Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Marian Amengual Pizarro (1). Primary education degrees in Spain: do they fulfil the linguistic and pedagogic needs of future teachers? VIAL. Number 10/2013: 9-27.

ABSTRACT:


Over the past decade, the political will to introduce foreign languages in primary schools has gradually increased. According to the recommendations of the Common European Framework for modern languages (CEFR), the learning of foreign languages should be encouraged and promoted at a very early age. The implementation of this Framework requires language teachers to be equipped with the necessary language skills and abilities to be able to cope with classroom communication. This study aims at investigating the extent to which the English language needs of prospective primary school teachers are being addressed in the restructuring of the current primary education degrees in Spanish Universities, in accordance with the new European Space for Higher Education. Among other changes and innovations, new primary education degrees favour a generalist orientation as opposed to any specialist training (i.e. Foreign Language Teaching, Physical Education, etc.) in their teacher education programmes.

A questionnaire was designed to capture the opinion of 106 first-year future primary school teachers at the University of the Balearic Islands on the level of satisfaction towards the remodelling of the new degree, the meeting of their English linguistic and pedagogic needs in the current education programme, their perceived command of the English language, and the use of English they would make in their future classes. Results reveal that the majority of students oppose the generalist orientation of the current degree and believe that their English language and pedagogic training does not equip them to cope effectively with the demands of the foreign language classroom. These results cannot be ignored if we want prospective primary school teachers to be able to attend to the linguistic needs of young language learners at primary level in accordance with Europe’s current policies.

Keywords: Primary education degrees; Common European Framework for modern languages (CEFR); second language teachers, specialist training, young language learners.

(1) Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain.

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