Linguistics courses in pre-service foreign language teacher training programs and knowledge about language
The introductory linguistics courses have been a constant component of the pre-service English Language Teaching (ELT) curricula in Turkey since 1944 when the ELT Department at Gazi Institute of Education was establishment (Hatipoğlu 2017; Hatipoğlu & Erçetin, 2016). In Turkey, no ELT student can graduate and become a language teacher without taking and passing these courses. The aim of the linguistics courses, as defined by the Council of Higher Education (YOK 2005), is to equip future language teachers with essential information about the elements and the structures of the (foreign) language, how these units are arranged and what patterns they follow. In other words, it is believed that, while on one hand, these courses will help pre-service foreign language teachers broaden their knowledge and understanding of the workings of the foreign language they are going to teach on the other they will help future teachers improvement of their language knowledge competence (YOK 2005). This article aims to uncover what pre-service teachers taking these courses belief and think about the usefulness of these courses in developing their “language knowledge”. The data examined in the study were collected from second and fourth year undergraduate students in the ELT Department at Middle East Technical University (METU) using a questionnaire specifically developed for this study. While the first section of the questionnaire elicited detailed information related to the background of the participants, its latter part, using closed and open-ended questions, asked students to evaluate the contributions of the introductory linguistics courses to the development of their foreign language skills and proficiency. The results of the study show that interesting, well set up and properly taught Linguistics courses can exhilarate and enhance the language learning experience of students in the ELT departments. By showing students how languages work, what skills they utilize when producing/perceiving a language and by equipping them with the necessary eye for details, accuracy and metalanguage, Linguistics courses can help pre-service teachers gain a deeper and fuller understanding of the target language.
Keywords: pre-service foreign language teacher training, linguistics courses, foreign language proficiency, content and teaching approach selection for the Linguistics courses in ELT departments