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"If you heard me speak, I'd be you'd think I was white" - Problematising teacher identity in TESOL

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As recent postings to the BAAL-mail discussion list indicate, the topic of the nativeness of English language teachers is an enduring and divisive one. In this session, we will further problematise …

As recent postings to the BAAL-mail discussion list indicate, the topic of the nativeness of English language teachers is an enduring and divisive one. In this session, we will further problematise this topic through an exploration of the professional life-stories of visible ethnic minority native-English-speaker teachers (VEM-NESTs) and consider what these might reveal about the complexities of 21st century teacher identity in TESOL.

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  • 1. ‘If you heard me, I’d bet you would think I was white’.Problematising teacher identity in TESOL Eljee Javier and Richard Fay Language Teacher Education, The University of Manchester Northern Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages 1
  • 2. The Narrative Turn study of narrative (i.e. life story vs. life history narratology) vs. the narrative (Ivor Goodson) study of e.g. teachers lives small stories (Alexandra (narrative inquiry) Georgakopoulou); critical Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 the narrative construction of incidents; auto/biographical experience/reality research; oral history; auto/ (Jerome Bruner) ethnography  researcher learning from narratives + narrators learning through narration (Ivor Goodson; also narrative therapy) 2
  • 3. "... it is difficult to separate judgements ofpeople from judgements of language. Infact, it may always be a matter of identity,that is to say that when judgements are Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012elicited about people or about theirlanguage, what is obtained is some view ofthe people themselves" (Davies, 2003: 199)  3
  • 4. Identity and ‘nativeness’ inTESOL Native-speaker by birth Native-speaker (or native-speaker like) by being an exceptional learner Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 Native-speaker (or native-speaker like) through education Native-speaker (or native-speaker like) by being a native user (post-colonial) Native-speaker (or native-speaker like) through long residence in the adopted country (Davies, 2003: 214) 4
  • 5. NESTs and Non-NESTs "For teaching Germans, a phonetically trained German is far superior to an untrained Englishman [sic], the latter being quite unable to communicate his [sic] Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 knowledge ..." (Henry Sweet, 1884: 595, in A.P.R. Howatt 1984: 183) native-speakerism - "a language-based form of prejudice affecting language teachers" (Stephanie Houghton) 5
  • 6. "With reference to some recent postings onBAALmail, I too am concerned to see thatwe are promoting adverts whichdiscriminate against non-native speakerteachers of English by inviting applications Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012from native-speaker teachers only. I hopethat the association is opposed to suchdiscrimination, and will make the reasonsfor our oppositions clear to employers whoseek to advertise through us." (Guy Cook) 6
  • 7. "I agree that a blanket preference for native speakers isuntenable, but it is tricky to enforce across the board.Does it mean that UK schools cannot ask for French/German/Spanish assistants? Does it mean that aEuropean university, for example, cannot ask for anEnglish Lektor? Does it mean that a language school Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012or university faculty cannot try to have one nativespeaker, as a consultant on a particular variety ofEnglish, as part of their wider English staff? Thoughtneeds to be given to how we can regulate againstdiscrimination without unreasonably precludingchoices. Not easy; I dont have the answer...." (Ivor S.) 7
  • 8. FLE Jobs Adverts e.g. "The person appointed Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 will ... be a native/near-native speaker of French" 8
  • 9. Professional narratives of identityand nativeness The Galician Aha Moment Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 Cert.TEFL - eligibility EFL summer schools Polish experiences Recruiting teachers (for Eastern Germany) 9
  • 10. Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 201210
  • 11. Three Stage Methodology Stage One: Written narratives Stage Three: Restorying process Eljee Javier, The University of Manchester, 2012 Stage Two: One - to - One Interviews 11
  • 12. Written Narrative Interview Schedule How do you see yourself as a native speaker of English? Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 Why did you choose to share this key incident? 12
  • 13. Interview Transcription Restoried Narrative Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 201213
  • 14. Restoried Narrative Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 201214
  • 15. Background What kinds of information was shared? Eljee Javier and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 Why would this information be important? Delarozier, F. (2010), pg. 15
  • 16. “...native-speakerism is an establishedbelief that ‘native-speaker’ teachersrepresent a ‘Western culture’ from which Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012spring the ideals of both the Englishlanguage and of English language teachingmethodology.” (Holliday 2005: 6). 16
  • 17. Identity and ‘nativeness’ inTESOL - participant responses Native-speaker by birth Eljee / Andreas Native-speaker (or native-speaker like) by being an exceptional learner Suri/ Li Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 Native-speaker (or native-speaker like) through education Suri / Li Native-speaker (or native-speaker like) by being a native user (post-colonial) Suri / Li Native-speaker (or native-speaker like) through long residence in the adopted country (Davies, 2003: 214) Li 17
  • 18. Critical Incident What was your reaction to their stories? Eljee Javier and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 How is the content of these stories similar or different to one another? How are they similar or different to your own experiences? 18
  • 19. Further problematising the NS/NNS binary✤ ‘Non-native speaker’ label is placed on teachers simply Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 on the basis of their ‘ethnicity’✤ Calls into question the non-linguistic aspects associated with native-speaker model✤ Who’s worth more? Why? 19
  • 20. Reflections on being aVEM-NEST What was your reaction? In what way do these Eljee Javier and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012 teachers pose a challenge to the NS/NNS binary? Delarozier, F. (2010), pg. 27 20
  • 21. VEM-NEST Grey Areas✤ Continued use of ‘western’ identity Eljee / Andreas ✤ using ‘western’ associations to offset negative views of ethnic background Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012✤ Identity construction can be strategic Li ✤ positive identities for themselves to give a positive meaning and value to their ethnic background✤ Professional skills Suri ✤ focus on being a good teacher as ‘proof’ that ‘someone like me’ is capable, able and successfulas 21
  • 22. Final thoughts... 22
  • 23. http://eljeejavier.com@eljeejavierejavier@me.com Eljee Javier, and Richard Fay, The University of Manchester, 2012http://edtechandtesol.info/phd/frjfay@aol.com 23