Perspectives of preservice foreign language teachers

Perspectives of preservice foreign language teachers

SYSTEM System 26 (1998) 65±76 Perspectives of preservice foreign language teachers Susan Spezzini a,b, Rebecca Oxford a a College of Education, 201...

99KB Sizes 1 Downloads 38 Views

SYSTEM

System 26 (1998) 65±76

Perspectives of preservice foreign language teachers Susan Spezzini a,b, Rebecca Oxford a a

College of Education, 201 Carmichael Hall, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, U.S.A. b American School of AsuncioÂn, PO Box 10093, AsuncioÂn, Paraguay

Abstract This study reveals distinct di€erences between perceived pro®ciency and actual pro®ciency of foreign language teaching candidates. It indicates that during the foreign language teaching methodology course, candidates developed greater realism about their own abilities and about the need for further language development. The investigation shows how motivations change over time for learning a foreign language, and it provides speci®c ideas for improving preparation programs for foreign language teaching candidates. # 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

The room was very quiet, and everyone was working as hard as he or she could on the tests. I kept looking up from my paper to see if anyone else felt as dumb as I did. I was very nervous and unsure of myself. I realized while taking the Spanish test that I really needed to do something because I did not know many of the answers on the test. I hated the feeling, and I want to do something about it. This feeling of inadequacy was shared by a college senior after ®nishing a language pro®ciency test in a study of preservice foreign language (FL) teachers at a prominent public university in the U.S.A. This study focused on the perspectives of the 16 students enrolled in that university's FL teaching methodology course during the Fall 1996 semester. Although almost all these students were candidates to become certi®ed to teach foreign languages, many of them had never visited any of the countries where the target languages are spoken. For example, of the seven undergraduate Spanish education majors enrolled in this methodology course, only one had ever been to a Spanish-speaking country. Because this particular part of the 0346-251X/98/$19.00 # 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PI I: S0346-251X (9 7)0 0064-X

66

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

country has few ``pockets'' of foreign language and cultures, these students had acquired their knowledge and skills of both the target languages and respective culture(s) almost entirely from secondary sources, that is, teachers and textbooks. The primary interest of this study was therefore to determine those factors which had led the current FL methodology students in choosing to teach languages. Answers were sought to the following research questions: 1. How did these students assess their own ability in their target language? 2. Why had they initially selected their speci®c target language, and how did their motivations change? 3. What were their perspectives on becoming an FL teacher? Students' actual language skills were also assessed. In addition, as a culmination to this study, students were asked to give their perspectives on di€erent practices and policies for assuring the optimum preparation of future preservice FL teachers. Although this is a small-scale study, it reveals some important points that should be pursued with larger samples of teaching candidates. 1. Review of the literature The search for recent research about preservice FL teachers produced few results, and none were found speci®cally about their preparation in the target language. Richards and Nunan (1990) described this dearth of information as follows: The ®eld of teacher education is a relatively underexplored one in both second and foreign language teaching. The literature on teacher education in language teaching is slight. . . . Few of the articles published in the last twenty years are data-based. . . . Little data have been gathered on the kinds of programs that work and don't work. (p. xi) Several aspects were covered in the 19 chapters of the Richards and Nunan book, but one which was overlooked was the ability of preservice FL teacher candidates in using the target language. An unde®ned assumption was that all FL candidates initiate their preservice teacher preparation with sucient language skills for implementing the desired FL teaching methodologies. Motivational factors have been examined by numerous researchers, and the results of their studies for achieving success in learning languages have been summarized by Oxford and Shearin (1994). According to these researchers, ``instrumental motivation and need for achievement are associated with each other, and . . . a€ect foreign language students at an intermediate pro®ciency level and below . . . Integrative motivation might be necessary to go beyond the intermediate level in foreign language learning'' (p. 15). They also felt that ``It is important to ®nd out why students select French instead of Russian, or Chinese instead of Spanish'' (p. 16). These ideas were further expanded by Oxford et al. (1996) whose results indicated that, for college students in their study:

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

67

The motivational orientation of job/career opportunities was a signi®cantly positive predictor of the importance of developing each of the four Spanish language skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The motivational orientation of cultural curiosity was a signi®cantly positive predictor of the importance of developing two Spanish language skills: listening and speaking. (p. 1) In order to have a more global view of the type of research available on preservice FL teacher education as compared with that in other curricular areas, three handbooks were consulted: Handbook of Research on Teacher Education (Houston, 1990), Handbook of Research on Teaching (Wittrock, 1986) and Second Handbook of Research on Teaching (Travers, 1973). Although Travers' handbook included a landmark article by Birkmaier (1973) on FL teaching, not one single article on FL teaching was among the combined 83 articles of the two more recent handbooks. In fact, Houston's volume had a section entitled Teacher Education in the Curricular Areas which included articles on 11 di€erent areas of teacher education, apparently all areas except for foreign languages. A de®nite need exists. Although ocial handbooks appear to ignore FL teacher preparation, a recent article (Horwitz, 1996) suggests that such preparation might be extremely important. Horwitz shows that some language teachers experience high levels of anxiety about their linguistic competence and their classroom skills. 2. Methodology 2.1. Participants Of the 16 participants, there were 6 men (37.5%), all of whom were focusing on Spanish, and 10 women (63.5%), of whom 6 were in Spanish, 2 in French, 1 in German and 1 in Japanese. Within the entire group of 16 participants, 12 (75%) were in Spanish, 2 (12.5%) in French and 1 each (6.25% each) in German and Japanese. Moreover, of these 16 subjects, 9 (56.2%) were undergraduate students and 7 (43.8%) were graduate students. In this class of 16 students, 14 (87.5%) were admitted as candidates in the Teacher Education Program (TEP). 2.2. Instruments and data collection procedure 2.2.1. Self-assessed pro®ciency Each student's self-assessed language pro®ciency was determined through the administration of a questionnaire, on which students ranked their own language and cultural skills on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (low) to 5 (high) in the following areas: listening, speaking, reading, writing, culture, vocabulary and grammar. The overall mean was calculated as each student's composite score. This instrument was administered by the course professor during the ®rst class session of the FL methodology course.

68

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

2.2.2. Standardized FL exam Each student's approximate level of language usage was determined through the administration of a standardized test, an abbreviated version of the commonly used and well respected Advanced Placement examination which is employed to place students at appropriate levels for language study. Because there were only 1 or 2 students each in French, German and Japanese, it was decided at the outset that only the language results from the 12 students in Spanish were to be analyzed for this study. The standardized exam for Spanish included 33 multiple-choice questions, of which 6 were in listening comprehension, 7 in vocabulary, 10 in grammar, and 10 in reading comprehension. There were also 14 exercises for ®lling in blanks with the correct version of a given word. This standardized exam was administered during class at the end of the second month of the semester. 2.2.3. Motivation questionnaire Each student's motivational aspects were determined through the administration of a motivation questionnaire. This three-page instrument assessed individual's motives for having started to learn his/ her ®rst FL language, for learning other FLs and for deciding to learn a given FL well enough to teach it. Students were asked to judge the strength of various reasons by responding to a 4-point scale ranging from 0=absent to 3=strong. They were also asked to indicate the degree of importance (from 0=not important to 3=important) about visiting a foreign country and about having focused on speci®c skills as an FL student versus focusing on speci®c skills as a future FL teacher. Some questions were in response to issues and concerns which had surfaced during the semester, such as requiring a language pro®ciency exam and/or an overseas experience within the FL component of that university's program for teacher preparation. This motivation questionnaire was administered during class towards the end of the semester. 2.3. Data analysis procedures A spreadsheet was prepared for recording and analyzing the data from the instruments in this study. The means and standard deviations were calculated. All data to be analyzed by the Pearson product±moment correlation coecient r were converted to standardized z scores. Due to positive skewing on the standardized Spanish language exam, the scores from 2 students were eliminated from this part of the study, those from the class's only native Spanish speaker and from the student who already had an M.A. in Spanish. That left 10 subjects for any subsequent analyses dealing with the data from the standardized Spanish language exam. A t-test was conducted between the total mean on the self-assessment instrument and the total mean on the pro®ciency test. Means and standard deviations were established for various motivational aspects in each of the following areas: reasons for starting to study the ®rst FL language; reasons for switching to one's current FL, if relevant; reasons for continuing to study the FL in order to teach it and reasons for visiting the countries where the FL is spoken natively. Comparisons were made for the data based on gender and target

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

69

languages. The means and standard deviations were also established for responses to questions about the degree of importance which students placed on developing speci®c language skills from the perspective of being an FL student as compared with that of being a future FL teacher. The last aspect of the data to be analyzed with the mean and standard deviation dealt with the students' opinions about the possibility of requiring a language pro®ciency exam and/or an overseas living/studying experience within the university's TEP. This last section also analyzed opinions regarding the adequacy of students' own FL pro®ciency level for being able to perform e€ectively as teacher interns, the very essence of the problem from which this research study had developed. 3. Results and discussion 3.1. Language skills 3.1.1. Self-assessed pro®ciency The averages for all 16 students (12 in Spanish, 2 in French, 1 in German and 1 in Japanese) in the seven areas on the self-assessment instrument ranged from 2.86 to 5.00 (1=low and 5=high). The scores from 6 of these students, however, were not used in subsequent statistical analyses because they were deemed as not suciently representative either of a speci®c language (e.g. only 2 in French and just 1 each in German and Japanese) or of the mainstream students in the TEP (e.g. a native Speaker of Spanish and a holder of an M.A. in Spanish). All 10 remaining students were Spanish Education majors, of whom 7 were undergraduates and 3 were graduate students. On the scale from 1 to 5, the scores for these 10 students in the seven areas on the self-assessment instrument exhibited an observed range from 2.86 to 4.00. Their mean was 3.34 with a standard deviation of 0.43. When converted to a 0±100 scale, the mean score for the composite selfassessment was 66.9 with a standard deviation of 8.7. 3.1.2. Rating on the standardized FL exam The raw composite scores for the 10 Spanish language exams (after having eliminated the native speaker and the holder of an M.A. in Spanish) ranged from 13 to 35, with 47 as the possible total. When converted to a 0±100 scale, the mean score for this language composite was 44.3 with a standard deviation of 13.0. Thus, their actual language pro®ciency (M=44.3, SD=13.0) was signi®cantly lower than their self-assessed language pro®ciency (M=66.9, SD=8.7), t=8.48, df=9, P<0.001. 3.2. Motivational aspects 3.2.1. Reasons for having started to study one's ®rst FL in high school The responses from 2 of the 16 subjects were eliminated from this part of the analysis, one due to being a native speaker of Spanish and the other for not having responded. Subjects were asked to indicate the strength for each of 12 possible reasons from 1=absent to 3=very strong.

70

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

For the group of 14 subjects, their most important reasons for having started to study their ®rst FL (all in high school) were: ``to ful®ll a language requirement'' (M=2.1 and SD=1.1), ``to improve career possibilities'' (M=1.9 and SD=1.3), ``to travel internationally'' and ``to learn about another culture'' (M=1.8 and SD=1.3), ``to communicate in the language'' (M=1.7 and SD=1.2) and ``only language o€ered in my school'' (M=1.1 and SD=1.4). These six most important reasons, and their respective ordering, did not change at all when the researcher considered just the group majoring in Spanish (N=10). Means were almost identical. Di€erences emerged when participants were compared, however, in the group of males (n=5), all of whom happened to be in Spanish; ``traveling internationally'' rose to second place. On the other hand, in the group of females in Spanish (n=5), ``traveling internationally'' dropped to ®fth place. Moreover, females were slightly more intense than males in their expressed motivations as indicated by higher means: 1.4±2.6 for females compared with 0.8±2.0 for males. The only group that did not rank ``to ful®ll a language requirement'' in ®rst place, but rather in ®fth, was that of other (non-Spanish) languages (n=4). This group also included ``to enhance world peace'' among the most important reasons, whereas ``only language o€ered in my school'' was in seventh place. These variations indicated a di€erence between having selected a language other than Spanish as one's ®rst FL language in high school. Moreover, as with the group of females in Spanish, this group of students in languages other than Spanish (which happened to be all female) also exhibited relatively high means, which ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 for the top six reasons. 3.2.2. Reasons for having switched to study current FL Three of the 14 students had originally studied di€erent FLs in high school from their current FL concentration. One had switched from Spanish to Japanese while in college, another from French to Spanish between high school and college, and yet another from Latin to Spanish while still in high school. Although this was a very small group (n=3), its characteristics were considered to be suciently distinct as to warrant a separate analysis. However, since subsequent divisions into subgroups of 1 or 2 (for gender or language) would lose any group cohesion, this discussion will only be concerned with the combined data from the original group of 3. Because 2 of these subjects switched languages as adults, the original 12 reasons were supplemented with 2 additional ones: those of ``language of spouse or signi®cant other'' and ``to facilitate ®nding a teaching job''. For students who had switched target languages, the six most important reasons for starting to study the new language were: ``to facilitate ®nding a teaching job'' and ``to improve career possibilities'' (M=3.0 and SD=0.0), ``to communicate in the language'' and ``to travel internationally'' (M=2.7 and SD=0.6), ``to learn about another culture'' (M=2.3 and SD=0.6) and ``to live in another culture'' (M=2.0 and SD=1.7). In contrast to the reasons provided by the whole group of 14 regarding why they had started to study their ®rst language in high school, the reason ``to ful®ll a language requirement'' dropped to 11th place (M=0.7 and SD=1.2)

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

71

and ``only language o€ered in my school'' was in last place (M=0.0). Such a di€erence in motivational aspects can indeed be seen as useful for testing with a much larger number of subjects. 3.2.3. Reasons for having continued to study an FL in order to teach it Prior to the administration of this instrument, it was assumed that di€erent motivational aspects were perhaps involved at the time when a college student decided to continue studying an FL in order to teach it. Although two questions were dropped (``to ful®ll a language requirement'' and ``only language o€ered in my school''), hindsight suggests that it might have been better to retain them among the choices. Two other reasons were added: ``I like the language and want to share it with others'' and ``I like the culture and want to share it with others.'' From the entire sample (N=14), the responses varied greatly between the more recent reasons for having continued to study an FL in order to teach it and these subjects' original reasons for having studied their ®rst FL in high school. Their most important reasons had now become ``to improve career possibilities'' (M=2.9 and SD=0.2), ``I like the culture and want to share it'' (M=2.8 and SD=0.6), ``to facilitate ®nding a teaching job'' (M=2.7 and SD=0.8), ``to travel internationally'' (M=2.6 and SD=0.6), ``I like the language and want to share it'' and ``to communicate better in the language'' (M=2.6 and SD=0.9), ``to learn more about the culture'' (M=2.6 and SD=0.9) and ``to live in another culture'' (M=2.4 and SD=1.1). All of the other reasons had means below 1.0. The write-in responses provided by students for the reason ``other'' (M=0.4) were very enlightening: ``I wish to broaden horizons and minds of children from small towns and closed cultures like the one I grew up in'' and ``I feel that knowing another language is a sign of intelligence and attainment of success.'' Certain relationships seemed to remain constant: ``to improve career possibilities'' was always higher than ``to facilitate ®nding a teaching job''; similarly, ``I like the culture and want to share it'' was always higher than ``I like the language and want to share it'', ``to learn more about the culture'' was always in a higher position than ``to live in another culture''. Perhaps the results from this study could be used to place greater focus on these most important reasons in an e€ort to motivate more candidates into selecting the FL component of the TEP. 3.2.4. Reasons for visiting countries where the FL is used natively Only 1 of the 16 subjects was eliminated from this part of the analysis due to her being a native speaker of Spanish. Since about half of the subjects had not yet visited any countries where the target language FL was spoken natively, the question was worded in the following manner: ``Why have you spent (or will you be spending) time in countries where this language is spoken?'' A former reason ``to ful®ll a language requirement'' was brought back in a slightly di€erent format: ``to ful®ll an academic requirement''. Culture-related reasons were added. From the entire sample (N=15), the responses remained similar to those for having continued to study the FL in order to teach it. The subjects' most important reasons were ``to improve career possibilities'' (M=2.7 and SD=0.5), ``to communicate

72

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

better in the language and to learn more about this culture'' (M=2.9 and SD=0.4), ``to live immersed in another culture'' (M=2.8 and SD=0.6), ``to facilitate ®nding a teaching job'' (M=2.7 and SD=0.9), ``to travel internationally'' (M=2.5 and SD=0.8) and ``to ful®ll an academic requirement'' (M=1.2 and SD=1.4). All of the other reasons had means at or below 1.0. Some noteworthy responses were provided for the reason ``other'' (M=0.4): ``videotaping for my job'' and ``visiting host family and friends''. This question also showed a boost in responses to the reason ``native culture of relatives'' (M=0.5). The ®ll-in response of ``ancestors'' continue to appear, but it was now joined with another response, that of ``future father-in-law''. This dichotomy of past and future seems to play an interesting role in making this highly personal response a viable reason for studying a language or visiting a country; it removed the foreign edge from a language and its culture. 3.3. Perspectives on becoming FL teachers 3.3.1. Degree of importance for developing FL skills In this question, subjects were to assess the degree of importance (ranging from 0=not important to 3=very important) which they had placed on developing their own language skills and knowledge, both formerly as FL students and currently as future FL teachers. Once again, the native Spanish speaker's responses were eliminated. In thinking back to when they had been ``just'' FL students, this group (N=15) expressed the following priority order (from most to least important): speaking, listening, vocabulary, culture, grammar, reading and writing. As future FL teachers, they once again placed speaking at the top of the list, but this time vocabulary and grammar dropped to last place. 3.3.2. Overseas living experience as a program requirement The responses from all 16 subjects were tabulated for the question, ``Do you feel that an overseas living/studying experience should be required of candidates in an FL TEP?'' Everyone's opinion was felt to be worthy of consideration, regardless of his/her status as a native speaker or as the holder of an M.A. from an FL department. Their responses were overwhelmingly positive. Of the 16 subjects, 11 responded positively (69%=yes), none responded negatively (0%=no), 5 responded tentatively (31%=maybe) and none seemed ambiguous (0%=don't know). This complements one of the responses to an earlier question, that of ``ful®lling an academic requirement'' as a major reason to visit a foreign country. In other words, if visiting a country is an academic requirement, then students are more apt to do it. Therefore, although integrative motivation could perhaps be seen as a more desirable reason for going abroad, the instrumental aspect of ful®lling requirements should not be overlooked. If such an experience is required, all students who want to become accredited will ®nd a way to accomplish it. Through such an experience, they will then gain additional motivation for continuing to learn the target language as well as for visiting other target countries and cultures.

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

73

With respect to an overseas experience within a program for preparing teachers, students were asked to give their opinions as to the best timing for having completed such a requirement. Most respondents felt that the best timing would be towards the end of the program, although some suggested that an overseas experience should occur before the internship. 3.3.3. Language pro®ciency exam as a program requirement The responses from all 16 subjects were tabulated for the question ``Do you feel that a language pro®ciency exam should be required of candidates in an FL TEP?'' Their responses were once again very positive. Of the 16 subjects, 10 responded positively (62.5%=yes), 2 responded negatively (12.5%=no), 3 responded tentatively (19%=maybe) and 1 seemed ambiguous (6%=don't know). Students were once again asked to give their opinions as to the best timing for this requirement. Most recommended the exam be given at the completion of the program, not preentry or pre-internship. 3.3.4. Adequacy of own language skills for e€ective performance as a teacher intern With respect to this question, only the responses from 13 subjects were tabulated. The responses were eliminated from those subjects who were either a native speaker of the target language or not currently enrolled in the program. This question read as follows: ``Do you feel that your current level of the target language is adequate for you to perform e€ectively as a teacher intern?'' Of the 13 subjects, 4 responded positively (31%=yes), 6 responded negatively (46%=no), 3 responded tentatively (23%=maybe), and none seemed ambiguous (0%=don't know). Although their responses were more negative than positive, the results were enlightening rather than discouraging. These responses represented a reversal on the subjects' initial perspective towards their own language pro®ciency level. At the beginning of the semester, most of them had assigned unrealistically high values to the self-assessment of their own language skills. Fortunately, during these 3 months, most of them had become more realistic not only with respect to what would actually be demanded of them as teacher interns but also with respect to how much progress they still needed to make in acquiring language and cultural skills. Only 31% currently felt that their language skills were adequate for performing e€ectively as a teacher intern. The other 69% realized that they would need to continue working towards improving those skills. 4. Conclusion Determining the subjects' level of language pro®ciency provided an objective basis from which to launch this study. In comparing the results from the self-assessment instrument with those from the standardized Spanish language exam, Spanish education majors at the beginning of the course were seen to have unrealistically high opinions of their own language competence yet surprisingly low language skills. This discrepancy is probably due to the fact that most of them have had little or no

74

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

exposure to authentic language usage in a Spanish-speaking country. In order to assist candidates in breaching this gap, a concerted e€ort must be made in the instruction of FLs as well as in the adoption of university policy regarding requirements for the FL component within preservice teacher education, such as that discussed by Wise (1994), President of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). With respect to their reasons for having studied FLs, the subjects in this study demonstrated di€erent motivating factors to questions related to subsequent states of language learning. The ®rst three questions dealt with language choice (i.e. starting to study their ®rst FL language in high school, switching to their current target language, if relevant, and continuing to study an FL in order to teach it) and the last one dealt with visiting the country where FL is natively spoken. Although some di€erences were observed between genders as well as between Spanish and the other three languages (French, German and Japanese), the greatest di€erences in motivational aspects occurred from stage to stage in the language learning process. Although ``ful®lling a language requirement'' was the top reason for having started to study an FL in high school, it lost importance in the other stages. For the three subjects who switched target language, ``to facilitate ®nding a teaching job'' and ``to improve career possibilities'' were their top reasons. In addition to the career factor, cultural aspects were among the top reasons which had motivated students to continue studying the language and to visit the foreign country. These ®ndings are supported by Oxford and Shearin (1994), who suggested a possible switch from instrumental to integrative motivation as students progressed from lower to higher levels of language pro®ciency. Furthermore, through more advanced studies, these preservice FL teachers had been able to experience the type of progress based on social identity and investment such as that described by Peirce (1995). With respect to their perspectives on becoming FL teachers, these subjects now placed a higher degree of importance on developing their language skills as future teachers than they had before as FL students. All 16 subjects responded either positively (yes) or tentatively (maybe) towards requiring an overseas experience of FL teaching candidates. The overwhelming choice was as a requirement for completing the TEP, although some candidates felt that having the overseas experience should be a prerequisite to doing the internship. Only 2 of the subjects responded negatively (no) to the possibility of requiring a language pro®ciency exam of FL teaching candidates. Such an exam was suggested primarily as a requirement for completing the program. Such assessment, both written and oral, could be selected from among the forms currently available, such as those described by either Mulkern (1996) or the Center for Applied Linguistics (1996). One of the most enlightening results from this study came from the subjects' responses to the last question on the ®nal instrument given towards the end of the course: ``Do you feel that your current level of the target language is adequate for you to perform e€ectively as a teacher intern?'' Since only 31% responded positively, the negative and tentative responses of the other 69% represented a reversal of the subjects' initial perspectives towards their own language, a level which most had assessed too highly at the beginning of the semester. During their ®rst semester

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

75

as teaching candidates, these students came a long way. They are now aware of the high demand which will be placed on them as teacher interns and of the progress which they still need to make in acquiring adequate language and cultural skills. A pro®ciency assessment and an overseas experience were seen as essential in maximizing the potential of teacher interns. The concern of these preservice FL teachers regarding their own language competence was similar to that of accredited teachers as described by Brosh (1996) and Horwitz (1996). Therefore, in order to improve the language competence of future FL teachers, alternative programs should be begun such as those described by Vall and Tennison (1991±92) and Hashemipour (1995). In direct support of such alternative environments, the preservice FL teacher, whose earlier concerns about her own inadequacies had provided the introduction to this paper, summarized her perspective in the following manner: I have been studying Spanish for over four years, and I feel like I have not even begun. . . . I will not be content until I have spent some time in a Spanishspeaking country to enhance my knowledge of the language as well as the culture. . . . I have realized that until I visit or live in a Spanish-speaking country, I may be depriving my students, as well as myself, of valuable information about the Spanish language and culture. To respond to this student's concerns and those of others, the most immediate goal is that of establishing policy for meeting the needs of future FL candidates. Based on this research study, such policy should undoubtedly include both an appropriate language assessment exam as well as an accessible overseas experiential program. Larger-scale studies are now needed to determine how widespread the problems are which have been raised in the current investigation, as well as in Horwitz's (1996) a€ective study of language teachers. References Birkmaier, E.M., 1973. Research on teaching foreign languages. In: Travers, R.M.W. (Ed.). Second Handbook of Research on Teaching: A Project of the american Educational Research Association. Rand McNally, Chicago, pp. 1280±1302. Brosh, H., 1996. Perceived characteristics of the e€ective language teacher. Foreign Language Annals 29 (2), 121±138. Center for Applied Linguistics, 1996. Foreign Language Test Development (Speaking tests, On-line). (Available: http://www.cal.org/cal/html/FLTests.htm). Hashemipour, P., 1995. Intermediate natural approach beyond the classroom: Experiential education in language learning. In: Hashemipour, P., Maldonado, R., Van Naerrsen M. (Eds.). Studies in Language Learning and Spanish Linguistics: In Honor of Tracy D. Terrell. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 151± 169. Horwitz, E.K., 1996. Even teachers get the blues: Recognizing and alleviating language teachers' feelings of foreign language anxiety. Foreign Language Annals 29 (3), 365±372. Houston, W.R., 1990. Handbook of Research on Teacher Education: A Project of the Association of Teacher Educators. Macmillan, New York. Mulkern, A.E., 1996. Second Language Assessment (On-line). (Available: http://carla.acad.umn.edu/ slassessment.html).

76

S. Spezzini, R. Oxford/System 26 (1998) 65±76

Oxford, R.L., Lavine, R.Z., Saleh, A., Balgopal, R., 1996. Motivational Orientation as a Predictor of the Perceived Importance of Skills in Spanish as a Foreign Language. Manuscript in preparation, pp. 1±8. Oxford, R., Shearin, J., 1994. Language learning motivation: Expanding the theoretical framework. Modern Language Journal 78, 12±28. Peirce, B.N., 1995. Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly 29 (1), 9±31. Richards, J.C., Nunan, D., 1990. Second Language Teacher Education. Cambridge University Press, New York. Travers, R.M.W. (Ed.), 1973. Second Handbook of Research on Teaching: A Project of the American Educational Research Association. Rand McNally, Chicago. Vall, N.G., Tennison, J.M., 1991±92. International student teaching: Stimulus for developing re¯ective teachers. Action in Teacher Education 13(4), 31±36. Wise, A., 1994. The coming revolution in teacher licensure: Rede®ning teacher preparation. Action in Teacher Education 16 (2), 1±13. Wittrock, M.C. (Ed.), 1986. Handbook of Research on Teaching: A Project of the American Educational Research Association, 3rd Edition. Macmillan, New York.