What happens in your country? Teacher constructions of adult EAL students’ cultural identities

Suma Sumithran

Abstract


In a multicultural and settler society such as Australia, perceptions of the cultures and identities of students in the adult EAL classroom may have a significant impact on their language learning experiences. This paper reports on a study investigating how teachers of adult English as an Additional Language (EAL) students in Victoria, Australia, understand their students’ cultural identities, how they speak about their students’ language learning and how they perceive the challenges and opportunities that their students face in the learning process. Recent literature highlights the complexity of culture and identity in the adult EAL classroom, and has identified normalisation of stereotyped characteristics of language learners. Semi-structured interviews with three experienced EAL teachers were conducted, and a phenomenological framework was applied for the qualitative data analysis. The themes that emerged suggest that the teachers had a limited and even superficial understanding of their students’ cultural identities.  Cultural stereotyping was evident when describing their students’ language learning experiences, and also when describing the challenges and opportunities that students have in their learning. The implications of these for the students’ additional language development are discussed.


Keywords


EAL; language learner identities; adult migrant programs; AMEP

Full Text:

PDF

References


Ajayi, L. (2011). How ESL teachers’ sociocultural identities mediate their teacher role identities in a diverse urban school setting. The Urban Review, 43(5), 654-680. doi:10.1007/s11256-010-0161-y

AMES. (2011). Words to work. Retrieved from http://www.ames.net.au/documents/research-projects/words-to-worksettling-in-and-finding-work-longitudinal-study-of-studentsin-the-amep

Atkinson, D. (1999). TESOL and culture. TESOL Quarterly, 33(4),625-654.

Atkinson, D., & Sohn, J. (2013). Culture from the bottom up. TESOL Quarterly, 47(4), 669-693.

Blackledge, A., & Pavlenko, A. (2001). Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts. The International Journal of Bilingualism,5(3), 243-257.

Block, D. (2014). Second language identities. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Burns, A., & De Silva Joyce, H. (2007). Adult ESL programs in Australia. Prospect, 22(3), 5-17.

Chalmers, D., & Violet, S. (1997). Common misconceptions about students from south-east Asia studying in Australia. Higher Education Research and Development, 16(1), 87-99.doi:10.1080/0729436970160107

Creswell, W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). U.S.A.: Sage Publications.

Department of Education and Training. (2016). Skills for education and employment. Retrieved from https://www.education.gov.au/skills-education-and-employment

Dogancay-Aktuna, S. (2005). Intercultural communication in English language teacher education. ELT Journal, 59(2),99-107. doi:10.1093/eltj/cci023

Duff, P. A., & Uchido, Y. (1997). The negotiation of teachers’ sociocultural identities and practices in postsecondary EFL classrooms. TESOL Quarterly, 31(3), 451-486. doi:10.2307/3587834

Ellis, E. (2016). The plurilingual TESOL teacher : the hidden languaged lives of TESOL teachers and why they matter. New York: De Gruyter.

Gao, F. (2012). Imagined community, identity, and Chinese language teaching in Hong Kong. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 22(1), 140-154. doi:10.1075/japc.22.1.08gao

Hall, S. (1997). The spectacle of the ‘other’. In S. Hall (Ed.), Representation : cultural representations and signifying practices (pp. 223-290). London: Sage.

Hamill, C., & Sinclair, H. (2010). Bracketing – practical considerations in Husserlian phenomenological research. Nurse Researcher, 17(2), 16-24.

Kleiman, S. (2004). Phenomenology: to wonder and search for meanings. Nurse Researcher, 11(4), 7-19.

Kubota, R. (2012). The Author Responds: (Un)Raveling Racism in a Nice Field Like TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 36(1), 84-92. doi:10.2307/3588363

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2002). Paying attention to inter- in intercultural communication. TESOL Journal, 11(1), 3-4.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Problematizing cultural stereotypes in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 37(4), 709-719.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2008). Cultural globalization and language education. U.S.A.: Yale University Press.

Le Ha, P. (2004). University classrooms in Vietnam: contesting the stereotypes. ELT Journal, 58(1), 50-57.

Lee, E. (2008). The other(ing) costs of ESL. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 18(1), 91-108. doi:10.1075/japc.18.1.06lee

Lee, E. (2015). Doing culture, doing race: everyday discourses of ‘culture’ and ‘cultural difference’ in the English as a second language classroom. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 36(1), 80-93. doi:10.1080/01434632.2014.892503

Lopez-Rocha, S. (2005). From stereotypes to communication styles. International Journal of Learning, 12(5), 51-59.

Norton, B. (2001). Non-Participation, Imagined Communities, and the Language Classroom. In M. P. Breen (Ed.), Learner contributions to language learning: new directions in research (pp. 159-171). USA: Routledge.

Norton, B. (2013). Identity and language learning: extending the conversation (2nd ed.). UK: Multilingual matters.

Pennycook, A. (1994). The cultural politics of English as an international language. England: Longman Group Limited.

Rich, S., & Troudi, S. (2006). Hard Times: Arab TESOL Students’ experiences of racialization and othering in the United Kingdom. TESOL Quarterly, 40(3), 615-627.

Riley, T. (2015). “I Know I’m Generalizing but . . . ”: how teachers’ perceptions influence ESL learner placement. TESOL Quarterly, 49(4), 659-680.

Ryan, J., & Louie, K. (2005). Dichotomy or complexity: problematising concepts of scholarship and learning. Paper presented at the 34th annual Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia Conference, Hong Kong Institute of Education. https://pesa.org.au/conference/conference-archive/40-conference-2005-hong-kong-24-27-november-2005.

Singh, P., & Doherty, C. (2004). Global cultural flows and pedagogic dilemmas: teaching in the global university contact zone. TESOL Quarterly, 38(1), 9-42.

Skilton-Sylvester, E. (2002). Should I stay or should I go? Investigating Cambodian women’s participation and investment in adult ESL programs. Adult Education Quarterly, 53(1), 9-26. doi:10.1177/074171302237201

Touhy, D., Cooney, A., Dowling, M., Murphy, K., & Sixmith, J. (2013). An overview of interpretive phenomenology as a research methodology. Nurse Researcher, 20(6), 17-20.

Tran, T. T. (2013). Is the learning approach of students from the Confucian heritage culture problematic? Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 12(1), 57-65. doi:10.1007/s10671-012-9131-3

van Krieken, R., Smith, R., Habibis, D., McDonald, K., Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M. (2000). Sociology: themes and perspectives. NSW, Australia: Pearson Education.

Vollmer, G. (2000). Praise and stigma: teachers’ constructions of the ‘typical ESL student’. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 21(1), 53-66. doi:10.1080/07256860050000795

Weaver, G. R. (1994). Understanding and coping with cross-cultural adjustment stress. In G. R. Weaver (Ed.), Culture, communication and conflict: Readings in intercultural relations (pp. 169-189). Needham Heights, MA: Ginn Press.

Yin, R. K. (2011). Qualitative research from start to finish. New York: The Guilford Press.

Yuksel, P., & Yildirim, S. (2015). Theoretical frameworks, methods, and procedures for conducting phenomenological studies in educational settings. Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry, 6(1), 1-20.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/tesol2018vol27no1art771771

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


ISSN  2209-0916