Educating EFL preservice teachers for teaching astronomy
Malaysia’s Vision 2020 for enhancing its education system includes the development of scientific literacy commencing at the primary school level. This Vision focuses on using English as the Medium of Instruction (EMI) for teaching primary science, as Malaysia has English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in its curriculum. What changes need to occur in preservice teacher education programs for learning about primary science using EMI? This paper investigates the education of Malaysian preservice teachers for learning how to teach one strand in science education (i.e., space, primary astronomy) in an English language context. Ninety-six second-year preservice teachers from two Malaysian institutes were involved in a 16-week “Earth and Space” course, half the course involved education about primary astronomy. Seventy-five of these preservice teachers provided written responses about the course and their
development as potential teachers of primary astronomy using EMI. Preservice teacher assessments and multimedia presentations provided further evidence on learning how to teach primary astronomy. Many of these preservice teachers claimed that learning to teach primary astronomy needs to focus on teaching strategies, content knowledge with easy-to-understand concepts, computer simulations (e.g., Earth Centered Universe, Stellarium, Celestia), other ICT media, and field experiences that use naked-eye observations and telescopes to investigate celestial bodies. Although generally proficient in using ICT, they
claimed there were EFL barriers for learning some new terminology. Nevertheless, powerpoints, animations, videos, and simulations were identified as effective ICT tools for providing clear visual representations of abstract concepts and ways to enhance the learning process.