Teachers' sense of efficacy in teaching English, perceived English language proficiency, and attitudes toward the English language: A case of Korean public elementary school teachers
Researchers in education have documented that teachers' sense of efficacy has strong impacts on various aspects of teaching and learning. Yet, in the field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), inquiry into teachers' sense of efficacy is extremely scarce. Given its documented powerful impact on teaching practices and student learning, it is critical to pursue this line of inquiry into the field.
The present study, by adopting the notion of teachers' sense of efficacy as the theoretical framework, has explored Korean elementary school teachers' confidence in teaching English. The study has also examined teachers' attitudes toward the English language and the current Korean elementary English education policy and practices, and teachers' English language proficiency, respectively. Furthermore, their English teaching efficacy has been examined in relation to the factors that are likely to influence their confidence in carrying out English teaching-related tasks: namely, the attitudes toward the English language, English proficiency (current and desired minimum levels, as well as the gap between the two levels), and teacher characteristics.
An explanatory mixed methods design was employed in the present study and data were collected in the two phases. In the quantitative phase, 1,327 elementary school teachers working in five regions of South Korea responded to the survey. In the qualitative phase, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 teachers and classroom observation in five teachers' English classes.
Efficacy for oral English language use was found as an additional dimension of teacher efficacy in teaching English, indicating that in a foreign language context, oral target language use would be a significant dimension to be considered in examining teachers' self-efficacy in teaching the target language. Also, it was found that teachers' current level of English proficiency and EIL (English as an International Language) attitude toward the English language were the significant predictors for teachers' English teaching-specific efficacy beliefs or confidence.
Several important theoretical and practical implications for teacher development and policy-making in the Korean elementary English education context have emerged from the present study.