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Foreign language teaching per se

These six teachers hold that foreign language teaching (FLT) is first a difficult art, with elements both of knowledge building and skill development. FLT is conducted to help students learn L2 through teacher-directed but student-focused teaching, with affective and relational issues holding an important place in the educational process. Finally, teaching L2 is different than teaching L1.

Teaching is a difficult art

Chinese-born foreign language teachers conceive of FLT as a difficult art. For example, P21 noted that early in his career 'we were taught how to, uhhh, give for such a period of time, but we are not told how to BE a teacher' (P21: 74, caps indicate teacher's emphasis). But with time, training, reflection, and commitment, they were able to raise the level of their teaching. When asked when he felt ready to teach, P41 said that after four years, 'you know in the classroom, I just felt ... I just felt I had a lot to say to students' (602). While today's teacher trainees in China 'have more life experience AND professional experience, and it's still difficult to teach. Teaching is really a very old art. It's still very, very difficult' (497, caps indicate teacher's emphasis). What's more, P41 noted that today's teachers teach 18-20 hours in addition to having very large classes - often well above 40 in one class. Furthermore, many acquire part-time jobs to attain a higher living standard than they had in the past. These realities make teaching well very difficult.

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