Competence and Performance in Language Teaching

Topics: Second language acquisition, Language education, Language acquisition Pages: 30 (10488 words) Published: March 9, 2013
Competence and Performance in Language Teaching
Jack C. Richards

Competence and Performance in Language Teaching
Jack C. Richards

cambridge university press

Cambridge, New York, São Paulo, Mexico City, Tokyo, Singapore, Madrid, Cape Town, Dubai, Melbourne, New Delhi Cambridge University Press 32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473, USA © Cambridge University Press 2011 This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2011 Printed in the United States of America isbn

978-1-107-91203-8 Paperback

Book layout services: Page Designs International


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Introduction  1

The language proficiency factor  3 The role of content knowledge   5 Teaching skills   9 Contextual knowledge   11 The language teacher’s identity   14 Learner-focused teaching   16 Pedagogical reasoning skills  19 Theorizing from practice   22 Membership of a community of practice   25 Professionalism   27


Conclusions  29

References  30


What is it that language teachers need to know and do to be effective classroom practitioners and language teaching professionals? How is this knowledge and practice acquired? And how does it change over time? The issue of language teachers’ knowledge and skill base is fundamental to our understanding of effective teaching and to approaches to language teacher education. In this paper I want to explore the knowledge, beliefs, and skills that language teachers make use of in their practice. My focus is on the understandings and practices of those teachers who would generally be regarded by their peers as exemplary language teaching professionals. We all recognize those teachers when we work with them. But what distinguishes the way they understand and approach their work? In trying to answer this question, I will focus on ten core dimensions of language teaching expertise and practice. They are not in any hierarchical relationship, and there is some overlap among them, but they help lay out some of the basic territory and will hopefully help conceptualize the nature of competence, expertise, and professionalism in language teaching. But first a word of caution. The nature of what we mean by effectiveness in teaching is not always easy to define because conceptions of good teaching differ from culture to culture (Tsui 2009). In some cultures a good teacher is one who controls and directs learners and who maintains a respectful distance between the teacher and the learners. Learners are the more or less passive recipients of the teacher’s expertise. Teaching is viewed as a teacher-controlled and directed process. In other cultures the teacher may be viewed more as a facilitator. The ability to form close interpersonal relations with students is highly valued, and there is a strong emphasis on individual learner creativity and independent learning. Students may even be encouraged to question and challenge what the teacher says. These different understandings of good teaching are reflected in the following teacher comments. When I present a reading text to the class, the students expect me to  go through it word by word and explain every point of vocabulary or  grammar. They would be uncomfortable if I left it for them to work it  out on their own or if I asked them just to try to understand the main  ideas. – Egyptian EFL teacher If a student doesn’t succeed, it is my fault for not presenting the  materials clearly enough. If a student doesn’t understand something, I  must find a way to present it more clearly. – Taiwanese EFL teacher

Introduction  1

If I do group work or open-ended communicative activities, the students ...
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