Exploring Prospective EFL Teachers' Beliefs about Teachers and Teaching through Metaphor Analysis

Exploring Prospective EFL Teachers' Beliefs about Teachers and Teaching through Metaphor Analysis

Anil Rakicioglu-Soylemez (Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey), Ayse Selmin Soylemez (Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey) and Amanda Yesilbursa (Uludag University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9471-2.ch014
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This study aimed to explore prospective EFL teachers' metaphors of “teachers, teaching” and “being a prospective EFL teacher” at the beginning and end of a ten-week practicum course. A total of 110 Turkish prospective EFL teachers voluntarily participated in the study. Data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews and metaphor-elicitation forms. Results lead to three major conclusions. First, the participants' prior beliefs about the role of an EFL teacher and teaching were affected by their previous experiences as language learners. Second, although the content analysis of the metaphors revealed a limited change throughout the practicum experience, the analysis of the interviews showed the dynamic nature of beliefs held by the prospective teachers. Finally, data analysis of the interviews showed that the variation in beliefs and practices mainly derived from individual experiences with the mentoring practices of the cooperating teachers and the socio-professional context of the practicum school.
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Teacher education programs face challenges in training highly motivated and competent teachers. The major aim of teacher education departments is to provide the necessary circumstances for prospective teachers (henceforth, PTs) to access professional learning opportunities. Therefore, it is important to identify the development of teaching motivations throughout the initial teacher education (ITE) experiences of the PTs (Rots, Kelchtermans & Aelterman, 2012). A number of motivational sources for PTs to enter teaching profession are listed in the literature (see, e.g., Sinclair, 2008). Field experience in particular has a notable effect on PTs’ professional learning experiences (Roness & Smith, 2010; Sinclair, 2008).

These experiences of PTs have been addressed in a number of ways in terms of data collection techniques, such as self-narratives (e.g., Dyson, 2007; Ruohotie-Lyhty, 2013), journals (e.g., Appel, 1995; Bailey, 1990; Numrich, 1996), in-depth interviews (e.g., Borg, 2006; Cheng, Cheng, & Tang, 2010) and classroom observations (e.g., Mattheoudakis, 2007). Metaphor analysis has also been widely used in mainstream and language teaching studies both internationally (see, e.g. Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004; Ellis, 1998; Farrell, 2007) and in the Turkish context (see, e.g., Eren & Tekinarslan, 2012; Saban, Koçbeker & Saban; 2006, 2007; Saban, 2010; Yeşilbursa, 2012; Yeşilbursa & Sayar, 2014).

These studies are based on the notion of metaphor as a cognitive process, rather than the traditional view of metaphor as ornamental use of language in the literary sense (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Marchant, 1992). According to Lakoff and Johnson (1980), metaphor is a means of understanding new concepts with reference to familiar ones and ‘is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action’ (p. 3). Thus Lakoff and Johnson (1980) stressed the fact that our conceptual system is mainly metaphorical in nature. Given that, as Nespor (1987) pointed out ‘to understand teaching from teachers’ perspectives we have to understand the beliefs with which they define their work’ (p. 323). Thus, metaphor analysis has the potential to provide a ‘comprehensive picture which reveals how PTs envision their teaching-related future’ (Eren &Tekinarslan, 2012, p. 435), we considered it to be a suitable approach to adopt in the current study.

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