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Students' and Teachers' Perceptions of Effective Foreign Language Teaching: A Comparison of Ideals



Foreign language (FL) teachers and students may have very similar or disparate notions of effective teaching, and the intersection of the two sets of beliefs has ramifications for language learning and the effectiveness of instruction. Horwitz (1990), Kern (1995), and Schulz (1996) have argued that mismatches between FL students' and teachers' expectations can negatively affect the students' satisfaction with the language class and can potentially lead to the discontinuation of study. The principal objectives of this study were to identify and compare, overall and by teacher, teachers' and students' ideals of effective teacher behaviors. Of 83 intact 1st- and 2nd-year classes across 9 languages at the University of Arizona, 49 FL teachers and their students responded to a 24-item Likert-scale questionnaire covering several areas of FL pedagogy. The students seemed to favor a grammar-based approach, whereas their teachers preferred a more communicative classroom, as evidenced by significant differences in such areas as target language use, error correction, and group work. The significant discrepancies between teacher and student beliefs in several relevant areas point to the need for FL teachers to seek out their students' perspectives actively and to engage them in brief classroom discussions about the rationale behind certain instructional strategies.

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