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Gaps in the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers*


  • William R. Herold

    1. (Ed. D., State University of New York at Buffalo) is Assistant Professor of Foreign Language Education at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas.
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  • *

    The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the thirty-nine foreign language authorities who responded to his request for their concerns about the education of foreign language teachers.


ABSTRACT  Thirty-nine foreign language teaching authorities responded to an invitation to indicate the ‘gaps’ they felt existed in the training of foreign language teachers. This article summarizes their responses. In the main, the gaps in foreign language education are found where they have always been–on the college and university levels. Secondary schools are innovating to such an extent that methods teachers are hard pressed to prepare their students for all the new trends. Although the language proficiency of graduates is improving, many critics feel that a year of study and travel in the target culture is the only way for them to gain real mastery of the four skills. Moreover, residence abroad would put them in a better position to interpret the deep culture of the country to their future students. Films and tapes of excellent teaching should be readily available so that cadet teachers may analyze them and learn why they are models. Haphazard student field experiences must be more tightly organized. It would be well for the profession to form a consensus on optimum practices in teacher training institutions and publicize the statement. With the knowledge explosion that is taking place, teachers probably need five years to acquire all the necessary competencies.