January 7, 2011

The current educational climate is essentially driven by an overriding interest in preparing students to become effective teachers. Therefore, some teacher education programmes have been developed in order to enhance this process. These programmes explore the possible approaches which could encourage student-teachers or teachers-in-service towards learning-focused teaching activities. Although teacher education programmes have been in existence for a long time, ESL teacher education is a relatively recent development. Numerous educational theorists and practitioners have handed down different opinions on the possible models for teacher education from their personal point of views. However, most of the researchers shared three common views. Subsequently these three concepts attained worldwide critical acclamation as teaching models. The latest models of teacher education have been put forward by, Michael J. Wallace in 1991. Wallace moulded his models after the existing concepts of his precursors, but in a more convenient or transparent way.

1. The Applied Science Model

The Applied Science Model is the traditional and perhaps still the most prevalent model underlying most ESL teacher education programmes. It was put forward by Michael J. Wallace in 1991 based on the Technical Rationality of Donald A. Schön. The model derives its authority from the achievements of emperical science, particularly in the 19th and the 20th centuries. The Applied Science Model emerges on the following assumptions:
  • Teaching is a science and as such can be examined rationally and objectively.
  • Teachers learn to be teachers by being taught research-based theories.
  • These theories are being conveyed to the students only by those who are considered to be the experts in the particular field.
  • Teachers are said to be educated when they become proficient enough to apply these theories in practice.
Merits: The Applied Science Model has the following plus points:
  • This model takes into account the crucial element of the explosive growth of relevant scientific knowledge in recent times.
  • Its theory oriented study provides much opportunity for the learner to achieve received knowledge.
Demerits: In spite of its wide-spread usage, it has some shortcomings:
  • Changes at the practical level applied by practitioners are not taken into account; therefore, their value is underestimated, thereby creating a separation between research and professional practice.
  • The most serious problem occurs when the students are asked to apply on their own the scientific theories they have learned in classroom.
  • Another shortcoming is the Applied Science Model’s failure to address adequately many of the important issues in teaching English. There has been relatively little research that directly concerns the teaching and learning of English in the classroom.
  • Many researchers claim that trainees who take courses based on the Applied Science Model feel that such courses do not help them develop professionally, that is, the theoretical studies are of no help.
  • Here the learner is passive, he cannot ask any question. He just follows the instructions of the expert.
  • The Applied Science Model is somewhat limited in scope as it does not take care of student- teachers’ self-development or awareness of their role not only as teachers but as teacher-researchers in their classrooms.
  • In Applied Science Model teaching is based on external knowledge, because it is essentially depended on rules and principles derived from preexisting knowledge sources.
  • The Applied Science Model is prescriptive since it advocates teachers to follow some proven teaching method instead of relying upon individual or intuitive theories of teaching and learning.
  • The Applied Science Model is a product oriented model. It slavishly follows various established methods and theories to improve teaching ability. In this model there is no scope for expressing one’s creativity.
  • Its major shortcoming is that it has not been able to deliver a relevant “scientific” solution to the various professional dilemmas that the teacher faces in real-life classroom situations.

2. The Craft Model

The Craft Model is the oldest form of professional education and is still used today in ESL teacher education, albeit rather limitedly. Its conceptual basis, however, is widely utilized in practicum courses in which students work with classroom teachers, often called cooperating teachers. Its use in one course in a programme of ESL teacher education cannot be regarded as a model for an entire programme. The basic assumptions underlying this model are as follows:
  • In its most basic form, Craft Model consists of the trainee or beginner working closely with the expert teacher.
  • The practitioner is supposed to learn by imitating all the teaching techniques used by the experienced teacher.
  • Knowledge is acquired as a result of observation, instruction, and practice.
Merits: The positive sides of this model are as follows:
  • The Craft Model of second language teacher education allows the learner to develop experiential knowledge, since the primary responsibilities of the learner are in the classroom.
  • It is one of the quickest models of ESL teacher education. Researches proved that students can imitate their teacher very quickly.
Demerits: This model of ESL teacher education programme suffers from several shortcomings:
  • The most relevant strategies of training are provided by experts, thus the student-teachers play a passive role.
  • The Craft Model is essentially conservative. It does not account for any kind of change. It depends merely on imitation.
  • It does not handle the relevant scientific knowledge.
  • In this model there is no scope for developing one’s creativity since it does not allow suggesting new theories.

3. The Reflective Model

The reflective practice has become a dominant paradigm in language teacher education research and programmes worldwide. But it is not an innovation in teaching. It has its roots in the work of a number of educational theorists and practitioners. Most definitions on reflective thinking found in the literature of teacher educatin are based on Dewey’s inquiry oriented concepts. In the 1980s, Dewey’s foundational aspects on reflection were further extended by the American sociologist Donald A. Schön. Later on, in 1991 Michael J. Wallace described Schön’s critique in a more explicit way.

The Reflective Model is based on the assumption that teachers develop professional competence through reflecting on their own practice. In other words, a teaching experience is recalled and considered to reach an evaluation and to provide input into future planning and action.

For Wallace a teacher education course should include two kinds of knowledge for it to be professionally structured:
  • Received knowledge: It is related to all the theories, concepts and skills that are studied during the student-teacher’s ELT methodology lessons.
  • Experiential knowledge: It is that knowledge which is developed by the trainees throughout their teaching practice.
Wallace’s Reflective Model is applicable to both pre-service and in-service education. The model is separated it into three stages:
  1. The pre-training: It is believed that the person who has decided to embark on professional education does not enter the progamme with blank mind. He has, at least, some pre-training knowledge about teaching.
  2. The professional development: It is the stage of professional education or development through theory and practice.
  3. The professional competence: The ultimate goal of this model is to increase professional competence.
Wallace presents the Reflective Model as a cyclical process in which the trainees are involved throughout their teaching experience. Such a cycle aims for continuous improvement and the development of personal theories of action. There is an assumption that the student-teachers already have some knowledge that they acquired as students and during the development of their English programme. Once the student-teachers have the opportunity to enter the classroom environment, they discover the actual framework of teaching and become aware of the different classroom situations. Thus, they start recalling about their performance during the teaching practice, how some experienced teachers deal with those situations, and also, how they themselves could manage them. So, they make some decisions and think about possible actions they could apply to their context. Or sometimes they simply reflect upon their classroom activities to evaluate their professional performance. Such a study helps them to figure out both the positive as well as the negative side of their teaching strategy. That means reflection helps them to avoid various future professional dilemmas by recalling and evaluating past experiences. The following illustration is a graphical representation of Wallace’s Reflective Model of professional education or development:

This is a very common way in which professional competence is developed, and in it the process of reflective practice is clearly taking place, even though the practice element occurs outside the formal framework of the course. The use of reflective practice is obviously valid, but it should be noted that this sort of practice for professional education carries certain disadvantages:
  • The main disadvantage is that the experience is private, not shared.
  • The second disadvantage is the potential lack of focus in the discussion.
  • The third problem could well be the lack of structure in the mode of articulating reflection.
  • Ultimately, its flexibility and stress on participant initiative and input may cause lack of organisation and a pooling of ignorance, at the expense of genuine professional or personal progress.
Merits: Reflective teaching is very much beneficial for teacher development. It offers more advantages than disadvantages:
  • Reflective practice helps the novice teachers become more aware of decision-making processes to help them determine the effect their decisions have in the context in which they are implemented.
  • Reflective Model is broad in scope since it enables teachers to investigate, and clarify their own classroom processes, and their individual theories of teaching and learning, instead of relying on some specific method of teaching.
  • The Reflective Model is a process oriented teaching approach since it provides an opportunity for the teacher to reveal his creative sides.
  • Reflective practice provides an opportunity for the teacher to find a self-defined solution for a particular classroom problem.
  • With a sharp contrast to the other models of teacher education, the Reflective Model does not treat the student-teacher as a passive participant. Here he works with his educator as a co-participant.
  • This is the only model that fulfills almost all the requirements for teacher development.


Day, Richard. “Models and the Knowledge Base of Second Language Teacher Education.”
University of Hawaii System. 2008. University of Hawai‘i. 20 September 2008
< http://www.hawaii.edu/sls/uhwpesl/112/day112.pdf>.

“Tasting Teaching Flavors: A Group of Student-Teachers’ Experiences in their Practicum.”
Scielo. 2008. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. 20 September 2008
< http://www.scielo.org.co >.

Wallace, M.J. Training Foreign Language Teachers: A Reflective Approach. Cambridge: CUP,

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