EFL pre-service teachers' beliefs as an  activity in the Chilean context

Year: 2012

Author: Barahona, Malba

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Research on teachers' beliefs has gained a lot of attention in the field of second language teacher education in the last 20 years. This interest can be explained as one attempt to understand what teachers think and do. These studies have highlighted the relevance of teachers' beliefs on teachers' decisions and practices. Although research on beliefs has contributed to our understanding of what teachers think and do, most of these studies have been researched at an individual level (Neguerela-Azarola, 2011). Only in the recent past has research on beliefs, mainly from sociocultural perspectives, explored the social origin of beliefs. This paper examines EFL pre-service teachers' beliefs about language teaching as an activity in the Chilean context using a Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) perspective. The exploration of beliefs as an activity enables us to examine them as mediating tools of pre-service teachers' learning, and also as the outcome of the activity as conceptualizations. Beliefs are dynamic. They are shaped and reshaped as pre-service teachers engage in the activity.  Pre-service teachers reflect on their practices and contrast these against theory, the school and university communities, and their own personal understandings.  One implication of research on beliefs is how teacher education programs shape and change beliefs. Studying beliefs as an activity will enable us to capture the development of beliefs; analyse how they can be changed; ask whether they are adequate for a specific context; and analyse how beliefs function to shape teaching activities. This understanding can contribute to teacher education programs so that they create mediating tools  which allow pre-service teachers to reflect on their own beliefs, confront them with theory, see beliefs in action, and incorporate the context.