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An investigation into English language teachers' understanding of their roles in computer-assisted language learning context

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:13 authored by Hedayati, M
The integration of new technologies into second language teaching and learning has influenced language teachers' roles and responsibilities, leading to an ongoing enquiry about teachers' perceptions of and reactions to these changes. This exploratory mixed-methods study investigated how English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers in Iran define and understand their role expectations in Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL) at different levels; and how these definitions impact their teaching practices. Informed by Biddle's (1986) role theory, as well as Hubbard and Levy's (2006) CALL teacher framework, the aim was to ascertain the mutual expectations of EFL teachers, learners and Private Language School (PLS) administrators concerning the development, selection and use of new technologies in language teaching/learning contexts. This study also investigated and identified the CALL teacher training types in the Iranian context and their effectiveness in shaping and enhancing teachers' use of new technologies. A total of 148 Iranian EFL in-service teachers (8 for classroom observations and interviews; 140 for the survey), 4 EFL students, and 4 PLS administrators participated in this study. The research commenced with a qualitative phase, in which the investigator explored the participants' behaviours and perceptions on the subject using observation and interview methods (Creswell, 2014). Once the qualitative study was conducted, and data were analysed, the findings of this stage shaped the structure and content of the second phase, which was quantitative (i.e., survey with 58 questions). Qualitative data were analysed and interpreted using both content (Kumar, 2011) and thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) methods. The quantitative data gathered from the survey in the second phase were analysed by descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings showed that the participants reported minor role changes for the teachers, due to limited and irregular use of CALL in the Iranian PLSs. The results of the thematic analysis showed examples of mismatch between teachers' and learners' definitions and expectations of the roles of teachers in CALL, in relation to technological literacy. CALL teachers had relatively high expectations of themselves, which seemed to create a gap between their current and desired knowledge of new technologies. This role conflict caused teachers to be reluctant to implement CALL. The findings highlighted that the majority of the teachers perceived themselves as consumers of CALL materials, due to availability and accessibility factors. Despite their positive perceptions towards becoming CALL material developers, the teachers voiced existing contextual barriers, such as inadequate CALL literacy, time limitation, and lack of support from the PLSs. In relation to CALL training, the research revealed that the amount and type of current training did not result in teachers' normalised use of new technologies. It became evident that teachers were mainly self-trained, in the absence of formal CALL training by the PLSs and TESOL courses at the university level. Teachers identified workshop and peer-learning as their preferred ways of learning CALL, however, a minority experienced these training mediums. This evidence highlights the need for considerable changes in the content and structure of the training programs provided in the Iranian PLSs and universities. Self-edification and lack of instructional design seemed to result in sporadic and non-systematic use of CALL among the Iranian EFL teachers. It is recommended that the PLSs should provide context-specific CALL training to promote the regular and systematic use of technologies by the teachers. The findings also indicated that teachers need more institutional support to foster their engagement with CALL practices.

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