EFL TPACK: The Theory

EFL TPACK: The Theory

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6267-2.ch006


This chapter focuses on EFL teachers' TPACK. First, the types of knowledge that are important in pedagogy and how these categories of knowledge and their related frameworks can differentiate models of teacher education are discussed. In the following, some models of teacher education, their characteristics, and their differences and similarities are introduced. Then the rationale of developing EFL TPACK to subsume standard TPACK is discussed and the need to EFL TPACK is addressed. The rationale includes two important characteristics of EFL teachers that can impact the use and adaptation of technology in the process of teaching: computer attitudes and ICT literacy. How these two constructs are important in empowering a teacher to use ICT in instruction and how they can hinder technology-based teaching and learning are discussed. Some related models and constructs associated with these two attributes are described as well. In the last part, the construct EFL TPACK is comprehensively introduced and each component is described in detail and support/evidence from the literature is provided.
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The instruction of EFL by a nonnative English-speaking teacher, who is also a language learner and does not speak English as naturally and idiomatically as natives do, leads to scarcity of exposure to authentic learning environments. Due to this limitation, effective communication (mainly in the process of listening and speaking) in EFL is only possible with the aid of technological tools and resources. This makes TPACK a major part of EFL teachers’ professional development (Li, Liu, Liu, Yu, Li, & Wen, 2014).

With the variety of unbounded Internet resources available for learners in today’s digital world, to use or not to use technology is no longer considered an important question for EFL teachers (Harris & Hofer, 2010); rather, it is the issue of teachers’ competency in ICT integration that is worth discussing. That is to say that the effectiveness of language teaching and learning is decided by successful technology integration, especially in a non-English speaking environment (Chapelle, 2009).

According to research, utilizing technology with high TPACK levels for the purpose of EFL instruction can help solve the problems of big size classes. Having sufficient ICT competency, EFL teachers can easily individualize students’ learning using e-portfolios and also facilitate communication between teacher-students and among students. In short, knowledge of technology plays an inevitably crucial role in EFL teaching, without which effective communication is actually impossible (Lui, Liu, Yu, Li, & Wen, 2014).

Different Types of Knowledge

Different terms have been used to address knowledge of teachers such as input, knowledge, skill, and competency (Rahimi, 2008). Knowledge, however, is the most frequently used technical word in teacher education domain to define the underlying constructs of teaching and/or its related competencies and behavior.

Knowledge can be simply defined as the information, skills, and understanding that one has gained through learning or experience or the body of information possessed by a person or, by extension, by a group of persons or a culture (Reber, 1995). Defining knowledge, how it is going to be transferred, and how it is implemented in certain areas of human domains of activity such as teaching and learning, however, is certainly related to philosophical, epistemological, ontological, and psychological arenas of a community. For instance, based on philosophical beliefs of positivism, the value of knowledge is in its objectivity and a single piece of reality exists in the world around us that is worth knowing. Generally the emphasis of knowledge transfer in this framework is on what can be observed outside the entity of a human being or what is called behavior. The internal aspect of people, their mind and the way it can be used in internalizing knowledge is totally neglected. Knowledge, skill, or competence is then defined as desired behaviors (habits) and the knowledge is transferred through mechanisms of habit formation through instruction.

On the other hand, based on interpretive and humanistic philosophy, subjective information is worth attention and multiple realities exist in the world around us. Constructivist psychology emphasizes the way people use their construction system to interpret the world and what exists in it. People’s personal experiences with the world shape their knowledge and thus lots of realities can be defined and internalized considering the number of people who live on the planet. In this framework, people and their experiences have a great role in shaping the knowledge and then transferring it to other people. In this way, the context of living and working and the people around get special attention in defining what knowledge is. In this sense, knowledge is a cultural system, rather than a universal recognition of sensible practice (Geertz, 1983, as cited in Toole, 2011).

Considering teaching/learning issues, certain types of knowledge are documented to have greater role in academia. The ones that seem to be related to knowledge base of learning and teaching are:

  • Tacit and/or explicit;

  • Individual and/or collective, and;

  • Declarative and/or procedural.

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