Reconciling Pedagogical Beliefs and Teaching Practices: Chinese Teachers and the Pressures of a U.S. High School Foreign Language Context


The number of Chinese foreign language (CFL) programs is increasingly rapidly in U.S. high schools. Working in newer programs places special pressures on CFL teachers, who often did not themselves study in U.S. schools, may have different expectations and experiences about teaching and learning, and often have had less professional preparation in foreign language education. The authors use the concepts of teacher efficacy and self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) within a multiple case study approach to explore the beliefs and practices of two CFL teachers working in large high schools in Texas. They identify four main factors that influenced the teachers’ efficacy: (1) school contexts, (2) educational policy, (3) foreign language program types, and (4) professional development opportunities. Aspects of these four areas were both beneficial and adversely impacted the teachers’ beliefs about how effectively they could manage their students’ learning, including students’ socioeconomic levels, advanced placement (AP) exams, constructions of student “achievement,” and the effects of in-service training.