Professional Development for Teachers of Core French and ESL
  (in French-language schools)
- Executive Summary


Final report

Prepared by Miles Turnbull, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
OISE-UT
© CASLT, 2000

 


Table of Content

Acknowledgements

Executive Summary

Introduction

The State of Affairs of PD for Core French and ESL Teachers

Objectives
Methodology
Sample
Results

University Involvement in Pre-service and In-service Education for Core French and ESL Teachers

Objectives
Methodology
Sample
Results

Needs Assessment for PD of Core French and ESL Teachers in Canada: Case Studies

Objectives
Methodology
Sample
Themes Emerging from the Interviews

Summary and Recommendations

Summary
Recommendation

References

Appendices

A printer friendly version of the above document is available in Acrobat Reader pdf format :

Executive Summary

The Report

References and Appendices

Miles Turnbull is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island. He works in the pre-service program in French second language teaching and also in the graduate program in leadership and learning. Before joining the faculty at UPEI, Miles was an Assistant Professor in the Modern Language Centre at OISE-UT and he worked in core and immersion French programs in three Canadian provinces. His research interests include French as a second language (core and immersion), teacher development, teacher belief systems, project-based and experiential learning, as well as educational technology.

 

INTRODUCTION

     This study was undertaken 10 years following the publication of the National Core French Study (LeBlanc, 1990) and 14 years after CASLT sponsored a general review of the literature on the professional development (PD) of Core French teachers (Lamarre, Roy, Hainsworth & Ullmann, 1986). It is appropriate now, at the dawn of a new millennium, and a decade since the National Core French Study, that an empirical study be conducted in Canada to assess the state and professional needs of Core French teachers' professional development as the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers (CASLT), other professional organisations, universities and governments plan for the future. This study also focuses on ESL teachers who work in French language schools in Québec and the rest of Canada. This special attention reflects CASLT's mission statement: "The Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers promotes the advancement of second language education throughout Canada by creating opportunities for professional development, by encouraging research and by facilitating the sharing of information and the exchange of ideas among second language teachers."

     This report is divided into 4 principal sections. The first section includes the objectives, methodology and results for The state of affairs of PD for Core French and ESL teachers. Section two describes the objectives, methodology and results for University involvement in pre-service and in-service education for Core French and ESL teachers. Section 3 includes the objectives, methodology and results for Part 3: Needs assessment for PD of Core French and ESL teachers in Canada: Case-studies. The final section of the report contains a summary of the study and its results, recommendations and concluding comments.

THE STATE OF AFFAIRS OF PD FOR CORE FRENCH AND ESL TEACHERS

OBJECTIVES

The first part of the project addressed three questions:

a) What type of professional development is currently being offered for Core French and ESL teachers at the provincial/territorial, school board and school levels in Canada?
b) What commonalties and differences exist across Canada in terms of existing professional development for Core French and ESL teachers?
c) What do participants perceive as the greatest professional needs for Core French and ESL teachers in Canada?

METHODOLOGY

          Data were collected using survey methodology. The principal investigator created a draft survey and it was vetted and piloted by CASLT executive members as well as by three graduate student assistants for the project. Revisions were made to the survey based upon the feedback provided. This survey was adapted and then translated for francophone respondents involved in English as a second language (ESL) instruction for francophone students. A copy of both English and French versions of the survey can be found in Appendix A.

          The English version of the survey was sent to 197 educators, identified by CASLT board members as individuals responsible for Core French teachers' professional development. The French version of the survey was sent to 54 individuals identified by CASLT board members as individuals responsible for ESL in Québec. Both English and French versions of the survey were sent to 6 people in New Brunswick, 1 in PEI, and 1 in Manitoba, identified by CASLT as individuals responsible for ESL programs in their jurisdictions.

          Potential participants for the Core French component of the study were identified in all Canadian provinces and territories at the Ministry and school board levels. However, in some cases, lists provided were outdated and incomplete. The research team also supplemented these lists using Internet searches on school board web sites and through Canadian Education on the web. Individuals responsible for ESL were identified in only 4 provinces, and Internet searches did not prove useful for providing additional names for this component of the study.

          Individuals were contacted to solicit participation either by email or FAX (when email addresses were unavailable or incorrect). Volunteers received an informed consent form by FAX and completed and returned this consent form by FAX to the researcher. Volunteers returned the survey responses electronically, by FAX or by regular mail. A reminder to respond was sent twice to the individuals who had not returned the survey.

SAMPLE

     Core French participants

          The research team received 74 completed surveys for the Core French component of the study, representing an overall response rate of nearly 40% (37.6%). The response rate varied greatly among provinces and territories; one province had no returned surveys at all (Nova Scotia), while Canada's largest province (Ontario) had a return rate of 49%, and Canada's smallest province, Prince Edward Island, had a return rate of 100% (see Table 1).

  Table 1
  Return Rates for Core French PD survey, according to province or territory
  Jurisdiction   No. of surveys
  sent 
  No. of surveys
  returned 
  Response rate (%)
  Newfoundland   5   1   20
  Nova Scotia   7   0   0
  Prince Edward   Island   1   1   100
  New Brunswick   16   6   37.5
  Québec   11   4   36.4
  Ontario   49   24   49
  Manitoba   9   5   55.6
  Saskatchewan   24   7   29.2
  Alberta   55   17   30.9
  British Columbia   17   7   41.1
  Yukon   1   1   100
  NWT   2   1   50
  Total   197   74   37.6
Return Rates for Core French PD survey, according to province or territory


     A note on response rates

     It is interesting to note that 63.5% (47 people) of respondents in the Core French study returned their survey by FAX, even though 86% of all participants had received the survey electronically. Of the respondents who received their survey electronically, 58% of them returned their completed survey by FAX and 6.3% of these respondents (4 people) returned the completed survey by traditional mail. Slightly more than a third of respondents (35%) who received the survey electronically returned it electronically. Response rates were unacceptable¹ in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. These low response rates may be explained, in part, by the following:

  the difficulty encountered finding the appropriate person to whom the survey should be sent in many jurisdictions.
  uncertainty about the accuracy and currency of the web sites consulted to supplement lists of names provided by CASLT board members
  participants' comfort level using email (even though they may have been assigned an email address, these people may not read their email frequently, or at all, and/or may not feel comfortable enough with the technology to respond to a survey electronically)
  participants' comfort level with email surveys: some participants may have been uncomfortable responding to a survey electronically for security reasons, as some other researchers have found (Meehan & Burns, 1997; Ouimet & Hanson, 1997; Webster, 1995; Kawaski & Raven, 1995)

     Core French respondents' working context

     Table 2 presents a profile of the respondents in terms of current working context. It is clear that some respondents work (20.5%) part-time in more than one context, splitting their time between a school board and teaching in a school, or between the Ministry and a school board.
     Sixty-seven per cent (67%) of the respondents spend all of their time at the Ministry level, 77% of respondents spend all of their work time at the school board level, whereas 19% work half-time at a school. Only one respondent (1.9%) indicated that he spends 25% of his work week at a school board.
     One fifth of the respondents who reported working in an elementary school spend 100% of their time there, whereas 57% work there half-time and another fifth spend a quarter of their time in an elementary school.
     A majority (57%) of the respondents reported working half-time in a secondary school whereas 33% of respondents reported spending 25% of their time in a secondary school and in some other context.

Table 2: Core French Participants' working context
  Working context   Percentage of participants
  Provincial or territorial   8.2
  School board   72.6
  Elementary school(K-8)   20.5
  Secondary School (9+)   13.7
  Other   13.7

     ESL participants

          The research team received 15 completed surveys for the ESL component of the study, yielding a disappointing response rate of 24.1%. Although results are presented below, in a separate section from the Core French component of the study, one must be cautious when interpreting the ESL results. They should be treated as exploratory. Return rates for the ESL participants, by jurisdiction, are presented in Table 3.

Table 3

     Return Rates for ESL PD survey, according to province or territory
  Jurisdiction   No. of surveys   sent   No. of surveys   returned   Response rate (%)
  Prince Edward Island   1   1   100
  Manitoba   1   0   0
  New Brunswick   6   2   33.3
  Québec   54   12   22.2
  Total   62   15   24.2

          It is possible that many of the same reasons as presented for the Core French sample, above, help explain the unacceptable low return rate for the ESL sample. Moreover, one should consider the importance given to ESL instruction for francophones. Anecdotally at least, it is common knowledge that ESL instruction is not given the same emphasis, financial and professional support as core and immersion French programs. One could argue that this is also one reason contact names were difficult to obtain from many provinces and territories. Moreover, if one examines the working context of the respondents in this component of the study (Table 4), it is clear that most individuals who are responsible for PD and ESL work part-time in at least two educational contexts; only two people (13.3%) reported working full time at a Ministry of Education; one person from Québec reported working full-time at a school board and the others reported working either full-time in a school (4 or 26.6%), with leadership responsibilities for ESL in their jurisdiction, or part-time in a school, school board and/or ministry setting (8 or 53.3%).

  Table 4: ESL Participants' working context
  Working context   Percentage of participants
  Provincial or territorial   26.7
  School board   26.7
  Elementary school(K-8)   40.0
  Secondary School (9+)   46.7
  Other   33.3

RESULTS

          The results section for this component of the study is divided into three sub-sections for both Core French and ESL: current professional development, perceived professional needs, PD via technology.

          Current professional development for Core French teachers

          Participants were asked to indicate who is currently responsible for PD for Core French teachers in their jurisdiction (see Table 5). A large majority (85%) indicated that school board co-ordinators deliver PD. Slightly more than a third (35.6%) of respondents reported that PD is organised by the Ministry of Education, whereas about two fifths of respondents (42.5%) reported that schools assume responsibility for some Core French PD. It is clear that different groups or individuals assume responsibility for PD in most jurisdictions. Just over 12 % of respondents also indicated that a regional PD team (e.g., the Southern Alberta Language Consortium) organises professional activities in their jurisdictions.

  Table 5: Who does PD for core
  French teachers?
  Who does PD?   %
  Ministry of Education   35.6
  School board coordinator   84.9
  School   42.5

          It is clear in Table 6 that a wide variety of PD activities are currently offered to Core French teachers in Canada. The most common professional activities reported include workshops (41%) and in-service meetings (26%). About one fifth of respondents (21.9%) also reported that school-based initiatives form the basis of some of their annual PD. A near majority (49.3%) of respondents also indicated that there are teachers involved in action research in their board.

  Table 6: What type of PD is currently offered   %
  Resource sharing   5.5
  Workshops   41.1
  Conferences   9.6
  School-based initiatives   21.9
  Bursaries are offered for outside PD   2.7
  Self-directed PD and mentoring   2.7
  In-service meetings   26.0
  Summer institutes   11.0

          Given a concern that funding cutbacks may be resulting in reduced access to PD for teachers, respondents were asked to report the total number of PD days available for teachers in their jurisdictions. Respondents reported that a total of 5.04 days of PD were offered (Standard Deviation=3.63). However, it is clear that a simple mean does not portray an adequate picture. It is clear from Figure 1 below that there is a considerable range in the actual number of days allocated for teachers' PD; about 30% of respondents reported between 1 and 3 days of PD, whereas nearly 40% of respondents reported between 4 and 6 days of PD. Only a very small percentage of respondents reported more than 7 days of PD per year. Please note that some respondents were not able to specify the number of days allocated to PD in their jurisdiction, indicating that none had been officially mandated and PD is provided on a needs basis.

          Just over fifty-three per cent (53.4%) of respondents reported that there are subject-specific PD days in their jurisdictions and 64.4% indicated that there is an average of 1 PD day targeted for Core French specifically. Forty-eight per cent (48%) of respondents indicated that attendance at this Core French PD day is mandatory.

Figure 1: Number of Professional days
for core French teachers

__

          Current PD for ESL teachers

          A large majority of respondents (73.3%) reported that ESL PD occurs at the school level whereas a near majority of respondents (46.7%) indicated that school board co-ordinators deliver PD. A majority of respondents (53.3%) also indicated that some PD is organised by the Ministry of Education. It is clear that different groups or individuals assume responsibility for ESL teachers' PD in most jurisdictions (see Table 7).

  Table 7: Who does PD for ESL teachers?
  Who does PD?   %
  Ministry of Education   53.3
  School board coordinator   46.7
  School   73.3

          Respondents reported a wide variety of PD activities (see Table 8). The most common professional activities reported include workshops (33.3%) and in-service meetings (33.3%).

  Table 8: What type of PD is currently offered   %
  Resource sharing   0
  Workshops   33.3
  Conferences   20.0
  School-based initiatives   13.3
  Bursaries are offered for outside PD   6.7
  Self-directed PD and mentoring   13.3
  In-service meetings   33.3
  Summer institutes   6.7

          About one fifth of respondents (20.0%) also reported that conferences form the basis of some of their annual PD. A majority (60.0%) of respondents also indicated that there are ESL teachers involved in action research in their area.

          Respondents in the ESL component of the study reported that a total of 7.18 days of PD were offered (Standard Deviation=6.15). However, like for the Core French teachers, the simple mean does not portray an adequate picture (the standard deviation is also high). Figure 2 shows that there is a considerable range in the actual number of days allocated for ESL teachers' PD; one fifth (20%) of respondents reported between 1 and 3 days of PD, and a third (33.3%) of respondents reported between 4 and 6 days of PD. Another fifth of respondents (20.0%) reported more than 7 days of PD per year. About a quarter of respondents (26.7%) did not respond to this question.

          One hundred per cent (100%) of respondents reported that there are subject-specific PD days in their jurisdictions. A wide range of responses emerged in terms of the number of days allocated for ESL-specific PD. Respondents reported that an average of 1.7 days for ESL-specific PD (standard deviation = 2.1) was offered by the Ministry of Education and an average of 3.1 days (SD = 4.6) offered by school boards. Only 13.3% of respondents indicated that attendance at these ESL-specific PD days is mandatory.


          Perceived professional needs for Core French teachers

          Participants were asked to describe what they perceived as the professional development needs for Core French teachers, in their jurisdictions, at the elementary (K-6), intermediate (7-8) and secondary (9-11/12/OAC) levels. The 14 categories reported in Tables 9, 10 and 11 below were created by listing and categorising the responses from 20% of the completed surveys. Coding of the responses was then conducted on all completed surveys using the categories that had emerged from these analyses.

          It is clear from Tables 9, 10 and 11, that the respondents perceived that Core French teachers at all levels need additional resources; almost a third of respondents for elementary (27.4%) and intermediate (31.5%) teachers and about one fifth (17.8%) for secondary teachers. Assessment and evaluation was perceived as an important topic by about a fifth of respondents for elementary (20.5%) and intermediate (21.9%) teachers and by about a quarter of respondents (26%) for secondary teachers. Techniques for curriculum modification was perceived to be an important topic by about a fifth of respondents for elementary teachers (20.5%), by 13.7% of respondents for intermediate teachers and by only 8.2% of respondents for secondary teachers. Other topics emerged as another category for teachers at all levels, however a broader range of other topics emerged at the elementary level (including university courses, research information, working conditions, peer mentoring).

  Table 9: Perceived professional needs, elementary
  level (Core French)

  Professional need or topic   %
  Resources   27.4
  Assessment and evaluation   20.5
  Student motivation   4.1
  Students' oral skills   8.2
  Teachers' French language skills   15.1
  Classroom management techniques   5.5
  Promoting Core French   1.4
  Techniques for curriculum modification   20.5
  Using technology   1.4
  Teaching culture   0
  Cross-curricular integration   8.2
  Autonomous learning strategies   2.7
  Planning (lessons and units)   1.4
  Other   20.5

          Not surprisingly, student motivation was perceived to be an important PD topic for intermediate Core French teachers by more respondents (13.7%) than at either elementary or secondary levels. Technology was perceived to be an important PD topic by more respondents for secondary teachers (12.3%) than for teachers at either elementary or intermediate levels. Teachers' language skills emerged as an important topic amongst 15% of respondents for elementary teachers and about 10% of intermediate teachers but only 4% of respondents cited teachers' language skills as an important topic for secondary teachers.

  Table 10: Perceived professional needs, intermediate
  level (Core French)
  Professional need or topic   %
  Resources   31.5
  Assessment and evaluation   21.9
  Student motivation   13.7
  Students' oral skills   2.7
  Teachers' French language skills   9.6
  Classroom management techniques   9.6
  Promoting Core French   1.4
  Techniques for curriculum modification   13.7
  Using technology   6.8
  Teaching culture   2.7
  Cross-curricular integration   8.2
  Autonomous learning strategies   0
  Planning (lessons and units)   1.4
  Other   12.3


  Table 11: Perceived professional needs, secondary
  level (Core French)
  Professional need or topic   %
  Resources   17.8
  Assessment and evaluation   26.0
  Student motivation   8.2
  Students' oral skills   4.1
  Teachers' French language skills   4.1
  Classroom management techniques   2.7
  Promoting Core French   1.4
  Techniques for curriculum modification   8.2
  Using technology   12.3
  Teaching culture   1.4
  Cross-curricular integration   2.7
  Autonomous learning strategies   0
  Planning (lessons and units)   2.7
  Other   13.7

          Perceived professional needs for ESL teachers

          Participants' perceived professional development needs for ESL teachers, in their jurisdictions, at the elementary (K-6), intermediate (7-8) and secondary (9-11/12/OAC) levels are presented in Table 12, 13, and 14 below.

          It is clear that the respondents perceived that ESL teachers at all levels need additional resources; a third of respondents for elementary (33.3%), a fifth (20.0%) for intermediate teachers and 13.3% for secondary teachers. Teachers' language skills emerged as an important topic across all three levels: for 13.3% at the elementary and secondary levels, and 20% at the intermediate level. Autonomous learning strategies were identified as a particular need at all levels: about a quarter (26.7%) at the elementary level, and a fifth at both intermediate and secondary levels. Technology and cross-curricular integration also emerged as an important topic for some respondents. Other topics emerged at all levels (including curriculum reform, second language acquisition theory, project-based learning, de-streaming, peer mentoring).

  Table 12: Perceived professional needs,
  elementary level (ESL)
  Professional need or topic   %
  Resources   33.3
  Assessment and evaluation   0
  Student motivation   0
  Students' oral skills   0
  Teachers' French language skills   13.3
  Classroom management techniques   0
  Promoting Core French   6.7
  Techniques for curriculum modification   6.7
  Using technology   13.3
  Teaching culture   0
  Cross-curricular integration   13.3
  Autonomous learning strategies   26.7
  Planning (lessons and units)   0
  Other   40.0

 

  Table 13: Perceived professional needs,
  intermediate level (ESL)
  Professional need or topic   %
  Resources   20.0
  Assessment and evaluation   0
  Student motivation   6.7
  Students' oral skills   0
  Teachers' French language skills   20.0
  Classroom management techniques   0
  Promoting Core French   6.7
  Techniques for curriculum modification   6.7
  Using technology   13.3
  Teaching culture   0
  Cross-curricular integration   13.3
  Autonomous learning strategies   20.0
  Planning (lessons and units)   0
  Other   46.7


  Table 14: Perceived professional needs,
  secondary level (ESL)
  Professional need or topic   %
  Resources   13.3
  Assessment and evaluation   6.7
  Student motivation   6.7
  Students' oral skills   6.7
  Teachers' French language skills   13.3
  Classroom management techniques   0
  Promoting Core French   6.7
  Techniques for curriculum modification   13.3
  Using technology   13.3
  Teaching culture   0
  Cross-curricular integration   20.0
  Autonomous learning strategies   20.0
  Planning (lessons and units)   0
  Other   46.7

 

          Professional Development via technology

          In the past two years, CASLT has been directing special energy and time to technological innovation in second language education as one way to support teachers in the Core French and ESL classrooms. Canadian Heritage has also indicated that technological innovation in French second language programs is one of its funding priorities. As a result, the final section of this project's survey asked participants to report their current access to and use of technology for PD and their perceptions of technology as a medium for delivering PD to Core French and ESL teachers.

          PD via technology for Core French teachers

          Table 15 indicates that a large majority (79.4%) of respondents reported that access to multimedia facilities and equipment is currently easy, somewhat easy or very easy. About one fifth of respondents (20.5%) indicated that technological access is somewhat difficult.

  Table 15: Current access to multimedia
  facilities and equipment (Core French)
  How easy is access?   %
  Very easy   32.9
  Somewhat easy   34.2
  Easy   12.3
  Somewhat difficult   20.5
  No access   0

          Almost one fifth (17.8%) of respondents reported that PD is currently delivered by their jurisdictions using electronic means (for sharing resources, ideas and information via a local website or chat line). Twenty six percent (26%) of respondents reported that they currently use electronic media to do some of their PD. Of these people, 24.1% do it regularly, 27.6% do it once a month, 6.9% do it twice per year. Slightly more than two fifths (41.4%) of respondents reported that they have never done any PD delivered via technology.

          Although only about a quarter of respondents currently use electronic media to do part of their PD, Table 16 shows that a majority (50%) of respondents indicated that their personal willingness to participate in PD delivered electronically is either somewhat or very strong. Another quarter of the participants (26.4%) reported strong willingness to participate in PD electronically. Another 23.4% of participants reported that they are either somewhat unwilling or unwilling to do PD electronically.

          Table 17 summarizes the participants' perceptions of the willingness of Core French teachers in their jurisdictions to participate in PD delivered technologically. Two fifths of participants (40.6%) believe that the Core French teachers in their jurisdictions would be either somewhat or very willing to do PD using technology; another 31.9% believe that their Core French colleagues would be willing to so. Slightly more than a quarter (27.5%) of participants reported that their Core French colleagues would be either somewhat unwilling or unwilling to participate in PD delivered electronically.

  Table 16: Personal willingness to
  participate in PD delivered
  electronically (Core French)
  Willingness   %
  Very strong   26.4
  Somewhat strong   23.6
  Strong   26.4
  Somewhat weak   13.9
  Very weak   9.7

Table 17: Others' willingness to
do PD electronically (Core French)
  Willingness   %
  Very willing   11.6
  Somewhat willing   29.0
  Willing   31.9
  Somewhat unwilling   20.3
  Unwilling   7.2


          PD via technology for ESL teachers

          Table 18, compared to Table 15, indicates that technological access is quite similar for Core French and ESL educators: a large majority (80%) of ESL respondents reported that access to multimedia facilities and equipment is currently easy, somewhat easy or very easy. One fifth of respondents indicated that technological access is somewhat difficult.

  Table 18: Current access to multimedia
  facilities and equipment (ESL)
  How easy is access?   %
  Very easy   20.0
  Somewhat easy   40.0
  Easy   20.0
  Somewhat difficult   20.0
  No access   0

          Slightly more than a quarter of respondents (26.4%) reported that PD is currently delivered to ESL teachers by their jurisdictions using electronic means (principally for sharing resources, ideas and information). Forty per cent (40%) of respondents reported that they currently use electronic media to do some of their PD. Of these people, 20% do it regularly, 6.7% do it once a month, 13.3% do it twice per year. Slightly over thirteen per cent (13.3%) of respondents reported that they have never done any PD delivered via technology, and 46.7% of participants did not respond to this question, possibly because they had never participated in PD electronically.

          Table 19 shows that a majority (53.3%) of ESL respondents indicated that their personal willingness to participate in PD delivered electronically is either somewhat or very strong, and a third of participants reported strong willingness to participate in PD electronically. Only 13.3% of participants reported that they are either somewhat unwilling or unwilling to do PD electronically. These results are similar to those reported above for the Core French participants.

          As Table 20 indicates, the ESL participants' perceptions of the willingness of ESL teachers in their jurisdictions to participate in PD delivered technologically is very similar to the Core French component of the study (see Table 17). Two fifths of participants believed that the ESL teachers in their jurisdictions would be either somewhat or very willing to do PD using technology; another third believed that their ESL colleagues would be willing to so. Slightly more than a quarter (26.7%) of participants reported that their colleagues would be either somewhat unwilling or unwilling to participate in PD delivered electronically.

  Table 19: Personal willingness to
  participate in PD delivered   electronically (ESL)
  Willingness   %
  Very strong   26.4
  Somewhat strong   23.6
  Strong   26.4
  Somewhat weak   13.9
  Very weak   9.7

  Table 20: Others' willingness to
  do PD electronically (ESL)
  Willingness   %
  Very willing   11.6
  Somewhat willing   29.0
  Willing   31.9
  Somewhat unwilling   20.3
  Unwilling   7.2

 

UNIVERSITY INVOLVEMENT IN PRE-SERVICE AND IN-SERVICE EDUCATION FOR CORE FRENCH AND ESL TEACHERS

OBJECTIVES

The second part of the project aimed to identify current university involvement in pre-service2 and in-service3 for Core French and ESL teachers. The following questions were addressed:

  1. What is the current involvement of faculties of education and university French departments in pre-service and in-service programs for Core French and ESL teachers? How many students are involved in each program?
  2. What is the nature of the pre-service and in-service programs? What are the admission requirements of the pre-service and in-service programs?
  3. What role does technology play in pre-service and in-service education for Core French and ESL teachers?

METHODOLOGY

          As in part 1, data were collected using survey methodology. The principal investigator created a draft survey and it was vetted and piloted by CASLT executive members, five university faculty members, as well as by three graduate student assistants for the project. Revisions were made to the survey based upon the feedback provided. A copy of the survey is included in Appendix B.

          The survey was sent to 31 educators working in faculties of education and to 60 faculty members from university French departments. Participants were identified in all Canadian provinces by doing a search of Canadian Education on the Web (http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/~mpress/eduweb.html). Surveys were also sent to colleagues with whom the principal investigator had established contacts. In the case of university French departments, a survey was sent to the departmental chair when it was possible to identify this person. In addition, departmental websites were examined and individuals who reported research interest or teaching responsibility in French or English second language also received a survey. Therefore, in many cases, more than one survey was sent to the same French department.

          Identical to the school board survey, individuals were contacted either by email or by FAX (when email addresses were unavailable or incorrect) to solicit participation. Volunteers received an informed consent form by FAX and completed and returned this consent form by FAX to the researcher. Volunteers returned the survey responses electronically, by FAX and by regular mail. A reminder to respond was sent twice to the individuals from the original sample list who had not returned a survey.

SAMPLE

          The research team received 17 completed surveys from individuals working in faculties of education, representing an overall response rate of 54.8%. Table 21 presents a detailed breakdown of the response rate by province. The research team received only 12 responses from university French departments (20%). None of the respondents indicated any involvement in either pre-service or in-service education for Core French or ESL teachers (therefore no analysis will be included below). In many cases, this response was an email message indicating that this survey did not apply to them.

RESULTS

          Current involvement in pre-service and in-service programs: Faculties of Education

          Table 22 describes the current involvement of the 17 respondents in pre-service and in-service education according to school level (elementary or secondary) for Core French. It is clear that a large majority of respondents are involved in pre-service education for both elementary (88.2%) and secondary (94.1) Core French teachers. However, fewer of the respondents (52.9%) reported involvement in in-service programs for Core French teachers at both elementary and secondary levels.

          Table 23 describes the respondents' involvement in programs for ESL teachers at elementary and secondary levels. A majority of respondents reported offering pre-service education for ESL teachers at both elementary (58.8%) and secondary (58.8) levels. About two fifths of respondents (41.2%) reported involvement in in-service programs for elementary ESL teachers, whereas only slightly more than one fifth of respondents (23.5%) reported involvement with in-service education for secondary ESL teachers.

  Table 21
  Return Rates for Faculty of Education survey, according to province
  Jurisdiction   No. of surveys
  sent 
  No. of surveys
  returned 
  Response rate (%)
  Newfoundland   1   1   100
  Nova Scotia   4   2   50
  Prince Edward   Island   1   1   100
  New Brunswick   2   1   50
  Québec   3   2   67
  Ontario   10   5   50
  Manitoba   2   1   50
  Saskatchewan   1   1   100
  Alberta   3   1   33
  British Columbia   4   2   50
  Yukon   0   0   na
  NWT   0   0   na
  Total   31   17   54.8


  Table 22
  Current faculty of education involvement in pre-service
  and in-service programs, Core French, by school level
  Pre-service
  elementary (%)
  Pre-service
  secondary (%)
  In-service
  elementary (%)
  In-service
  secondary (%)
  88.2   94.1   52.9   52.9

  Table 22
  Current faculty of education involvement in pre-service
  and in-service programs, ESL, by school level
  Pre-service
  elementary (%)
  Pre-service
  secondary (%)
  In-service
  elementary (%)
  In-service
  secondary (%)
  58.8   58.8   41.2   23.5


          Given recent reports (Canadian Parents for French, 2000) of teacher shortages in many Canadian provinces, especially in French second language, it is important to have a sense of the number of students involved in teacher education programs in Canada. Table 24 presents the total number of enrolled students, by program, reported by the respondents. It is important to consider the response rate on this survey (54.8%) when analysing these totals.

  Table 24
  Total number of students enrolled in pre-service and in-service
  programs for Core French and ESL teachers, by school level
  Program   Total number of students
  Pre-service, elementary Core French   329
  Pre-service, secondary Core French   361
  Pre-service, elementary ESL   191
  Pre-service, secondary ESL   150
  In-service, elementary Core French   252
  In-service, secondary Core French   132
  In-service, elementary ESL   144
  In-service, secondary ESL   116

          Table 25 describes the type of instructors involved in both pre-service and in-service programs reported by all respondents (regardless of language). A large majority of respondents reported that tenure-stream instructors are involved in their pre-service programs, whereas about two fifths (41.2%) of respondents indicated that tenure-stream instructors are involved with in-service programs. Slightly more than one third of respondents (35.3%) reported that seconded instructors work in their pre-service programs, whereas only about one tenth (11.8%) reported that seconded instructors work in their in-service programs. A majority of respondents (58.8%) reported that contractual instructors are involved in both pre-service and in-service programs.

  Table 25
  Tenure-stream, seconded and contractual instructors involved in both
  pre-service and in-service programs (percent reported by respondents)
  Instructor type   Pre-service   In-service
  Tenure-stream   82.4   41.2
  Seconded   35.3   11.8
  Contractual   58.8   58.8


          The nature of university-based pre-service and in-service programs

a) The practicum

      All respondents indicated that it is possible for students to complete a practicum session in a Core French or ESL setting, and 88.2% of respondents indicated that a practicum in a Core French or ESL setting, depending on the student's specialisation, was required in their program.
     The reported length of practica varied considerably, due in large part to differences in program type. Unfortunately, we do not know what percentage of programs are consecutive or concurrent; this is a flaw in the questionnaire design and should be included in future survey research. Nevertheless, by reading between the lines, it is clear that participants in this study work in a range of 4-year concurrent programs, as well as 1- and 2-year consecutive programs. The length of the practicum time for Core French or ESL varied from a "supervised 40-hour session" to a total of 24 weeks over four years. One respondent indicated that a practicum in Core French or ESL "can't be required because it isn't always possible, in rural areas for example."

b) Language proficiency testing

     A large majority of respondents (70.6%) reported that students were required to complete some form of language proficiency testing before admission to their pre-service program. About half of the respondents (47.1%) reported that language proficiency is an admission requirement for in-service programs. Table 26 summarizes the nature of these language proficiency tests (based on 11 responses or 64.7% of participants). A majority of respondents reported that their proficiency test assesses candidates' four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). About a fifth of respondents (18.2%) reported having either an oral-only or a written-only test. One respondent (9.1%) reported that the language test used by his institution is both oral and written. One respondent suggested that language testing must be an admission requirement for pre-service and in-service programs

  Table 26
  Nature of language proficiency tests
  Type of test   Percentage
  Oral only   18.2
  Written only   18.2
  Oral and Written   9.1
  Four skills   54.5

c) Role of technology

     A large majority of respondents (75%) reported that pre-service students from their institution learn about computer mediated language teaching, whereas only slightly more than a third of respondents (36.4%) reported the same for their in-services programs.

     About a third (36.3%) and a quarter (23.1%) of respondents reported that some components of their pre-service and in-service programs, respectively, are currently delivered via computer.

     Most participants did not offer many details about how technology is integrated into their programs and there was little in common amongst the responses given. One respondent indicated that his university was quite technological and every student had a laptop computer. One person referred to a CD-ROM program used to help students develop problem-solving skills with classroom management situations. A few respondents referred to students' involvement in web-based projects. One university reported offering second language students a course on computers and second language learning. Two respondents indicated that there have been discussions about the role of technology in their pre- and in-service programs for Core French and ESL teachers.

NEEDS ASSESSMENT FOR PD OF CORE FRENCH AND ESL TEACHERS IN CANADA: CASE-STUDIES

OBJECTIVES

The third part of the project aimed to gather data from randomly selected, homogeneous groups of Core French and ESL teachers addressing the following questions:

1) What are each participant's personal PD needs?
2) What do participants perceive as their colleagues' PD needs?
3) How does each teacher use technology in his/her teaching and for PD?
4) What factors influence teachers' uses of technology in their teaching and for PD?
5) What is the potential for technology as a medium for delivering PD ?
6) What do participants know about CASLT, its role and its technology projects?

This part of the project was exploratory. The overall aim was to raise issues that could feed into future research and development projects (e.g., a large-scale national needs assessment with Core French teachers).

METHODOLOGY

     Focus group interviews (Vaughn, 1996) were conducted in 3 cities: Toronto, Ontario; Bathurst, New Brunswick; and Calgary, Alberta4. CASLT representatives circulated a recruitment letter to potential Core French teachers in their jurisdiction. ESL teachers were recruited in Bathurst, New Brunswick only. A separate interview was conducted in each city for elementary and secondary teachers.

SAMPLE

     Each focus group included teachers with a range of classroom experiences. Most groups also included native speakers of French and English. Table 27 describes the focus groups in each city, according to teaching level. Two focus group interviews were held with ESL teachers in Bathurst, New Brunswick; 3 elementary and 2 secondary teachers.

     The investigator attempted to ensure that each focus group included a minimum of 3 participants. This was possible in all cases, except the elementary group in Calgary and the secondary ESL group (due to sudden illness).

  Table 27
  Composition of focus groups, according to city and level
  City   Elementary   Secondary
  Bathurst   3   2
  Toronto   3   4
  Calgary   2   3

     The teacher's school or school board received reimbursement for the costs of a substitute teacher for one half day to replace the participant while he/she attended the interview. The teachers were also reimbursed for parking, where applicable.

     The focus-group interviews lasted 60 minutes, were tape-recorded and transcribed selectively for analysis. Pseudonyms were used to identify participants when necessary.

THEMES EMERGING FROM THE INTERVIEWS 5

          Professional development needs

     The following topics emerged as important topics for professional development:

  •      Getting students to talk
  •      Using portfolios with students
  •      Needs of non-specialists (e.g., survival tips, motivating students)
  •      Learning centres in Core French
  •      Initiation to new programs via an on-line help format (chat? Web site? Listserv?)
  •      New methodological trends in Core French teaching
  •      Cooperative learning in second language classes
  •      Teaching grammar in a project-based Core French program
  •      Information about what happens across the school curriculum in Core French
         and ESL (e.g., elementary teachers finding out about secondary programs)
  •      Language improvement and language maintenance, especially for
         non-specialists (including teachers' knowledge of French grammar)

          Professional resources

There was an overwhelming cry for additional resources to support Core French programs. The following suggestions emerged from the interviews:

  •      Creating a bank of available resources, including useful web sites
  •      Web sharing of resources and ideas
  •      An opportunity for "live-in person" idea sharing
  •      Posting units on line
  •      Evaluation tools on line - order on line (web site)

          Delivery of professional development

     There was considerable discussion about the time allocated to PD. All of the participants in these focus groups expressed a concern that most PD for Core French and ESL teachers is voluntary and occurs after school and on weekends. There was a strong feeling that school boards give priority to PD sessions specifically designed for Core French and ESL teachers during school hours. Some participants discussed the differing PD needs of new and more seasoned teachers. There was a strong feeling that teachers respond best to PD that is practical and directly relevant to their particular teaching context. Some participants also suggested that one-shot workshops are less effective than an ongoing series of sessions on one or more topics. It seemed clear to the investigator that Core French teachers received more subject-specific PD that the ESL teachers interviewed in this study.

          Technology

Teachers were asked about their use of technology for personal and professional reasons. The following responses and issues emerged:

  •      Most teachers reported having a computer at home, but some
         JUST got connected to the Internet
  •      One teacher indicated complete computer illiteracy
  •      Some teachers reported that they have a computer at home but they
         do not use it (their children do though!)
  •      Some reported use of Internet to search for resources, some use email,
         some use computers for report cards, most use computers for word
         processing (most common use), a few teachers reported knowing
         about and being connected to a Listserv

     When asked about a Listserv and chat rooms as specific examples of PD tools that an organization like CASLT could provide, the participants raised the following issues:

  •      Some teachers are unfamiliar with Listservs and chat rooms;
  •      Participants expressed a general openness to a Listserv, indicating that this      forum could be helpful to some teachers. Participants expressed less
         enthusiasm for a chat room, especially non-specialists who find
         chatting on-line intimidating and difficult due to lack of confidence
         in their writing skills
  •      Participants clearly indicated that there needs to be a separate Listserv
         for Core French, ESL and other languages
  •      One participant suggested that the effectiveness and the popularity
         of a listerv would depend on the quality of the Listserv from the very start.
         This teacher urged CASLT to avoid starting something without being sure it
         is user-friendly
  •      All participants felt that considerable advertising would be required to
         inform teachers about a Listserv or a chat room.


     These teachers indicated that the following factors have influenced their use, or non-use, of technology in their Core French classes and for PD:

  •      Access to hardware
  •      Quality of hardware and networks
  •      Lack of software
  •      Training
  •      Lack of technical help
  •      Time pressures (both personal and curricular).

     There was a general openness to doing PD via technology however, one teacher lamented the fact that there had been lots of PD on computer use, both general and specific to Core French, a few years ago when schools were not at all equipped and connected. This teacher lamented the fact that less training is happening now as schools are becoming more equipped.

     One group of teachers indicated that the technology situation in schools may be very different in two years: some schools' equipment may be completely updated, while it maybe quite antiquated in others (with no or limited funds to upgrade).

          Awareness of CASLT

     Teachers were asked what they know about CASLT, its mandate and its projects. There was some general awareness of the association, but some have never heard of CASLT, especially in Ontario. Participants reported little knowledge of the CASLT website and technology activities, however, participants were excited when they learned about the technology activities. The participants suggested that more publicity is needed to market the association, its web site and the technology projects. Participants who are CASLT members reported that the Réflexions bulletin is useful. They suggested to always keep it practical, including useful tips in each issue (e.g., resource lists, web site summaries/reviews).

          Other issues and suggestions

     There was a general concern in all three regions that governmental and community support for language learning in general, and French in particular, is dwindling. Participants urged CASLT and other professional associations for language teachers to work on a public relations campaign targeted at the importance of language learning, including lobbying provincial governments to make second language learning mandatory in all jurisdictions at all levels.

     There was a call to recruit and involve younger teachers as active members of professional organizations like CASLT.

SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          Summary

     In this section, I will summarize the findings in relation to the research questions that guided each section of the study.

Section 1:

Question 1: What type of professional development is currently being offered for Core French and ESL teachers at the provincial/ territorial, school board and school levels in Canada?

     It is clear that different groups or individuals assume responsibility for PD in most jurisdictions. A large majority of Core French participants indicated that school board co-ordinators deliver PD. Slightly more than a third of respondents reported that PD is organised by the Ministry of Education, whereas about two fifths of respondents reported that schools assume responsibility for some Core French PD. Findings from the ESL component of the study are similar. A large majority of respondents reported that ESL PD occurs at the school level whereas a near majority indicated that school board co-ordinators deliver PD. A majority of respondents also indicated that some PD is organised by the Ministry of Education.

     A wide variety of PD activities are currently offered to Core French and ESL teachers in Canada. The most common professional activities reported include workshops and in-service meetings. About one fifth of respondents also reported that school-based initiatives form the basis of some of their annual PD. A near majority of respondents also indicated that there are teachers involved in action research in their board. Many ESL teachers also indicated that conferences organized by their professional association were important for their professional development.

Question 2: What commonalties and differences exist across Canada in terms of existing professional development for Core French and ESL teachers?

     It is clear that there is considerable similarity in terms of the type of PD offered across the country for Core French and ESL teachers.

     Respondents from Alberta reported the important role played by a regional PD team (the Southern Alberta Consortium). No respondents from other jurisdictions referred to regional PD teams.

     There was a considerable range in the number of PD days offered for Core French and ESL teachers. This variation cannot be linked to region though. It is notable that the mean number of PD days for the ESL teachers is higher, in general, than for Core French teachers.

Question 3: What do participants perceive as the greatest professional needs for Core French and ESL teachers in Canada?

     Resources were at the top of the needs list for both Core French and ESL teachers at all levels. Assessment and evaluation was perceived as important by about a fifth of respondents for elementary and intermediate Core French teachers and by about a quarter of secondary Core French teachers. Curriculum modification techniques were perceived to be important for elementary Core French teachers by about a fifth of the respondents. Student motivation was perceived to be an important PD topic for intermediate Core French teachers. Technology was perceived to be an important PD topic by more respondents for secondary teachers than for teachers at either elementary or intermediate levels. The ESL respondents also suggested that autonomous learning strategies and cross-curricular integration are important topics for ESL teachers at all levels. Teachers' language skills emerged as an important topic amongst 15% of respondents for elementary Core French teachers and amongst an important number of ESL teachers at all levels.

Question 4: Do Core French and ESL teachers have access to technology for PD? Are PD leaders willing to participate in electronically delivered PD? How do PD leaders perceive their teachers' willingness to participate in electronic PD?

     A large majority of Core French and ESL respondents reported that access to multimedia facilities and equipment is currently easy, somewhat easy or very easy. About one fifth of respondents indicated that technological access is somewhat difficult.

     Almost one fifth of Core French respondents, and just over a quarter of ESL respondents, reported that PD is currently delivered by their jurisdictions using electronic means. About a quarter of Core French respondents, and two fifths of ESL participants, reported that they currently use electronic media to do some of their PD. However, about two fifths of Core French and ESL respondents reported that they have never done any PD delivered via technology.

     Although only about a quarter of respondents currently use electronic media to do some of their PD, a majority of Core French and ESL respondents indicated that their personal willingness to participate in PD delivered electronically is either somewhat or very strong. About a quarter of Core French respondents and about 15% of ESL participants reported that they are either somewhat unwilling or unwilling to do PD electronically.

     Two fifths of participants believe that the Core French and ESL teachers in their jurisdictions would be either somewhat or very willing to do PD using technology, whereas slightly more than a quarter of participants reported that their Core French and ESL colleagues would be either somewhat unwilling or unwilling to do so.

Section 2:

Question 1: What is the current involvement of faculties of education and university French departments in pre-service and in-service programs for Core French and ESL teachers?

     A large majority of the respondents are involved in pre-service education for both elementary and secondary Core French teachers. However, only about half of these respondents reported involvement in in-service programs for Core French teachers at both elementary and secondary levels.

     About 60% of respondents reported offering pre-service education for ESL teachers at both elementary and secondary levels. About two fifths of respondents reported involvement in in-service programs for elementary ESL teachers, whereas only slightly more than one fifth of respondents reported involvement with in-service education for secondary ESL teachers.

Question 2: What is the nature of the pre-service and in-service programs? What are the admission requirements of the pre-service and in-service programs?

     All respondents indicated that it is possible for students to complete a practicum session in a Core French or ESL setting, and a large majority of respondents indicated that a practicum in a Core French or ESL setting, depending on the student's specialisation, was required in their program. The reported length of practica varied considerably, due in large part to differences in program type.

     A large majority of respondents reported that students were required to complete some form of language proficiency testing before admission to their pre-service program. In addition, about half of the respondents reported that language proficiency is an admission requirement for in-service programs. A majority of respondents reported that their proficiency test assesses candidates' four language skills. About a fifth of respondents reported having either an oral-only or a written-only test.

Question 3: What role does technology play in pre-service and in-service education for Core French and ESL teachers?

     A large majority of respondents reported that pre-service students from their institution learn about computer mediated language teaching, whereas only slightly more than a third of respondents reported the same for their in-service programs. About a third and a quarter of respondents reported that some components of their pre-service and in-service programs, respectively, are currently delivered via computer.

     Most participants did not offer many details about how technology is integrated into their programs and there was little in common amongst the responses given.

Section 3:

Question 1: What are each participant's personal PD needs?

Question 2: What do participants perceive as their colleagues' PD needs?

     Participants responded to both of these questions at the same time. While a variety of PD topics (see page 21) emerged from these interviews, there was an overwhelming cry for teaching resources to support Core French and ESL teaching.
All of the participants in these focus groups expressed a concern that most PD for Core French and ESL teachers is voluntary and occurs after school and on weekends. There was a strong feeling that school boards give priority to PD sessions specifically designed for Core French and ESL teachers during school hours. It was clear that Core French teachers currently receive more subject-specific PD than the ESL teachers interviewed in this study.


Question 3: How does each teacher use technology in his/her teaching and for PD?

     Few participants reported using technology in their classrooms. Some participants reported using technology for finding resources via the Internet and for word processing.

Question 4: What factors influence teachers' use of technology in their teaching and for PD?

     Participants reported that their use of technology in the classroom was affected by access to and quality of hardware, lack of training and technical help and time pressure. There was, however, a feeling that many of the current obstacles to using technology in the classroom could be eliminated soon.

Question 5: What is the potential for technology as a medium for delivering PD?

     There was a general openness to using technology as ONE way to deliver professional development.

Question 6: What do participants know about CASLT, its role and its technology projects?

     There was some general awareness of CASLT. Few teachers knew about CASLT's website and its technological projects, but were keen to learn more.

RECOMMENDATIONS

     The findings from this research study provide support for CASLT's efforts to improve the professional development of Core French and ESL teachers across Canada. I will propose some recommendations in two areas: professional development and future research.

          Professional development

  •      Given that a majority of Core French and ESL teachers indicated that resources are in great need, CASLT should continue to develop field-tested, classroom-ready resources such as CASLT's assessment packages and the web-based technology projects. Publicity for these resources may need more attention.
  •      CASLT might consider developing classroom materials targeted at the following topics (based on survey results): Motivating intermediate Core French students, autonomous learning strategies, cooperative learning in Core French/ESL. A list of resources, or reviews of resources, could also be included.
  •      Although language maintenance and development were mentioned by only some of the project's participants, CASLT should investigate ways to help second language teachers across Canada practice the language they teach, using technology (e.g., a Listserv).
  •      Given the general openness to PD using technology as the medium expressed by a majority of respondents, CASLT should continue to explore ways to develop its web site as a user-friendly and interactive medium for the PD of Core French, ESL and other second language teachers. The CASLT web site could also include a "research notes" section that would direct interested teachers to the most up-to-date research in the field.

          Future research

  •      Future research that investigates how and why teachers use or do not use technology in their classrooms would benefit future web site development, and would provide insights for second language teachers and researchers that would help understand teachers' belief systems related to technology and how these beliefs influence teachers' intended and actual classroom use of technologies in their second language classrooms. I recommend that such research be qualitative case studies using a variety of data collection methods to allow for an in-depth understanding of the factors that influence teachers' uses, or non-uses, of technology in their classes.

_____________________
¹Czaja & Blair (1996) found that typical response rates on mail surveys ranged between 45%-75%.
2Pre-service refers to initial teacher education. In most jurisdictions, universities offer pre-service programs leading to a Bachelor of Education degree, required for certification in Canadian provinces and territories.
3In-service refers to the development of certified, practising teachers.
4These cities were selected to provide overall regional representation of the country. Selection was also based on convenience and budgetary reasons. CASLT requested that interviews be conducted with ESL teachers in one location, on an exploratory basis.
5Themes are presented together for the core French and ESL interviews. Themes that emerged specifically from one group of teachers are identified separately

CASLT: http://www.caslt.org