Beyond Practicum: Interplay between Prospective EFL Teachers’ Conceptualizations of Field Experience and Teaching Career

Merve Selçuk, Ece Genç Yöntem

Abstract


Becoming a teacher of English language requires both knowledge of theory and practice. Teacher candidates at the faculties of education in BA programs in Turkey practice teaching through observing real classrooms and doing micro-teachings in real schools during their four-year teacher training. This study was conducted at a foundation university in Turkey, in which senior pre-service teachers, before they enter the teaching profession and become novice teachers, go and experience teaching to fulfill the requirements of the practicum (school experience course) in their last semester. This course requires them to observe three different levels of classroom in real schools, write reflective papers, prepare lesson plans and practice teaching. The transition from pre-service to novice teacher can be facilitated via successful practicum programs offered by the faculties of education in Turkey. The impact of practicum tends to result in either entry into teaching or teacher retention. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the effects of this program on students’ decisions on entry into the profession. The data were collected in two stages: Before and after the practicum. At the beginning of the last semester, before they go practicum, five pre-service EFL teachers were asked the reasons for choosing teacher education programs, and their concerns related to practicum and the profession through an in-depth semi-controlled interview. Those pre-service teachers were also interviewed on the same topics at the end of the semester, after practicum. Results indicated that practicum or school experience has contributed positively to their perceptions regarding their entry into teaching because almost all of them wanted to enter teaching at the end of the program, and they are in-service teachers now. These findings suggest that teacher education courses should aim to develop students’ practical knowledge, and the relationship among the mentor teacher, the supervisor, and the student teacher should be valued and supported more in teacher education programs.

Keywords


Teacher Education, Pre-service Teacher Education, Practicum, School Experience, Entry Into Teaching

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References


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