The Professional Development of Future Professors of Foreign Languages: Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Abstract

Although the professional development of graduate students in foreign language (FL) departments is of critical importance, discussion of its significance and evolution was all but absent in the 2007 Modern Language Association report “Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World,” a document advocating curricular and structural reforms of FL departments in forthright terms. This lacuna drove the current review, which traces the forms and foci of research appearing from 1987 to 2008 on the professional development of future professors of foreign languages. Empirical studies on the relation of graduate students’ beliefs and identities to their FL teaching experiences have integrated increasingly sophisticated research designs and theoretical frameworks over the past two decades; however, the primary focus of this field remained moving from a training perspective to a professional development perspective and substantiating this change with new practices that address FL graduate students’ long-term needs as teachers and scholars. The authors call for a renewed focus on empirical research in this field and a more symbiotic relationship between research investigating the processes and outcomes of FL graduate student professional development and the practices called for in FL departments.

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