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UBC Theses and Dissertations

English as a second language teachers' attention to student characteristics during lesson planning : a novice-expert study MacLeod, Cheri Dawn


Recent changes in language teaching methodology have created needs for a better understanding of lesson planning among English as a second language (ESL) teachers . Research on teacher thinking and lesson planning in general suggests that teachers mainly pay attention to content, activities, and student characteristics, but these elements may have unique features in second language instruction. The present study investigated the lesson planning of 6 inexperienced student teachers of ESL and 6 experienced sponsor teachers of ESL teaching the same students in a practicum context. The teachers' planning was analyzed in terms of the attention they gave to content, activities, and student characteristics, while assessing possible differences between the two groups. The study found that ESL teachers gave more consideration to content and activities than they did to student characteristics. Both groups considered these three aspects of lesson planning individually about half the time and in conjunction with other aspects of planning about half the time. Experienced teachers proved to use more complex mental representations of lesson planning than student teachers did. However, many individual differences emerged among the inexperienced and experienced teachers, obscuring differences between groups for most of the planning behaviors assessed. The student characteristics most often mentioned in think-aloud protocols during lesson planning, and reported as most important on a rating scale, were students' English proficiency, personal motivation, language learning needs, and interests. Further studies should use a larger sample of teachers and might profitably investigate lesson planning throughout an entire course.

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