A reflection on linguistic knowledge for teachers of English in multilingual contexts
Teachers need to have a knowledge base on which to draw in their teaching. Part of this knowledge base is ‘subject matter knowledge’ of which linguistic knowledge is a key component for language teachers. It enables them to understand how language works, how it is learned, the nature of their roles in the language classroom and the social and political phenomena and decisions which have a strong impact on language use and teaching. Such knowledge assists teachers in handling the errors and mistakes which learners make, in working effectively with learners’ languages in a second/additional language classroom and in responding to social factors which can affect language teaching. This article reports on a textual analysis of distance English-teacher education materials used by the University of Rwanda’s College of Education, focusing on the linguistic knowledge which these materials include and exclude. The findings of the analysis indicate that the linguistic content in these materials is only of limited relevance to teachers both in terms of what the materials designers chose to include and in terms of the ways in which the content selected is presented on the page.