classes, but the limited observations I conducted provided no evidence to support 236 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • this claim. Lieberman and Miller (1991) mentioned that in the isolation of classrooms, teachers often look toward rapport and appreciation by their students as affirming their own capabilities as teachers. Consequently, teachers' ability to establish rapport with their students is indicative of students' positive evaluations of their teachers. Inherent in Mr. Jamil's own theory of learning--the MAHA theory--was the assumption that rapport between teacher and students is an important condition for learning (p. 167). The interaction between him and his students was indeed close as evidenced by the laughter that could be heard in the class during his teaching and the way they joked around with one another. Mr. Sarjit's grammar class, unlike his writing class, seemed to be very serious in nature. The teacher stood in the front of the classroom and delivered the lesson and the students stayed in their seats and listened to the teacher. There was, however, lively interaction in his writing class as teacher and students exchanged ideas and opinions about the elements of writing an essay. Language usage--"Practice makes perfect"--this is the adage often cited by Mr. Sarjit when exhorting his students to use English (p. 80). Indeed in all the classes that I visited, providing opportunities for students' use of the language 237 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • was of utmost importance to the teachers. It was inevitable, however, that not all students were able to practice the language in a one-hour or a two-hour period. Nonetheless, there is evidence within the literature that even if the students do not actively produce language, comprehensible language input in the form of teachers asking questions or giving lectures or providing explanations does assist students in acquiring linguistic forms (Krashen and Terrell, 1983). One could also say that in a not-so-rich target language environment such as the one found in Malaysia, actual oral use of the language primarily remains limited to the classroom. However, to be fair to the students, I did hear them speaking in English along the corridor as they walked to and from class. As mentioned many times previously, both Ms. Khadijah's and Mr. Jamil's classes-- whether they were listening and speaking or literature--were characterized by students' use of the language in a variety of activities for a variety of purposes such as in impromptu public speeches, role-playing, and acting. The students used the target language effectively and comfortably and did not lapse into their native language. Ms. Amal engaged her students in casual talk and Mr. Sarjit used the exercises in the lessons as a means of encouraging the students to use the language. However, the limited manner in the latter two teachers' styles of encouraging oral use of the language 238 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • represented a rather narrow interpretation of the concept of oral production in language learning. The importance of grammar---As Mr. Sarjit was the only grammar teacher I observed, it is not possible to make comparisons between him and the other teachers. I cannot say, with any degree of certainty, how the other teachers would act were they teaching a grammar class. Would they teach grammar with an exclusive focus on the rules and structure or would they design activities that would make grammar learning more meaningful and more useful for the overall acquisition of linguistic competence? Those questions remain unanswered, at least in this study. However, I was able to make connections between teachers and teaching grammar; this I have based on my observations of Mr. Sarjit's teaching and the grammar meeting he had with the other grammar teachers. In the area of teaching grammar exclusively for its structure and rules, it was clear that Mr. Sarjit wholly practiced what he believes in. His grammar class was characterized by the strict teaching of structure, for example, the different types of pronouns and the ways pronouns are used (p. 79). Use of the language by students in class was limited to use of a particular part of speech, for example selecting an appropriate adjective in making sentences. Taking turns, students dutifully made sentences 239 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • using the part of speech currently being discussed. Although there exists a base of research that indicates that the strict teaching of syntactical and morphological rules does not lead to the acquisition of linguistic competence (see Dulay at al., 1982), Mr. Sarjit still seemed to be a product of his earlier training--training that emphasized the behaviorist notion that language is a set of rules to be learned. During the grammar quiz meeting that I witnessed (7/31/93), the discussion centered around the assessment of students' acquisition of particular parts of speech (p. 77). The conclusion that could be arrived at is that grammar teaching in this program is still governed by the strict acquisition of grammatical rules and structures. Indeed the syllabus supported this view. Inhibiting and encouraging factors In the attempt to answer the third research question, "What do teachers believe to be factors that encourage and/or hinder the translation of beliefs into practices?", I asked teachers about factors that have inhibited or encouraged them to translate their beliefs into practices. Some of the constraints that these teachers had identified related more to institutional or environmental constraints rather than to any specific linguistic incapabilities of the students. 240 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Mr. Sarjit mentioned the limited exposure to English that students received outside of class as being an inhibiting factor; further it was difficult to get the students to use English extensively outside of the classroom as the surrounding environment especially at the student dormitories was not conducive to speaking in English. In addition, Mr. Sarjit mentioned that it was quite difficult to encourage students to read and develop good reading habits or for teachers to monitor theirreading habits without systematically checking whether they did so at the student dormitories. Some students mentioned that they were embarrassed about their broken English and a few others mentioned that they might be considered "show-offs" by other students if they spoke in English. This reluctance to use English orally on the part of the students has important' implications for their teachers' attempts to provide oral language practice in the classroom and for their own subsequent acquisition of the language. Ms. Khadijah called attention to heat and noise as constraints; although this related more to the environmental constraints on methodology rather than to any difficulty in translating beliefs into practices, it did impede effective listening to linguistic input from the teachers. For example, students might not be able to hear clearly the teachers' pronunciation of certain words or explanation of certain rules or structure. As an observer, I had to strain 241 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • my ears to hear the students and the teachers; and only in Mr. Jamil's class was that need minimized as he projected his voice very clearly. Mr. Sarjit also mentioned insufficient time in which to carry out his job effectively as a constraint. Several times, he lamented the fact that the grammar teachers had only been allotted a week in which to teach a particular part of speech; frequently, too, he reflected that teachers were often required to teach English and to achieve miracles in a fraction of the time that these teachers themselves had undergone the learning of English. None of these teachers, surprisingly, mentioned two common constraints that have been identified by teachers in the literature; these relate to class size and teaching load (Turner, 1992) . Perhaps this is understandable as the teachers' teaching load of 12-15 hours a week does not seem to be too heavy. Further, a class size of about 18-20 students per class does not seem to be big when compared to a typical language class of over 30 students. Another factor that was hardly mentioned was problems relating to student discipline. In all the classes I visited the students seemed to be very attentive to the teacher. An important factor that seemed to enable teachers to translate beliefs into practices fits in the domain of the teachers' personality. It appeared that Ms. Khadijah and Mr. Jamil, both of whom displayed an open and 242 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • interactive attitude towards the students and the subject matter they taught, were able to establish classroom procedures that closely reflected their beliefs. Even Mr. Sarjit was able to act on his beliefs in class as illustrated by his strict teaching of grammatical structure and correcting his students' grammatical mistakes. Ms. Amal, one of the syllabus writers, appeared to be the only one whose classroom procedures seemed to mirror closely what was on the syllabus although her practices in class were not really congruent with what she espoused during the interviews. Ernest (1989) acknowledged the disparity between espoused beliefs and enacted models of teaching. He further noted, "If the beliefs are represented in a disconnected verbal way, without rich connections to other beliefs and knowledge, only a limited basis for their enactment exists" (p. 27). This seemed to be the case with Ms. Amal. Conclusion Research on teachers' beliefs has often been plagued by difficulty in defining the term "beliefs." Invariably, various researchers have considered teachers' attitudes, perceptions, and personal knowledge about students, classrooms and the subject matter they teach to be subsumed under the umbrella term "beliefs" (Kagan, 1992a). Pajares (1992) made a point that beliefs have often travelled under 243 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • the guise of attitudes, opinions, perceptions, judgments, and axioms, to name a few. This study, too, is not exempted from the limitation imposed by definitions. I have attempted to define beliefs; however, the definitions I assigned to the term "beliefs" that I have used in this study were not arbitrarily selected. I have selected those used by researchers namely Abelson (1979) , Eisenhart et al. (1988a), and Lester (1990) . In summary, beliefs teachers hold about learning and instruction are personally-held convictions about the subject matter they teach and the students they serve. Beliefs are characterized by their non-consensual and evaluative nature and are often resistant to change. The beliefs about language learning and instruction that the teachers in this study have articulaced are generally based on formal and informal experiences in learning English although informal experiences seemed to have exerted a greater influence as evidenced by the teachers' constant references to their informal learning. The sources of their beliefs lie in experiences they encountered while initially learning English whether through formal instruction or through informal exposure. It seemed, too, that teachers made judgments about effective teaching from the way they were taught English. Mr. Sarjit who based much of his acquisition of English through learning and memorizing rules and being corrected for making mistakes 244 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • continued to teach in this manner; Mr. Jamil who was bored by learning English through memorizing rules made it a point not to do it in his own class. Ms. Khadijah who evaluated her language learning experiences as enjoyable strived hard to incorporate enjoyable activities in her class. Although the teachers in this study have varied lengths of teaching experiences, from four to 37 years, it seemed that there is still a heavy reliance on early experiences in learning English when making decisions about classroom activities. These four teachers teach as they learned. During the interviews the teachers reflected on how they were taught English. Practices that they considered to be helpful in their own acquisition of language they tried to incorporate in their own teaching, at least, in the form of advice. For example, all the four teachers acknowledged that constant language practice and reading in the target language seemed to have helped them in their acquisition of English; frequently, this was the advice that they gave to their ESL students. Beliefs also appeared resistant to change. For example, Mr. Sarjit who believed that immediate correction of incorrect structure was important continued to subscribe to that belief although there is literature that suggests that correction does not necessarily lead to linguistic competence (Dulay, et al., 1982). The researchers continue to say that correction can be used for purposes of assigning 245 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • grades and satisfying the needs of adult language learners who often feel that progress is achieved when they are being corrected. Whether Mr. Sarjit was aware of this literature remains unanswered as it was one of the questions I failed to ask during my time with him. However, it would be safe to assume his apparent neglect of this aspect of language learning as he readily admitted to not being widely read in the field. Formal theories on language learning seemed to have little direct influence on three of the teachers in this study. This has significant implications for these teachers' efforts to teach English, that is, their reluctance to explore or use formal theories about the nature of language learning and instruction will certainly have an effect on their role as ESL teacher educators. These teachers seemed to have developed their own highly personalized belief systems about language teaching and learning which have been based primarily on their own experiences as language learners. In an arena that is often full of uncertainties, it is no wonder that teachers often take refuge in their own personally-developed pedagogy. Nevertheless, teacher beliefs that are not informed by theories about language learning and instruction can lead to belief systems that are not congruent with current theories and principles about the nature of language learning and instruction. As important target language role models for 246 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • the ESL preservice teachers, these teachers need to re­ evaluate their reluctance to apply theories in their teaching. As informed teachers with rich and highly interconnected belief systems clearly related to a professional knowledge base, they would be in a better position to serve their students. 247 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • CHAPTER NINE SUMMARY. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS Summary The over-arching aim of this study was to discover the beliefs and practices of a selected group of Malaysian ESL teachers and to make connections between teachers' professed beliefs and their classroom instructional practices. The underlying assumption of this study was that beliefs are an important conceptual tool by which to consider teachers' actions in the classrooms and that indeed teachers' beliefs often influence the way they perceive, process and understand the subject matter and the students they teach. This inquiry into teachers' beliefs and practices makes no claims about generalizibility of data which is often the aim of quantitative studies. Rather, this inquiry is about the particular, and knowledge of the particular through the use of the teachers' own words and through an examination of the ways these teachers learned English and, subsequently, learned to teach English. Such personal stories can lead to an understanding that is rich and comprehensive, illustrative of potential ways of knowing, not abstract distillations based on untested propositions yet to be realized. To this end the case study method has been used; in the words of Stake (1983), "[C]ase studies feature: 248 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • descriptions that are complex, holistic, and involving a myriad of not highly isolated variables; data that are likely to be gathered at least partly by personalistic observation; and a writing style that is informal, perhaps narrative, possibly with verbatim quotation, illustration, and even allusion and metaphor" (p. 283). Further, in conceptualizing this study, my background in literature would not leave me, and I am reminded of Walt Whitman's eloquent words in a poem entitled "Leaves of Grass." His words captured, unintentionally I am sure, the essence of and reason for a case study, the method employed in this inquiry. Whitman (1865) wrote, When I heard the 1earn'd astronomer; When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me; When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them; When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick; Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars, (p. 266) Four Malaysian ESL teachers teaching in an ESL teacher education program in a large institution of higher learning in Malaysia were invited to participate in the study. Included in the design of the methodology were the interview and observation phases of the study. Each formal interview with the teachers, which was electronically-recorded and which occurred in the privacy of the teachers' own offices or the faculty resource room and conference room in the 249 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • building, lasted from one to two hours. Further, to provide substantiation for the data gathered from the interviews, the teachers were also observed during their teaching; two of the teachers, Mr. Sarjit and Mr. Jamil, were observed twice for a one-hour period each time, the other two were observed once. The fieldnotes obtained from the observations and verbatim transcriptions gathered from the interviews provided primary data for the study. Other documents such as lesson plans, lesson handouts, student journals, and syllabuses which these teachers willingly shared with me were also perused; these provided useful and pertinent sources of secondary data for the inquiry. The data set for each teacher provided data for the narrative rendition of each case study. These teachers represented some of the variety of Malaysian ESL teachers: they ranged in age from 28 to 64; their length of teaching experience went from five to 37 years; the subject matter they taught was from beginner- level listening and speaking to higher-level linguistics; three had had experience teaching in what would be characterized in the U.S. as elementary and/or high schools; all had received part of their professional training in becoming ESL teachers in English-speaking countries; and all had learned English as a second language. 250 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • In learning and acquiring English as a second language, these teachers have undergone experiences that Platt et al. (1984) have succinctly described. [C]hildren who were native speakers of various African and Asian languages acquired, in the school situation, a type of English that was already modified, that was different from the English of British or American native speakers. However, it was not only in the classroom that children learned English. They heard it from older children in the playground, on the way to school and on the way home. The English that these children acquired was good enough for talking to friends and it was particularly useful if those friends were native speakers of a language other than one's own. Even if some of the teachers called this 'broken English', it was, nevertheless, speech that served a purpose, the basic purpose of speech: that of communication with others, (p. 4) Although the above quote was made in reference to the emergence and development of new varieties of English, especially in formerly British-colonized countries, it manages to capture the essence of how the teachers who participated in this study initially learned English. Indeed the experiences that these teachers have undergone are not disimilar to my own experiences. My most vivid experience of learning the word "danger" occurred when a military helicopter whose swishing, rapidly moving blades caused my and my friends' dresses and hair to be blown, landed on the field behind my house when I was not yet in school; I remember asking a sister what "danger" meant because the word was printed in large, red letters on the rear of the helicopter. Another vivid experience happened 251 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • on my way to school when, while walking with another sister, she pointed out to me a white man in khaki shorts who was walking on the other side of the street. Repeating it several times, my sister taught me the word "stranger" and I learned it. Indeed, the learning of that particular word was reinforced in my English class that day; during the writing of the daily news I wrote that I had seen a stranger and drew his picture in my exercise book. These vivid instances of learning English provided important pieces of the linguistic puzzle that was beginning to form in the early acquisition of my second language. Although the focus of this inquiry was the examination of these ESL teachers' beliefs about language teaching and learning, it was considered necessary and even essential to include a narrative about the way these teachers experienced the initial processes of learning English. This narrative provided an illustration of the teachers' varied language learning experiences. Hence to this end, in the initial part of the case study, a section was devoted to telling the story of the teachers. In a subsequent section of the case study, I made connections between the teachers' professed beliefs and their instructional classroom practices. The case studies of the teachers were provided in Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7. A cross-case analysis of the four teachers in relation to the investigation of their beliefs and the relationship 252 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • of these beliefs to classroom practices was presented in chapter eight. Although comparisons among the teachers have been included, it was not the aim of this study to compare these teachers for evaluative purposes. Inherent in comparisons is the notion that one teacher's practices are better than another, or that one teacher's beliefs are more acceptable and valid than others. But in this case the effort was directed toward comparing in order to sharpen the distinctions rather than to evaluate successes or deficiencies. Certainly, the aim was to present significant teaching experiences. Indeed as one of my doctoral professors said to me once, it is often more important to observe the significance of the similarities than it is to observe the differences. The research questions as outlined in Chapter 1 provided a useful framework with which to summarize my findings. The questions I asked were indeed important questions to ask about teachers and about the conditions and variables in which they carry out their teaching profession. Nonetheless, the questions were but grains of sand on a beach. There are other questions that remain to be asked by other researchers in future studies. However, this study of Malaysian ESL teachers represents a beginning for a research agenda in the field of language teaching in Malaysia, and an extension of the body of literature dealing with language learning in general. Indeed, the research scene in 253 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Malaysian academic circles reflects a dearth of studies, especially of the qualitative nature such as the one represented here; this is unlike the rich research milieu of the American universities. Conclusions 1. What are the beliefs about language learning and teaching of a selected group of ESL teachers in Malaysia? Clearly the subjects in this study had beliefs about language learning and teaching which they could articulate. Frequently these beliefs were culled from their personal experiences and an evaluation of these experiences. In summary, their most salient beliefs related to the importance of learning grammar, the importance of correction, the need to make classes fun, the importance of learner-centeredness and rapport-building between teachers and students, the importance of oral usage, and the importance of reading in the target language in order to facilitate acquisition of language. Some of the beliefs directly associated with language learning were the importance of learning grammar, the importance of reading in the target language, the importance of constant oral usage of the language, and the importance of error correction. These beliefs were considered by these four teachers to be the most important. Indeed they also reflected some of the common beliefs about language learning 254 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • that would be expressed by other language teachers. However, other common beliefs and perceptions about language learning that have been identified by Horwitz (1988) such as the ease or difficulty for learners to learn a second/foreign language, the length of time needed to be proficient in a target language, or the role that learner motivation and aptitude play in language acquisition were not mentioned by these teachers. This could be directly due to the focus of this research which was on the examination of teachers' beliefs rather than students' beliefs. In a way, the beliefs these teachers held are student beliefs; several of them were formed when these teachers were learning English. As indicated in Chapter 1 in the section on defining beliefs, some of the beliefs these teachers hold reflect the non-consensual nature of beliefs. This represents an important finding of this study. Non-consensuality of beliefs was indicated by the fact that a certain belief which one teacher held was not necessarily subscribed to by or was left out of the consideration of another teacher. An example was the importance that was accorded to the learning of English grammar rules and structure as expressed by Mr. Sarjit, an aspect that was not shared by the other teachers. Another example was that three teachers shared the belief that classes should be fun while the word "fun" did not even enter into Mr. Sarjit's vocabulary. Indeed for him, the 255 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • transmission of knowledge as defined by the syllabus, was more important than the idea of creating fun in learning a language. A belief can also be formed through one's evaluation of certain events that have happened in one's life. An example of this was Mr. Jamil's belief that teachers and students must be physically active in class in order to effect a good learning environment. During a teaching observation, he noticed students falling asleep while listening to the teacher's chanting of rules. He made a point that he would not let this happen in his own classroom. He defined being physically active as the necessity for the teacher and students to be in constant motion. His students were required to act out role-play situations and simulations and were not allowed to recline comfortably or remain passive in their seats. While the focus of this study has been on identifying teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching, I should not neglect the role that values and teachers' personalities play in the expression of beliefs. For example, the value that Mr. Sarjit placed on the learning of grammar rules and structures seemed to drive his instructional practices. His strict personality seemed to be congruent with his belief that grammar rules must be learned, repeated and memorized. Ms. Khadijah's friendly and fun-loving personality seemed to lead to classroom 256 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • actions that were more relaxed and responsive to students' feelings and expectations. Because she valued the participatory and interactive nature of language learning, the activities she designed seemed to engender such instructional practices. As mentioned earlier, some of the beliefs that these teachers have expressed did not necessarily relate directly to language teaching or to the attainment of particular linguistic skills. Rather they were beliefs that were more globally related to the conditions of learning such as classroom atmosphere and teacher-student interaction which might appropriately be called pedagogical beliefs. These factors, I presume, would be factors that teachers of other subjects and even at different levels might also express. Hence although these teachers were second language teachers and were asked to relate their language beliefs, other beliefs related to teaching were also expressed, indicating perhaps, that language teaching must also not neglect the conditions and variables that make teaching a more rewarding and enriching experience. 2. To what extent are teachers' beliefs about language learning related to their classroom practices? These four teachers seemed to try, as far as possible, to apply in their classroom, practices that were congruent with their beliefs. To varying degrees they devised 257 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • language activities that related to one of their beliefs, that of language usage. Ms. Khadijah and Mr. Jamil consciously devised activities that encouraged students to engage actively in using the target language in both formal and informal situations. Mr. Sarjit encouraged students to use language by asking them to make sentences using a particular part of speech. Ms. Amal engaged students in casual talk about their daily lives and shared with them stories about her own experiences. A belief that is not easily translatable into classroom practices was the importance of reading. Since none of these teachers provided instruction for the reading component, it was perhaps understandable that no direct evidence of reading in class was found. Nonetheless the teachers found themselves advising their students to read novels and newspapers in English. However, they did not indicate that they were monitoring the students' reading habits. Mr. Sarjit who believes in the teaching of grammatical rules focussed quite substantially on this aspect in his grammar class. He also believes in correcting students' mistakes and did so immediately. Both of these beliefs related closely to his experiences when learning English in primary school and to the value he places on the strict transmission of a knowledge of rules and structures in learning a language. This behavior was not manifested in 258 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • his writing class, indicating, perhaps, that beliefs about the teaching of writing have not yet formed in Mr. Sarjit's professional instruction in writing. It could also indicate that Mr. Sarjit possessed different beliefs about teaching writing and grammar. In conclusion, working within the limitations that were often inherent in a language class, to a certain extent these teachers did display practices that were congruent with their professed beliefs. 3. What do teachers believe to be factors that encourage and/or hinder their translation of beliefs into practices? A surprising finding of research on this question was that while teachers mentioned some limitations to teaching, the limitation related more to environmental factors such as heat and noise than to students' abilities and attitudes. Understandably this condition did contribute to a less-than- comfortable environment for teaching but it did not pertain only to language teaching. However it may be more important where language production and practice requires being able to distinguish stress and intonation, voiced or voicelessness of words, and morphemes and phonemes; these would be particularly crucial in the linguistics and listening and speaking classes. A constraint that is often mentioned by language teachers is class size; this hardly seemed to be the case 259 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • for these teachers as they had only 18-20 students per class and they had teaching loads of about 12 to 15 hours per week. Furthermore, they were teaching, at the maximum, three different preparations. Implications The case studies of these four Malaysian ESL teachers provided what Stake (1984) referred to as "direct and vicarious" (p. 279) experiences of the history of these teachers' own language learning and professional experiences. An implication of this study is that the teachers represent for their students important role models of target language speakers. In light of this factor, the teachers must be aware that these students are undergoing an apprenticeship for teaching English and that teachers' practices in the classroom represent an important template for these preservice teachers. A personal evaluation of their beliefs in relation to their practices could bring about a re-focussing and a reflection on their own teaching. In addition, conditions that prevailed during the time two of these teachers, Mr. Sarjit and Ms. Khadijah, learned English no longer prevail in the present era. One of the most important conditions related to the language of instruction in school; the students of these teachers went to school when English was no longer the medium of instruction. To these students English was merely another 260 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • subject to be learned and not the medium by which other subjects were learned. Hence exposure to the target language must be consciously provided for these students, especially in a second language environment. Dulay et al. (1982), when making a comparison between a host language environment such as learning English in the United States and second or foreign language environment such as learning English in Malaysia, asserted that, "The foreign language classroom situation...usually affords little opportunity to discuss matters of interest to the students. Instead, focus is typically on the formal aspects of the language being learned" (p. 15-16). That was clearly the case for Mr. Sarj it. Related to the creation of a target language environment in the classrooms is the need for the teachers to realize that they have a decided advantage over their students. The fact is that these teachers had spent part of their professional education immersed in the target language culture which played an important role in their acquisition of English. This opportunity allowed the teachers to acquire language in a natural setting through natural exposure; this opportunity does not seem to be available for their preservice students. One might presume that realization of this obstacle to their students' acquisition of English would lead teachers to create a learning 261 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • environment that simulates closely the conditions of a target language environment. The importance of reading in facilitating language learning and acquisition cannot be ignored especially in light of the teachers' beliefs about this aspect. Although the four teachers professed to believe in the importance of reading in helping the students' acquisition of English, they seemed to provide few opportunities for students to read in their own classrooms. Reading and the keeping of reading logs should not only be confined to the reading component; rather it has to be a concerted effort by all the teachers to constantly expose their students to the variety of reading materials that are available both in the library and from other sources. An evaluation of their beliefs and practices in class could and should be carried out by these teachers in order to provide them with a better understanding of how reading could be incorporated in their classes, even within the limitations of a grammar class or a writing class. An auxiliary finding of this study that seems quite disconcerting is that these teachers, except for Ms. Khadijah who has earned a doctoral degree, showed a disregard for current ESL methods for teaching English that prevail in the literature. They admitted quite frankly that they hardly read articles on theories of language learning that are hotly debated in the field. They depended on their 262 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • experiences in order to devise and plan instructional activities. While personal experiences are important, unsupported by theories and principles of the nature of language learning and teaching, they failed to provide a coherent set of teaching practices. It suggests that teachers and educators of teachers have to reflect on this hesitancy to acquaint themselves with research and must not remain cocooned in the protective comfort of routinized classroom procedures. It also suggests that the plethora of methods and approaches often extolled by researchers and available to the teachers seems to be in constant flux. Indeed the history of the field, at least in the twentieth century, has often indicated the prevalence of one method or approach superceding another at various times (Celce-Murcia, 1991; Bowen, Madsen & Hilferty, 1985). Closely related to these teachers' apparent neglect of formal theories in their teaching is the lack of an environment in which teachers can professionally reflect on their practice. During my informal conversations with some faculty members, they mentioned meeting and talking with each other, especially during the morning and lunch breaks; however, these conversations remained limited to casual talk about some students or the daily frustrations of teaching. None of the discussions related to the enhancement of professional knowledge; teachers appeared to remain isolated in their professional practice. This environment supported 263 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • what Lieberman and Miller (1991) referred to as one of the informal rules of thumb of teaching that are often tacitly- acknowledged by teachers, i.e., "be private" (p. 98). According to these authors, "By following the privacy rule, teachers forfeit the opportunity to display their successes; but they also gain. They gain the security of not having to face their failures publicly and losing face" (p. 99). Related to the above was the reluctance on the part of the syllabus writers to prescribe teaching methods for fear of offending similarly-qualified colleagues. Although this fear might be unfounded, it would benefit the teachers to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and have open discussions regarding the host of available methods and approaches to teaching ESL. Knowledge about new theories or about the reconceptualizing of old theories might energize them and might encourage them to reflect on their practices. A finding that has serious and important implications for these teachers is their strict adherence to the curriculum and syllabi. The syllabus for each component such as writing or reading was written by a team of teachers. When designing the syllabus for each component, the syllabus writers often referred to various textbooks on a particular subject, to past experiences, and to strengths and weaknesses in the syllabi of previous semesters. The overall guide to the design of each syllabus still seemed to focus directly on the cognitive skills students were 264 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • required to learn for a particular subject in a particular semester. During the interviews, the four teachers acknowledged the importance of the syllabi in maintaining standards and in providing students with equal opportunities to perform in the examinations. They also admitted the role the syllabi played in guiding their instructional practices. Instead of focussing on student needs and requirements, the syllabi serve to maintain the norms of standard practices. Hence it is interesting to note that for these teachers, the curriculum as well as the teachers' belief systems played an important role in guiding their instructional practices. •In conclusion, it is important for second language teachers to constantly examine and question their beliefs, especially in relation to the theories and principles of current best practices in language learning and teaching. The absence of such reflection may compel teachers to take comfort in the protective routines of daily teaching. Teachers must not remain entrenched in their practices and must always seek new and challenging ways in which to reinvigorate their teaching practices, thus becoming better teachers. Final Reflections This study was begun, in large measure, because of my own discomfort with what I considered to be my own beliefs about language teaching and the practices that I had carried 265 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • out in my classes. The reflection revealed that, while I believed in one thing about language teaching, for example the importance of constant exposure to the target language to aid in acquisition, I did not follow in my classroom procedures the dictates of my own personal conviction. I remained secure in the knowledge that I was completing the syllabus and following faithfully the exercises in the textbooks; and if students did not get it, it was a matter of their own aptitude and personality rather than my teaching. This reflection, too, led to the conceptualization of this study. It seems the persons studied were not like me. Although they appeared to adhere to the syllabi, they also exhibited greater independence; however, their independence was not always disciplined by consistent, attentive planning--planning that would optimize themselves as teachers and their students as language learners. In many ways, by telling the teachers' stories and by using their own words in the narratives, these teachers have provided some answers to my questions. I have found in them a caring and dedicated group of teachers whose classes were characterized by a good rapport and interaction between them and their students. They indeed provided the only language environment and meaningful target language models that their preservice students and future ESL teachers for Malaysian schools crucially need at this stage. 266 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Questions remain about the ultimate value and sufficiency of the approaches used by the respondents of this study. A wider sample is also needed. Are these characteristics of Malaysian ESL teachers or are they shared by persons with widely different backgrounds? This research has just primed the pump. There are many more questions to be raised and answered. In addition, a critical gap exists in the area of beliefs about English language learning and teaching on the part of persons learning to become ESL teachers. 267 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • References Abelson, R., (1979). Differences Between Beliefs and Knowledge Systems. Cognitive Science. Vol. 3, 355- 366. Asher, J., (1977). Learning Another Language Through Action: The Complete Teacher's Guidebook. Sky Oaks Productions: Los Gatos, CA. Becker, J.R., & Pence, B.J., (July, 1990). Teachers' Beliefs and Classroom Practices. Paper presented at the Fourteenth International PME Conference, Mexico. Blair, R.W., (1991). Innovative Approaches. In M. Celce- Murcia (Ed) Teaching English as a Second Language. Second edition. Heinle & Heinle Publishers: Boston, MA. Bowen, J.D., Madsen, H., & Hilferty, A., (1985). TESOL: Techniques and Procedures. Newbury House Publishers: Cambridge, MA. Celce-Murcia, M., (February, 1985). Making Informed Decisions about the Role of Grammar in Language Teaching. TESOL Newsletter. Vol. 19 (1), 1, 4-5. Celce-Murcia, M., (Autumn 1991). Grammar Pedagogy in Second and Foreign Language Teaching. TESOL Quarterly. Vol. 25 (3), 459-480. Celce-Murcia, M., (1991). Language Teaching Approaches: An Overview. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed) Teaching English as a 268 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Second Language. Second Edition. Heinle & Heinle Publishers: Boston, MA. Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M., (1987) Teachers' Personal Knowledge: What Counts as "Personal" in Stories of the Personal. Journal of Curriculum Studies. Vol. 19 (6), 487-500. Clark, C., (1988) . Asking the Right Questions about Teacher Preparation: Contributions of Research on Teacher Thinking. Educational Researcher. Vol. 17, 5-12. Clark, C., & Peterson, P., (1986). Teachers' Thought Processes. In Merlin C. Wittrock (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Teaching. Macmillan Publishing Company: New York. Curran, C., (1976). Counseling-Learning in Second Languages. Apple River Press: Apple River, IL. Dobson, R. L., & Dobson, J. E. (Winter, 1983). Teacher Belief-Practice Congruency. Journal of School of Education. Indiana University, Vol. 59 (1), 20-27. Dulay, H., Burt, M., & Krashen, S., (1982). Language Two. Oxford University Press: New York. Edwards, J., (1985). Language, Society, and Identity. Basil Blackwell: Oxford, England. Eisenhart, M. , Cuthbert, A., Shrum, J., & Harding, J., (1988a). Teacher Beliefs about Their Work Activities: Policy Implications. Theory Into Practice. Vol. 27 (2), 137-144. 269 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Eisenhart, M., Shrum, J., Harding, J., & Cuthbert, A., (1988b)- Teacher Beliefs: Definitions, Findings, and Directions. Educational Policy. Vol. 2 (1), 51-70. Elbaz, F., (1981). The Teacher's "Practical Knowledge": Report of a Case Study. Curriculum Inquiry. Vol. 11 (1), 43-71. Erickson, F., (1986). Qualitative Methods in Research on Teaching. In Merlin C. Wittrock (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Teaching. Macmillan Publishing Company: New York. Ernest, P., (1989). The Knowledge, Beliefs and Attitudes of the Mathematics Teacher: a Model. Journal of Education for Teaching. Vol. 15 (1), 13-33. Fenstermacher, G., (1979). A Philosophical Consideration of Recent Research on Teacher Effectiveness. In Lee S. Shulman (Ed.) Review of Research in Education. F. E. Peacock Publishers: Itaska, IL. Gattegno, C., (1972). Teaching Foreign Language in Schools: The Silent Way. Educational Solutions: New York. Grant, C. A., & Secada, W. G., (1990) Preparing Teachers for Diversity. In W. R. Houston (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Teacher Education. Macmillan Publishing Company: New York. Hammerly, H., (1985). An Integrated Theory of Language Teaching and its Practical Consequences. Second Language Publications: Blaine, WA. 270 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Hammersley, M. , & Atkinson, P., (1983). Ethnography: Principles in Practice. Routledge: London. Hollingsworth, S., (1989). Prior Beliefs and Cognitive Change in Learning to Teach. AERJ, Vol. 26 (2), 160-189. Horwitz, E. K., (1985). Using Beliefs about Language Learning and Teaching in the Foreign Language Methods Course. Foreign Language Annals. Vol. 18 (14), 333-340. Horwitz, E. K., (Autumn, 1988). The Beliefs about Language Learning of Beginning University Foreign Language Students. The Modern Language Journal. Vol. 72 (3), .283-294. Howatt, A. P. R., (1984). History of English Language Teaching. Oxford University Press: Oxford. Interim Syllabus. (1993). TESL Matriculation Program. Shah Alam, Malaysia. Johnson, K., (1989). The Theoretical Orientations of English as a Second Language Teachers: The Relationship between Beliefs and Practices. Unpublished dissertation, Syracuse University, Syracuse. Kagan, D., (1992a). Implications of Research on Teacher Beliefs. Educational Psychologist. Vol. 27 (1), 65-90. Kagan, D., (1992b). Professional Growth Among Preservice and Beginning Teachers. Review of Educational Research. Vol. 62 (2), 129-169. 271 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Kloosterman, P., & Stage, F.K., (March, 1989). Measuring Beliefs about Mathematical Problem Solving. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco. Krashen, S.D., & Terrell, T. (1983). The Natural Approach. Allemany Press: Hayward, CA. Larsen-Freeman, D., (1986). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford University Press: New York. Lasley, T.J., (July-August 1980). Preservice Teacher Beliefs about Teaching. Journal of Teacher Education. Vol. 21 (4), 38-41. Lester, F., (1990). Influence of Teachers' Beliefs. Unpublished manuscript, Indiana University. Lieberman, A., & Miller, L., (1991). Revisiting the Social Realities of Teaching. In A. Lieberman & L. Miller (Eds.) Staff Development in the Nineties: New Demands. New Realities. New Perspectives. Teachers College Press: New York. Lincoln, Y.S., & Guba, E.G. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Sage Publications: Newbury Park, CA. Lortie, D., (1975). Schoolteacher. University of Chicago Press: Chicago. Lozanov, G., (1978). Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedy. Gordon and Breach Science Publishers: New York. 272 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Merriam, S.B., (1988). Case Study Research in Education: A Qualitative Approach. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco. Munby, H., (1984). A Qualitative Approach to the Study of a Teachers' Beliefs. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Vol. 21, 27-38. Murphy, J., (1985). Assessing Ethnic Beliefs Beforehand. Foreign Language Annals. Vol. 18 (3), 225-230. Nespor, J., (1987). The Role of Beliefs in the Practice of Teaching. Journal of Curriculum Studies. Vol.19 (4), 317-328. Noor, A.M., (1986). A study of National Education Policy at the University Level in Malaysia from 1963-84: Change and Development. Unpublished dissertation, Indiana University, Bloomington. Pajares, M. Frank, (Fall, 1991). Teachers' Beliefs and Educational Research: Cleaning Up a Messy Construct. Review of Educational Research. Vol. 62 (3), 307-332. Pennycook, A., (1989). The Concept of Method, Interested Knowledge, and the Politics of Language Teaching. TESOL QUARTERLY. Vol. 23 (4), 589-618. Platt, J., Weber, H., & Ho, M. , (1984) The New Englishes. Routledge and Kegan Paul: London. Prabhu, N.S., (Summer, 1992). The Dynamics of the Language Lesson. TESOL Quarterly. Vol. 26 (2), 225-241. Prabhu, N.S., (1990). There is No Best Method-Why? TESOL Quarterly. Vol. 21 (2), 161-176. 273 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Prator, C., (1991). Cornerstones of Method and Names for the Profession. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed) Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. Second Edition. Heinle & Heinle Publishers: Boston, MA. Richards, J.C., (1984). The Secret Life of Methods. TESOL QUARTERLY. Vol. 1 (18), 7-23. Richards, J.C., & Rodgers, T., (1982). Method: Approach, Design, and Procedure. TESOL QUARTERLY. Vol. 16 (2), 153-168. Shavelson. R.J., & Stern, P., (1981). Research on Teachers' Pedagogical Thoughts: Judgments, Decisions, Behaviors. The Rand Paper Series, Rand Corporation; Santa Monica, CA. Sinclair, J., (1985). Selected Issues. In R. Quirk & H. Widdowson (Eds.) English in the World: Teaching and Learning the Language and Literatures. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, London. Stake, R., (1983). The Case Study Method in Social Inquiry. In Stufflebeam, G. Madaus, & M. Scriven (Eds.) Evaluation Models: Viewpoints on Educational and Human Services Evaluation. Kluwer-Nijhoff: Boston, MA. Turner, M., (1992). English Teachers in the Classroom: How Can Research Inform Practice? Unpublished dissertation, Indiana University. Whitman, W., (1865). Leaves of Grass. In M. Van Doren (Ed) The Portable Walt Whitman. The Viking Press, New York. 274 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • A P P E N D IX A 275 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Habibah Ashari, Campus View # 828, Bloomington, IN 47406, U.S.A. June 25, 1993. Dear Friends and Colleagues, Greetings from Bloomington, Indiana! I trust that this letter will find you in the best of health and in the midst of intense preparation for a new academic year. Before I state the purpose and intention of this letter, I am sure that those who know me would like to know how my family and I are doing in Bloomington. We are all fine here, and as usual busy with academic work. Kieran will take six credits in the Fall semester to complete his Masters' degree in Applied Linguistics. Adam has just completed a year of kindergarten and will enter the first grade in August. He is looking forward to attending a full day of school instead of just a half day. Aida will be 4 years old soon, and is very active in ballet. We hope that she can continue with her ballet classes in Malaysia. I have completed almost all of my academic requirements such as coursework and qualifying examinations, and have recently successfully defended my dissertation proposal. The only things left for me to do are to carry out the research, analyze the data collected, write, and defend the dissertation. This is the point where my dear friends and colleagues come in. I have enclosed with this letter a copy of my dissertation abstract which could give you a better picture of the kind of research I would like to carry out. I am looking for six ESL teachers who are interested and willing to participate in my research study. The research procedures will include personal and group interviews with the participants, and observations of participants' classroom teaching. The purpose of the research study is to discover what ESL teachers' language beliefs are, and the relationship of those beliefs to instructional practices. The study is in no sense judgmental or evaluative. I am interested in carrying out a conversation with teachers in order for us to examine our own practices as teachers. Potential benefits will include self-satisfaction in having participated in what I believe to be a worthwhile study, and self-knowledge in the articulation and examination of your beliefs and practices as ESL teachers. I will be arriving in Malaysia on the 28th. of July, and I hope to see you all as soon as I arrive. I have the whole month of August and one week in September to carry out the research. I am forwarding the whole package to _______________ who will receive a separate letter from me. I hope that I can find enough people to participate in the study. Thank you in advance for your time and interest. With warm regards, 276 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • AP P E N D IX B 277 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • IUB INFORMED CONSENT STATEMENT PROJECT TITLE: AN INVESTIGATION OF THE BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF MALAYSIAN TEACHERS OF ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE (ESL) You are invited to participate in a research study. The purpose of this study is to discover English as a second language(ESL) teachers' beliefs about language learning and teaching, and to find out whether teachers' beliefs are congruent with their classroom practices. The study will involve observation and interviews. If you decide to participate in the study, you will be observed two (2) times in your classroom, and interviewed four (4) times. The length of observation will depend on your class period for that particular day. The researcher will tape-record and write field notes during the observation period. The interviews will take place outside of the classroom. Each interview session is expected to last from one (1) to one and a half (1 1/2) hours. The interviews will be tape-recorded. Field notes will also be taken during the interviews. All tape-recordings will be transcribed by the researcher. Narratives based on the field notes will also be written. You will be given the opportunity to listen to the tape-recording and read the transcriptions and narratives in order to clarify, modify, and affirm what you have said to the researcher. The information from this study will be used to write a doctoral dissertation and possibly some articles. No one will be indentified individually in any of the writing. Your real name will not be used. Tapes used by the researcher will be destroyed when the dissertation is written and approved by the research committee. If you have any questions at any time during the study, or if you experience any uneasiness as a result of participating in the study, you may contact the researcher: Habibah Ashari. Campus View # 82 8. Bloomington. IN 47406. Tel, ft 812-857-7396. In Malaysia, you may contact the researcher at No l. Jalan 2/6. 40000 Shah Alam. Selangor. Malaysia. Tel # 03-5596022. If you have any questions about your rights as a subject, you may contact the office for the Human Subjects Committee. Brvan Hall-Room 10. Indiana University. Bloomington. IN 47405. Tel. # 812-855-3067. Potential benefits of participating in this study include self- satisfaction in having participated in a worthwhile study. Another is self-knowledge and articulation of your own beliefs about language learning and their relationship to classroom practices. subject's initials 278 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • Taking part in this study is voluntary. You may decide not to take part without penalty and without loss of benefits. If you decide to participate, you may withdraw at any time without penalty and without loss of benefits. If you withdraw from the study prior to its completion your data will be returned to you or destroyed. I have read and understand the above information. I have received a copy of this form. I agree to participate in this study. Subject's signature____________________________________ Date. Investigator's signature______________________________ Date. 279 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • A P P E N D IX C 280 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 1. Tell me about yourself: first language learning experiences academic background early schooling teaching experiences 2. How did you learn English? 3.' What was the medium of instruction when you went to school? 4. Howwere you taughtEnglish? Reading? Writing? 5. Did you speak Englishat home? What kinds of encouragement did you receive at home? 6. What kinds of reading materials were you exposed to? Books, comics, newspapers? 7. How did you feel about learning English? Was it important to you? 8. How did you learn to teach English? What kind of methods classes did you have? 9. Didany method have a significant impact on you? Did any instructor have a significant impact on you? What were the things that influenced you most about your formal pedagogical training? 10. Can you tell me about ESL methods that you are familiar with? 11. Do you have any method that you like? Why do you like it? To what extent have the method(s) influenced your own teaching? 12. Could you tell me your beliefs about language learning and teaching? What are they based on? Have your beliefs changed over the years? 13. What is your idea or conception of an ideal language class? In what situations do you think students learn best? 14. How do you incorporate your beliefs into your classroom practices? Are there any constraints? 15. How do you see your role as a teacher? Do you have any frustrations as a language teacher? What are your happy moments? 281 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • A P P E N D IX D 282 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • SUMMARY REPORT OF REFLECTION During data-collection, I kept a journal in which I recorded the daily events of that period. Entries included information about whose class I observed and which teacher I interviewed in a particular day. I also incorporated information of what other non-participant teachers said when I was with them in the faculty lounge enjoying our coffee or lunch. Frequently, information pertained to some memos or directives that teachers had received from the administration or discussions about students. Invariably negative or positive reactions to the memos or students were expressed by the teachers. Occasionally a teacher would point out that they should not be saying things in front of me because I was a former coordinator at the program. However, I kept reminding them that I was there to carry out my research and not to pass value judgments on them. Sometimes I was also an informal observer at component meetings which occurred in the faculty lounge. Some of my entries were sketchy while others were quite extensive. What struck me most during my sojourn with the program was how easily and readily the teachers took me into their fold.. Although many of the teachers had experienced working with me when I was a coordinator at the program, I was surprised by the fact that they included me in their conversations and revealed things to me that they would never have expressed before. I obtained insights into their lives as teachers and and was touched that they looked upon me as a friend. When I was there I had to remind myself constantly that I was there to tell the stories of the four participant teachers and that I was not there to evaluate their performances as ESL teachers. Most times I was successful because I was able to put myself in their shoes. I am an ESL teacher and problems or pecularities that they encountered in the classrooms or with the administration were those I had experienced. In brief, I was able to empathize with them. Nonetheless, my empathy with them did not necessarily blind me to some teaching practices that did not seem to be effective in gaining students' attention or interest. It also made me aware of practices that were effective that I had not been conscious of before. During data analysis and writing of the cases, I frequently referred to the journal as a means of obtaining data and to refresh my memory about events that happened while I was at the site. That was, on reflection, a major contribution of the journal. 283 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
  • VITA Habibah Ashari was born in Pontian, Johore, Malaysia on the 23rd of October, 1957. She received her primary education at the Tengku Mahmood Iskandar School and her secondary education at Sekolah Sri Perhentian, Pontian and Sultan Ibrahim Girls' School in Johore Bahru. She earned her bachelor's degree in English and Chinese Studies from the University of Malaya in 1979. Upon graduation she began teaching English at the Institut Teknologi MARA (ITM), Malaysia. In 1982, she was awarded a scholarship by ITM to carry out her master's program at Indiana University. Habibah graduated with a master's degree in Applied Linguistics in 1984 and returned to Malaysia to continue teaching English at ITM. In 1988, she was appointed coordinator of the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Program. After two years with the program, Habibah was awarded another scholarship by ITM to carry out her doctoral studies in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at Indiana University. Simultaneously she received the Indiana University Overseas Fellowship award. Habibah began her doctoral program in the Fall of 1990. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.