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Language Studies


foreign language education, teachers, philosophy of education, excellence, educational technology, achievement motivation, students


It is important for second language college teachers to know what kinds of teaching and learning approaches are most effective for their students. This basic qualitative study presents the perspectives exceptional second language teachers have regarding their own qualities of excellence, practices, philosophies of teaching, and theories of learning. The purpose of the study was to identify, describe, and understand these perspectives. Sixteen of such teachers, all of whom had won one or more awards of excellence from professional organizations, were interviewed, and the collected data were analyzed through three levels of coding. The main research question regarding the perspectives was divided into four sub-questions. Themes emerging from the sub-question about qualities of excellence included loving one’s neighbor, having expertise in the language taught, being well-versed in second language pedagogy, practicing self-reflection, being committed to lifelong learning, and being actively engaged in scholarship. Themes emerging from the sub-question about best practices in the classroom included the use of technology in the classroom, enhancing student motivation, facilitating a student-centered class, providing timely and adequate feedback, and the use of humor. Themes emerging from the sub-question about philosophies of second language teaching included standards set by teachers’ associations, cultural sensitivity in one’s teaching, use of comprehensible input, and emphasis on improving communication. Themes emerging from the sub-question about theories of second language learning included one-size-does-not-fit-all approach, learning through experience, self-directed learning, and organized chaos in the class. The findings of the study may have future implications for the ways second languages are taught in situations that are similar to the ones described.


  • A dissertation submitted to the graduate faculty of Capella University in partial fulfillment for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
  • Dr. Gail Hughes, Ph.D., Faculty Mentor and Chair
  • © 2016 Leendert G. W. van Beek

Previous Versions

Oct 26 2022