The linguistic proficiency of Korean English teachers : an investigation of self-assessment procedures and self-directed learning tasks using video
The issue of non-native speaker language teachers' linguistic proficiency has been of interest to many parties concerned with language teaching and learning. Nevertheless, very little research has been carried out into teachers' linguistic proficiency in general, and into their spoken proficiency in particular. The current study is intended to answer the question 'how proficient do Korean English teachers perceive themselves to be in English, and is there a way of helping these teachers improve their English without having to attend classes?'. First of all, teachers' linguistic proficiency was measured principally by self-assessment tests, since self-assessment is less threatening to teachers and useful in that it can help teachers become aware of their own weaknesses and eventually lead them to try to overcome those weaknesses. Data was gathered on the teachers' self-assessed linguistic proficiency, their confidence in using English, the proportion of time they spent using English in class, and the major factors influencing these. The major focus was on spoken proficiency, and so data was gathered by means of language tests, which was then compared with teachers' self-assessment results. The need and motivation for improvements in linguistic proficiency were confirmed. Techniques for improving linguistic proficiency were investigated, including teachers' reactions to various techniques. Materials based on video were prepared for use in case studies for the purpose of improving teachers' spoken language proficiency. Video materials were judged to be a practical alternative to stays in an English speaking country because they can expose teachers to recorded instances of the target language usage. The video materials were used over a semester to improve the teachers' language either directly, or indirectly through their preparing the materials for use in class. The effect of the video materials on the teachers' English was then investigated by comparing self-assessment and other test scores for spoken proficiency, before beginning to use the video materials, and after they had finished using the materials. The survey results showed that most teachers rated their English proficiency as not high with more than half of the respondents showing their lack of confidence in using English, and about 70 % stating that they used English less than 50% of the time in class. The results of using video materials indicated that video materials could help improve the teachers' proficiency in the spoken language with higher post-test scores than pre-test scores. This study has implications for practical applications in language teaching and leaming, and teacher training. The results also suggest that video materials can be effective in language classes, for self-study, and on teacher training courses. In addition, the results suggest that further larger scale investigations into teachers' language improvement will be Nvorth carrying out. Further investigation into the importance of improving the linguistic proficiency of trainee teachers in teacher training will also be worthwhile.