Situating Korean EFL teacher education in a CMC environment : online exchanges between preservice English teachers and elementary school students
The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the characteristics of student-teacher interactions between Korean EFL preservice teachers and elementary school students during online exchanges and of the preservice teachers’ overall impressions and perceptions of teaching English to elementary school students and interacting with them online. The participants in this study were 31 Korean preservice elementary school teachers and 10 Korean elementary school students who were learning English as a foreign language. Ten groups with an average of three preservice teachers were paired with one child partner per group and engaged in one-on-one email exchanges, mostly using English, in discussing English books. Data came from multiple sources, including transcripts of the online exchanges between the preservice teachers and the child partner, preservice teachers’ collaborative dialogue scripts, their responses to questionnaires, their group reflection journals, individual final reflection papers, and researcher field notes. These data were analyzed using a combination of inductive and deductive data analysis methods. Through inductive analysis using the constant comparative analysis method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Lincoln & Guba, 1985), I derived themes that captured the experience of online interactions and the strategies that the preservice teachers used to maintain the exchange. Through deductive analysis, I identified groups that were more and less successful and described their experiences. Results indicated that the online exchanges with elementary students provided Korean EFL preservice teachers opportunities to practice teaching skills, as well as to develop close personal and social relationships with their child partners. Also, how the preservice teachers approached the exchanges and their specific online “actions” seemed to make a difference in their child partners’ responses, thereby yielding results in which some groups were more successful and others less successful. The preservice teachers reported that their participation in the project was beneficial for them as future elementary teachers of English and that they enjoyed interacting with their child partners online. Finally, the participation in the project appeared to have many benefits for the preservice teachers’ professional development, including newly-gained insights into the benefits of using technology as a valuable instructional tool in their future teaching practices as well as an increase in their confidence in using English to teach English to elementary students.