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Michael “Mitch” Legutke
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Michael “Mitch” Legutke

Professor Emeritus of Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Distinguished Senior Professor at the International Graduate Center for the Study of Culture
Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Germany

Teachers Matter: Revisiting the Territory and Charting the Future of Foreign Language Teacher Education


Language educators and applied linguists have argued that the changes brought about by globalization -- with its movement of people and capital, the advances in technology and networks of ideas -- necessitate a reconceptualization of language pedagogy building on the diversity of languages, cultures and biographies learners bring to the classroom. This pedagogy should differ from what was advocated by communicative language teaching in the late 20th century, moving towards a more reflective, interpretive, and politically engaged professionalization. Consequently, the situation calls for a reconceptualization of the role of FL teachers and teacher education, because it is argued that teachers are the key to educational change. I will discuss this call for change by taking a diachronic perspective on FL teacher education in Continental Europe. Reviewing a substantial body of research and a large field of diverse practices, which have been neglected in recent “State of the Art” publications on second and foreign language teacher education written in English, I will foreground two sources of pedagogical content knowledge and FL teacher competence: (1) the systematic integration of cultural and literary studies for the development of an interpretive and relational competence of FL teachers, and (2) the extensive inclusion of classroom experience as the basis for contextualized and interpretive teacher learning. Drawing on current collaborative research with elementary teachers of EFL in the multicultural and super-diverse context of Frankfurt/Main, Germany, I will investigate how teachers develop the capability of understanding their practices and their students’ learning in critical and self-reflective ways. This project of practitioner research will serve as a stepping-stone towards defining future efforts in FL teacher education.

Michael Legutke is Professor Emeritus of Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Distinguished Senior Professor at the International Graduate Center for the Study of Culture at the Justus Liebig University of Giessen in Germany. He has worked in the Department of Research at the Goethe-Institut in Munich, supporting teacher development for German as a foreign language. He has also been a German language consultant to the Pacific Northwest of the United States and a language teacher in Germany. Dr. Legutke has served as a member of the editorial board of TESOL Quarterly, as a member of the Research Standing Committee of TESOL, and as President of the German Association of Foreign and Second Language Research. He is on the Board of Trustees of The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF). His research has focused on language learning in the elementary school, pre-service and in-service teacher education, and on task-based language learning. Through a broad range of publications and international presentations he has manifested his commitment to the integration of theory, research, and practice. He is currently working on a state-funded research project investigating the teaching of English in primary schools in the multi-lingual and multi-cultural urban context of Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
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