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Exploring beginner teachers' knowledge in the teaching of Literature in English
Teacher knowledge research in English as a second language (ESL) has tended to overlook the existence of Literature in English as a stand-alone subject. This study does not dispute the place of literature in language learning, but contends that the knowledge base for teachers of the subject English Language differs from that of teachers for the subject Literature in English. In Zimbabwe, during the beginner teachers' training, literature is introduced as part of language learning, whereas the current school curriculum requires the teaching of Literature as a stand-alone subject.
Notwithstanding the mismatch between the beginner teachers' training and the school curriculum requirements, I assumed that Ordinary level (O Level) Literature in English beginner teachers had come to hold teaching knowledge constructed from integrating their theoretical and classroom based experiences. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the knowledge beginner teachers come to possess from teaching Literature in English. Following a qualitative approach, a single case study design was employed to explore the beginner teachers' knowledge. Four purposively selected O Level Literature in English beginner teachers from high schools in Bulawayo Province of Zimbabwe participated in the study. Data were collected using non-participant classroom observations, document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and field notes.
Using inductive thematic analysis of the data, four themes of beginner teachers' knowledge in Literature in English emerged. The findings indicated that Literature in English beginner teachers have four types of knowledges, three of which are identifiable in ESL teacher knowledge literature. Similar to other findings in existing literature on teacher knowledge research, the beginner teachers held knowledge of the curriculum, knowledge of teaching and knowledge of learners. Interestingly, though, the beginner teachers in this study also revealed that they held dispositional knowledge. Dispositional knowledge has not been included as a category in any ESL knowledge base and thus is the new insight into ESL teacher knowledge that the study provided. The findings also showed that the beginner teachers had knowledge gaps in the teaching of different literary genres. They used peer and virtual-based strategies to minimise the knowledge gaps when they occurred. The conclusion of this thesis is that despite challenges in the teaching of Literature in English, beginner teachers' managed to construct teaching knowledge from an amalgamation of their past educational experiences, present classroom experiences and anticipated classroom experiences. Thus, I posit that beginner teacher knowledge is a multiple sourced construct that is fluid, idiosyncratic, attitudinal, pragmatic, and contextual.