Final Thoughts and Acknowledgements

Hello! It’s hard to believe that this is officially my last week of my research project! Although I will still be working on finishing up my final PURE report and poster to hopefully present my research at a few conferences. I’ve decided to focus on the professional development piece of the results, specifically in relation to empathy, confidence and appreciation as teachers still carry over these traits in their current practice.

Thank You

I overall think my project went really well (although that may because I’m use to not getting data in any of my previous science projects). I learned a lot about qualitative research – including how to analyze qualitative data and use Nvivo. As well, how to go through ethics, and persevered in getting data (sorry to all the teachers I constantly emailed to get interviews).   

This project was also extremely relevant to me as a pre-service teacher and as I’m going on my TAB journey in less than a month! I learned a lot of tips about teaching and tips about my TAB journey. This makes me a lot less anxious to travel and teach abroad again. I’m starting to get very excited. Thank you so much to all TAB alumni who took the time for an interview!

About 8 months ago I was rushing to get a project proposal finished for my PURE application. I am very grateful to the University of Calgary for funding this project through PURE. Thanks to my friend Dr. Jess Cockburn for all her help with this project and being second coder for my data. Finally, this project would not have happened without my wonderful supervisor, Roswita Dressler. Thanks so much for your immense help.

Good-bye for now! Thanks for following!  

Some Key Results

This week I finished coding my data and inputting it into Nvivo. As shown in the image below, some themes showed up more in interviews than others. TAB alumni consistently talked about  instructional engagement, professional development, comparative schooling awareness and student teacher observations in interviews. After 2-3 years, they still remember their time abroad and reflected upon ways it currently influences their teaching practice.

Results

Instructional Engagement

Instructional Engagement “refers to diverse forms of classroom-related activities” (Jiang, Coffey, DeVillar, & Bryan, 2010)

Almost all of the participants talked about ways they learned to communicate with people (students, host families etc.) with a language barrier. Many talked about the importance of incorporating visual learning into their teaching, as well as using body language to communicate. Those that currently work with ELLs and even those that don’t, still think about language choice and different ways of expression for students. Additionally, many used Canada as a means of engaging students while teaching them English. They further talked about the importance of engaging students but finding things they are interested in.

Professional Development

Professional Development “refers to diverse forms of qualities mentioned in journals relating to professional development as a teacher.” (Jiang, Coffey, DeVillar, & Bryan, 2010)

All participants talked about how the experience influenced them personally and affected their character. Many brought up how the experience made them more empathetic, as they understood the position of being “the other” in an environment. Others, didn’t feel so much as “an other” because the people were so welcoming, but did say it was good to be in the position of a student again – learning a new language from square one. Those that did teach, talked about how it made them more confident in their ability, as they were able to build relationships with students despite a language barrier. As well, they became more adaptable as they had to deal with a new environment and teaching in an unfamiliar system. One teacher talked about how it made them comfortable in making mistakes in the classroom and helped them learn to forgive themselves if things didn’t go as expected. In terms of teaching, all talked about strategies they learned abroad.

A very interesting development that some teachers talked about was that it made them appreciate Canada and our education system and resources more. Almost all participants saw minimal differentiation in the classroom and students learned in a very traditional way (workbooks, lecture-based instruction). As well, there was little use of technology in the classroom – something that we take for granted here.

Comparative Schooling Awareness

Comparative Schooling Awareness “refers to comparative or contrastive forms of school-site-related activities mentioned in journals” (Jiang, Coffey, DeVillar, & Bryan, 2010)

All teachers discussed differences and similarities they found between the Canadian classrooms and other countries classrooms. Some were related to culture, such as the respect students showed teachers and their school (such as through cleaning their school each day). Or that teachers and students had a more familial relationship (in one country, teachers were called aunt and uncle) Others related to the differences in school structures and schedules. Such as differentiated students into academic and trade streams early on, so that all students can succeed.  

As talked about before, almost all teachers saw traditional and “old school” teaching in their classrooms. One participant talked about how he observed what didn’t work in language learning in his classroom. Many talked about the importance of differentiation, which they learned through their B.Ed programs and currently use in their classrooms. As stated before, there was a huge difference in technology use in classrooms – which made teachers appreciate the resources we have here.

Student Teacher Observations

Student Teacher Observations “refers to student teacher’s observations, participatory or non-participatory, at the  school site” (Jiang, Coffey, DeVillar, & Bryan, 2010)

As well, we included what student-teachers actually did (the reality of what happened in schools) in this category.

All participants talked about what they actually did in their schools. Some only observed, while some taught full-time. Some were more like assistants in the classroom, where they interacted with students individually or in groups. Some were incorporated into lessons, such acting with students and others developed their own lesson plans. Many did lessons on Canadian culture. This really shows me that the experiences of the participants were so different; however, it’s interesting that many still gained similar skills despite these differences.   

Those are the primary results I’ve decided to focus on! Unfortunately, I can’t share any direct quotes from the interviews. It’s hard to believe that I only have one more week of my research, which I will spend writing up reports and preparing a poster so that I can present this research at future symposiums.

References

Jiang, B., Coffey, D., DeVillar, R. A., & Bryan, S. (2010). Student teaching abroad inter-group outcomes: a comparative, country-specific analysis. Journal of International and Global Studies, 2(1), 36–56. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA360120105&v=2.1&u=ucalgary&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w

Some Language Learning Tips

Hello everyone! I apologize for my hiatus as I was taking two summer courses. Future TAB students, you will have to take an Ethics and Law class as well as your specialization course in the summer. I really enjoyed both of them! This past week I’ve been coding my data using the method outlined here. I will compare it with my second-coders coding and then input it into NVivo. As my TAB journey is approaching, I’ve also been focused on trying to learn as much basic Germany as I can. In my interviews, I’ve also focused on language learning asking participants if and how they learned their TAB countries language. Some didn’t focus too much on language learning, but others became fluent in a new language within 2-3 months! As teachers, there’s benefits in learning what it’s like to start at square one again with learning. I’m by no means an expert in language learning, but here are some tips that I find useful.

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Be okay in making mistakes

I was also very nervous (and still am) to try and speak other languages due to my fear of mistakes and incorrect pronunciation. However, I’ve learned that the only way you can get better is by practicing and by making mistakes. Most people are very kind as well, and even those who aren’t – you probably won’t see them ever again so it doesn’t even matter!

Watch movies and shows in your target language

This tip was also discussed by a teacher I interviewed. It’s an entertaining way to get use to the sounds of the target language and pick up words.

Active immersion

The teachers that did pick up new languages while abroad were extremely motivated to learn. They immersed themselves as much as they could with native speakers. Some purposely chose to stay with host families so that they’d be able to speak and listen to the native language as much as possible.  

Use technology and apps!

Many teachers I talked to used apps like DuoLingo and HelloTalk. I personally have used both, and although they are free and are useful, I still personally learn better in a formal setting. I also find using Quizlet to memorize and learn vocabulary useful. As adults, only so much language can be learned passively. One also must be willing to learn the grammar aspects of language at that takes work!

Learn phrases and words that are useful to you!

I remember in my french classes in Montreal, we’d try and focus on useful phrases we could use in the city. I think it’s important to start with things you’re going to use – such as how to order food, introduce yourself, etc -rather than focusing on tiny grammar nuisances in the beginning.

Have fun with it!

You’re going to make lots of mistakes and it’s going to take a long time to become completely fluent in a language. Therefore I think it’s important to just enjoy the experience and be proud of little accomplishments. I remember in Korea I’d be so happy after I read a Korean word and realized it was an English word. For example, 카푸치노 is literally just cappuccino in hangul!

Best of luck to all those learning a new language. There’s tons of more useful tips online (such as here and here) from people who know a lot more than me.

Hopefully I’ll be able to share some results from my study next week. I’ll keep you updated!

 

How do I analyze qualitative data? Part 2

Hi again! This week was quite busy as I continued trying to figure out how to analyze my data. As well, I received most of the transcriptions from our transcriptionist and spent the week relistening to the interviews and anonymizing the transcriptions. Just for fun, I ran a word frequency query on NVivo. Here are the most common words from the interviews (not including “like” and “yeah”).

Word Cloud 5

I met with my supervisor this week and we tried using Jiang et al. (2010) framework to code one of the interviews. This study developed this instrument to compare two different groups of pre-service teachers who taught in the same country, but in separate years (Jiang, Coffey, DeVillar, & Bryan, 2010). Later, they also used this framework for a very similar study to mine, where they interviewed and observed teachers who had taught abroad as pre-service teachers (Devillar, Devillar, & Jiang, 2012). It was the only clear framework I could find (other studies just mentioned content analysis). We tried coding using this thematic framework – it contains 9 main themes (Devillar, Devillar, & Jiang, 2012).

  1. Instructional Engagement
  2. Professional Development
  3. Instructional Assessment
  4. Emotional Preparedness
  5. Comparative Schooling Awareness
  6. Perceived Role
  7. Cultural Responsiveness
  8. Perceived Student Attributes
  9. Student Teacher Observations

My supervisor and I had coded the interview separately and obtained fairly similar results. We did notice it missed out on language learning components as I did ask questions centered around that during the interviews. Therefore, I may go through and code separately for language learning components. For now, I’ve been using this model and have started coding my data.

I have to take a 2-week break from my research as I have summer courses to complete before TAB. When I come back the plan is to finish coding my data, place it into NVivo and figure out the primary results. 

Till then!   

Devillar, A., Devillar, B. R. A., & Jiang, B. (2012). From student teaching abroad to teaching in the U .S . Classroom: Effects of global experiences on local instructional practice. Teacher Education Quarterly, (Summer).

Jiang, B., Coffey, D., DeVillar, R. A., & Bryan, S. (2010). Student teaching abroad inter-group outcomes: a comparative, country-specific analysis. Journal of International and Global Studies, 2(1), 36–56. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA360120105&v=21&u=ucalgary&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w

How do I analyze qualitative data?

Hello there! Today this week I spent learning about how to analyze qualitative data. I come from a science background where the majority of data is quantitative. Thus, I’ve been trained in using statistical programs such as excel and R and figuring out if t-tests, ANOVA’s, ANCOVAs and what-not can be used. My supervisor often talks about coding the blogging data. How could one code blogs or do analysis without math? Fear not – for there is NVivo.

Nvivo

NVivo is a software that works with qualitative data which includes things like interviews, blogs, pictures, and videos. I listened in on a workshop and have played around with the program these past 2 weeks. Essentially you can upload all of your data and organize them in different ways. For my data, I can arrange a participants reflections, blog and interviews all together so that I can make comparisons. Additionally, you can create nodes (themes/ideas that relate to your data) and then code your data to one or more of these nodes. So that’s what coding means! You can also use NVivo to pick out key words and see how often it shows up in your data. NVivo is a tool that you can use, but you still need to either develop the framework you will use to code your data yourself or base it on another study. Thus, I reviewed the literature to look for what similar studies did.

I found quite a few useful studies that are related to my project. Most studies follow a content analysis and may use the constant comparative method. I think this essential means that they review their data and then see which ideas emerge to form themes. Then they relook at that data and see if they can arrange the themes into categories. It’s more of developing the method as you look at the data. Where as in science, it was considered biased to not develop what methods you will use prior to looking at the data (don’t fish for a significant p-value!). Devillar et al. (2012) study is very similar to mine where they conducted interviews with teachers and observations in their classrooms after they had completed a sojourn teaching abroad trip within their education program. They developed a table to code their data and I’m considering using it as a framework for mine as well.

To be continued….

References

Bryan, S. L., & Sprague, M. M. (1997). The Effect of Overseas Internships on Early Teaching Experiences. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 70(4), 199–201. https://doi.org/10.1080/00098655.1997.10544196

Devillar, A., Devillar, B. R. A., & Jiang, B. (2012). From student teaching abroad to teaching in the U .S . Classroom: Effects of global experiences on local instructional practice. Teacher Education Quarterly, (Summer).

Jiang, B., Coffey, D., DeVillar, R. A., & Bryan, S. (2010). Student teaching abroad inter-group outcomes: a comparative, country-specific analysis. Journal of International and Global Studies, 2(1), 36–56. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA360120105&v=2.1&u=ucalgary&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w

Jiang, B., & DeVillar, R. A. (2011). Effects of School and Cultural Contexts on Student Teaching Abroad Outcomes: Insights from U.S. Student Teachers in Belize, China, and Mexico. Action in Teacher Education, 33(1), 47–62. https://doi.org/10.1080/01626620.2011.559437

Common Challenges of Teaching Abroad

Hello again! This week I thought I’d discuss some of the challenges associated with studying and teaching abroad, as well as some ideas for overcoming these challenges. In my interviews, all the teachers I’ve talked with have spoken very positively about their experiences. Any challenges they’ve faced have definitely been talked about in a positive light.

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Communication Challenges

This is obviously a big one as most placements are in countries where the native language is not English. Sometimes teachers were placed in home-stays where the family spoke little to no English. In the classroom teachers talked about the additional challenge in teaching students – particularly the younger ones who had a very low English level. Getting around in a foreign country also has its challenges; however, many of the teachers I talked to explained that locals were very kind and willing to help.

What are somethings you can do?

  • Learn some basics of the foreign language. This will help in communicating, but also shows others that you are willing to learn their language as well. Even when working with students, allowing them to teach you some of their language can be a great way to build relationships. In some cases, the teachers I talked too became fluent in the language in 2-3 months (effort goes a long way).   
  • For teaching, check out my other blog post here about strategies for working with ELL students.
  • Have a sense of humour! Use body language and gestures to help and try not to stress out too much about communicating.

Cross-Cultural Adaptation

There are a few models I’ve read about that attempt to understand the adaptation that occurs when living in a foreign place such as Kim’s Cross-Cultural Adaptation Model. When interviewing teachers, all of them did talk about cultural differences and adapting to them, but it didn’t really seem like it was a challenge or something they didn’t enjoy. However, it can be challenging to adapt to a new way of life and different cultural norms. Always being “the other” and standing out can have negative psychological effects. 

What are somethings you can do?

  • Do some research on the country you are going to. It’ll help if you know what is considered polite and disrespectful. For example, in Japan and Korea it’s very rude to not give something (such as money) without using two hands.
  • Have an open mind (which I think is why most of the teachers I talked to enjoyed their experiences). Even if you don’t agree with a cultural norm, you do have to respect the people and their culture.   
  • Try to not take things personally. It may be hard at times if you are experiencing discrimination, but it’s important to have a strong back-bone to overcome this and realize this experience is not going to last forever. 

Home-Sicknesses

As talked about before on my post about culture-shock, homesickness is a common feeling that most people go through. Since TAB is a shorter program (8-10 weeks), most of the teachers I’ve talked with didn’t discuss this in too much detail. I have experienced this as when I was in Korea, as I was away from home for a year.

What are somethings you can do?

  • Have strong support systems. Whether this is from using social media to talk with friends and family from back home or from other teachers that are teaching abroad as well. 
  • Try to keep busy and experience new things! Take time for self-care as well.

Financial difficulties may also arise, as living abroad (especially if you aren’t working) can be expensive. It’s important to be prepared before going. Student-teachers also talked about having to make time for courses they had to take while teaching. Especially in cases where teachers were teaching full time! Time-management is crucial.  

I think the challenges you face while abroad are what makes it such a great experience. After overcoming them, you become more adaptive and confident in your abilities as a teacher.

What are some challenges you have faced while abroad? How did you overcome them?

References

Sandel, T. L. (2014). “Oh, I’m here!”: Social media’s impact on the cross-cultural adaptation of students studying abroad. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 43(1), 1–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/17475759.2013.865662

Things I’ve learned about research in education

Hello! After a short hiatus from my research, I’m back and trying to finish up some interviews before analyzing my data! Since I’m more than halfway through my project I thought I’d do some reflection on what I’ve learned so far about research in education. My background is in science and I’ve completed numerous research projects before, but I knew research in education would be different. In science, I was used to a very structured approach. There are similarities in education research, but there’s a lot more flexibility and openness when dealing with a qualitative data. Here are some things I’ve learned!

Research

 

Persistence is key.

As I knew from my science projects, research comes with a lot of challenges and problem solving. I’ve had to contact teachers a few times (which I do feel bad about), but know is necessary. As well, in figuring out technology (specifically in gaining access to adobe connect) there was a lot of people I had to ask before finding the right answer.

Everything takes longer than you think!

In my original plan, I was hoping to finish interviews within the first month – however, I only had a couple done after a month. It takes a lot longer to schedule interviews than I thought – mainly because people are super busy.

Ethics approval also takes a long time.

Thankfully, my wonderful supervisor was able to set me up under a project that already had ethics approval – so I was able to start really quickly on contacting teachers and interviewing them. However, my friends who are also doing research this summer had to start their ethics in May and they were trying to work with youth. It can take 12 weeks to get approval for a newly started project – which is most of the summer. Therefore it’s important to start early!    

People are willing to help.

My biggest concern for this project was not getting any participants. However, many people have been very open and willing to participate (thanks so much everyone!). As well I’ve received lots of help from my supervisor and other faculty members in figuring out technology (for recording interviews) and other logistics of my project.

It can be pretty fun!

So far, this project has been a lot less stressful than my science projects! Maybe it’s the nature of my project, but it’s been interesting to hear about the different experiences and perspectives of all the teacher’s who’ve taught abroad. It’s also helping prepare me for my TAB experience and is making me very exciting to teach abroad again. Even reading the literature is interesting as a lot of the articles aren’t too strewn with academic lingo.

Once I start analyzing my data I’m sure I’ll learn much more about working with qualitative data!

Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners

One of the benefits of teaching abroad is the opportunity to gain experience teaching English Language Learners (ELLs). We discuss many strategies for working with ELLs in our Education program, and have the opportunity to practice these strategies in practicum. However, there are differences in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Teaching ESL means teaching English in a country where English is the primary language. Teaching EFL means teaching English in a country where English is not the primary spoken language.

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Teaching English as a Second Language

  • Classrooms typically have students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures
  • Students will therefore struggle with different grammar mistakes, depending on their first language  
  • Students will have more practice speaking English between classmates and outside of the classroom
  • Many ELLs in Canada have good conversational English, but struggle with academic language that was not picked up as a child.
  • Students may have more motivation to learn English as it’s needed in society

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

  • Classrooms typical have students form the same cultural background who speak the same language
  • Students will likely make similar grammar mistakes that can be corrected as a whole
  • Students may primarily communicate in their first language
  • Students may be more focused on the academics of English and focused more on reading and writing than speaking
  • Students may not be as engaged as it’s not a language they need to use outside of the classroom

Due to these differences, it’s key that teachers adjust their practice depending on if they are teaching ESL or EFL. However, a lot of the strategies teachers learn while teaching abroad can be used in Canadian classrooms too. In my interviews with teachers, they’ve talked about strategies they use with ELLs. Here are some common strategies that are used when working with ELLs.

  1. Multimodal Education

    Most people I’ve talked to explain that a key strategy when working with any ELL is to use different means to communicate messages. This means the use of visuals, audio, body language and text to communicate.

  2. Teaching language through culture

    Motivation is a key component in every student. Teachers who’ve taught abroad did often teach about Canada and our different customs as a way of engaging the class.

  3. Breaking Down steps

    As a native English speaker, it’s really easy to talk fast and assume students understand. Although you should speak naturally, you should break down instructions into steps so that students have time to process what you said. 
  4. Scaffolding

    Building on students prior knowledge is also key and giving room for first languages to be used. Showing interest in the students first language also helps build relationships. 
  5. Playing games

    Many teachers I talked to ran simple English games to make the class more fun! In TAB, during one of our workshops we learn a lot of drama based games that students can play. There are tons of resources online such as this post here.

These are some strategies that work well for ELLs. There are many other things, such as highlighting key vocabulary and encouraging group work. A great resource can be found here. Many of these strategies work for non-ELLs too!

Are there any other teaching strategies that have worked for you?

References

Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat (2009). ELL voices in the classroom. Secretariat Special Edition #8. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/ELL_Voices09.pdf

Different Teaching Abroad Opportunities

Different Teaching Abroad Opportunities

For Canadians there are multiple opportunities to teach abroad. I thought it would be useful to learn and write about some of the different opportunities to teach abroad!

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Unpaid Opportunities

Student-Teaching Abroad
Many teacher preparation programs have study abroad opportunities that are affiliated with universities. There is a huge variety with the locations, length and expectations of the students within these programs. Some programs are directly linked to a course and students are assessed in different ways, usually involving a mixture of reflective writing and discussions. With student-teaching abroad, students are not paid and generally incur the cost of travel. These opportunities are generally organized by faculty members and involve an exchange or relationship with an international university.

This project centers on teachers who have taught abroad as student-teachers with the program Teaching Across Borders (TAB). Even within TAB there’s so much diversity in experiences as every country has different expectations of the students. For example, students who go to Vietnam often do more teaching whereas students who go to Brazil do more observation. TAB is not graded or part of a course, therefore there is no requirement for a certain amount of teaching to be completed. However, students do still complete two courses online while abroad.   

Study-Travel Programs

Separate of post-secondary institutions, many organizations advertise teaching and travel abroad opportunities. For many of these programs, minimal qualifications are necessary and participants pay to participate. A key part of participating in these programs is to do your research and understand who the sponsor is, the finances involved in the trip, critically review the programs of study and the ethics of the trip (ensure that there is no unethical voluntourism occurring).

Paid Opportunities

International Schools

International schools are schools that promote international education. Therefore, these schools usually follow a different curriculum than the countries national curriculum. There are many Canadian International Schools that follow a Canadian Provinces’ curriculum and they can be found here. There are also schools that are specific to each provinces’ curriculum – here’s the list for accredited international schools which follow the Alberta curriculum. To teach at these schools teachers must meet the teacher certification requirements in Canada. It’s different for each province, but generally this means completing a degree in a teacher preparation program. As well, teachers may teach a variety of subjects, not just English.      

Teacher Exchanges

There are teacher exchanges that are organized by Teacher Associations. For Alberta, the Alberta Teachers Association organizes short term and long term exchanges which can be found here. To apply for these teachers must have a Permanent Alberta Teaching Certificate, a permanent teaching position and approval of the board and administrators. Much like student exchange programs, you will swap places with a teacher from another country and the teacher will take your place here.    

English as a Second or Foreign Language Teacher

Native English Speakers are privileged to have numerous opportunities to teach English abroad (even without any teaching experience or teaching credentials).

Government Sponsored Programs

Many countries have government sponsored programs to have native English speakers teach at public schools. Two of the more popular ones are EPIK (English Program in Korea) and JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme). I personally was part of the EPIK program, and that is how I taught at 4 different public schools during my time in Korea. Usually you co-teach with teachers. A degree is usually required for these programs and sometimes a TESOL certificate as well. However, although teaching experience helps with the application, it’s not required. You will get paid as well and it’s a stable job since it is funded by governments.     

Private Schools

There are also many private schools that hire native English speakers as well. Similar to study-travel programs, the key is to do your research. Many schools could be scams or unsafe. In Korea, there are numerous Hagwons (Private Academy’s) to teach at, but if you end up at a you won’t get paid and can end up in a very tricky situation. However, there are numerous opportunities to work at a private school and in many cases a teaching degree is not a requirement.  

Those are some opportunities that I’ve found and know of. Are there any that I’ve missed?

The Importance of Sojourn Reflection

Great news! I had some of my first interviews this week! Although I won’t be sharing any specifics from the conversations as it’s confidential, I can say that each one was different, but there were still some similarities in themes. It’ll be interesting to analyze later.

In preparation for the interviews, I often read the Teaching Across Borders participants past blog posts. I recommend reading about their stories and adventures abroad! It’s clear that the participants learn a lot from the experiences. Blogging is not only a way to share their experiences, but is also a means to learn from their experiences. In a Bachelor of Education, reflections are an integral part of our assessment in most courses (it’s quite different from other degrees). Reflecting can sometimes feel like a nuisance, but it has benefits!

Handwritten Text Self Reflection

  • Reflection gives means for learner autonomy.  
  • In language learning, reflection allows for intercultural communicative competence (ICC) to be developed which is more related to cultural understanding.
  • Critical Reflection in pre-service teachers who taught abroad promotes multicultural competencies in teaching and learning, specifically related to challenging their own beliefs and perspectives, helping them identify bias’ and challenging their ideas about themselves and others.
  • Reflection through platforms like blogs allows for information to be shared and dialogue between classmates and readers to be generated.

Critical reflection involves acknowledging how your own self (culture, experiences, assumptions) is influencing your knowledge and perspective.  In reflection, instead of just restating what happened in the day, it’s important to discuss the issues and generate dialogue. Therefore class blogs and having student discussions on reflections was found to be an important component of critical reflection. Often, in my program, we write reflections that aren’t shared; however, when we do share them on online it has more value.

I personally found reflection assignments in a lot of my courses to be a nuisance (just another assignment to be completed); however, once I started my practicum I really enjoyed sharing my experience with others and reflection was an important means for me to organize my thoughts and experiences. It’s an important part of debriefing an experience and learning from it. With any lesson, teachers will reflect either formally or informally. It’s just about thinking about what worked or didn’t work, were the objectives met, did I differentiate enough, etc. This is very important in improving your practice! What are your thoughts on reflection?

References

Lee, L. (2011). Blogging: Promoting learner autonomy and intercultural competence through study abroad. Language Learning & Technology, 15(3, SI), 87–109. https://doi.org/10.1.1.474.6258

Sharma, S., Phillion, J., & Malewski, E. (2011). Examining the practice of critical reflection for developing pre-service teachers’ multicultural competencies : Findings from a study abroad program in Honduras. Issues in Teacher Education, 20(2), 9–22.