Foreign Language Student Teaching: Do Supervisor Qualifications Really Matter?



According to national standards for foreign language (L2) teacher education programs established by the ACTFL and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), L2 student teachers must be supervised by university faculty who are qualified L2 educators. An exploratory study was conducted to better understand the impact of content-specific pedagogical knowledge, L2 experience, and qualifications on the effectiveness of the university supervisor. Its purpose was to compare the beliefs of L2 teacher candidates and supervisors with and without L2 teaching qualifications to explore the extent to which these three groups share similar beliefs about effective L2 teaching. Results indicated that all participants demonstrated general pedagogical knowledge associated with good teaching practices. However, supervisors without L2 teacher training and experience were less familiar with theories of L2 acquisition, standards, and best practices than were their counterparts with L2 teaching qualifications. Lacking pedagogical content knowledge related to L2 teaching, the generalist supervisors were unable to provide appropriate feedback to their L2 interns, had lower expectations for their interns, and relied more heavily on others to provide them with support.