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Communicative language teaching in Japanese high schools: Teachers' beliefs and classroom practices

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Takako Nishino
Abstract:
This study was an investigation of Japanese high school teachers' (N = 139) beliefs and practices regarding communicative language teaching (CLT). Four research questions were posited concerning the beliefs that Japanese high school teachers hold regarding CLT, how Japanese high school teachers use CLT in the classroom, how Japanese teachers' beliefs and practices differ between academic and vocational high schools, and how the beliefs of Japanese high school teachers, their classroom practices, their learning experience, pre- and in-service training, perceived teaching efficacy, and contextual factors relate to and influence each other regarding the use of CLT. In order to provide answers to these questions, a survey, classroom observations, and interviews were conducted. Before conducting the quantitative analyses, the questionnaire data were analyzed using the Rasch rating-scale model to confirm the validity and reliability of the questionnaire and to transform the raw scores into equal interval measures. Regarding the first and second research questions, the descriptive statistics showed that despite holding positive beliefs about CLT, the respondents to the survey did not frequently use communicative activities. With respect to the third research question, a MANOVA indicated that the types of schools (academic and vocational) did not significantly influence the survey respondents' beliefs and practices regarding CLT. Concerning the fourth research question, the Pearson correlation coefficients showed relatively strong correlations between (a) Classroom Practices and Student-related Communicative Conditions (r = .56) and (b) L2 Self-confidence and CLT Self-efficacy ( r = .55). Also, the best fitting path model indicated that (a) Student-related Communicative Conditions impacted Classroom Practices , (b) Positive CLT Beliefs indirectly influenced Classroom Practices via CLT Self-efficacy , and (c) Exam-related Expectations affected most of the indicator variables and Classroom Practices . Related to this, qualitative results indicated that the respondents' learning experience, in-service training, and contextual factors influenced their beliefs and practices. These findings suggest that the educational context and in-service teacher education need to be re-examined in order for CLT to become a more widely implemented practice in Japanese high schools.

viii TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................... iv

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................... vi

TABLE OF CONTENTS ................................................................................................. viii

LIST OF TABLES ......................................................................................................... xviii

LIST OF FIGURES ....................................................................................................... xxiv

CHAPTER1. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................ 1

The Background of the Issue ...................................................................................... 1

Statement of the Problem ........................................................................................... 2

Purposes of the Study ................................................................................................. 4

Definition of Key Terms............................................................................................. 5

Teacher Beliefs .................................................................................................. 5

Teacher Knowledge ........................................................................................... 6

Classroom Practice ............................................................................................ 9

Communicative Language Teaching ............................................................... 10

CLT and a Communicative Curriculum and Syllabus Design ................ 10

European vs. American Tradition of CLT ............................................... 12

Principles of CLT .................................................................................... 14

Misconceptions about CLT ..................................................................... 15

CLT vs. Appropriate Methodology ......................................................... 16

ix Communicative Activities ...................................................................... 18

Summary.......................................................................................................... 19

Conceptual Framework ............................................................................................ 20

Borg’s (2003) Conceptual Framework ............................................................ 20

Conceptual Framework of Teacher Beliefs and Practices ............................... 22

Delimitations ............................................................................................................ 24

The Organization of This Study ............................................................................... 25

2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ............................................................................... 27

The Background of English Education in Japan ...................................................... 27

CLT in EFL Situations ..................................................................................... 27

Yakudoku and Examination English ................................................................ 28

MEXT Policy and The Course of Study .......................................................... 30

Japanese High School English Courses ........................................................... 34

Diversity in High School Education ................................................................ 36

Japanese Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices Regarding CLT .............................. 39

Review of Selected Studies on Teacher Beliefs and Practices ................................. 40

Teacher Beliefs and Classroom Practices ........................................................ 40

Learning Experience and Teacher Beliefs ..................................................... 43

Pre-service Training and Teacher Beliefs ...................................................... 44

In-service Training and Teacher Beliefs .......................................................... 48

Teaching Experience and Teacher Beliefs ....................................................... 50

Contextual Factors and Teacher Beliefs and Practices .................................... 52

x Perceived Teaching Efficacy and Classroom Practices ................................... 55

Summary ........................................................................................................ 56

Seven Factors in the Japanese EFL Context .................................................... 59

Statement of the Problem ......................................................................................... 64

Research Questions .................................................................................................. 65

3. METHOD ..................................................................................................................... 66

Triangulation and Mixed Method Research ............................................................. 66

Respondents, Participants, Instrumentation, and Procedures ................................... 68

Teacher Belief Questionnaire .......................................................................... 68

Respondents ............................................................................................ 68

Instrumentation ....................................................................................... 72

Procedures ............................................................................................... 74

Class Observations .......................................................................................... 75

Participants ............................................................................................. 75

Procedures ............................................................................................... 78

Interviews ...................................................................................................... 79

Procedures ............................................................................................... 79

Settings for the Class Observations .......................................................................... 83

Rie’s School ..................................................................................................... 83

Jun’s School ..................................................................................................... 84

Koji’s School ................................................................................................... 86

Gen’s School .................................................................................................... 88

xi Analyses ................................................................................................................... 91

Quantitative Analyses .................................................................................... 91

Qualitative Analyses ...................................................................................... 93

Interviews ............................................................................................... 93

Interpretation of Narratives and My Position ......................................... 97

Class Observations ................................................................................ 101

Summary ...................................................................................................... 102

4. PRELIMINARY ANALYSES .................................................................................... 103

Validity and Reliability of the Teacher Belief Questionnaire (TBQ) ..................... 103

Data Screening and Assumption Check for the Factor Analysis ................... 104

Results of the Factor Analysis ....................................................................... 106

Rasch Analysis of Item Fit and PCA of Item Residuals .......................................... 111

Definition of Terms and Criteria for Dimensionality ..................................... 112

Part A: Teacher Beliefs about CLT (TB) (Factor 6) ....................................... 115

Part B: Perceived Teaching Efficacy (PTE) (Factors 2 and 8) ....................... 118

Part C: Pre-service Teacher Training (PTT) (Factor 4) ................................. 121

Part D: In-service Teacher Training (ITT) (Factor 5) .................................... 124

Part E: Contextual Factors (CF) (Factor 7) ................................................... 125

Part F: Classroom Practices (CP) (Factor 3) ................................................. 135

Part G: Learning Experience (LE) (Factor 1) ................................................ 138

Comparison between the Rasch PCA and the SPSS Factor Analysis (FA) Results ......................................................................... 141

xii Summary........................................................................................................ 142

Rating Scale Analysis .............................................................................................. 144

Criteria for Rating Scale Functioning ............................................................ 145

Component 1: Positive CLT Beliefs (PCB) ................................................... 146

Component 2: L2 Self-confidence (L2SC) .................................................... 148

Component 3: CLT Self-efficacy (CSE) ......................................................... 150

Component 4: Pre-service Teacher Training (PTT) ...................................... 152

Component 5: In-service Teacher Training (ITT) ......................................... 154

Component 6: Exam-related Expectations (EE) ........................................... 156

Component 7: Influence of MEXT Policy (IMP) ........................................... 158

Component 8: Student-related Communicative Conditions (SCC) ............... 160

Component 9: Teacher-related School Conditions (TSC) ........................... 162

Component 10: Classroom Practices (CP) ................................................... 164

Component 11: Learning Experience (LE) ................................................... 166

Summary ....................................................................................................... 168

Person Fit to the Rasch Model ............................................................................... 169

Summary of the Rasch Analyses ............................................................................ 171

5. QUANTITATIVE RESULTS ...................................................................................... 173

Research Question 1 ............................................................................................... 173

Responses to Part A (Teacher Beliefs about CLT) ........................................ 173

Descriptive Statistics ............................................................................. 173

Distributions of the Responses ............................................................. 174

xiii Responses to the Open-ended Question in Part H ......................................... 175

Summary........................................................................................................ 180

Research Question 2 ............................................................................................. 180

Responses to Part F (Classroom Practices) ................................................... 180

Descriptive Statistics ............................................................................. 180

Frequency Distributions ........................................................................ 181

Research Question 3 ............................................................................................... 182

MANOVA .................................................................................................... 182

Research Question 4 ............................................................................................... 185

Pearson Product-Moment Correlations Among the 11 Variables .................. 185

Path Analysis ................................................................................................. 189

Model Estimation of Teacher Belief Path Model 1 .............................. 191

Model Estimation of Teacher Belief Path Model 2 .............................. 196

Direct Effects: Teacher Belief Path Model 2 ........................................ 198

Indirect Effects: Teacher Belief Path Model 2 ...................................... 199

Alternative Model: Teacher Belief Path Model 3 ................................. 200

Model Estimation of Teacher Belief Path Model 3 .............................. 201

Direct Effects: Teacher Belief Path Model 3 ........................................ 203

Indirect Effects: Teacher Belief Path Model 3 ...................................... 204

Summary ................................................................................................................ 205

6. FOUR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND PRACTICES: QUALITATIVE RESULTS ........................................................................................ 207

xiv Rie: Use English as Much as Possible ................................................................... 207

Rie’s Story ..................................................................................................... 207

Learning Experiences in Secondary School: Yakudoku and Studying Abroad ................................................................................... 208

Learning Experiences after Secondary School: L3 and L4 .................. 209

Pre- and In-service Teacher Training and Teaching Experience ........... 210

Rie’s Stated Beliefs and Practices Regarding CLT ............................... 213

Summary ............................................................................................... 215

Rie’s Lessons ................................................................................................. 216

Jun: “We Should Make our Class Communicative” ............................................... 219

Jun’s Story ..................................................................................................... 219

Learning Experiences in Secondary School: Yakudoku ........................ 219

Pre- and In-service Teacher Training and Teaching Experience ........... 220

Jun’s Stated Beliefs and Practices Regarding CLT ............................... 222

Summary ............................................................................................... 225

Jun’s Lessons ................................................................................................. 226

Koji: “Happy Communication Time!” ................................................................... 229

Koji’s Story .................................................................................................... 229

Learning Experiences in Secondary School ......................................... 229

Learning Experiences in University ..................................................... 230

Pre- and In-service Teacher Training and Teaching Experience ........... 231

Koji’s Stated Beliefs and Practices Regarding CLT ............................. 234

xv Summary ............................................................................................... 236

Koji’s Lessons ............................................................................................... 237

Gen: Teaching in an Agricultural High School ...................................................... 240

Gen’s Story .................................................................................................... 240

Learning Experiences in Secondary School: Yakudoku ........................ 241

Learning Experiences after Secondary School: L3 and Speaking English .................................................................................. 241

Pre- and In-service Teacher Training and Teaching Experience ........... 243

Gen’s Stated Beliefs and Practices Regarding CLT .............................. 246

Summary ............................................................................................... 248

Gen’s Lessons ................................................................................................ 249

Summary ................................................................................................................ 252

7. DISCUSSION ............................................................................................................. 256

Research Question 1 ............................................................................................... 256

Beliefs about CLT .......................................................................................... 256

CLT-oriented Beliefs and Traditional-oriented Beliefs ............................... 259

Research Question 2 ............................................................................................... 261

Inconsistency between Beliefs and Practices ................................................ 262

Class Observations ........................................................................................ 266

Research Question 3 ............................................................................................... 272

Research Question 4 ............................................................................................... 276

Pearson Product-Moment Correlations ......................................................... 276

xvi Path Analyses................................................................................................. 280

The Final Path Model ........................................................................... 281

A Comparison of the Final Path Model with the Alternative Path Model ............................................................................................ 286

A Comparison of the Final Path Model and Borg’s Framework .......... 288

Teacher as Eternal Learners and Seekers: Qualitative Results ...................... 292

8. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS ..................................................................... 296

Summary of This Study .......................................................................................... 296

Limitations ............................................................................................................. 298

Theoretical Implications ......................................................................................... 300

Pedagogical Implications ....................................................................................... 303

Pedagogical Implications for Pre-service Teacher Educators ....................... 303

Pedagogical Implications for In-service Teacher Educators ......................... 305

Implications for MEXT ................................................................................. 308

Suggestions for Future Research ............................................................................. 311

Conclusions ............................................................................................................ 317

REFERENCES CITED ................................................................................................... 320

APPENDICES

A. TEACHER BELIEF QUESTIONNAIRE (JAPANESE VERSION) ....................... 336

B. TEACHER BELIEF QUESTIONNAIRE (ENGLISH TRANSLATION) ............... 340

C. CONSENT FORM .................................................................................................... 345

D. HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOMS THAT I OBSERVED ......................................... 346

xvii E. ABBREVIATIONS OF DATA TYPES AND TRANSCRIPTION CONVENTIONS ...................................................................................................... 348

xviii LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1. English Courses and the Number of Units .............................................................. 34

2. Research on the Relationships Among the Seven Variables .................................... 57

3. Length of the Participants’ Teaching Experience (N = 139) .................................... 69

4. The Participants’ University Majors (N = 139) ....................................................... 69

5. Profiles of the Four Participants .............................................................................. 75

6. Data Collected through Class Observations and Interviews ................................... 93

7. Factor Correlation Matrix ...................................................................................... 107

8. Pattern Matrix of 71 Items on the Teacher Belief Questionnaire .......................... 109

9. Cronbach’s Alpha Reliabilities of the Eight Factors .............................................. 111

10. Criteria for Unidimensionality .............................................................................. 114

11. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Part A ........................................................................ 115

12. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Part A after Deleting TB6 and TB8 .......................... 116

13. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part A ................................................................ 117

14. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Positive CLT Beliefs ......................................... 117

15. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Part B ........................................................................ 118

16. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Part B after deleting PTE10 ...................................... 119

17. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part B ............................................................... 120

18. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for L2 Self-confidence .................................................... 120

19. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for CLT Self-efficacy ............................................. 121

20. The First PCA of Item Residuals for Part C .......................................................... 122

xix

21. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Part C ....................................................................... 122

22. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Part C after Deleting PTT2 ...................................... 123

23. The Second Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part C ........................................... 123

24. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Part D ....................................................................... 124

25. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part D ............................................................... 125

26. Rasch Item Statistics for Part E ............................................................................. 126

27. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Part E after Deleting CF5 and CF4 .......................... 126

28. The First Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part E ............................................... 127

29. The Second Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part E (Dimension 1) ................... 129

30. The Third Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Exam-related Expectations ............. 129

31. The Fourth Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Influence of MEXT Policy ............ 129

32. The Fifth Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part E (Dimension 2) ....................... 130

33. The Sixth Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Student-related Communicative Conditions ................................................................................. 133

34. The Seventh Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Teacher-related School Conditions ........................................................................ 134

35. Rasch Item Fit Statistics for Teacher-related School Conditions ......................... 134

36. The Four Factors Identified from Part E ............................................................... 134

37. Rasch Item Statistics for Part F ............................................................................. 136

38. Rasch Item Statistics for Part F after Deleting Item CF7 ...................................... 136

39. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part F ............................................................... 137

40. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Classroom Practices ........................................ 138

xx 41. Rasch Item Statistics for Part G ............................................................................. 139

42. Rasch Item Statistics for Part G after Deleting LE7 .............................................. 139

43. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part G ............................................................... 140

44. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part G after Deleting Item LE7 ....................... 141

45. A Comparison of the Constructs Identified by the SPSS Factor Analysis and Rasch Analyses ............................................................................................... 143

46. Rasch PCA of Item Residuals for Part G after Deleting Item LE2 ....................... 143

47. The 11 Factors Identified from the Teacher Belief Questionnaire ........................ 144

48. Summary of Category Structure of the 4-point Rating Scale for Positive CLT Beliefs .............................................................................................. 147

49. Results of the Rating Scale Categorization for Positive CLT Beliefs ................... 148

50. Comparison of Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Three Rating Scale Categorizations ........................... 148

51. Rating Scale Instrument Quality Criteria .............................................................. 148

52. Summary of Category Structure of the 5-point Rating Scale for L2 Self-confidence ................................................................................................. 149

53. Results of the Rating Scale Categorization for L2 Self-confidence ....................... 150

54. Comparison of Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Two Rating Scale Categorizations .............................. 150

55. Summary of Category Structure of the Original 6-point Rating Scale for CLT Self-efficacy ................................................................................................... 151

56. Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Rating Scale Categorization ........................................................................ 152

57. Summary of Category Structure of the Original 6-point Rating Scale for Pre-service Teacher Training ................................................................................ 152

xxi 58. Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Rating Scale Categorization ........................................................................ 153

59. Summary of Category Structure of the 5-point Rating Scale for In-service Teacher Training ................................................................................... 155

60. Results of the Rating Scale Categorization for In-service Teacher Training ........ 155

61. Comparison of Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Two Rating Scale Categorizations .............................. 156

62. Summary of Category Structure of the 5-point Rating Scale for Exam-related Expectations ..................................................................................... 156

63. Results of the Rating Scale Categorization for Exam-related Expectations ..................................................................................... 157

64. Comparison of Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Two Rating Scale Categorization ............................... 158

65. Summary of Category Structure of the Original 6-point Rating Scale for Influence of MEXT Policy ..................................................................................... 158

66. Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Rating Scale Categorization ...................................................... 159

67. Summary of Category Structure of the 5-point Rating Scale for Student-related Communicative Conditions .......................................................... 160

68. Results of the Rating Scale Categorization for Student-related Communicative Conditions .......................................................... 161

69. Comparison of Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation and Item Reliability of the Two Rating Scale Categorizations ............................. 162

70. Summary of Category Structure of the 4-point Rating Scale for Teacher-related School Conditions ........................................................................ 163

71. Results of the Rating Scale Categorization for Teacher-related School Conditions ........................................................................ 164

72. Comparison of Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Three Rating Scale Categorizations .......................................... 164

xxii 73. Summary of Category Structure of the Original 5-point Rating Scale for Classroom Practices .............................................................................................. 165

74. Results of the Rating Scale Categorization for Classroom Practices ................... 166

75. Comparison of Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Two Rating Scale Categorizations .............................. 166

76. Summary of Category Structure of the 4-point Rating Scale for Learning Experience.............................................................................................. 167

77. Results of the Rating Scale Categorization for Learning Experience ................... 168

78. Comparison of Person Separation, Person Reliability, Item Separation, and Item Reliability of the Two Rating Scale Categorizations ............................. 168

79. Rating Scale Optimization ..................................................................................... 169

80. Rasch Person Fit Statistics for Misfitting Persons ................................................. 170

81. Descriptive Statistics for Part A of the Questionnaire (N = 139) .......................... 170

82. Distributions of the Responses to Part A of the Questionnaire (N = 139) ............ 175

83. Teaching Methods/Practices that the Teachers Wanted to Change (1) (N = 75) .................................................................................................................. 176

84. Teaching Methods/Practices that the Teachers Wanted to Change (2) (N = 22) .................................................................................................................. 177

85. Conditions to Be Changed in Order to Make Classes More Communicative (N = 71) .................................................................................................................. 178

86. Frequency of Employing Communicative Activities (N = 139) ........................... 181

87. Distributions of the Responses to Part F (N = 139) ............................................. 182

88. Descriptive Statistics for PCB and CP for Group 1 (N = 80) and Group 2 (N = 57) .................................................................................................................. 184

89. MANOVA Results for Positive CLT Beliefs and Classroom Practices ................. 184

90. Descriptive Statistics for the Eleven Variables (N = 137) ..................................... 187

xxiii 91. Intercorrelations Among the Eleven Variables (N = 137) ..................................... 188

92. Selected Fit Statistics for Teacher Belief Path Model 1 (N = 137) ....................... 192

93. Statistical Significance of the Paths in Teacher Belief Path Model 1 ................... 197

94. Selected Fit Statistics for Teacher Belief Path Model 2 (N = 137) ....................... 197

95. Statistical Significance of the Paths in Teacher Belief Path Model 3 ................... 202

96. Selected Fit Statistics for Teacher Belief Path Model 3 (N = 137) ....................... 202

97. Procedure of Rie’s Lessons ................................................................................... 219

98. Procedure of Jun’s Lessons ................................................................................... 229

99. Procedure of Koji’s Lessons .................................................................................. 240

100. Procedure of Gen’s Lessons .................................................................................. 252

101. Communicative Activities Used in the Observed Classes..................................... 268

xxiv LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page 1. Borg’s conceptual framework of teacher cognition ................................................. 21

2. Conceptual framework of teacher beliefs and practices ........................................... 23

3. Distribution of high school students by type of course (MEXT, 2006) ................... 37

4. Teacher Beliefs and Practice Model 1 ...................................................................... 92

5. Item-person map for the Contextual Factor sub-scale ........................................... 131

6. Summary of PCAs for Part G (Contextual Factors) ............................................... 135

7. Category probability curves for the 4-point rating scale for Positive CLT Beliefs ............................................................................................... 147

8. Category probability curves for the 5-point rating scale for L2 Self-confidence ................................................................................................. 149

9. Category probability curves for the 6-point rating scale for CLT Self-efficacy .................................................................................................... 151

10. Category probability curves for the 6-point rating scale for Pre-service Teacher Training ................................................................................. 153

11. Category probability curves for the 5-point rating scale for In-service Teacher Training ................................................................................... 155

12. Category probability curves for the 5-point rating scale for Exam-related Expectations ..................................................................................... 157

13. Category probability curves for the 6-point rating scale for Influence of MEXT Policy ...................................................................................... 159

14. Category probability curves for the 5-point rating scale for Student-related Communicative Conditions ........................................................... 161

15. Category probability curves for the 4-point rating scale for Teacher-related School Conditions ........................................................................ 163

xxv 16. Category probability curves for the 4-point rating scale for Classroom Practices ............................................................................................... 165

17. Category probability curves for the 4-point rating scale for Learning Experience.............................................................................................. 167

18. Distribution of class size (N = 127) ........................................................................ 179

19. Path analysis results of Teacher Belief Path Model 1 with standardized estimates ............................................................................................ 192

20. Path analysis results of Teacher Belief Path Model 2 with standardized estimates ............................................................................................ 198

21. Path analysis results of Teacher Belief Path Model 3 with standardized estimates ............................................................................................ 203

22. Path analysis results of Teacher Belief Path Model 2 and Borg’s (2003) Framework .............................................................................................................. 288

23. Elements and processes in language teacher cognition (Borg, 2006, p. 283) ........ 302

1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

The Background of the Issue What shapes teacher beliefs and practices? Educational researchers have been focusing on this question since they started to regard teachers as active decision-makers in the 1980s. Borg (2003) reviewed 64 studies and reported that teacher cognition (i.e., teacher knowledge, beliefs, and thoughts) played a central role in teachers’ lives. He also found that contextual factors influence both teacher cognition and practices when teachers make pedagogical decisions. Other research findings suggest that teacher beliefs potentially exert a strong influence on classroom practices (Nespor, 1987; Pajares, 1992; Richardson, 1994). In the field of ESL/EFL education, the question of what shapes teacher beliefs led me to a narrower line of inquiry. What influences shape teacher beliefs about the use of novel teaching methods: government policy, pressure to teach to high-stakes entrance examinations, previous learning experience, or other contextual factors? In the Japanese context, this question has been investigated recently in relation to Japanese English teacher perceptions and practices as related to communicative language teaching (CLT) (Gorsuch, 2000b, 2001; Sakui, 2004; Taguchi, 2005), because the majority of Japanese high school teachers have been using traditional teaching methods (Gorsuch, 1998), and most had little knowledge about CLT when it was introduced a few decades ago.

2 Since 1989, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) 1 has attempted to promote higher achievement in English communicative skills among secondary school students by urging teachers to incorporate communicative language activities into their lessons (MEXT, 1989). In 1999, the Ministry’s curriculum guidelines, The Course of Study, defined one of the three main goals of secondary school English programs as developing students’ practical communicative abilities (MEXT, 1999). Likewise, on March 31, 2003, MEXT officially announced the Action Plan (MEXT, 2003), a five-year project that was designed to establish a system whereby Japanese secondary school students will substantially improve their communicative English abilities (Hato, 2005).

Statement of the Problem Research on Japanese teachers’ classroom practices in the early stage of these MEXT initiatives suggested that communicative language teaching (CLT) was not being used effectively by Japanese secondary school teachers. For instance, Brown (1995) claimed that very little oral English was used during English lessons, and Gorsuch (1998) reported that 70 to 80 percent of the Japanese high school teachers that she surveyed used yakudoku (the traditional Japanese method of teaching English through the translation of written passages) in their English classes. In spite of the concerns that these findings

1 Japanese Ministry of Education was combined with Ministry of Science and Technology in 2002. Since then, it has been called Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. “The Ministry of Education” or “MEXT” is used in this study.

3 raise, little research into classroom practices has been conducted since the implementation of the 1999 Course of Study. One of the few studies that I am aware of was conducted by Taguchi (2005), who investigated high school teachers’ perceptions of and practices in oral communication courses. She found that the teachers’ overriding concern with university entrance examinations influenced the content of their teaching and that they tended to use traditional methods, such as choral repetition, even in oral communication classes. Although a number of conditions specific to the Japanese educational context, including the existence of high-stakes entrance examinations, the prevalence of the yakudoku method, and learners’ beliefs and expectations, plausibly play a role in shaping classroom practices in Japan, teachers’ beliefs are also likely to strongly influence teacher practices (Nespor, 1987; Pajares, 1992; Richardson, 1994). In order for CLT to be used more widely and effectively in Japanese high schools, greater insight into high school teachers’ beliefs and practices is needed. In addition, it should be noted that teachers’ beliefs and practices are shaped and reshaped, as those beliefs are influenced by the teachers’ learning experiences, pre- and in-service training, and contextual factors (Borg, 2003; Breen, Hird, Milton, Oliver, & Thwaite, 2001; Kinginger, 1997; Meijer, Verloop, & Beijaard, 1999). However, as Borg (2003) pointed out, the majority of the studies on teacher beliefs have been conducted with native speaker teachers working with small groups of motivated adult learners or college students; thus, researchers need to investigate secondary school settings where

4 non-native English teachers teach EFL to large classes of learners who may be studying English in required secondary school courses. In sum, there is a need to investigate Japanese high school teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding CLT after the implementation of the revised 1999 Course of Study in order to determine whether MEXT’s innovations have been carried out successfully. There is also a need to look into teacher beliefs and practices in the secondary school EFL settings to further develop our understanding of teacher cognition.

Purposes of the Study The primary purposes of this study are to investigate Japanese high school teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding the use of CLT and to examine the relationships among their beliefs about CLT, their classroom practices, and other factors such as their learning experience, their experience in pre- and in-service training, their perceived teaching efficacy, and contextual factors. The secondary purpose is to test a path model of hypothesized relationships among teachers’ beliefs, practice, and the other factors. The model is based on Borg’s (2003) conceptual framework of teacher cognition that was developed in order to help researchers have an overall understanding of the dimensions of teacher cognition.

5 Definition of Key Terms In this section, I define key terms used in this study: teacher beliefs, teacher knowledge, classroom practice, and communicative language teaching (CLT).

Teacher Beliefs Beliefs are seen as an essential construct influencing human behavior. However, it is difficult to define beliefs because researchers have viewed beliefs or belief systems differently according to their research agendas. For instance, Abelson (1979) defined beliefs as the manipulation of knowledge by humans for a particular purpose. Wenden (1998) stated that beliefs about learning are components of metacognitive knowledge. Both definitions imply that beliefs and knowledge are difficult to distinguish. Regarding beliefs about SLA, Kalaja and Barcelos (2003) defined them as “opinions and ideas that learners (and teachers) have about the task of learning a second/foreign language” (p. 1). Barcelos (2003) pointed out that in her research on beliefs about SLA, three approaches to defining beliefs have been identified. The first approach is the normative approach whereby beliefs are defined as synonyms for preconceptions, myths, or misconceptions that learners hold about language learning (e.g., Horwitz, 1988). The second approach is the metacognitive approach (e.g., Wenden, 1986). Wenden claimed that beliefs seem to “work as a sort of logic determining consciously or unconsciously what they did to help themselves to learn English” (p. 4). The third approach is the contextual approach, which aims at gaining a better

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Abstract: This study was an investigation of Japanese high school teachers' (N = 139) beliefs and practices regarding communicative language teaching (CLT). Four research questions were posited concerning the beliefs that Japanese high school teachers hold regarding CLT, how Japanese high school teachers use CLT in the classroom, how Japanese teachers' beliefs and practices differ between academic and vocational high schools, and how the beliefs of Japanese high school teachers, their classroom practices, their learning experience, pre- and in-service training, perceived teaching efficacy, and contextual factors relate to and influence each other regarding the use of CLT. In order to provide answers to these questions, a survey, classroom observations, and interviews were conducted. Before conducting the quantitative analyses, the questionnaire data were analyzed using the Rasch rating-scale model to confirm the validity and reliability of the questionnaire and to transform the raw scores into equal interval measures. Regarding the first and second research questions, the descriptive statistics showed that despite holding positive beliefs about CLT, the respondents to the survey did not frequently use communicative activities. With respect to the third research question, a MANOVA indicated that the types of schools (academic and vocational) did not significantly influence the survey respondents' beliefs and practices regarding CLT. Concerning the fourth research question, the Pearson correlation coefficients showed relatively strong correlations between (a) Classroom Practices and Student-related Communicative Conditions (r = .56) and (b) L2 Self-confidence and CLT Self-efficacy ( r = .55). Also, the best fitting path model indicated that (a) Student-related Communicative Conditions impacted Classroom Practices , (b) Positive CLT Beliefs indirectly influenced Classroom Practices via CLT Self-efficacy , and (c) Exam-related Expectations affected most of the indicator variables and Classroom Practices . Related to this, qualitative results indicated that the respondents' learning experience, in-service training, and contextual factors influenced their beliefs and practices. These findings suggest that the educational context and in-service teacher education need to be re-examined in order for CLT to become a more widely implemented practice in Japanese high schools.