Theoretical Framework

Fundamental to the project design was the use of the Four Pillars for Success model developed as a tool for supporting effective language teacher preparation (Masson, Battistuzzi & Bastien, 2021). Based on an extensive review of the literature on teacher learning and teacher preparation, the model outlines four key pillars (see Figure 1 below): Language proficiency, intercultural competence, pedagogical knowledge, and collaborative professionalism. The pillars serve as a means to support language teachers to prepare strong teacher identities and develop professional well-being, two key elements to ensuring long-term teacher retention in the profession. 

Figure 1. A framework for effective preparation of language teacher candidates in Teacher Education programs taken from Masson, Battistuzzi & Bastien (2021, p. 3) with permission from CASLT.

Language proficiency: Teachers' sense of confidence in the target language affects teachers' practice. Research shows that professional self-esteem and status are closely tied to perceived language proficiency and affect how teachers see themselves as teachers and whether they feel capable of teaching effectively. Engaging with critical questions around teachers' beliefs about language, what standards are valued and used in schools, how language is assessed, and what the goal of learning a language is can all contribute to strengthening their relationship to the target language. 

Intercultural competence: Not only do teachers need intercultural competence to teach languages, they also need to be able to develop this competence in their students. Because languages and cultures are inextricably tied, teachers need intercultural competence – a combination of attitudes, knowledges, and skills necessary to communicate effectively within and across languages. With questions of equity and inclusion increasingly at the forefront of educational policies and practices, intercultural competence can be a useful tool to broaden teachers' understanding of what is culture and how to mediate between intra- and inter-cultural differences. 

Pedagogical knowledge: Teachers need a complex array of knowledges and skills to teach effectively. For language teachers, this includes (among others) general pedagogical knowledge (ie., being able to foster student engagement, classroom management), subject-specific knowledge (ie., knowledge about the target language and its varieties, sociolinguistics, pragmatics), and subject-specific pedagogical knowledge (ie., knowledge about how to teach an additional language, being able to adapt appropriate instructional strategies to a given classroom). 

Collaborative professionalism: For long-term success in the profession, teachers need to develop collaborative professionalism. That is, the ability to transform their teaching and students' learning experience so that it is based on teacher-driven evidence-informed practices. Collaborative professionalism promotes a culture of solidarity and trust among teachers that can be useful to support teachers in creative risk-taking, program innovation, emotional and psychological well-being, and a more positive sense of self as a professional. 

Find out more about the Four Pillars for Success model by reading the CASLT report, Preparing for L2 and FSL teaching: A literature review on essential components of effective teacher education for language teachers, published in 2021. 


Masson, M., Battistuzzi, A., & Bastien, M.-P. (2021). Preparing for L2 and FSL teaching: A literature review on essential components of effective teacher education for language teachers. Canadian Association for Second Language Teachers (CASLT).