From a topic to a thesis?


It is mid February, time is flying and I am struggling with the argument of my thesis. I procrastinate reading more papers, and writing posts on my blogs. I go back to my data and it seems a never ending task. I need to write my findings, but it seems overwhelming…. where are you Chapul[in to save me?

As an attempt to clarify my ideas and focus,it is that I write this post. Can you give me your feedback? Does it sound logical enough?

What’s your topic?

EFL teacher education in Chile

What have you done ? 

This research project  has explored EFL teacher education in a particular context: a Chilean university program. This study is informed by Cultural Historical Activity theory. Activity theory will be used as a heuristic to analyse the activity of how pre-service teachers engage in learning  to teach EFL.

Why have you done it?

As a teacher of English and teacher educator in Chile, I have seen how pre-service teachers struggle learning to teach EFL and witnessed their becoming both at the school and at university contexts. It is in these settings that the questions emerged: What motivates pre-service teachers to engage in learning to teach EFL? How do curricula mediate their learning? How does the community shape their learning? In short, how do pre-service teachers of EFL engage in learning to teach? These questions motivated my exploration into EFL teacher education, specifically into the activity of learning to teach EFL at a university program in Santiago, Chile.

How did you do it? 

This thesis reports on the study that analysed how a group of pre-service teachers of EFL in a Chilean private university engage in learning to teach EFL.  The study examined pre-service teachers’ actions, their motives, mediating tools and contradictions within this activity.

This study used a varied set of data collection methods: interviews, focus group discussions, document analysis and observations. These different methods captured the collective activity system, in relationship with other activity systems and its multivoicedness with different viewpoints, interests and histories.

What have you found?

Learning to teach is a complex and ongoing activity in which teachers get engaged along their careers. Teachers are engaged in creating themselves as teachers according to on one hand their self image as teachers, and on the other according to the practices, rules and the community they belong to. Teachers construct and deconstruct a teacher identity shaped by the dialectical relationship of their own agency and the collective construction of the teacher identity (Ping, 2011).

This thesis argues that learning to teach is a complex social activity in which participants learn to be teachers. Pre-service teachers construct and deconstruct a teacher identity that is changing and dynamic according to the different learning contexts. Teacher identity is shaped by personal beliefs and motivations, but also by curricula, school based experiences, the community, and roles and tasks teachers have to adopt in their teaching practices. The construction of a teacher identity is conflicting and challenging and while teachers learn to teach, they learn to be teachers.

What are the implications of this?

Understanding how pre-service teachers learn to teach during FL teacher education provide insight and intervention into teacher education programs as a means to facilitate pre-service teachers’ transition into teacher career. This thesis sheds light on how pre-service teachers of EFL in Chile engage in the activity of learning to teach. This elucidation will ultimately contribute to the understanding of EFL teacher education and consequently it will provide a framework for the improvement of EFL teacher education in Chile.


 I’d better go back to my data and write. A successful PhD is a written thesis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: