Developing 'My Way' in Chinese Language Teaching: Qualitative Case Studies of Teachers' Personal Practical Knowledge
Much of L2 teacher cognition research has focused on L2 English education with native speakers teaching adult students at private institutes and tertiary levels. The present study was set up to investigate Chinese language teachers' personal practical knowledge (PPK) in teaching Chinese in New Zealand secondary schools. Taking qualitative case study as the approach, the present study selected three teachers as participants - two native Chinese speakers (immigrants) and one non-native Chinese speaker with Chinese heritage background - to explore the characteristics of their PPK, and to identify the factors shaping that PPK. The purpose of the study is to gain insight into teacher professional development processes. The data for the present study are mainly interviews with the teachers, supplemented with classroom observations of their teaching, post-lesson discussions, and my field notes. Data analysis and interpretation revealed that each teacher developed her own unique characteristic of PPK, which was captured by a dominant image, an overriding perspective that guided her practice. The factors shaping their PPK and practice are shown to be their prior knowledge, particularly ideologies originating from their native culture, their awareness of their status as native and non-native speakers, their teaching experience, and the institutional context. However, the extent of the impact on each teacher differed depending upon their personal background and level of professional development. The present study supported the view that a teacher's PPK is the dynamic integration of her prior knowledge and understanding of the situation, is oriented toward practice, and is constructed and reconstructed out of the narratives of a teacher's life. Based on this study, a number of implications have been identified for teacher development, as well as suggestions for further study of teachers' PPK.