Three perspectives on the role of teacher beliefs in the language classroom
Keywords:teacher beliefs, enacted beliefs, language awareness, plurilingual teaching, affordances for language awareness, classroom research, action research
This study explores the role of teacher beliefs in two teachers’ implementation of a collaboratively planned teaching activity into classroom practice. It is a retrospective case study aiming to explain how the difference between two teachers’ realisations of a specific bilingual teaching activity may be seen as related to their beliefs about language learning and teaching. The role of teacher beliefs for language teaching practice has been the subject of much research, although the nature of the relationship remains contested. This study explores a new approach to the puzzle by combining new and existing perspectives on teacher beliefs in the form of enacted, professed and implicit beliefs. The study re-examines data from a larger action research study through 4 cycles of analysis and interpretation, moving from observed teaching practices to the three perspectives on teacher beliefs to provide a description of the complex interplay between beliefs and practice. The analysis shows that the combination of the different perspectives on teacher beliefs allows for a meaningful interpretation of the relationship between teacher beliefs and teaching practice, that the two teachers’ beliefs about language learning and teaching play an important role in their transformation of teaching plans to teaching practice and that their different practices lead to different language learning affordances in the two classrooms. The article concludes by suggesting that the interplay between teaching activities, students’ engagement and teacher beliefs may be a fruitful place of inquiry for future research.