Teaching strategies and class practices of the teachers who teach Turkish as a foreign language (a qualitative research).

Author:Gocer, Ali


In order for the language teaching to be continued in accordance with the objectives, variables such as the social and physical dimensions of the environments, the quality of the utilized materials, the pedagogical background of the teacher, strategies, methods, etc. implemented by the teacher hold great importance. The most important of these variables is the quality of the teacher. Designing of the environment with a pedagogical point of view and the selection of the appropriate materials, strategies, methods and techniques are performed by the teacher. The progress of the learning and teaching process in accordance with the objectives is dependent on the experience of the teacher. The quality of the teacher is somehow reflected by the strategy and method that he implements and by his technical knowledge.

The relationship between these concepts which shape the process and directly affect the accomplishment of the goals was firstly mentioned by Edward Anthony. According to Anthony, approach is the level in which the assumptions about the language and language teaching are defined. There can be many methods in an approach. Method is the level in which the theory is implemented and the choices related to the skills and content to be taught and the teaching order of the content is made. Technique is the level for the various practices actually conducted in a classroom (1). On the interrelated concept classification of Anthony, Tosun says (16): Approach is a number of assumptions about the nature of the language, learning and teaching. Method is the general plan of systematic language presentation based on a selected approach. Technique is consistent with the method and accordingly coherent to the approach and it is a special activity that is performed in the classroom. Richards and Rodgers (13) base the three level concept arrangement of Anthony upon the implementation of a method by the techniques hierarchically and in the order of arrangement and the coherence of this method in accordance with an approach.

There are some basic principles which can shed a light upon the determination of strategy, method and technique to be followed in the language teaching studies. Demirel arranges these principles in the following order: developing the four basic skills, teaching from the simple to the complex, using the audio-visual tools, presenting a single structure at a time, enabling students to participate in the lesson more actively, taking into account of individual differences, etc. (7). In accordance with these principles, foreign language teaching is actualized in the framework of structural, functional and interactive language theories (13). The aforementioned principles and language theories require the implementation of cognitive, communicational, social, social-emotional, auditory-lingual, auditory-visual, functional-conceptual, natural approach and some techniques coherent to these approaches (4), (6), (7), (11).

In an educational system, the roles of the learners are closely related with the position and function of the teacher. The roles of the teacher are connected with the assumptions related to the language learning in approach level. Some methods provide teacher with knowledge and managing source, some methods limit the role of the teacher to being a counselor, catalyst and guider and some methods focus on the educational content by limiting the initiative of the teacher (13). Apart from acting in accordance with structural, functional, interactive language theories, teachers can also offer students the opportunity to gain and learn basic language skills with the contribution of components such as students' eagerness, environment facilities, support of the school administration, etc. In this scope, learning must be considered not as a knowledge providing tool, but a way to become a more competent learner in the conducted studies (8). In this respect, it is important for teachers to enable the learning and teaching process to become constantly dynamic and to diversify the activities by observing the feedback from the students and the general efficiency of the activities. In a learning and teaching environment which is shaped by an approach that takes into account the individual differences of the target group, efficiency will be able to be accomplished in high levels. Teacher's form of implementation of methods and techniques shaped with strategy developing competence of the teacher, environment facilities, students' attention to the lesson, their competence of using the provided messages, perceptions, etc. is important in earning the language skills.

One must not think that only one methodological approach is enough in foreign language lesson. Apart from the method, substantiality of materials must also be accomplished (2). Enriching the environment with different materials will contribute in catching the attention of students, their motivation in the lesson and fully comprehension of the lesson to be taught.

The teachers of foreign language are composed of either native speakers or teachers who are experienced in that language (5). All teachers who undertake the teaching of Turkish as a foreign language speak Turkish as their mother language. In other words, they are the native speakers of the target language. Whether a native speaker of the target language or an experienced person speaking a different mother language, a teacher who has achieved a fine self-training teaches all features of the target language to its students. According to Peyton, a good foreign language teacher must have the following qualities (3):

* High level competency in the reading, listening, speaking and writing skills of the target language

* The ability to use the target language for both social and professional purposes in daily life

* The ability to understand the foreign language in both media and press

* An extensive knowledge in art and academic field

* Knowledge of the social, political, historical and economical facts of the area in which the language taught is spoken

* A pedagogical background composed of the individual's development, learning and foreign language acquisition theories

* Knowledge in information technologies and implementation of these technologies in language teaching

The teaching of Turkish in Turkey as a foreign language is performed by either the government (MEB, T IKA) or autonomous organizations with the government's authorization given to these organizations to do so. The first organizations among those that come to our mind are Ankara University TOMER and Gazi University TOMER.

Problem: What is the level of the teaching strategies and class activities of the teachers who teach Turkish in Turkey as a foreign language?

Sub problems:

* Do the teachers who teach Turkish as a foreign language use modern teaching strategies in the learning and teaching process?

* Is the physical environment in which the language teaching activities are performed and the social dimension of the environment (class interaction and the usage of the language) appropriate for the development of the language skills?

* Does the teacher maintain the learning conditions of the students (attention, eagerness, asking questions, speaking, participation in the discussions, taking responsibility) at a sufficient level by enabling them to become active?

Purpose of the research: The purpose of this research is to determine the competency level of the teachers who teach Turkish in Turkey as a foreign language in the learning and teaching process and to offer the language lecturers their strategies, methods, techniques and class activities which are considered efficient.

Universe and sample: The universe of this research is composed of the teachers who teach Turkish in Turkey as a foreign language. Fifteen samples have been selected among the teachers who work in the institutions which provide the teaching of Turkish as a foreign language in two levels namely secondary education and higher education (state schools: GIH High School & private course centers: TOMER 1/2).

Limitedness: The research is limited to 15 teachers, interview form questions among the data collection tools and the extents of observation stated in the observation form.

Method (Collection and analysis of the data): In the research, interview and observation methods have been used in the scope of qualitative approach. 11 questions in the interview form have been asked to 15 teachers who teach Turkish as a foreign language and the answers obtained have been noted down and subjected to content analysis. In the scope of the research, 4 teachers have been observed in the class environment. The findings related to the quality and practices of the teachers who have been observed in 5 extents of observation in the observation form have been noted down. Noteworthy data obtained with interview and observation method have been firstly put into the related sections in the tables. Processed data have been coded with content analysis and it is attempted to obtain some themes. In the last stage of the analysis, the data have been defined and interpreted in accordance with the codes and themes.

Content analysis is to bring together the similar data in the content analysis in the scope of certain concepts and themes and to interpret these data by arranging them in a comprehensible order (18). The understanding of the content of documents is dependent on the determination of the content of words and sentences in the texts with content analysis (17). Coding is an initial and major process for the analysis gravitated towards revealing the content of the data in the qualitative analysis (12).

The findings obtained with personal knowledge, interview and observation forms used as data collection tools have been classified in two categories. The first one is the findings related to personal knowledge and the second one is the findings obtained with the interview...

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