ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY
ILAM SCIENCE AND RESEARCH BRANCH
Thesis for Receiving M.A. Degree on English Language Teaching
English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
Iranian Kurdish-Speaking High School Students’ Beliefs about English Language Teachers and Learners
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Language learners come to educational contexts with preconceived beliefs about different aspects of language teaching and learning. These perceptions are not clear and concrete enough to language teachers and even the language learners themselves. In line with the change and increase in the direction of the qualitative studies conducted on beliefs elicited by use of metaphors all around the world, the present study aims at investigating the metaphorical reflections about language teachers’ and language learners’ roles by a group of Iranian Kurdish-Speaking high school students learning English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) as their third language in a local context in Ilam, in western Iran. To this end, modified metaphor elicitation questionnaires as well as complementary short interviews were administered to a convenient sample of 86 participants. Using content analysis, the metaphorical expressions collected via completion of the metaphor prompts were structured into dominant thematic categories in terms of language teachers’ roles and language learners’ roles for further analysis. The metaphors were also examined to determine whether they fit into the roles assigned to language teachers and learners in the design of current language teaching and learning methods. Generally, the results revealed that the metaphorical images were in the same line with other previous studies. In addition, the elicited metaphors were comparatively for and against the proposed roles for EFL teachers and learners in educational settings. There were also several pedagogical implications for language teachers and language teacher educators and language education programs as well as suggestions for further investigations.
Keywords: Metaphor, EFL, Teacher’s Role, Learner’s Role, Method of Language Learning and Teaching, High School Student, Iran
Exploration of what language learners bring to educational contexts particularly the language classroom environment according to Wan, Low and Li (2011) is extremely important for monitoring and improving various aspects of language learning and teaching. What language learners bring into the language classroom is composed of a set of experiences and expectations related to their beliefs about different aspects of language learning and teaching (Chastain, 1988, p.123; Riley, 2009; Wan et al, 2011). To name several aspects, there are experiences, perceptions and expectation associated with language learners’ roles and language teachers’ roles in their classrooms, the nature of language learning, the language itself, the learning process, the teaching and learning materials, the language teaching and learning environment and the like (Chastain, 1988, p.103; Wenden, 1999; Bernat & Gvozdenko, 2005; Oz, 2007).
According to Bernat and Gvozdenko (2005), beliefs are the result of a number of factors including past experience, cultural background, educational contexts, and many other affective, cognitive, and personal factors. Beliefs according to Richardson (1996) are defined as “psychologically held understandings, premises, or propositions about the world that are felt to be true” (p.102). In this way, those who are involved in the process of teaching and learning, particularly language teacher and language learners and their beliefs and views to learning a new language certainly affect the learning process, the success of the learners and their improvements, the performance of language teachers, the design of language education materials, and the other (Ahkemoglu, 2011; Wan et al, 2011).
Since learners’ beliefs have been emphasized as a helpful factor in the success or failure of language learning and teaching, investigating the beliefs of language learners can provide helpful information for language education (Bernat and Gvozdenko, 2005). There are studies that are about learners’ beliefs about language learning and teaching such as studies conducted by Altan (2006); Bernat and Gvozdenko (2005); Tanaka and Ellis (2003); and Zare-ee (2010). These studies have used different quantitative instruments to elicit learners’ beliefs about language education. For example, many studies (for example Bernat and Lloyd, 2007; Buyukyazi, 2010; Man-fat, 2008; Mohebi and Khodady, 2011) have used BALLI (Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory, Horwitz, 1988). These instruments and studies show the beliefs of learners in a quantitative form and do not provide the personal images of language learners.
Recently, research on beliefs has used qualitative instruments such as metaphors to get learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language education. The main reason for using metaphors is the metaphorical nature of beliefs and the way learners perceive the world and reality (Ahkemoglu, 2011). There are several studies investigating learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language education by using metaphors such as Nikitina and Furuoka (2008); Kesen (2010a, 2010b); Huang (2011); and Wan, Low and Li (2011), to name just a few; but these studies have been done in non-Iranian English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) contexts and they also have focused on EFL learners in academic contexts.
Although there are several recent studies in an Iranian EFL context (such as Parvaresh, 2008; Pishghadam and Pourali, 2011; Farjami, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c; Askarzadeh Torghabeh, Elahi and Khanalipour, 2009) in the area of beliefs about the different aspects of language learning and teaching; they are mostly in academic contexts and EFL learning and teaching in high school contexts especially in local areas where there are bilingual students learning English as a third language is overlooked.
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