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University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

"Student-teachers need feedback, but feedback which they can take

on board and which does not damage their self-esteem and confidence.

For this reason it is ojien a sensitive and difficult role, one for which well-developed people skills are needed".

[Lortie, 1975, p. 18] ABSTRACT The current article intends to reconsider the state of the art of ITE programmes for EFL primary school teachers at Spanish university. Under the scope and coverage of critical applied linguistics, we summarise our own personal experience as former EFL student teachers and come to terms with a crucial point at EFL education: the divergence between those who adhere to an apprenticeship model of learning to teach (most of our mentors at university), based on an understanding of teaching as a technical process of delivery of given valúes and a predefined curriculum, and those who look towards a professional artistry school (a minority of them).

RESUMEN En este trabajo tratamos de reconsiderar el estado de la cuestión en los planes de formación inicial del profesorado del área de Lenguas Extranjeras en * Fátima García Doval is a former student of the Faculty of Education at Santiago in the speciality of Foreign Languages. At present she works as a primary school teacher.

** Montserrat Sánchez Rial has got an MA from the Faculty of Philology at the same university and has extended her education as an EFL teacher through the CAP programme.

Both of them have written this paper for the first time a few years ago when it was published in Vez&Montero (1997), Current changes and challenges in European teacher education: Galicia. The work they present here is an adaptation, respectively, of those former papers.

We are deeply indebted to Professor J. M. Vez for kindly reading through our respective article in their draft stage and for his invaluable comments, insights and suggestions.

CAUCE, Revista de Filología y su Didáctica, n" 25, 2002 / págs. 281-29H CAUCE. Núm. 25. GARCÍA DOVAL, Fátima and SÁNCHEZ RIAL, Montserrat (Spain). EFL...


la Educación Primaria en las universidades españolas. Desde la perspectiva y bajo el enfoque de la lingüística aplicada crítica, damos cuenta, de manera muy escueta, de nuestra propia experiencia personal como antiguas alumnas de nuestros respectivos programas de preparación para la docencia, y, al tiempo, esbozamos las líneas centrales del aspecto crucial en la formación del profesorado de Inglés como lengua extranjera: la divergencia entre quienes se adhieren a un modelo de racionalidad técnica del aprender a enseñar (la mayoría de nuestro profesorado universitario), que toma como referente exclusivo las ideas de la docencia como un proceso técnico de impartición de unos valores asumidos y de un curriculum predefinido, y aquellos otros que extienden su mirada hacia una concepción escolar más centrada en la profesionalización y en la racionalidad práctica (una minoría de estos profesores universitarios).

RESUME Dans ce travail nous remettons en question l'etat des choses dans les études de formation initiale des enseignants de langues étrangéres en Primaire, dont s'occupent les institutions universitaires espagnoles. A ce propos, situées dans le cadre de l'approche de la linguistique appliquée critique et á partir de notre propre experience personnelle, nous voulons rendre compte, de facón stricte, des programmes de préparation a l'exercice de la profession d'enseignant avec lesquels nous sommes été formées. En méme temps, nous esquissons les lignes esentielles d'un aspect cié qui caractérise la formation des enseignants de Tangíais langue étrangére: la divergence entre les formateurs partisans d'un modele de rationalité technique pour apprendre a enseigner (la plupart de nos professeurs d'université) dont le seul référent est la conception de l'enseignement comme un processus technique de transmission de quelques valeurs assumées et un curriculum predeterminé, et ceux qui tournent leur regare! vers une concepción scolaire plutót centrée sur la professionnalísation et la rationalité pratique (une minorité de ees professeurs d'université).

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CAUCE. Núm. 25. GARCÍA DOVAL, Fátima and SÁNCHEZ RIAL, Montserrat (Spain). EFL...


and tacit images of teaching in order to raise our awareness of the power of our own experiences as school EFL learners. This awareness is therefore one forni of reflective ITE activity (by such means as biographical writing, group discussion, case studies, etc.), an essential process to escape from potentially limiting images of EFL teaching. But, is this the case in EFL initial education for primary and secondary school teachers in the Spanish context?

We believe it is not. By exploring the official curricular content of foreign language specialisation, the déficits in ITE appear to include the most traditional aspects of technical stuff which assume the idea that student teachers are expecting to be taught how to teach a foreign language, to be given the one way that works in foreign language learning, and to be shown one teacher they can model themselves on. At the same time, we speculate that discipline-specific déficits may be related to foreign language itself, in such áreas as: their performance levéis in the oral dimensión of English use, as matched against the level required for accreditation; analytical knowledge of the English linguistic system;

theoretical knowledge of English and American literature; and assumptions about the nature of language and about English as a foreign language at infant, primary and secondary schools.

It is clear that one of the basic problems confronting the initial education of EFL primary and secondary teachers in Spain is that of judging to what extent university programmes should be trying to improve the student teachers' own performance in English, and to what extent they should be trying to improve their skills in teaching the foreign language to their prospective school pupils. The problem is not new. It has been there along decades, as in most European countries, without a coherent response on the side of experts, university teacher educators or administrators. And the only response we have at hand seems to have been the simple and traditional view that academic programmes should concéntrate on improving student teachers' command of the language (via descriptive approach) and their knowledge of its culture and literature, and then, in some mysterious and undefined way, assume that they will become competent teachers of the language at primary and secondary school level.

This is, presumably, partly an idea that survives from the time when the study of even living languages was an academic discipline practised in universities, and during which very little interest in using language as a tool for social communication was shown. This idea, which receives no support from any of the foundations governing EFL teacher educaCAUCE. Núm. 25. GARCÍA DOVAL, Fátima and SÁNCHEZ RIAL, Montserrat (Spain). EFL...


tion, has a distressingly self-regenerative power about it, and until now it seems to have been largely kept alive in this country by a feeling that the study of foreign language teaching is not academically respectable in the same way that studying a language or its culture or literature is. Thus, in Spanish university initial education institutions, the preparation of EFL primary and secondary school teachers has concentrated on the learning of grammar or linguistics, phonetics, culture and literature, and at the end, in a sort of Cinderella position, something called "didactics".

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CAUCE. Núm. 25. GARCÍA DOVAL, Fátima and SÁNCHEZ RIAL, Montserrat (Spain). EFL...


versities, the developments of EFL educational programmes in practice are anything else than fictions. And the inconsistency of this fiction game is its incapacity to arise a confidence, informed and as rigorous as possible, which helps us to work well in a world that will necessarily change, where the provisión of false hopes of success and the recommendation of a cynical, passive desire to merely survive (in educational terms) are useless and anti-ethic.

But this is not the only inconsistency. We have learnt, after three years of ITE, that official university programmes offer a conventional fractured curriculum, based on a two-part structure: relatively abstract classes in the university institution and short blocks of teaching practice in primary schools. No one doubts that this structure contributes to a serious lack of integration between


and practical course components and, at the same time, empowers the classical and persistent división between theory and practice.

All that is linked to the misconception that, since someone has been a student, he or she can easily become a teacher -it is as pretentious as saying that since someone has been a patient he or she can easily be a doctor-. Perhaps this is so because the idea of teaching -the idea of passing on knowledge- seems to be such a natural one. Everyone has answered another person's question or demonstrated an idea or technique. Therefore everyone, in a sense, is a teacher.

There was a time when you only needed know how to read and write (plus a positive accreditation from your parish priest) to become a primary school teacher. For many years education has been synonymous with textbooks, lectures, blackboard and chalk. It was a teaching process in which the teacher knew how things should be done. While the job of the tutor was to present a set of facts, methods, ideas, in a given best order, the job of the student was to become proficient by means of repetition and memorising. But now a number of factors have combined to change the face of education and training and open the way to new ideas and techniques. It has become a learning process where it is accepted that students are not soft clay and are in fact responsible for their own education. So teaching is not providing a set of facts anymore, it implies dealing with attitudes, styles of learning, etc. This new approach demands professionalism, a deep understanding of the reality in the classroom, and that has been reflected in the new study plans for initial teacher-education for the primary school level.

CAUCE. Núm. 25. GARCÍA DOVAL, Fátima and SÁNCHEZ RIAL, Montserrat (Spain). EFL...


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CAUCE. Núm. 25. GARCÍA DOVAL, Fátima and SÁNCHEZ RIAL, Montserrat (Spain). EFL...


that all members of the staff must work together not only at the decisión making level but also in everyday life at classroom level, so that there will be coherence between lessons in different áreas. Without a basic knowledge on each other's subject and a feeling of integrating different curricular áreas, things cannot work very properly in school practice.

The issue boils down to a question of awareness. Student teachers must be aware of the necessity of that basic knowledge, and university staff must also be aware of what their real needs are going to be when serving schools.

Incidentally, we should not forget the fact that, once working at school, one is most likely to be required to teach other subjects besides those which fall into the área of his or her specialisation, and everybody knows how puzzled a teacher may be facing a nine-year-old pupil's innocent questions.

Nevertheless it would be worthwhile to eradicate from the school the idea of a teacher as something functioning like an encyclopaedia.

Both children and grow-ups must admit that a teacher is a human being (and thus not infallible).

However, the cross-disciplinary nature of primary teacher-education rests on the wide range of social studies (let's say Pedagogy, Psychology, Sociology...) as well as different school subjects. That fact only makes the problem worse. How can you decide which one is going to have more teaching/studying hours? On the other hand they are so related to each other that it is easy to get lost in the ocean of information you are given. Again, there is no benefit from any side.

3- Critical view on university teaching It seems to us that it is not sufficiently being taken into consideration what actually is being taught. Our university lecturers say that our job is not to pass on knowledge anymore but to provide children with a starting point and the appropriate tools so they can develop their own knowledge base. That means that our job now is to set the ball rolling.

Our question here is: Why do lecturers not do the same with their university student teachers? There is something called "hidden curriculum" which must be really well hidden because not even those who teach about it seem to see it. What is not acceptable is to go on dictating that a lesson must be active and participative... and telling students CAUCE. Núm. 25. GARCÍA DOVAL, Fátima and SÁNCHEZ RIAL, Montserrat (Spain). EFL...


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CAUCE. Núm. 25. GARCÍA DOVAL, Fátima and SÁNCHEZ RIAL, Montserrat (Spain). EFL...


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