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Reconceptualizing the Knowledge-Base of

'Reconceptualizing the Knowledge-Base of'
397TESOL QUARTERLY Vol. 32, No. 3, Autumn 1998 Reconceptualizing the Knowledge-Base of Language Teacher Education DONALD FREEMAN School for International Training KAREN E. JOHNSON Pennsylvania State University Moving beyond the historical and theoretical traditions that have defi ned teacher education in TESOL over the last quarter century, in this introductory piece we argue for a reconceptualization of the knowledge-base of ESOL teacher education. Essential to this recon- ceptualization is the premise that the institutional forms and processes of teacher education frame how the profession responds to the basic sociocultural processes of learning to teach. As such, our teacher education practices constitute our professional self-defi nition. We ar- gue that the core of the new knowledge-base must focus on the activity of teaching itself; it should center on the teacher who does it, the contexts in which it is done, and the pedagogy by which it is done. Moreover, this knowledge-base should include forms of knowledge representation that document teacher learning within the social, cul- tural, and institutional contexts in which it occurs. Finally, we believe the knowledge-base of language teacher education needs to account for the teacher as a learner of teaching, the social context of schools and schooling within which teacher-learning and teaching occur, and the activities of both language teaching and language learning. This tripartite framework calls for a broader epistemological view of ESOL teacher education, one that accounts for teaching as it is learned and as it is practiced; we argue that it will ultimately redefi ne how we as teacher educators create professionals in TESOL. I n assembling this special-topic issue of TESOL Quarterly on English language teacher education, we recognize that we have embarked on a complex undertaking. Whereas the teaching of English has been central to TESOL’s mission since the association’s founding in 1966, research on language teacher education has been noticeably missing from the professional discourse. A search of the TESOL Quarterly cumulative indexes from 1980 to 1997 reveals that only 9% of the 398TESOL QUARTERLY featured articles are listed under the topic teacher preparation. These critically low numbers in the premier refereed journal in the fi eld of TESOL are evidence of problems not of access but of emphasis in what are considered critical understandings in this fi eld. Even if one argues that many published articles conclude with some sort of pedagogical implications for language teachers, in most cases these ramifi cations do not focus specifi cally on the preparation and continuing professional education of ESOL teachers. Thus, we argue that teacher education has been much done but relatively little studied in the fi eld. But as an activity it is arguably the foundation of what is done in language teaching. Whether teachers enter their classrooms with formal professional train- ing or simpl
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