Exploring Prospective EFL Teachers' Beliefs About Teachers and Teaching Through Metaphor Analysis

Exploring Prospective EFL Teachers' Beliefs About Teachers and Teaching Through Metaphor Analysis

Anıl Rakıcıoğlu-Söylemez (Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey), Ayşe Selmin Söylemez (Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University, Turkey) and Amanda Yeşilbursa (Bursa Uludağ University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8583-1.ch008
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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 the end of a ten-week practicum course. A total of 110 Turkish prospective EFL teachers voluntarily participated in the study. Data was collected using 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 revealed that the variation in beliefs and practices mainly derived from individual experiences with 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 primary aim of teacher education departments is to provide the necessary circumstances for prospective teachers (henceforth, PTs) to access professional learning opportunities. Therefore, it is essential 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, & Vermunt, 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 the 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) and stressed that our conceptual system is essentially 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). Given that and that metaphor analysis may 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.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teaching Self: Student teachers’ role as a prospective teacher in the teaching practice context.

Teaching: PTs’ beliefs about the purposes and actions of teaching and reflection on the concept as a profession.

Prospective EFL Teacher: Student teacher enrolled in a four-year degree program specializing in English language teaching.

Practice Teaching: Ten-week course in which PTs make observations and conduct micro/macro teaching sessions in the cooperating schools.

Teachers: Professionals who are performing the teaching action in schools during the practice teaching context.

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