September 2010 Foreword

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the Special Issue on English Language Teacher Education and Development: Issues and Perspectives in Asia. This volume brings together wide-ranging theoretical and empirical contributions that explore a number of key dimensions of EFL teacher education and professional development. The papers contained in this volume come from colleagues working in diverse corners of the globe, bringing rich and illuminating perspectives from Asia, The Middle East, Australia, and Europe.

First of all, I would like to thank the authors for the many insights shared, and congratulate them on making the final cut! We have received an overwhelming response to our call for papers, evidencing an enormous interest and currency of issues pertaining to the theme of this Special Issue. I would also like to thank the authors for their patience in what has been a rather lengthy editorial process consisting of two rounds of blind reviews. In the end, I hope we have provided you with a rich tapestry of methodologically and ideologically diverse yet complementary studies.

In the first paper, Caroline Brandt raises a number of critical issues that emerged from her in depth study involving CELTA teacher trainees from 9 different countries. The author argues that, inter alia, the competitive nature of the CELTA course resulting from its grading system does not facilitate a learning community culture in the classroom, and that there is a need to deemphasize competition and encourage collaboration. This is indeed an important issue, as principles of andragogy, or adult education theory, have for a long time now emphasized collaboration over competition as more desirable and effective in the adult learning context.

A study into effective peer mentoring in a pre-service EFL practicum is reported in the second paper by Hoa Thi Mai Nguyen and Richard B. Baldauf Jr. The authors present a quasi-experimental design study that investigated the effects of peer mentoring on participants professional practice in terms of the instructional domain. The results were then compared to a group of pre-service teachers who did not participate in the peer mentoring experiences. Key stakeholders such as school senior teacher mentors, university supervisors and practicing teachers self-assessments indicated that the participants in the peer mentoring program made significant improvements in their scores for instructional practice compared to their counterparts. Peer mentoring provides an enriching experience that can be applied across teacher education contexts.

Olcay Sert looks at a different aspect of EFL teacher training in the third paper. By reviewing recent studies in Conversational Analysis, Critical Reflective Practice, Teacher Language Awareness and language teacher education in general, the author calls for a more effective language teacher education programs and presents an applicable framework that aims to solve current problems in English language teacher education, particularly in the Turkish context. This innovative framework suggests practical pedagogical implications that could easily be applied to other contexts where teachers could benefit from such an approach.

The fourth paper by Feroze Kasi proposes collaborative action research as an alternative model for EFL teachers professional development. Kasi finds inadequacy with the current knowledge transmission model in teacher education in Pakistan and suggests that a framework based on conceptual principles of Vygotskian sociocultural theory and Wenger s (1999) community of practice theory provides a more suitable alternative for English language teacher education. The author proposes that once an action research cycle of planning, action, observation and reflection is initiated, it has the potential to continue to re-occur and contribute to the professional development of both pre-service and in-service teachers on a regular basis, resulting in more effective teaching practice.

The topic of teacher beliefs has been of interest to researchers for over two decades now. Stan Pederson s well theorized in-depth study describes a technique featuring perplexing questions combined with paired conversations and written follow-up responses used to elicit teaching beliefs among pre-service teachers. The study aimed to help teachers to share and justify their beliefs as part of a larger process of integrating theory, beliefs and practice. Pederson found this procedure to be effective in generating more explicit beliefs including reasons, conditions and/or contexts, and could easily comprise an awareness-raising component in teacher education programs.

EFL teacher professionalism and professional development in Indonesia is the focus on the next paper by Grace Ika Yuwono and Lesley Harbon. Based on qualitative data obtained from 46 teachers, the authors present a number of findings that they argue are unique to the Indonesian context, and often different from what is constructed by common literature on teacher professionalism. They focus on two areas in particular: teachers motives for entering the profession and teaching rewards, and examine how these impact on one s professional development.

Rose Senior s paper describes a two-phase study conducted in Australia that led to the development of a teacher-generated socio-pedagogic theory of classroom practice. The theory that emerged from the research proposes that effective classroom teaching involves not only teaching content in a proficient manner, but also developing a relationship with the class where teaching and learning become a collective, collaborative endeavour that lifts the performance of individuals. Rose argues that the notion of class-centred teaching may be a useful means of encouraging locally-trained language teachers in the Asian region to reflect upon their current teaching and class management practices and to modify them in ways that are congruent with their personal belief systems and appropriate for their local educational contexts.

Finally, David Litz explores the current thinking surrounding the emergence, evolution, trends, problems and future possibilities in modern distance learning, particularly EdD programs. He argues that the growth of distance EdD programs is closely aligned to the increased popularity, appeal and accessibility of distance or blended higher education programs, yet points out that these have not been devoid of problems such as the quality of instruction, course design and delivery, and technology. The author provides us with several recommendations for future research in this area, and reminds readers that future distance/blended EdD programs need to continue to focus on developing comprehensive, inclusive and thoughtful distance learning models that facilitate true virtual teaching and learning communities.

It is my hope that readers of this issue will be enriched by the scope and depth of these contributions.

With best wishes,

Eva Bernat
Guest Editor