View Chapters

Book: English Language Teacher Beliefs

Chapter: Conceptualizing Beliefs

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35780


This chapter clarifies the concept of teacher beliefs. Numerous terms are used when discussing teachers’ mental constructs (e.g. attitudes, perceptions, conceptions, philosophies, et al.), often under the umbrella term of (language) teacher cognition (S. Borg, 2006). However, it can be difficult to decipher between these different terms; different authors have different conceptualisations and little consistency is found. Furthermore, the dichotomous relationship between beliefs and knowledge is discussed. Beliefs are often seen as subjective, true for the person in question, but not necessarily in an external sense (Pajares, 1992), while knowledge is seen more as objective and true in the ‘outside world’. The debate about beliefs and knowledge continues. Some authors argue that the two remain inseparable under intense scrutiny, and that they are in fact, the same (S. Borg, 2015; Kagan, 1992; Polat, 2010). However, others maintain the dichotomy and argue that the two are still distinct (M. Borg, 2001; Buehl & Beck, 2015). With acceptance of this confusion and ambiguity, this chapter seeks to clarify some of these definitional and terminological issues, and provide the reader with an enhanced understanding of a very complex concept.

Chapter Contributors

  • Farahnaz Faez ( - ffaez) 'University of Western Ontario'
  • Michael Karas ( - mkaras) 'University of Western Ontario'