Second Language Teacher Education: Shifting Paradigms and Future Challenges

  • Dorota PotockaEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


The purpose of this paper is to examine the changes in perspective on second language teacher education that have taken place over the past 40 years. Over this period second language teacher education has witnessed a shift from a positivist epistemological perspective towards an interpretative one. In educational research, positivist research has sought to identify patterns of good teaching and has been referred to as “process-product” research. The interpretative epistemological stance is characterized by a shift from observational studies of what teachers do, to ethnographic descriptions based on observation and interviews with teachers about why they do what they do. Shifting perspectives on human learning and recent research on teacher cognition has resulted in a new approach to language teacher education – a socio-cultural perspective. Learning to teach, from this perspective, is based on the assumption that knowing, thinking and understanding come from participating in the social practices of learning and teaching in specific classroom and school situations. New approaches to L2 teacher education require a reconceptualization of the knowledge base upon which teacher educators make decisions about how to prepare L2 teachers for their profession. The paper concludes by outlining several major challenges facing second language teacher education.


Teacher Education Prospective Teacher Language Teaching Practitioner Knowledge Transmission Model 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BiałystokBiałystokPoland

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