ESL teachers' beliefs about teaching English in India and how they impact on media use in the language classroom : an exploratory study.
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For several decades now the Government of India has been trying unsuccessfully to integrate media use into language classrooms. This study probed one of the little explored areas in the Indian education context – the beliefs of English language teachers. The two specific questions which guided the research were: 1. What are ESL teachers’ beliefs about teaching English in India? How do the beliefs impact on media use in the language classroom? The design employed was a qualitative case study using transcripts of email interviews with five participating teachers of English from a single urban, government aided college in south India. The interviews focused on the participants’ views of teaching, teachers, language learning, teaching methods, students, and the media. Secondary data sources came from ten classroom observations made of the participants’ classroom instruction. Data analysis was continuous; the beliefs of each participant were first identified before making cross case analysis. Findings indicated that there was a “disconnect” between the participants’ stated beliefs and their classroom practices. The dominant beliefs that emerged were determined by institutional factors, and not, as the literature on belief studies seemed to suggest, by “apprenticeship of observation” (beliefs acquired very early in one’s life). What teachers did in the classroom was mostly determined by their desire to complete the “prescribed syllabus.” In such a context, where everything was exam driven, media had little or no role to play; even the most experienced teacher found it difficult to incorporate them as part of his/her teaching practices. Recommendations made to the government to make media an integral part of the teaching practices included: 1) making media relevant to the syllabus, 2) involving teachers, students, and administrators in the planning, 3) focusing training new recruits, and 4) introducing media at the elementary school level. Further research is needed in the area of students’ beliefs; their beliefs about English, language learning, and the use of media in the language classroom. Refresher courses conducted by various universities and teacher education institutes need be examined critically. Research studies highlighting the experiences of teachers who have been successful in using the media in India should be conducted. This will provide insights into the factors that promote media use in the language classroom.