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Putting the learner in the spotlight – future directions for English teachers Anne Swan. Plan for paper. Part 1 Key terms and brief discussion of literature – ‘native speaker fallacy’ ,‘context’ and increasing confidence of ‘periphery’ teachers Part 2

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plan for paper
Plan for paper
  • Part 1
  • Key terms and brief discussion of literature – ‘native speaker fallacy’ ,‘context’ and increasing confidence of ‘periphery’ teachers
  • Part 2
  • Discussion of evidence from conversations with multilingual teachers
key terms multilingual
Key terms: ‘multilingual’
  • Under ‘multilingual’ subject, I include people who use more than one language in everyday life, ... . They might not know all these languages equally well, nor speak them equally fluently in all circumstances.
  • (Kramsch 2006: 100-101)
key terms native speaker
Key terms: ‘native speaker’
  • The indisputable element in the definition of native speaker is that a person is a native speaker of the language learnt first; the other
  • characteristics are incidental, describing how well an individual uses the language. Someone who did not learn a language in childhood cannot be a native speaker of the language. Later-learnt languages can never be native languages, by definition.
  • (Cook, 1999: 187)
key terms native speaker vs non native speaker
Key terms: ‘native speaker’ vs ‘non-native speaker ‘
  • These two categories fail to reflect the real conditions and level of command of a language by a given speaker, and are sometimes misleading in suggesting that one group of speakers has a superior capacity to communicate more efficiently and intelligibly than the other. Given the arguments against the existence of such a categorization, as well as the well-attested differences among language users, it would be wise to deal with them with extreme caution.
  • (Moussu and Llurda, 2008: 319).
arguing against the dichotomy
Arguing against the dichotomy
  • … these sorts of identity resources have been little addressed in the TESOL literature, which has tended to dichotomize teacher identity as either NEST [Native English Speaking teacher]or NNEST [Non Native English Speaking Teacher], a dichotomy that doesn’t address the kinds of resources that intercultural teachers like Paloma and Ruby bring to their teaching. In sharing their personal histories of understanding and adapting to multiple cultural frameworks and thus modeling intercultural identities, they can open up identity options not previously imagined by their students.
  • (Menard-Warwick, 2008: 635)
key terms context 1
Key terms: context 1
  • In the manner of HG Wells time traveller, I stumbled on a school that had remained oblivious to developments in language teaching, where teachers looked at me strangely when I questioned their obsession with Grammar-Translation and suggested that speaking was the most important skill in learning a language (Diploma essay).
  • In my view this displays an unfortunate attitude: a young and relatively inexperienced teacher comes to a new country of which he has almost no knowledge. Without any reference to the culture, the learning context, student needs and wishes and other contextual factors, he immediately judges far more experienced teachers as failing . And what gives him the licence to do so, as he sees it, is that he is a native speaker and that he is armed with CLT. (Bax, 2003:279).
key terms context 2
Key terms – context 2
  • people have been teaching languages quite successfully even in pre-modern communities from pre-scientific times. These are the teachers still working in the remote corners of the world in small village classrooms often meeting under trees in farms and fields away from the eyes of the professional pundits of the centre. The ‘English teachers’ are village elders, parents and priests who may often possess only a smattering of English. Some of them don’t have any advanced professional training (other than a post-high school training). I am not ashamed to say that it is such a charismatic rural teacher in Sri Lanka who initiated my own learning of the language which has sustained me to this point of earning a doctorate in English linguistics and serving in the faculty of an English department.
  • (Canagarajah, 2002: 140-141)
part 2 plan
Part 2 Plan
  • Developing and maintaining professional confidence
  • Local knowledge – content
  • Local knowledge – linguistic
  • Local attitudes to CLT
  • Local needs
  • Managing the native/nonnative speaker relationship
confidence expressed through humour
Confidence expressed through humour
  • Chin1f. Well actually I joked with them [my students]…. I said the worst thing that can happen is you become us!
  • Chin2f: You know the … group is composed of teachers and postgraduates. The other day we had a talk with one of the postgraduates and she told us ‘I want to be one of you, I want to be a colleague of you’
  • Chin1f: so I said that is the worst thing that can happen - you become us! Which is not so bad! (Chin1f & Chin2f)
recognising lack of confidence
Recognising lack of confidence
  • … many of - all the language teaching methods or approaches – we borrowed, or we imported from the outside, but they do not see the important points that all these methods have been adopted and adapted into the context that they work in and they do not see what they have done, the effort they have put in, to make these approaches and the methods work in their context. They still think ‘OK, these are the things we borrow from the others and what they say is always correct’ so they do not see their strengths . (Viet1m) 204
dealing with lack of confidence
Dealing with lack of confidence
  • In fact … the only thing I have done when I carried out the PD professional development for secondary school teachers – I encouraged them to go from their context, their students, their environment, the facilities, the equipment that they have and they can see what is the best way the students can learn or they can develop their language ability. (Viet1m)
local knowledge content
Local knowledge - content
  • … sometimes I help the students to translate but I always make it clear to the students- …that translation, when you learn reading for example, so we have to develop certain skills to do reading – so when you are doing the reading at that time, so translation is forbidden, never translate …but in other cases OK, I remember one case – we talked about development project in a third world country and we talk about the sound of the frogs - development, yeah when they bring the logging and they take the land from the people in development projects and then they clear out all the crops so people do not hear the croaking any more, or their music, something like that OK really similar to the situation in Vietnam
local knowledge linguistic
Local knowledge - linguistic
  • ... and we ask the students to translate so the translation at that time we focus on how to use – discussion – the knowledge of grammar of English, vocabulary to understand the meaning and when we have done it they meet to apply the information they have got to Vietnamese, in the way that Vietnamese people have – it cannot be like word for word translation – it becomes, it’s not Vietnamese any more – OK in this way we use translation, the translation is a whole, I would say science – but you should not always apply translation into, I would say reading, or doing the listening or something (no) It means that I still use translation in my class for a very clear purpose (Viet1m).
linguistic knowledge
Linguistic knowledge
  • But for us I like to think that we find many interesting and funny sentences that are totally not English in the students’ writing, but we understand! Because we come from the same first language and so it is easy to read it (and that is the advantage) if I translate word for word in Chinese. (Chin1f)
  • I guess the first lesson that I learned about students errors especially about the Chinese students’ errors in English is that you learn to appreciate it [having a common first language]. … I understand why they make these mistakes because I know in Chinese language we don’t have a very strict tense system, we don’t have a very comprehensive attributive clause system, quite a lot is missing in Chinese so I understand why they make these mistakes. (Chin1f) (swan 2005)
local attitudes to clt
Local attitudes to CLT
  • Yes, but when, when the class was changed a bit – when they started introducing communicative language teaching for example, you know, and we’ve had meetings on this several times and we’ve talked about communicative language teaching and how in these courses the students should be given more opportunities to communicate- more speaking, you know with each other – more speaking with peers, more writing activities, etc. But not all the teachers are really into communicative language teaching mainly because they feel the students are not ready for it. Mainly because they feel they need to learn more about grammar before they can start communicating so there’s a whole debate around that. (Phil1f)
local needs
Local needs

I think English in China has to be practical how to accept- or we have to face the fact that it is hard for learners to have access to English language environment and we have to accept the fact that in comparison with learners’ reading and writing ability maybe listening and speaking are relatively weak. I think it’s natural. I think in the situation where English is a foreign language I think it’s practical. It is realistic to pay attention to reading (mm) because this is the major channel for learners to have access to English. While we focus – we emphasise the improvement of learners’ speaking and listening abilities we have to consider this issue on the basis of reading. If we accept that reading is still the major channel for learners to access English we have to base the training of listening and speaking on the basis of reading because reading is to some extent the focus of language input...with this input we could consider how to improve listening and speaking abilities. (Chin4m) (p.183)

foreign staff
Foreign staff
  • ‘They like to talk. This is the first priority!’ (Chin3f)
  • I have more than 10 native speakers – most of them are responsible and usually we set up the conversation class for them ... team teaching and one Thai teacher with a native speaker because we have about 50 students in one class and I know it is hard for them so I take, I set up one Thai teacher with the native speaker and let them work together.
  • (Thai1f)
benefits to students
Benefits to students
  • They have improved a lot. Improved a lot from talking to international teachers, international students and through their preparation work they like to do so. Some students often ask me to give them assignments like the oral test, the oral English or role play or anything else. (Chin3f)

Aboshiha, P. (2008) Identity and dilemma: the ‘native speaker’ English language teacher in a globalising world. Canterbury Christ Church University: Unpublished PhD thesis.

Bax, S. (2003) The end of CLT: a context approach to language teaching. ELT Journal 57, 3: 278-287.

Borg, S. (2003) Teacher cognition in language teaching: a review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe and do. Language Teaching 36, 81-109.

Canagarajah, S. (1999) Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Canagarajah, S. (2002) ‘Globalization, methods and practice in periphery classrooms’ in Block, D., & Cameron, D. (eds.) Globalization and language teaching. London: Routledge.

Cook, V. (1999) Going beyond the native speaker in language teaching. TESOL Quarterly Vol. 33, No. 2, 185-209.

Holliday, A. (2005) The Struggle to Teach English as an International Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kramsch, C. (2006) Preview article: The multilingual subject. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 16, 1: 97-110.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006) Understanding English teaching. New Jersey: Erlbaum.

Menard-Warwick, J. (2008) The cultural and intercultural identities of transnational English teachers: two case studies from the Americas. TESOL Quarterly Vol. 42, No. 4: 617-640.

Moussu, L. & Llurda, E. (2008) Non-native English-speaking English language teachers: history and research. Language Teaching, 41: 315–348.

Pennycook, A. (2010) Language as a Local Practice. London: Routledge.

Swan, A. (2012) Learning from Multilingual Teachers of English. . Canterbury Christ Church University: Unpublished PhD thesis.