Moving from teaching older learners to young learners : cases of English language teachers in Turkey
This thesis explores the experiences of four English language teachers in Turkey who moved from teaching in either high schools or language schools to teaching English to young learners. The study follows these teachers in their first year of teaching in primary school, describes the changes they went through in their approach to teaching English, and identifies the influences on these changes. The background to this research was an educational reform which introduced English into the primary curriculum. After this reform, there was a shortage of English teachers at the primary level. A common solution was to recruit English teachers from other levels of the educational system. Three of the participating teachers taught in high school before they moved to teach English in the primary school. One of the participating teachers taught English to adults in a language school before moving to the primary level. The data for the study was generated through systematic interviews with the teachers, as well as regular observations of their classes, over the course of the school year. The interpretation of the data was informed by the existing literature on teaching English to young learners and the literature on teacher change. At the end of the school year, all of the teachers said they would like to continue teaching English in the primary school. In adjusting to teaching children, the teachers mainly focused on developing class management strategies. The teachers did not, however, focus on maximising opportunities for learning the target language. The main influences on the teachers' change were in-service training, textbooks, as well as interaction with and support from colleagues. The research contributes to the debate of how to best facilitate the introduction of English into primary schools, and calls for further research into teacher development in the context of such curricular reforms.