Date of Award

Summer 8-18-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

John M. Murphy (Chair)

Second Advisor

Diane Belcher

Third Advisor

Stephanie Lindemann

Fourth Advisor

Gayle L. Nelson


This study aims to expand studies on ESL/EFL teachers’ beliefs by investigating the relationship among Korean teachers’ beliefs about English language education in Korea, sources of their beliefs, their perceptions of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MOE)-initiated reforms in English language education, and the degree of implementation of the reforms in their classroom teaching. Toward that end, the study employed both quantitative and qualitative research instruments: a survey with a questionnaire, interviews, and observations. The study surveyed 158 in-service teachers. Among these 158 teachers, 10 were selected for interviews and observations. Each of the 10 teachers was interviewed three times and his/her classroom teaching observed twice. The findings of the study indicate: a) the beliefs held by the majority of the participants were based on the communication-oriented approaches (COA) to English language teaching, which has been recommended by the MOE in its efforts to reform English language education in Korea; b) major sources of the participants’ beliefs seemed to be their experiences as learners in overseas English programs and domestic in-service teacher education programs with practical curricula; c) the teacher participants’ perceptions of the reforms’ general direction were largely consistent with their COA-based beliefs, but their perceptions of specific reform policies and measures were dictated by their concerns with realities of EFL education and their positions; and d) not the participants’ beliefs but their negative perceptions of reform policies and measures AND the constraints they cited were the main obstacles to the implementation of the reform policies and measures in their classroom teaching. The findings reveal gaps and mismatches among the participants’ beliefs, perceptions, and practices. The study interprets such gaps and mismatches not as inconsistencies but as symptoms of a transitional stage through which English language education in Korea has been going. The study discusses the implications of the findings for Korean EFL teachers, EFL/ESL teacher education programs, and reform agents. The study ends with four suggestions for future research.