Date of Award:

2012

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Chair:

James J. Barta

Abstract

Given the increased emphasis on language acquisition in public education, and in university, government, and military settings there will be an increased focus on the language classroom. My goal in this study was to investigate how five foreign language instructors in the greater Salt Lake area perceived and implemented the national standards disseminated by the American Council for the Teachers of Foreign Language (ACTFL) known as the five Cs: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities. These standards have also been adopted by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE). A broadened understanding was achieved through analysis of interviews and observations, also evaluation of classroom materials and handouts and interpreting differences between instructors’ perceived adherence and observed adherence to the standards. The purpose of my analysis was to describe the degree of integration of the standards attained in the thinking (perceptions) and teaching (practices) of these Spanish instructors. (All the teachers taught second-year Spanish, known as Spanish II.) The design for this study emanated from four in-class observations for each teacher. The need for research grew out of discussions with district-level administrators about the problem of implementing state and national standards. I selected a case study approach and cross-case analysis because it was most appropriate for this question, and because I wanted to describe the specifics of how high school Spanish language teachers perceived the five Cs and the degree to which they integrated them into their disclosure statements, classroom practices, and teaching materials. Cross-case analysis involves case-by-case comparison of various data sources including comparison of language instructors’ responses to a questionnaire and observations I made. I discovered a lack of congruency/consistency in what teachers perceive they are doing and what they are actually doing in the classroom. There are actions that can be taken at the school, district, state, and university credential program level to deal with the pervasive problems uncovered in this study. It is apparent that my research confirms what a national survey of teachers found, that there is both a lack of knowledge and an unwillingness at multiple levels to implement the mandated ACTFL five Cs.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on May 11, 2012.

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