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 ...

References: Bailey, Kathleen M. 1996. The best laid plans: Teachers’ in-class decisions to depart from their lesson plans. In Kathleen M. Bailey and David Nunan (eds.), Voices from the language classroom (pp.115–40). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bailey, Kathleen M. 2006. Language teacher supervision: A case-based approach. New York: Cambridge University Press. Bartels, Nat. 2005. Applied linguistics and language teacher education. New York: Springer. Benson, P. 2001. Teaching and researching autonomy in language learning. London: Longman. Borg, Simon. 2006. Teacher cognition and language education: Research and  practice. London: Continuum. –. 2009. Language teacher cognition. In Anne Burns and Jack C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 163–71). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Brick, J. 1991. China: A handbook in intercultural communication. Sydney, Australia: National Centre for English Teaching and Research. Canagarajah, A. Suresh. 1999. Interrogating the “native speaker fallacy”; Non-linguistic roots, non-pedagogical results. In George Braine (ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 77–92). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Cooke, Melanie, and James Simpson. 2008. ESOL: A critical guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cullen, R. 1994. Incorporating a language improvement component in teacher training programmes. ELT Journal, 48 (2): 162–72. –. 2002. The use of lesson transcripts for developing teachers’ classroom language. In H. Trappes-Lomaz and G. Ferguson (eds.), Language in  language teacher education (pp. 219–35). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins. Dewey, J. 1933. How we think. New York: D. C. Heath. Dornyei, Zoltan. 2001. Motivational strategies in the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Farrell, Thomas S. C. 2009. The novice teacher’s experience. In Anne Burns and Jack C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language  teacher education (pp. 182–89). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Golombek, Paula. 2009. Personal practical knowledge in L2 teacher education. In Anne Burns and Jack C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge  guide to second language teacher education (pp. 155–62). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Halliday, Michael. 2004. An introduction to functional grammar. London: Arnold. Johnson, K. 2009. Second language teacher education: A sociocultural  perspective. New York: Routledge. Johnston, Bill. 2009. Collaborative teacher development. In Anne Burns and Jack C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher  education (pp. 241–49). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Khamhi-Stein, Lia D. 2009. Teacher preparation and nonnative Englishspeaking educators. In Anne Burns and Jack C. Richards (eds.), The  Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 91–101). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lave, J., and E. Wenger. 1991. Situated learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lavender, S. 2002. Towards a framework for language improvement within short in-service teacher development programmes. In H. Trappes-Lomaz and G. Ferguson (eds.), Language in language teacher education (pp. 237–50). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins. Leung, Constant. 2009. Second language teacher professionalism. In Anne Burns and Jack C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge guide to second  language teacher education (pp. 49–58). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lewis, C., and I. Tsuchida. 1998. A lesson is like a swiftly flowing river: How research lessons improve Japanese education. American Educator, Winter (12–17): 50–52. Medgyes, Peter. 2001. When the teacher is a non-native speaker. In Marianne Celcie-Murcia (ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language. 3rd ed. (pp. 415–27). Boston: Heinle & Heinle. Ortega, Lourdes. 2008. Understanding second language acquisition. London: Arnold Hodder Education. Parrott, Martin. 2000. Grammar for English language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Competence and Performance in Language Teaching  31
Posner, G. 1985. Field experience: A guide to reflective practice. New York: Longman. Reinders, Hayo. 2009. Technology and second language teacher education. In Anne Burns and Jack C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge guide to  second language teacher education (pp. 230–37). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Richards, Jack C. (1998). Beyond training. New York: Cambridge University Press. Richards, Jack C., and Thomas S. C. Farrell. 2005. Professional development for  language teachers. New York: Cambridge University Press. Richards, Jack C., and Charles Lockhart. 1994. Reflective teaching in second  language classrooms. New York: Cambridge University Press. Seidlhofer, B. 1999. Double standards: Teacher education in the expanding circle. World Englishes, 18 (2): 233–45. Senior, Rose. 2006. The experience of language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shulman, L. S. 1987. Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Havard Educational Review, 57 (2): 4–14. Snow, M. A., L. D. Kamhi-Stein, and D. Brinton. 2006. Teacher training for English as a lingua franca. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 26: 261–81. Tsui, Amy B. M. 2009. Teaching expertise: Approaches, perspectives and characteristics. In Anne Burns and Jack C. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge  guide to second language teacher education (pp. 190–97). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tudor, I. 1996. Learner-centredness as language education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zeichner, K., and C. Grant. 1981. Biography and social structure in the socialization of student teachers. Journal of Education for Teaching, 1: 198–314.
32  Competence and Performance in Language Teaching
In Competence and Performing in Language Teaching, Jack C. Richards discusses what language teachers need to know and do to be effective classroom practitioners and language teaching professionals. By exploring the knowledge, beliefs, and skills that exemplary language teachers consistently make use of – focussing on ten core dimensions of language teaching expertise and practice – Jack C. Richards helps conceptualize the nature of competence, expertise, and professionalism in language teaching.
Jack C. Richards is an internationally renowned specialist in English Language Teaching and an applied linguist and educator. He is the author of numerous professional books for English language teachers as well as many widely used textbooks for English language students. His titles include the best-selling Interchange series, Four Corners, Passages, Connect, and Strategic Reading.
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