critical incident (CI); foreign language teaching
Linguistica Silesiana, Vol. 32 (2011), s. 259-274
The paper introduces the concept of a critical incident (CI) in the context of foreign
language teaching and discusses its importance for teachers` professional development
as a factor leading to a teacher´s awareness of his/her classroom. The ability
to diagnose critical incidents is seen as an inseparable part of a teacher´s ability to
control the teaching context and thus create critical events (CE).
This paper also introduces the concept of an appraisal system (Smith and Lazarus
1993 ), understood as one´s evaluation of the relationship between one´s success
and failure in respect of past experience and the ability to adapt to an immediate
context. In my analysis I will follow Scherer´s (1984) taxonomy of components of
appraisal systems such as novelty, the pleasantness of a task and coping potential,
among others. This appraisal system is seen as emotionally-driven but it also emphasizes
the cognitive dimension and the interaction between affective and cognitive
In the empirical part of the paper, the study on CI in teaching EFL is reported on.
The main objective of the study was to make in-service teachers of EFL refl ect upon
their most memorable critical incident (CI) and evaluate it from the affective point of
view. The study was also to make the subjects more aware of themselves and their
classroom presence. The research instrument used in the project was the Geneva Appraisal
Questionnaire -GAQ (Scherer 2001), based on Scherer´s taxonomy.