Understanding a very complex activity!

I have been a teacher  of English for fifteen years. I have been a teacher educator for ten years. I have been engaged in the activities of learning how to teach, teaching English and teaching  how to teach for a long time.All this motivated myself to follow a PhD and study the activity of learning how to teach. This is not new for me, but  just now I am aware of how complex the activity of learning to teach really is.Listening to student teachers about their own experiences as learner teachers has not only broaden my understanding, but has challenged my previous conceptions.

Learning in EFL teacher education is not simply a matter of individual students acquiring knowledge of linguistic items, knowledge about language acquisition or teaching skills, but is rather, the development of specific cultural practices that rely on the rules, and tools present in the learning context. The nature of knowing in the socio-cultural sense is collective, situated and tentative. This is what I’m doing: exploring how the collective activity of learning how to teach EFL in Chile is conceived and subsequently conditioned by the social, material and intellectual resources to which they have access.

Delving into this activity, contradictions and tensions arise. Most of these teachers seem so engaged and  determined to make a difference. They go to schools eager to teach and they face reality. In some cases, they encounter a good learning atmosphere and they can teach, try and use the skills and knowledge they have acquired at university.However, in many other cases, student teachers face a conflicting and agressive environment which receives them as a threaten and look at them as naive novice teachers. In any case, the learner teachers have to do their work and make everybody happy: their students, their teacher mentors, and their tutors at schools. How can they do so?

As much as I get deeper I get more and more questions. What’s the goal of the teaching practicum? What kind of learnings does it mediate? How does this experience shape the activity of learning how to teach? Do learner teachers have a collective understanding of the practicum? The data I´m collecting will contribute to elucidate some of these enquiries and hopefully get an understanding of the activity.

About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.


  1. Querida Malba, ha sido tan constructivo el poder leer tu nota porque yo tambien de alguna manera he llegado a notar esos puntos desde que estoy dedicado a la docencia,te felicito.

    • Malba Barahona

      Hola Mario:

      Muchas gracias por tu comentario, me anima a seguir con mi trabajo. Espero que estés muy bien!

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