Chapter 10 - Second language teacher education  pp. 72-79

Second language teacher education

By Donald Freeman

Image View Previous Chapter Next Chapter



Second language (L2) teacher education describes the field of professional activity through which individuals learn to teach L2s. In terms commonly used in the field, these formal activities are generally referred to as teacher training, while those that are undertaken by experienced teachers, primarily on a voluntary, individual basis, are referred to as teacher development. I return to this issue of nomenclature later on (see ‘the role of input’); at this point, however, the reader should understand that the term teacher education refers to the sum of experiences and activities through which individuals learn to be language teachers. Those learning to teach – whether they are new to the profession or experienced, whether in pre- or in-service contexts – are referred to as teacher-learners (Kennedy 1991).

The shifting ground of terminology has plagued L2 teacher education for at least the past 30 years. The four-word concept has tended to be an awkward integration of subject-matter (‘second language’) and professional process (‘teacher education’). In this hybrid, the person of the teacher and the processes of learning to teach have often been overshadowed. As the relative emphasis has shifted, the focus among these four words has migrated from the content, the ‘second language’, to the person of the ‘teacher’, to the process of learning or ‘education’, thus capturing the evolution in the concept of L2 teacher education in the field.