Language and reading instruction in early years’ classrooms: the knowledge and self-rated ability of Australian teachers
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This study sought to investigate the level of knowledge of language constructs in a cohort of Australian teachers and to examine their self-rated ability and confidence in that knowledge. Seventy-eight teachers from schools across the Australian state of Victoria completed a questionnaire which included items from existing measures, as well as newly developed items. Consistent with a number of earlier Australian and international studies, teachers’ explicit and implicit knowledge of basic linguistic constructs was limited and highly variable. A statistically significant correlation was found between (1) total self-rated ability and (2) years since qualification and experience teaching the early years of primary school; however, no relationship was found between self-rated ability and overall performance on knowledge items. Self-rated ability to teach phonemic awareness and phonics had no relationship with demonstrated knowledge in these areas. Teachers were most likely to rate their ability to teach skills including spelling, phonics, comprehension or vocabulary as either moderate or very good. This was despite most respondents demonstrating limited knowledge and stating that they did not feel confident answering questions about their knowledge in these areas. The findings from this study confirm that in the field of language and literacy instruction, there is a gap between the knowledge that is theoretically requisite, and therefore expected, and the actual knowledge of many teachers. This finding challenges current pre-service teacher education and in-service professional learning.