RP Reading Club

My friend and colleague, Zhenya Polosatova, has posted an explanation of the RP Reading Club on her blog Wednesday Seminars which you can find at https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com
[For some reason my live links aren’t working. When I figure out how the live links work, I’ll change that.]

Last week Zhenya posted her first response to the following article:

Teacher Training, Development, and Decision Making: A Model of Teaching and Related Strategies for Language Teacher Education, by Donald Freeman
TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 1 (27-45)

Here’s my response to the same article.

I remember the first time I heard about “KASA.” I was applying to the SMAT program (summer Master’s of Arts in Teaching) at SIT (now SIT Graduate Institute) and a friend who was an alumnus of SIT advised me to “ say something about your knowledge, skills, attitude, and awareness.” And so I used those words, even though I didn’t have a deep understanding of what they signified. I must have made some sense however, because I was accepted into the program. Since then I’ve developed an appreciation, and deeper understanding, of the usefulness of framing learning and teaching in terms of KASA. This figure from the article helps me to see how the aspects work together. The “moving part” between the elements in this model is decision making.

Figure1Freeman article

(This figure is on page 36 of the article.)

Quotable quotes
“First, change does not necessarily mean doing something differently; it can mean a change in awareness. Change can be an affirmation of current practice…”

One of my beliefs is that changing one thing in your teaching can have a big impact on your practice as a whole, but this quote reminds me that even a simple shift in awareness can be a change because you gain a new perspective and affirm your current practice. Perhaps clarifying another reason why your current practice is effective could be a useful goal for reflective practice?

“…the outcome [of language teaching] is clear, but the process is not.” “…there is only a hazy grasp of the actual language-teaching performance that results in successful language learning.”

This is a very honest admission from a language teacher educator. Since this article was published in 1989 has the process of learning languages become clearer? Are we a lot closer to understanding how languages are learned? Recent brain-based research has given us more insight, but I’m not sure that we as teachers are still completely clear on what it is that we do that helps our students learn language.

“Blurring the distinction between language teaching itself and the areas of inquiry on which it is based (e.g., applied linguistics, second language acquisition research, or methodology) leads to two major misconceptions that have often jeopardized the success of language teacher education.”

1st misconception – language teacher education is transmission of knowledge about applied linguistics and language acquisition and skills in methodology
2nd misconception – “…transmission of knowledge will lead to effective practice.”

One of the key questions in this article is “What makes good teaching? What makes teaching good?” If knowledge of linguistics and the rules of language doesn’t lead to effective teaching, then what is it that makes teaching good? I read recently (and can’t find the source right now) that a teacher’s confidence is based on knowledge of their subject matter. If the above misconception is true (i.e. that the transmission of knowledge doesn’t lead to effective practice) does that mean that if a teacher is confident in their knowledge that their confidence is misplaced?