April 2013
TEIS Newsletter



Teaching Education for Imperfect Contexts

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to serve as the Teacher Education Interest Section (TEIS) chair for 2013–2014 . Let me briefly introduce myself. I am an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I teach ESOL courses to teacher learners and where I research teacher development, in particular the development of teachers who work with English learners. Prior to becoming a teacher educator and researcher, I taught English and ESOL in the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and I am keenly interested in how teachers think about their practice of teaching.

At a recent job talk at my university, a faculty member asked the job applicant if teacher education was actually useful. It seems as though, the faculty member asserted, we spend all of our time carefully crafting courses, designing program sequences, and lining up strong mentors for our teacher candidates, and then our teacher learners graduate and find a job where they are told what and how to teach. As a result, all of our careful teacher preparation is for naught.

Now it is spring and we are in the last exhausting weeks of the semester, and I can understand my colleague’s weariness. Despite my own familiarity with the magnetic pull of cynicism that accompanies this time of year, I think my colleague is entirely wrong. Teacher education is critically important for teacher learners, especially those going into these imperfect teaching contexts. Teacher education should provide the professional knowledge, resilience, and community that teacher learners will need not only for perfect teaching contexts but also for the imperfect, even deprofessionalizing contexts. I hope we can talk this year about just how teacher education might do that in all of the multiple contexts in which we teacher educators work.

I look forward to discussing the big and small issues of teacher education this year. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the TEIS community.

Jenelle Reeves


Dear TEIS Colleagues,

I hope that those of you who attended the convention enjoyed the rich opportunities for learning and networking. I also hope you enjoy this newsletter. There is so much more to TEIS than just the convention; I encourage you to participate in TEIS activities year-round, such as the newsletter and the Listserv. We are such a large professional community (the second largest interest section in TESOL next to English as a Foreign Language), and we span so many diverse areas in the field of English language teaching. It is important that we stay connected throughout the year and across our geographical distances.

One of my concerns as chair of TEIS over the past year has been the identity of our interest section. The phrase teacher education is frequently misinterpreted by many in TESOL to mean anything to do with providing teachers with knowledge and learning opportunities. For example, many people assume a convention session titled “Using Differentiated Instruction in the EFL Classroom” would fall under the category of Teacher Education because the focus of the session is educating teachers about differentiated instruction. This is one of the reasons why TEIS had only a 17% acceptance rate of session proposals this year for the convention—a substantial number of proposals were erroneously submitted as Teacher Education sessions (and consequently not accepted) when they should have been submitted to Adult Education, EFL, Secondary Education, and so on.

I have wondered if our interest section would be better titled “Teacher Educators,” although that phrase does not ring well to my ears. Our identity needs to be foremost about who we are as a community of professionals. The term “Teacher Preparation” does not work because so much of our work involves professional development and teachers already practicing in the classroom. Moreover, there are many different names that we ourselves encompass—professors, instructional coaches, trainers, and others. This is a conversation that we should have as fellow TEIS members. Is it time to rebrand ourselves? Let me or the new 2013 TEIS chair, Jenelle Reeves, know your thoughts!

Anne Walker




The Speak a New Language Project is a distinctive assignment that brings together a linguistically diverse classroom of prospective language teachers to collaboratively learn about the practical side of pronunciation instruction and, in the process, the value of multilingualism inside the classroom. This class assignment was implemented as part of a comparative phonology course for English language teachers in training. The course is required for graduate students enrolled in the university’s Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (TESL/TEFL) programs. It is intended to build student knowledge of phonological concepts and address pedagogical approaches to speaking/listening instruction. The class was equally divided between native and nonnative speakers of English.

Project Description

This particular assignment required students to work with a classmate partner to prepare a 30-second speech in front of the class. Most important, the spoken text had to be in a language unfamiliar to the student and had to contain pronunciations that were initially difficult. The role of the partner was to provide coaching to the student over the course of three face-to-face meetings as they prepared for the 30-second presentation. The coaching was reciprocal. In these meetings, each student experienced two sides to pronunciation instruction—as a student and as a teacher. The requirement that the target text have difficult pronunciation guaranteed that the coaching would be pedagogically purposeful. Students were additionally required to keep a reflective journal to document their experiences working with their partner both as a student and as a teacher. Class presentations were not evaluated for native-like attainment but for timing and overall preparedness for the presentation.

Objectives Achieved

This assignment fulfilled several interrelated course objectives. Through participating in the assignment, students developed firsthand experience in pronunciation instruction both as a teacher and as a student. Students were encouraged to try a range of instructional strategies, especially techniques that had been presented in class. In completing the journal portion of the assignment, students demonstrated the ability to assess the effectiveness of instructional practices and to be reflective practitioners who can be responsive to their own students’ needs. For example, students in their journals frequently discussed how they modified instructional approaches in response to their partner’s performance. The assignment also functioned to promote a greater awareness in the students of cultural/linguistic diversity globally. For example, I found that pairs of students discussed a range of topics of shared personal interest and learned interesting things about one another and their home communities. The assignment functioned to familiarize students in the ESL track to some of the languages they may encounter in their future K–12 ESL classrooms in the New Jersey area (e.g., Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese, Arabic, Korean). Nonnative speakers had the opportunity to develop deeper, nuanced knowledge of speech patterns in American English through their work with native speaker students. Several pairs of nonnative speaker students capitalized on the multilingual diversity present in the classroom to mutually explore non-English languages (e.g., Arabic/Spanish; Chinese/Arabic, Korean/Chinese).

Benefits of the Presentation

The presentation portion of the assignment was specifically motivated by critical models of language teacher education that promote language educators who are sensitive to power dynamics local to the classroom setting and at the broader societal level (Hawkins & Norton, 2009; Risager, 2007). Allow me to explain. I am personally troubled by English-only classroom policies that frame the use of non-English languages in a classroom as something to hide, something subject to punitive response. While not taking away the beneficial role that strategic immersion environments play in language learning, I believe that when English-only is taken up on classroom principle, it unnecessarily underscores the power dynamics shared between teacher and student. That is, English-only policies compel teachers to systematically position students as deficient native speakers when the affirming alternative is to recognize them as emerging multilinguals (Cook, 2002). The concern is that language students may take with them feelings of inadequacy to language encounters outside of the classroom, which can feed into a cycle of subordination. Following Risager (2007), I believe that language teachers have a responsibility to challenge such power dynamics. One way to do so is to expressly construct classroom environments where multilingual ability is a celebrated asset.

Legitimate Voice to Other Languages

These presentations were critical tools for reimagining the classroom as a multilingual space where no language is ruled out on principle alone. Presentations gave legitimate voice to Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, and Korean. They also turned the tables of expertise temporarily. After each presentation of a non-English language, native speakers of that language took the role of expert to help the class understand what the presenter had said. Each presentation was welcomed with vigorous applause from the classroom audience. Celebrating multilingualism in the legitimate space of the classroom hopefully had an impact on how these prospective teachers will frame multilingualism in their future language classrooms.

Support for Language Learner Vulnerability

The presentations were further beneficial in that they placed each prospective teacher in the vulnerable place of a student speaking an unfamiliar language in front of an audience made up in part by native speakers of that language. This can be very intimidating for language learners. In our case, we constructed a supportive and accepting atmosphere where students were able to safely demonstrate their emerging knowledge of an unfamiliar language. In that way, the presentations constituted important instructional experiences for the prospective teachers so that they can develop the kind of caring and empathy for language learners needed to cultivate self-confidence in their future language students as emerging multilinguals.


In sum, the assignment promoted through firsthand experiences three course goals: (1) the application of content knowledge, (2) the development of firsthand pedagogical knowledge, and (3) the cultivation of empathy for language learners as emergent multilinguals. In their end-of-course evaluations, students spoke enthusiastically about the assignment. Some mentioned it specifically as a key highlight of the course.


Cook, V. (2002). Background to the L2 user. In V. Cook (Ed.), Portraits of the L2 user (pp. 1–28). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Hawkins, M., & Norton, B. (2009). Critical language teacher education. In A. Burns & J. Richards (Eds.), Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 30–39). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Risager, K. (2007). Language and culture pedagogy: From a national to a transnational paradigm. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Bryan Meadows is an assistant professor of second language acquisition in the Sammartino School of Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He serves prospective ESL and EFL teachers in classroom settings that are culturally and linguistically diverse.



As an ESL teacher, I often have the challenge of communicating to monolingual teachers what it feels like to be an English language learner (ELL) in a general education classroom. The module Teaching English Language Learners: Effective Instructional Practices (IRIS Center for Training Enhancements, n.d.-b), developed by the Idea and Research for Inclusive Settings (IRIS) Center, includes a simulation in which the ELL instructor can listen to and observe a teacher describe the requirements for a science lesson—in another language. Viewing and doing the activities of this module can be helpful to teachers who are developing their instructional practices to support ELLs.

This ELL module uses the Software Technology for Action and Reflection (STAR) Legacy model, which was developed by the IRIS Center to introduce, integrate, and balance the different ways of designing effective learning environments, whether centered on the learner, on knowledge, on assessment, or on the community. These areas are part of the How People Learn framework developed by Bransford and his colleagues (IRIS Center for Training Enhancements, n.d.-e).

The five-point STAR model presents a cycle that begins with (1) a realistic challenge to invite inquiry, (2) initial thoughts about the challenge, (3) accessing multimedia resources relevant to the challenge, (4) an assessment to test learning, and (5) a final wrap-up to review final thoughts.


Figure 1. The STAR Legacy Cycle
Source: IRIS Center for Training Enhancements (n.d.-b). Figure courtesy of the IRIS Center, Peabody College.

IRIS Center Star Legacy Module: Teaching English Language Learners

The Teaching English Language Learners module includes a video in which viewers listen to and observe a teacher describe, in Portuguese, the safety rules students must follow during a science lab lesson. After the 4-minute simulation, viewers are led through activities that apply principles of second language acquisition and teaching English in the content areas.

By clicking on Challenge, viewers watch a video clip and are guided through professional development tasks and reflections after a brief lesson taught in the non-English language. The purpose of the opening activity is to help viewers “step into the shoes” of an ELL in a science classroom. The challenge becomes three questions:

  • What do teachers need to know about students who are learning to speak English?
  • What are some general instructional practices that can be beneficial to students who are learning to speak English?
  • What should teachers consider when testing students who are learning to speak English? (IRIS Center for Training Enhancements, n.d.-c)

From this opening experience, the viewer goes to Thoughts and is asked to jot down initial thoughts about the three questions. Next, with Perspectives and Resources, information and examples of ways to teach content and English are explained step by step to help answer the questions. The multimedia elements of this component make it very useful for teachers to better understand concepts such as basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS), referring to social language, and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALPS), referring to academic language. Several videos of ELLs using language in classroom settings are provided.

In the Assessment component, viewers gauge their own learning and think about assessing ELLs before moving to the Wrap-Up or summary to review the module’s content. This includes watching a remake of the original video in which the teacher has modified her instruction based on the English language learning principles discussed.

An outline of the module is available at http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module_outlines/ell.pdf (IRIS Center for Training Enhancements, n.d.-d).


In addressing a topic as broad as teaching ELLs, the module does not focus on ELLs from any one particular language group culture. This helps it have value for a wider group of viewers but at the same time limits its usefulness for addressing questions related to specific populations. The module focuses on instruction. It does not provide information about state-specific requirements or other obligations related to teaching ELLs (e.g., Lau v. Nichols [civil rights]; Plyler v. Doe [immigration]). However, the module does provide overviews of types of programs that may be implemented for ELLs (e.g., two-way immersion, developmental bilingual education, transitional bilingual education, ESL). I was left looking for specific examples of the different programs elsewhere, but I understand that more detailed information might be difficult to include and be outside of the goals of the IRIS Center. This module could be improved upon by including even more multimedia examples that demonstrate effective instructional and assessment strategies that promote English language learning and take into account developing students’ home languages.

This module does not focus on young children who are learning English, but it could be useful as a general overview pertaining to most ELLs in the United States with its discussion of the stages of language acquisition, BICS and CALPS, and how to provide more effective instruction and practice in the general education classroom. It is one of three modules in the Diversity series that address teaching ELLs (IRIS Center for Training Enhancements, n.d.-a):

Cultural and Linguistic Differences: What Teachers Should Know

Teaching and Learning in New Mexico: Considerations for Diverse Student Populations

Teaching English Language Learners: Effective Instructional Practices


Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and associated with the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, the IRIS Center develops training enhancement materials to be used by faculty and professional development providers for the preparation of current and future school personnel. The Center works with experts from across the nation to create and test challenge-based interactive modules, case study units, and a variety of activities to provide research-validated information about working with students with special needs or disabilities in inclusive settings. All IRIS materials are available free of charge through the IRIS website.


IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. (n.d.-a). IRIS resource locator. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/resources.html

IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. (n.d.-b). Teaching English language learners: Effective instructional practices. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/ell/chalcycle.htm

IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. (n.d.-c). Challenge. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/ell/challenge_trans.html

IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. (n.d.-d). Teaching English language learners: Effective instructional practices—Outline. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module_outlines/ell.pdf

IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. (n.d.-e). The “how people learn” framework and the STAR Legacy inquiry cycle. Retrieved from


Donna M. Villareal is an instructor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Ashland University. She teaches courses to preservice teachers in the TESOL endorsement and intervention specialist programs.



As I sit in my nice air-conditioned office with a street-level window overlooking the bustling street outside, a cup of hot Sumatran coffee in one hand, a computer mouse in the other, there is an unsung hero toiling away in a dusty, hot, crowded classroom. Suu is standing at a chalkboard trying to explain to multitudinous young students the use of gerunds and infinitives. She writes out her lessons by hand, a computer being a luxury only afforded by a few in her village. She has to shout to make her tender voice heard over the noise coming from the street outside. Paper for each student to take notes comes at a high price, and textbooks are nonexistent. Splitting her class of 36 into groups small enough for conversation practice and yet large enough to be able to observe everyone is a constant challenge. Suu all too often feels alone. Her pay is poor, and she knows that with her English skills she could get a better job in the city, but to leave her ailing mother to fend for herself would be impossible. Thus she continues to work at the school in the afternoon and evenings and in the market in the early mornings. She loves her teaching job. She loves her students. She longs to do better. She just wishes there was someone to encourage her, guide her, and mentor her.

Suu cannot afford to attend professional development workshops. She cannot simply log onto one of the many teacher training websites and join a virtual webinar. The thought of abandoning everything to move to the city for a few years to earn a coveted slot in a master’s program is just a distant dream. Suu studied English at university and excelled. However, she has never met a native speaker of English in her life and is never entirely sure if her pronunciation is accurate. There are countless teachers like Suu. In fact, it may be fair to say that Suu’s experience is the norm. As populous countries all around the world, from China to Vietnam and India to Colombia, all seek to make a push for English language training, the success or failure of these drives will be determined not by teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certified expatriates but by teachers like Suu. The question is, therefore, how can teachers like Suu be trained in such a way that reflects the reality of their situation and meets the needs of their students?


I have recently become involved in training teachers like Suu through the development of a rural teacher training initiative in Colombia. There is a strong demand for teacher training in Colombia. In recognition of the need for the country to prepare well for the global marketplace, the Colombian government launched the National Bilingual Program (Guerrero, 2008). This program has been scheduled to run from 2004 to 2019. Even though the country is more than halfway through the program, it still has a long way to go in order to meet its stated target (RELO Andes, n.d.).

In 2006, the Colombian Ministry of Education made improving the quality of English teaching a core ministerial priority (Guerrero, 2008). Guerrero (2008) points out that despite the push by the central government to improve standards, many of the rural English teachers are not adequately trained or supported. There are many reasons for this that are not necessarily limited to Colombia. Rural teachers are often unmotivated because more attention is usually given to urban teachers. Rural teachers, because of inadequate access to technology, also struggle to keep up with new methodologies. Furthermore, many of the best young teachers who attain a high level of English proficiency often will leave rural areas to move to the city in order to secure higher paid employment.

The Ministry of Education has adopted the Common European Framework as the standard by which it wishes to measure the attainment of their high school graduates. Students should finish school at a B1 level of English competency. Teachers should, therefore, be at a B2 competency at a minimum. The Regional English Language Office of the U.S. Embassy in Peru claims that only 15% of current English teachers in Colombia are at B2 and just 11% of high school students have attained B1 (RELO Andes, n.d.).


It appears that the main need that exists is to effectively train teachers not only in teaching methodology but also in English proficiency. David Nunan, former president of TESOL, speaking specifically about the situation in Colombia, suggests that any teacher training initiative focused on rural teachers should have two goals:

First, to improve English language skills of teachers, and the other, to develop their skills and knowledge as practitioners in the classroom. The best way to achieve both goals is through continued professional development so that in this way the training goes hand in hand with the daily duties of teachers teaching. Thus, it can immediately apply skills and knowledge as they are acquired. (Interview With David Nunan, n.d.)

Nunan’s advice can equally be applied to contexts other than Colombia. In preparation for the project in Colombia, the Columbia Education Network (CEN) researched similar programs in other contexts The three programs surveyed seemed to back up Nunan’s assertions. The information gathered was a result of interviews with the directors and/or trainers of the programs.

A Multicountry Project Hosted by a U.S. University

One U.S. university received a grant from the U.S. State Department for the purpose of training rural teachers from 13 countries. Teachers would be selected by the local partners and then sent to the university for 4 weeks at a time. Trainers would attend classes for 2 weeks and then complete a 2-week practicum. The groups that have gone through the program have ranged from 19 to 27 participants. Twenty is considered the optimal group size.

Trainees are selected by local partners and agencies, so the university does not have a say over who comes. However, several months before participants come to the United States they are engaged in some pre-class assignments. Once they return, they also have to complete a post-class assignment.

During the time on campus, the teachers receive training developed by the trainers in communicative teaching methodology in the mornings and oral/conversation practice in the afternoons. Each afternoon, the students take part in English proficiency classes, which include reading and discussing simple novels and watching and discussing movies. These sessions are designed to help the students grow in their own use of English. Teachers remain connected through a voluntary online network when they return to their context in order to continue the conversations begun in class.

The director of the program stated that one of the main lessons learned has been the importance of understanding the context that the students are coming from. The director said that one of the greatest weaknesses of the program was a felt lack of credibility because the trainers had not experienced the reality of the trainees. Many of the students complained that the activities would not work in their context and that the trainers did not understand their situations because the trainers had not experienced their reality. On the whole, the participants felt incredibly fortunate to be selected for this program and felt they had professionally benefitted in many significant ways as a result of their participation. The trainers also greatly enjoyed the experience. It is fair to say, however, that this model would only address the needs of a limited number of rural teachers because of the costs involved.

A University in Southeast Asia

An initiative at a university in Southeast Asia was launched in response to the government’s Project 2020. This project mandates that all primary and middle school students should attain B2 proficiency by 2020. This mandate is very similar to the one enacted in Colombia. The university’s initiative began with a group of 14 rural teachers enrolled in a TOEFL prep course. The trainees attended classes during the summer for 3 months and lived in the college dorms. The program grew to 500 teachers in the most recent summer program. This is, therefore, a large government-sponsored program.

The program is taught over 6 days during the week with a strong focus on methodology although both methodology and English proficiency are taught. In these classes, teachers are taught the basics of teaching communicative English. For example, there is a session on how to use magazines and media to generate conversations, and teachers are put into small groups for conversation practice. According to one of the trainers interviewed, one of the biggest challenges is to get the teachers over their fears and to build confidence. Many of the teachers feel compelled to enroll in the program, and they arrive with a certain level of trepidation. The trainers have to work hard to instill confidence in them, especially when speaking and conversing with native speakers.

This model, because of the fact that it is taught in country by a mixed team of native and nonnative speakers, ensures that it is significantly more accessible than a program involving foreign travel. The curriculum is also designed in such a way to address the holistic needs of the participants. One thing that appears to be lacking, however, is ongoing support and mentoring.

A Teacher Training College in China

A U.S. educational non-government organization (NGO) runs a teacher training institute in rural China. The institute is hosted by a local college but is directed and staffed by a team of expatriates. Sixty students come to the institute for 4 weeks. Each day is divided into four sessions: methodology, culture, oral English, and enrichment.

The program director and his team developed their own curriculum. The curriculum is designed to be modular. It can, therefore, be broken down into smaller units, but there is also a relationship between each unit. Each week of the program is one unit. Each unit covers a central methodological principle. Oral English classes, connected to the methodological principle, take place in the afternoon. These classes are designed to improve a teacher’s proficiency.

The enrichment classes are taught by Chinese teachers, and topics range from dance to art. These classes are designed to enrich the lives of rural teachers and to meet their holistic needs. Furthermore, these classes are a good way to wind down after an intense day of classes taught entirely in English.

During the regular class term, the teacher trainers will go out to the villages and conduct teacher observation and mentoring. They will cluster students into groups of 10 and conduct the observations as a group. Following the observation, the trainers and the teachers sit down and evaluate the lesson.

Participants are chosen by the local education bureau. Minimum requirements are as follows:

  1. Has to be a teacher who has a certain level of English
  2. Has to be actively teaching now
  3. Has to be a teacher committed, long-term, to his or her community

The top 10 students are invited back to do the summer program (level 2). These students will become future “teacher mentors.” They are thus entrusted with helping their peers improve.

One of the main lessons the team learned was the importance of learning about the local teachers’ context. Before launching the program, the team spent time going into schools and teaching special lessons. This was critical for credibility. It allowed the trainers to say to the students that they had “walked in their shoes.” Ongoing and on-site mentoring visits have ensured that what the trainees learned during the modules was being incorporated and adapted to the teacher's specific context.


Two of the key lessons to take away from this brief study are the importance of “walking in the shoes” of the teachers you seek to train and developing a program that builds confidence. The third model really did seem to do this well. In order to develop a program that best meets Suu’s needs, I need to spend time in her classroom. A thorough needs analysis, which includes time spent in the classroom, is a necessity. Furthermore, a program should be developed that seeks to address the holistic needs of teachers such as Suu. Offering enrichment classes or activities that specifically elevate the teacher's confidence level should be an integral element of any program. Teachers such as Suu do not have to feel alone. There are models for training rural teachers that are effective and seek to meet the specific needs of teachers and their students.


Guerrero, C. (2008). Bilingual Colombia: What does it mean to be bilingual within the framework of the national plan of bilingualism? PROFILE Issues in Teacher Professional Development, 10, 27–45.

Interview with David Nunan. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.colombiaaprende.edu.co/html/productos/1685/article-255911.html

RELO Andes. (n.d.). Colombia. Retrieved from http://reloandes.com/colombia/

Daniel Spandler-Davison, who has an MA in TESOL, is the director of training and development at the Columbia Education Network (CEN), based in Washington, DC, a professional association of independent English language training centers with 15 partner centers globally. He has taught in Southeast Asia and in the United States and has run several training programs for CEN. His areas of interest are adult education, curriculum development, and English for specific purposes.


Although much has been written, discussed, and forwarded as regards both teacher training and the role of teacher cognition in English language teaching, it still surprised me to hear one qualified teacher state that, in relation to young learner English language teaching, she had to unlearn everything she was taught on her training course. I heard yet another qualified teacher indicate that you just need to do what they tell you on the course. These two statements suggest that a lack of coherence and continuity still remains between what teacher trainers and educators promote in young learner teacher training courses and what actually occurs in the teachers’ classrooms. The reason for this discrepancy between taught theory and learnt practice has already been shown to lie in the realm of teacher cognitions (Borg, 2006) although this research has mainly concentrated on adult English language teaching.

Formation of Teacher Cognitions

Teacher cognitions have been shown to influence teachers’ practice in the adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classroom in a variety of ways (Borg, 2006) and, more recently, in the young learner classroom (McLaughlin, 2012). These cognitions consist of the combination of beliefs, knowledge, and understanding that have been acquired by teachers over many years. These beliefs are initially based on what is referred to as the apprenticeship of observation (Lortie, 1975). This indicates that by the time s/he has finished both primary and secondary schools, the average student has completed 13,000 hours of observation of teachers teaching. This provides students with a sufficient amount of time to form concrete ideas on the characteristics and behaviour of a “good” and “bad” teacher. Thinking back to childhood, most of us can recall one of our good teachers and the teachers we liked or disliked. As a result, when we begin teaching, our natural practice is to emulate those good teachers. These concrete beliefs about what makes a good teacher and good teaching practice are brought in their entirety to initial teaching training courses irrespective of the type of training course.

Cognition vs. Classroom Practice

The underlying value in carrying out a comparison between cognitions and practice is not done to check whether teachers do what they claim to do. It is researched in order to try to understand the effect of cognitions on teaching practice. Information in this area helps to shed light on whether teacher trainers and educators can help develop an awareness of cognition among trainees and if this awareness can then aid teacher development.

The Role of Teacher Trainers and Educators

As aforementioned, trainee teachers bring their firmly cemented beliefs about teachers and teaching to their initial training courses and programmes. Teacher trainers, teacher educators, and course tutors are the people who deliver these initial teacher training courses, and therefore, they are the people who are faced with these accumulated assumptions, beliefs, and knowledge based on experience. The onus is on the teacher trainer to try to have trainees and teachers address their beliefs in order to reevaluate them in the light of proven evidence from both theoretical studies and practical research. The teacher trainers and educators must make teachers aware of what cognitions are and how they can become both aware and in control of these. This, although straightforward on paper, is a difficult path to walk—the line between teacher cognition and teacher practice. When this is examined in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) context, the task becomes even more difficult given that many training courses (e.g., Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults [CELTA], Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners [CELTYL]) take place over a 4- to 5-week period. Given that teacher cognitions are formed over a period of at least 12 years, it is optimistic to assume that these can be fundamentally examined and altered over a 4-week period (Hobbs, 2007).

Therefore, teacher educators and trainers must bear in mind the following points:

  • Trainee teachers tend to use course information as a tool to validate their beliefs rather than as a tool with which to reevaluate and assess their existing beliefs (Kagan, 1992).
  • Trainee teachers can complete a 3-year teacher training course without having their beliefs shaped in any way by their training (Peacock, 2001).
  • EFL teachers are reluctant to adopt the teaching practices forwarded by their teacher trainer if they fundamentally disagree with the approach. They willingly adopt those learning styles that they can identify with and incorporate these into their lessons without difficulty (Urmston, 2003).
  • EFL teachers may understand that in order to pass the course they must teach in a specified way, but this changes once they enter their own classrooms and are no longer supervised or observed (Almarza, 1996; Senior, 2006).
  • EFL teachers interpret information presented to them on their training courses based on their own experiences, which may differ from the intentions of the teacher trainer (DaSilva, 2005).

Relevance of Cognition Awareness for Trainers and Educators

Although the importance of introducing trainees and teachers to the role that their cognitions play has been highlighted, teacher educators and trainers must realize that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each trainee and teacher must work through the awareness-raising process individually given that they have had their own individual experiences that have shaped their cognitions and subsequently their teaching practice.

If trainees and teachers can be taught to identify areas of tension between their beliefs and practice, they can work towards resolving these tensions through reflection and continuous professional development. Teacher trainers and educators can help both trainees and teachers identify and understand what their actual classroom practices are and why they do what they do. This in turn will reduce tensions and lead to greater awareness, which ultimately will lead to better teaching in young learner classrooms.

Implementing this in our own teaching environments means looking towards a programme of continuous development through questioning and reflection and awareness raising. It means ensuring that trainees and teachers understand the origin of their beliefs and how these can unintentionally interfere with teaching practice in their young learner classrooms. It also means avoiding the trap of accepting that the completion of an initial teacher training course means that what we say is what we do in practice.


Almarza, G. (1996). Student foreign language teacher’s knowledge growth. In D. Freeman & J. Richards (Eds.), Teacher learning in language teaching (pp. 50–78). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. London, England: Continuum.

Da Silva, M. (2005). Constructing the teaching process from inside out: How pre-service teachers make sense of their perceptions of the teaching of the four skills. TESL-EJ, 9(2), 1–18.

Hobbs, V. (2007). A brief look at the current goals and outcomes of short-term ELT teacher education. Research Notes, 19, 7–11.

Kagan, D. M. (1992). Professional growth among preservice and beginning teachers. Review of Educational Research, 62, 129–169.

Lortie, D. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

McLaughlin, L. (2012). EFL teacher cognition: Beliefs and knowledge of teachers regarding young English language learners: Four case studies. Saarbrücken, Germany: Lambert Academic.

Peacock, M. (2001). Pre-service ESL teachers' beliefs about second language learning: A longitudinal study. System, 29, 177–195.

Senior, R. M. (2006). The experience of language teaching. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Urmston, A. (2003). Learning to teach English in Hong Kong: The opinions of teachers in training. Language and Education, 17(2), 112–137.

Louise McLaughlin currently works as a teacher trainer for the International House World Organization. She holds a PhD in applied linguistics, an MA in English language teaching, and a DELTA. She is the author of ELT Teacher Cognitions. Her areas of interest are young learners, teacher cognitions, and ESOL teacher training and development.


The considerable growth in the number of English language learners (ELLs), both in the United States and across the world, has brought about a tremendous demand for more teachers of English and “more effective approaches to their preparation and professional development” (Richards, 2008, p. 158). As a result, the role assigned to the enterprise of Second Language Teacher Education (SLTE) has become more prominent during the last three decades, and the need for more research about SLTE in order to contribute to the improvement of second language (L2) teaching has become apparent. This article first discusses how SLTE grew as a field by responding to issues internal and external to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and then locates language teacher identity as an emerging area of research within SLTE.


SLTE has developed as a field by responding to issues both internal and external to the field of TESOL (Burns & Richards, 2009). The internal changes mainly refer to research-based developments in such areas as L2 teacher cognition, reflective practice, critical pedagogy, knowledge about language, and teacher identity. These lines of inquiry have all raised novel questions and necessitated the reconsideration of the practices of L2 teaching and SLTE. There are also powerful external factors influencing the way SLTE develops, such as globalization and the ever-growing need for English in international communication settings, which brought about the emergence of national policies regarding English Language Teaching (ELT), teacher education, standards, and accountability (Burns & Richards, 2009). The rise of globalization and the unprecedented demand for learning English have heavily influenced SLTE because they have led governments to create new national English language policies and have created pressure for an increase in the quantity and quality of the ELT force all over the world.

These internal changes and external pressures have made contributions to the development of SLTE. The former has led the field of SLTE to reconsider existing theories and practices and has generated more research into how L2 teachers learn to teach and acquire their knowledge base. The latter has spurred SLTE to seek ways to meet the burgeoning need for an ever-larger ESOL teaching force and address the need to prepare ESOL teachers to serve ELLs with diverse goals and needs in the settings influenced by emerging national policies.

Internal Changes

Two seminal works (Freeman & Richards, 1996; Richards & Nunan, 1990) have promoted an exploration of internal changes in SLTE with the reconsideration of L2 teacher learning, knowledge base, and teaching practices in light of emerging research. These internal changes actually became a central issue in SLTE when Freeman and Johnson (1998) revisited and reconceptualized the L2 teacher knowledge base, devoted to language teacher education in the field of TESOL. Freeman and Johnson lament that SLTE has been mostly shaped by “tradition and opinion” rather than “theoretical definitions, documented studies or researched understandings” (p. 398). Their main argument is that SLTE can become more effective provided that the field can present better documentation and understanding of L2 teacher learning, along with an agreed-upon definition of language teaching. They find tenuous the transmission-oriented and product-oriented assumptions that have undergirded the SLTE research and practice thus far. They maintain that these assumptions have tended to capitalize “more on what teachers needed to know and how they could be trained than on what they actually knew, how this knowledge shaped what they did, or what the natural course of their professional development was over time” (p. 398). In their novel conceptualization of SLTE, they postulate a systematic view of the knowledge base in which three main domains need to be addressed: “(a) the nature of the teacher learner; (b) the nature of schools and schooling; and (c) the nature of language teaching” (p. 406). They also stress the continual and critical interdependence among these domains through processes of learning, socialization, and participation in and creation of communities of practice.

External Factors

Turning to the external factors the SLTE field has had to respond to, it can be found that English has acquired an unparalleled position that no other language has had in the history of humankind. It is enjoying a dominant status in business, technology, science, medicine, politics, telecommunication, the Internet, popular entertainment, arts, and sports (Crystal, 2000; Graddol, 1997). This unprecedented status has been primarily reinforced by globalization, which is a highly complicated and influential phenomenon permeating social, economic, political, cultural, and language dimensions of societies all over the world. In order to actively participate in the global economy and access the information and knowledge that constitute the foundation and sources for both social and economic progress, governments are crafting new English teaching and teacher education policies or making fundamental changes in the existing ones (Bottery, 2000; Kırkgöz, 2009), which encourage individual citizens to equip themselves with English language skills.

TESOL educators internationally encounter new challenges due to the multitude of issues stemming from the varieties of language use across world Englishes in all three Kachruvian circles (Nunan, 2001). Teacher education is one of the areas that has confronted these novel challenges. The developments regarding English as an international language and world Englishes have borne out a number of “concerns about the appropriate initial preparation of language teachers, the standard of target language mastery to be attained by nonnative-English-speaking teachers working in varied contexts, and the nature of the evolving knowledge and skill bases needed by all teachers” (Bailey, 2001, p. 610). Hence, these major concerns regarding the content and processes of educating ESOL teachers have entailed more attention in SLTE research.

As a consequence of these novel concerns confronting SLTE, three interlocked clusters of research have received significant prominence in SLTE literature: (1) research concerned with the curriculum of SLTE (Bartels, 2009; Crandall, 2000; Graves, 2009; Johnson, 2000, Richards, 1998; Tedick, 2005), (2) research about nonnative-English-speaking teachers as professionals in ELT (Braine, 2005, 2010; de Oliveira, 2011; Kamhi-Stein, 2009; Llurda, 2005; Mahboob, 2010; Selvi, 2011), and (3) research regarding L2 teacher learning and the knowledge base of SLTE (Crandall, 1999; Freeman & Johnson, 1998; Johnson, 1999; Richards, 1998; Snow, 2005; Tedick, 2005). These three emerging areas of research interacting with each other have played a critical role in the growth of SLTE as a field, which has been igniting several promising sparks since the early 1990s (Burns & Richards, 2009; Freeman, 2002; Kumaravedivelu, 2012).


As a common thread in the aforementioned clusters of SLTE research, L2 teacher identity has recently started receiving researchers’ attention (Duff & Uchida, 1997; Johnston, 1999; Kanno & Stuart, 2011; Morgan, 2004; Pavlenko, 2003; Tsui, 2007; Varghese, 2001). L2 teacher identity has become a prominent theme in teacher education because teacher identity formation holds a major role “as an integral part of teacher learning” (Tsui, 2011, p. 33). Because identity represents “a way of doing things” yet becomes adjusted according to “what is legitimated by others in any social context" (Miller, 2009, p. 173), teacher identity casts a major influence on many matters from how teachers learn to perform the profession, how they practice the theory and theorize their practice, how they educate students, to how they interact and collaborate with their colleagues in their social setting. Therefore, while delineating the scope of the L2 teacher knowledge base, Tedick (2005) mentions teacher identity as a central theme that is subsumed under the “broad construct” of knowledge base (p. 1). This is aligned with the novel direction “of much recent research in teacher education in seeking to portray teacher knowledge not as an isolated set of cognitive abilities but as being fundamentally linked to matters such as teacher identity and teacher development” (Johnston, Pawan, & Mahan-Taylor, 2005, pp. 53–54). Briefly, the investigation of teacher identity construction can shine light on the way L2 teachers develop as professionals while transitioning from a graduate or undergraduate student self to a teacher self.

Varghese, Morgan, Johnston, and Johnson (2005) observe that the need for inquiry into L2 teacher identity has appeared in the wake of developments in two lines of research about L2 teaching. First, classroom-based research underscores that L2 learning classrooms are “complex places in which simplistic cause-effect models of teaching methodology were inadequate” and that L2 teachers represent a prominent group of agents playing a tremendous “role in the constitution of classroom practices” (p. 22). This line of thought has been supported by the inquiries into teacher beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes, which view teacher identity as a significant factor in shaping the way L2 teaching is executed in an actual teaching context (Kanno & Stuart, 2011; Singh & Richards, 2006; Varghese et al., 2005). Second, the body of research looking at sociocultural and sociopolitical aspects of teaching accentuates that various dimensions of identity are of paramount importance in L2 classrooms and that the way an L2 teacher positions himself or herself vis-à-vis the learners in the classroom and the broader sociocultural and sociopolitical contexts is quite crucial in terms of classroom performance (Duff & Uchida, 1997; Singh & Richards, 2006; Uzum, in press; Varghese et al., 2005).

In light of classroom-based research and the studies investigating sociocultural and sociopolitical facets of L2 teaching, understanding the enterprise of L2 teaching and learning entails understanding L2 teachers, that is, having “a clearer sense of who they are: the professional, cultural, political, and individual identities which they claim or which are assigned to them” (Varghese et al., 2005, p. 22). These two lines of inquiry have drawn attention to how the different facets of L2 teacher identity play a determining role in the implementation of teaching practices. In other words, identity constitutes a framework through which teachers form their own ideas of their beings, actions, and understandings concerning their profession and their place in social contexts. These ideas impact the way they execute their teaching practices in L2 classrooms. Thus, contributing to the conception of teachers’ identity as a basis for their decision making and meaning making throughout L2 teaching practices, classroom-based research, and inquiries into sociocultural and sociopolitical aspects of SLT have created the basis for L2 teacher identity as an emerging field of research in SLTE.


Recurrent clarion calls have been voiced in SLTE literature for more attention to understanding how L2 teachers learn to teach their subject matter (Freeman, 1989; Freeman & Johnson, 1998; Freeman & Richards, 1996). Multiple scholars (e.g., Freeman, 2007; Johnston et al., 2005; Tsui, 2007) have directed particular attention to the paucity of research on how L2 teachers construct their professional identity with regard to their learning-to-teach process and knowledge base. The questions that need to be put under scrutiny are how L2 teacher learners learn to become professional teachers, what experiences in practicum and coursework contribute to their identity formation, and what roles their experiences in induction years play in their identity building.


Bailey, K. (2001). Teacher preparation and development. TESOL Quarterly, 35, 609–616.

Bartels, N. (2009). Knowledge about language. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 125–134). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Bottery, M. (2000). Education, policy and ethics. London, England: Continuum.

Braine, D. (Ed.). (2005). Teaching English to the world: History, curriculum, and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Braine, G. (2010). Nonnative speaker English teachers: Research, pedagogy, and professional growth. New York, NY: Routledge.

Burns, A., & Richards, J. R. (2009). Introduction: Second Language teacher education. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 1–8). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Crandall, J. (1999). Aligning teacher education with teaching. TESOL Matters, 9(3), 1–21.

Crandall, J. (2000). Language teacher education. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 20, 34–55.

Crystal, D. (2000). Language death. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

de Oliveira, L. C. (2011). Strategies for nonnative-English-speaking teachers’ continued development as professionals. TESOL Journal, 2, 229–238.

Duff, P. A., & Uchida, Y. (1997). The negotiation of teachers’ sociocultural identities and practices in postsecondary EFL classrooms. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 451–486.

Freeman, D. (1989). Teacher training, development, and decision making: A model of teaching and related strategies for language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 23, 27–45.

Freeman, D. (2002). The hidden side of the work: Teacher knowledge and learning to teach. Language Teaching, 35, 1–13.

Freeman, D. (2007). Research “fitting” practice: Firth and Wagner, classroom language teaching, and language teacher education. Modern Language Journal, 91, 893–906.

Freeman, D., & Johnson, K. E. (1998). Reconceptualizing the knowledge-base of language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 32, 397–417.

Freeman, D., & Richards, J. C. (1996). Teacher learning in language teaching. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Graddol, D. (1997). The future of English? London, England: British Council.

Graves, K. (2009).The curriculum of second language teacher education. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 115–124). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, K. E. (1999). Understanding language teaching: Reasoning in action. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Johnson, K. E. (Ed.). (2000). Teacher education. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

Johnston, B. (1999). The expatriate teacher as postmodern paladin. Research in the Teaching of English, 34, 255–280.

Johnston, B., Pawan, F., & Mahan-Taylor, R. (2005). The professional development of working SL/EFL teachers: A pilot study. In D. J. Tedick (Ed.), Second language teacher education. International perspectives (pp. 53–72). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Kamhi-Stein, L. (2009). Teacher preparation and nonnative English-speaking educators. In A. Burns & J. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education(pp. 91–101). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Kanno, Y., & Stuart, C. (2011). Learning to become a second language teacher: Identities in practice. Modern Language Journal, 95, 236–252.

Kırkgöz, Y. (2009). Globalization and English language policy in Turkey. Educational Policy, 23, 663–684.

Kumaravedivelu, B. (2012). Language teacher education for a global society: A modular model for knowing, analyzing, recognizing, doing, seeing. New York, NY: Routledge.

Llurda, E. (2005). Non-native TESOL students as seen by practicum supervisors. In E. Llurda (Ed.), Non-native language teachers: Perceptions, challenges and contributions to the profession (pp. 131–154). New York, NY: Springer.

Mahboob, A. (Ed.). (2010). The NNEST lens: Non native English speakers in TESOL. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars Press.

Miller, J. (2009). Teacher identity. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 171–181). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Morgan, B. (2004). Teacher identity as pedagogy: Towards a field-internal conceptualization in bilingual and second language education. In J. Brutt-Griffler & M. Varghese (Eds.), Rewriting bilingualism and the bilingual educator’s knowledge base (pp. 80–96). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Nunan, D. (2001). English as a global language. TESOL Quarterly, 35, 605–606.

Pavlenko, A. (2003). “I never knew I was a bilingual”: Reimagining teacher identities in TESOL. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 2, 251–268.

Richards, J. C. (1998). Beyond training. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. C. (2008). Second language teacher education today. RELC Journal. 39(2), 158–177.

Richards, J. C., & Nunan, D. (1990). Second language teacher education. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Selvi, A. F. (2011). Key concepts in ELT: The non-native speaker teacher. ELT Journal, 67(2), 187–189.

Singh, G., & Richards, J. C. (2006). Teaching and learning in the language teacher education course room. RELC Journal, 37(2), 149–175.

Snow, M. A. (2005). Key themes in TESOL MA teacher education. In D. Tedick (Ed.), Second language teacher education: International perspectives (pp. 261–272). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Tedick, D. (Ed.). (2005). Second language teacher education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Tsui, A. B. M. (2007). Complexities of identity formation: A narrative inquiry of an EFL teacher. TESOL Quarterly,41, 657–680.

Tsui, A. B. M. (2011). Teacher education and teacher development. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning, Vol. 2 (pp. 21–39). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Uzum, B. (in press). From “you” to “we”: A foreign language teacher's professional journey towards embracing inclusive education. Teaching and Teacher Education.

Varghese, M. (2001). Professional development as a site for the conceptualization and negotiation of bilingual teacher identities. In B. Johnston & S. Irujo (Eds.), Research and practice in language teacher education: Voices from the field (pp. 213–232). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Center for Advanced Research in Second Language Acquisition.

Varghese, M., Morgan, B., Johnston, B., & Johnson, K. A. (2005). Theorizing language teacher identity: Three perspectives and beyond. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 4, 21–44.

Bedrettin Yazan is a doctoral candidate and graduate teaching assistant in the Second Language Education and Culture Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research interests include second language teacher identity, practicum practices of preservice ESOL teachers, English as an international language, second language learner motivation from a poststructuralist perspective, and issues regarding accent in TESOL.

Baburhan Uzum is a doctoral candidate in the Second Language Studies Program at Michigan State University and is an English instructor in the Intensive English Program. His research interests include second language acquisition, language socialization, sociocultural theories on learning, second language teacher education, and interdisciplinary approaches to learning and teaching. His dissertation research is on foreign language teachers' socialization into the U.S. educational context.

Ali Fuad Selvi is a research associate and the interim coordinator of TESOL programs at the University of Maryland. He is also the chair elect of the NNEST (Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL) Interest Section. His research interests include the global spread of English as an international language and its implications for language learning, teaching, teacher education, and policy realms; issues related to nonnative English speakers in TESOL; and second language teacher education.



Globalization trends in education have resulted in a considerable increase of students seeking higher education abroad. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the number of students who chose to study overseas has tripled recently, increasing from 1.3 million in 2000 to 3.4 million in 2009 worldwide (UNESCO-UIS, 2012). However, the academic environment has done little to prepare for this diverse population of students. Likewise, multiple challenges faced by international students in foreign education systems (e.g., adaptation to a new culture, new teaching and learning styles, academic expectations) have strong potential to become barriers to the academic success of students. Plagiarism is one of the major impediments that faculty in higher education need to be concerned with when working with a diverse international student population.

Combating plagiarism, as with any other educational problem, starts with the understanding of its causes and methods. Because plagiarism is a social construct and a culturally embedded issue, there is no unity in its interpretation among individualistic and collectivistic cultures (Hayes & Introna, 2005). Therefore, students from collectivistic cultures might be simply unaware of the concept of intellectual property. In many cases, academic malpractice among international students is rooted in the learning approaches of each student's native culture, which can be based on memorization and direct repetition. Another issue for the international student is the limitation of foreign language proficiency and deficiency of linguistic and rhetorical skills, which are necessary for paraphrasing (Park, 2003). Finally, free access to electronic sources on the internet and simple downloading, copying, and pasting features significantly increase and complicate this problem of intentional or unintentional academic dishonesty among international students.

Technological Detection

In response to digital plagiarism, multiple technology-based detection programs have been developed to assist in the detection and prevention of this issue. Glatt Plagiarism Services and Turnitin are the most widely known in the U.S. academic environment. Even though anti-plagiarism technology has a high capability for text analysis and authenticity validation, it has numerous technical limitations. For example, it does not have all Internet sources in its database, and it is based on formal word recognition with no capability of tracking accuracy of paraphrasing or referencing. Finally, it is not able to develop ethical respect for intellectual property of individuals (Batane, 2010). Use of technology-based detection programs is not required but strongly recommended in an academic environment, and many instructors do use this type of detection. In our practice, we not only require submitting the assignments to Turnitin, but prior to submission, we demonstrate to students the potential of this program to validate authenticity of the text and provide a detailed report using a demo assignment. This technique has proven to be effective because students who are aware of this monitoring practice are less inclined to plagiarize. The results of this observation have also been supported by a study on the role of technology in reduction of plagiarism among students (Martin, 2005). However, in many cases students focus on putting more effort into cheating anti-plagiarism programs than in developing their authentic thoughts. How is this possible? Ask Google and you will get about 48,000 results, and Bing could offer you as many as 239,000 solutions on how, for example, to cheat Turnitin. It is clear that even though detection software can assist the academic environment in making plagiarizing more difficult for students, it cannot be used as a single tool for eliminating this problem.


A shift from detection to prevention is strongly encouraged in numerous publications on the issue of plagiarism (Arkoudis, 2006). The aforementioned causes of plagiarizing among international students imply that prevention efforts should be focused on educating students about plagiarism and ethical and legal issues related to it, training students in paraphrasing and citing techniques, and constructing assignments that are more difficult for plagiarizing. The following preventive strategies offered by experts have been successfully implemented in our teaching practice to combat the problem of digital cheating among international students.

Workshops on Plagiarism

Early in the semester, most academic programs and courses provide an orientation for international students on the issue of plagiarism through either special instructions or a syllabus. In most cases, such instruction is formal and not very efficient because it does not provide hands-on training on how to avoid plagiarism. If you are from a country where the use of someone else’s words and ideas is viewed as an honor, then learning that this is considered plagiarism is a huge paradigm shift for most students. Moreover, at the beginning of the semester, international students are overwhelmed with the academic and administrative flow of information and might not take this issue seriously. To provide extensive training and reinforcement, a special workshop should be available throughout the semester in multiple sessions. The emphasis of the training in this workshop should be on the recognition of plagiarism in its various types, the development of ethical respect for other people’s work, and the understanding of the legal consequences for not doing it, as well as training in citing techniques. Many universities offer such workshops through their library services, and instructors should strongly consider including them in the requirements of their courses.

Incorporating Paraphrasing Practice/Training in Course Work

Instructors should provide students with examples of correct referencing styles that will be appropriate for the given assignments. In addition, presentation of examples from previous assignments is an effective technique for demonstrating how ideas could be presented and sources are referenced in the given discipline. Furthermore, training students in paraphrasing and monitoring its accuracy could be performed by means of paraphrasing note cards used in the study by Walker (2005). The information on the cards is divided into two columns. In the left column, students are asked to write a reference in the specific style and direct quote. In the right column, students are assigned to paraphrase the information from the left column. These cards could also be used as part of a research project and be requred to be submitted with the research draft.

Modeling the Use of Referencing in Presentations in Class

Modeling and emphasizing proper referencing in class corresponds with the social learning theory and its viewing of learning through modeling (Batane, 2010). This technique suggested by Arkoudis (2006) has a strong potential to change previously acquired behavior while setting expectations for students on how to do things right.

Assigning Research Papers in Parts/Portfolio Assignments

The use of a portfolio allows students working on an assignment to move forward in a logical, organized fashion and gives instructors the ability to track the development of assignments in stages through the documentation in the portfolio. In addition, breaking a major research project into segments provides sufficient opportunities for students and instructors to detect and address possible issues related to plagiarism and reduce chances of student procrastination, which is named as one of many other reasons for copying and pasting (Park, 2003). For smaller assignments, graphic organizers could be used not only to facilitate the generation and organization of ideas but also to track these processes. They help in monitoring a student's personal involvement with the assignment during early stages of its development and reduce cases of plagiarizing large segments or entire texts.

Constructing Creative Assignments

Authentic assignments require a creative approach in their design stages by instructors and critical thinking in completion by students. Topics for creative assignments might require building on personal experience or be situationally specific. For example, this writing topic is too trivial or general and could lead to plagiarism: A person who made a difference. A better, more specific and personal topic is A person who made a difference in my life. A course that deals with learning styles may require students to develop their own theory of how individuals learn. This would require critical thinking, analysis, and synthesization of existing knowledge to develop a new concept. This assignment would not lend itself to plagiarism because that could easily be checked. Another example of a creative assignment would be to require students to document and analyze the work day of someone who is a professional in their field of study.

Assignments Requiring the Use of Specific Source Material

Assigning students to develop a project based on specified sources, the content of which is well known to the instructor, would reduce misuse of that content by students in their writing (“Preventing Plagiarism in Research Papers,” 2004). When giving the assignment to the class, the instructor provides a list of sources that must be used to complete the assignment. This technique can also assist students in developing critical paraphrasing skills.

Incorporating Information from Assignments into Class Discussions and Tests

This is another technique offered to monitor source information comprehension and referencing while motivating students to work diligently with their sources and preventing bold copying and pasting of segments of information (“Preventing Plagiarism in Research Papers,” 2004). For example, an instructor might ask students in a group to discuss and analyze the facts from their sources that provide a support for their claim.

Requiring Students to Submit Printouts of Source Materials

In an effort to be able to more easily track the accuracy of paraphrasing in student writing, instructors might require students to attach to their draft hard copies of their sources with highlighted cited passages (“Preventing Plagiarism in Research Papers,” 2004). This is a productive technique that encourages students to organize their source material, analyze it throughly, and cite it correctely.


Cultural understanding of the problem of plagiarism and positive strategies of dealing with it should be important aspects of training and professional development programs for English language teachers. In addition, in order to be prepared to work with a new diverse population of international students, all instructors in higher education could benefit from understanding the causes of the problem and enriching their expertise with the proactive strategies of its prevention. Awareness of the such strategies and their utilization could also help instructors around the world prepare students to meet the challenges of a global education and a global workforce environment.


Arkoudis, S. (2006). Teaching international students: Strategies to enhance learning. Melbourne, Australia: University of Melbourne, Centre for the Study of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/resources_teach/teaching_in_practice/docs/international.pdf

Batane, T. (2010). Turning to Turnitin to fight plagiarism among university students. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 13(2), 1–12.

Hayes, N., & Introna, L. D. (2005). Cultural values, plagiarism, and fairness: When plagiarism gets in the way of learning. Ethics & Behavior, 15, 213–231.

Martin, D. F. (2005). Plagiarism and technology: A tool for coping with plagiarism. Journal of Education for Business, 80(3), 149–152.

Park, C. (2003). In other people’s words: Plagiarism by university students—Literature and lessons. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 28, 471–488.

Preventing plagiarism in research papers. (2004). Change, 36(3), 18–20.

UNESCO-UIS. (2012). New patterns in student mobility in the Southern Africa Development Community (UIS Information Bulletin #7). Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/ib7-student-mobility-africa-2012-v4-en.pdf

Nadia Esque received her PhD in Linguistics and MA in TESOL from Rostov State Pedagogical University, in Russia, and her EdS in adult education from Marshall University, in the United States. She has been teaching in higher education in Russia and in the United States for over 10 years. As a faculty member of Marshall University, she has developed a curriculum for the TEFL graduate program, participated in multiple grant writings, and designed and administrated a community service program, English for Life Skills and Occupational Purposes. She is currently a professor in the English Department of the College of Liberal Arts at Marshall University. Her academic interests are TESOL, composition, functional linguistics, and adult education.

Laura Wyant, PhD, has been a professor at Marshall University, in Huntington, West Virginia, for the past 30 years. She has had the privilege of working with a vast number of international students. As advisor to the Teaching English as a Second Language major for 7 years, she has experienced interaction with international students on a variety of levels. She has served as advisor, instructor, mentor, practicum supervisor, counselor, and so on. She has also been involved with the Adult Education Program, Training and Development Program, and is currently a faculty member in Leadership Studies. In her many years at Marshall University, she has had the pleasure of visiting 16 countries and immersing herself in their cultures. These experiences have provided her with a distinct perspective on international education.

Natalia Chernikova has a PhD in education and has been teaching for South Federal University and Don State Technical University, in Russia, for the past 11 years. She has taught courses in education and EFL for the students of the Social Work Department, the Department of Management, and the Technical Department. Being a professor at South Federal University, she visited the University of Bologna, in Italy, to study the European experience in ensuring compatibility in the standards and quality of higher education. She is interested in the trends of globalization in higher education and issues of cross-cultural communication in foreign language learning.



Edge, J., & Mann, S. (Eds.). (2013). Innovations in pre-service teacher education and training for English language teachers. London, England: British Council.

On both the national and international platforms, numerous programs offer training and professional development for teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). These programs vary from program to program and offer certifications to graduate-level degrees. For instance, some programs allow minimal classroom observations, whereas others require 60 hours and in some cases up to 300 hours of field work experience. Course work in these programs may also vary in terms of focus on theory to applied practice or some combination of both. Given the multifarious nature of preservice teacher education in TESOL, this series provides a glimpse into contexts in international settings, where teacher trainers have identified areas of need amongst their preservice teachers and have implemented action plans to address those needs.

The underlying goal for each of the articles is to scaffold the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that teacher candidates will need as they transition into in-service classroom teaching. Innovations and their impact on preservice teachers presented in this series include teacher educators from Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As the editors state in the preface, it is important to remember that innovation in one context may be a long-standing practice in another. Nevertheless, the contributions provide a valuable lens on understanding the various approaches to English language teacher training from international perspectives.

Four themes can be extracted from these articles. One includes the importance of supporting teacher candidates in developing a deeper reflective capacity (Kurtoğlu-Hooton & Velikova). The second theme addresses innovative practices that meet the needs of teacher candidates in existing course work or professional development programs (Ashcraft & Ali; Cheng, Dick, Mercado, Özbilgin, & Neufeld; Samb & van Batenburg). Third, there are multiple articles on practices related to engaging students in field work experiences to bridge theory with actual classroom practice (Erkmen, Lengeling, & Oprandy; Addington, Brown, & Rutter). Lastly, several articles analyze the use of technology to enhance preservice teacher education (Gakonga, Hanington, & Ellis; Kurtoğlu-Hooton, Özbilgin, & Neufeld; van Batenburg).

Because they represent a variety of contexts and approaches, there is a considerable difference in the quality of rigor in data gathering, analysis, and evaluation used in each of the articles. Some are self-reflective pieces, and others are slightly more rigorous in terms of research design and methodology. Nevertheless, much can be gained by the intentional and thoughtful ways in which teacher educators approached and applied practical tools to meet the needs of teacher candidates in their specific contexts.

Dr. Sarina Chugani Molina serves as a faculty member in the Department of Learning and Teaching at the University of San Diego. She has taught ESL and EFL for over 15 years. She currently teaches courses in linguistics and second language acquisition and supervises practicums in the TESOL, Literacy, and Culture master’s program. Her research interests include preservice teacher training and development, and methods of teaching English as an international language.



The TEIS Newsletter encourages submission of articles and book reviews on topics of significance to teacher educators. We also solicit TEIS voices from all of our members.

Articles should be between 800 and 1,500 words and may address program descriptions, course descriptions, best practices, teaching techniques, or any topic of interest to ESOL teacher educators, especially those of sociopolitical interest or issues not commonly addressed in the literature. The focus of the articles should be teacher education or professional development.

Book reviews of between 300 and 500 words should provide the reviewer’s analysis of books that are relevant to the practice and theory of teacher education.

TEIS Voices are paragraphs of approximately 100 words that introduce a teacher educator’s work. TEIS voices serve as a networking tool as well as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a teacher, program, or country we might not otherwise read about.

Here are additional submission guidelines:

  • Include a title for the article (written in ALL CAPS).
  • Include author’s name, affiliation, country, and e-mail.
  • Include a 50-word abstract or teaser for the newsletter homepage.
  • Include a two- to three-sentence biography of the author(s).
  • Format text in MS Word (.doc(x)) or rich text (.rtf).
  • Include author’s photo in jpeg format with a head-and-shoulder shot (optional but encouraged!).
  • Write manuscript according to APA style (6th ed.).

We publish a couple times a year, and we would like to include as many voices as possible from different parts of the world. Please send your contributions to Valerie Traurig.