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Ideological and educational-political aspects of the link between language and faith—especially between Global English a
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Table of contents :
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Contributors
2. What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context?
PART 1: Policy Connections
3. Cambodia Language-in-Education Policy in the Context of ASEAN Economic Integration and the Internationalization of Higher Education
4. The Evolution of English as a Medium of Instruction in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL: Challenges, Strategies, and Possibilities
5. Access to English, Schooling Background, and Habitus: Evidence from Pakistani Graduate Students
6. Appropriation of Colombian ELT Policy in a Targeted School: The Creation of an “Elite” Yet Still Needy School in the Public Education System
PART II: Preparation of Teachers
7. What Challenges Do Novice EFL Teachers Face in Under-Resourced Contexts in Turkey? An Exploratory Study
8. English Language Teacher Associations and the Exclusivity of Professional Development: A Rwandan Case Study
9. Vietnamese Primary English Teachers’ Cognition and Assessment Practices: A Sociocultural Perspective
10. Training Native and Non-Native English-Speaking Teachers: Task-Based Language Teaching in Honduras
PART III: Practice Insights
11. Stories as Innovation in English Language Teaching in Uganda
12. “They Can Be Anywhere Someday”: Integrating Culture in Indonesian EFL Classrooms
13. Working for Social Justice in a Marginalized Colombian English Teaching Classroom
14. The Affordances of Translanguaging as a Pedagogical Resource for Multilingual English Language Classrooms in Malaysia
15. Readiness to Listen to Various Accents in an Asian English as a Lingua Franca Context in Thailand
RESEARCH ON TEACHING AND LEARNING ENGLISH IN UNDER-RESOURCED CONTEXTS
This book is the eighth volume in the Global Research on Teaching and Learning English series, co-published with The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF). It brings together the latest developments in research on teaching English in under-resourced contexts across the world, oﬀering a window into the complex challenges that these communities face. Recommendations from research and experience in well-resourced contexts are frequently not relevant or feasible in diﬀerent circumstances. Contributors explore local and regional assets and challenges to provide a deeper understanding of the diﬃcult issues that language learners and teachers must confront, and they provide insights to meet those challenges. With chapters written by TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant awardees, the volume addresses the crucial and growing need for research-based conversations on the contexts, environments, and challenges of teaching English in areas of the world with limited resources, literacy levels, or other constraints. The volume includes sections on policy connections, teacher preparation, and practice insights. It is a useful resource for graduate students and teacher educators in language education, ESL/EFL education, and international education, and an enlightening reference for all readers with an interest in language education around the world. Kathleen M. Bailey is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, USA. She is President of TIRF. Donna Christian is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. She is Secretary-Treasurer of TIRF.
GLOBAL RESEARCH ON TEACHING AND LEARNING ENGLISH Co-published with The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) Kathleen M. Bailey & Ryan M. Damerow, Series Editors
Bailey & Damerow, Eds. Teaching and Learning English in the Arabic-Speaking World Christison, Christian, Duﬀ, & Spada, Eds. Teaching and Learning English Grammar: Research Findings and Future Directions Crandall & Christison, Eds. Teacher Education and Professional Development in TESOL: Global Perspectives Carrier, Damerow, & Bailey, Eds. Digital Language Learning and Teaching: Research, Theory, and Practice Crandall & Bailey, Eds. Global Perspectives on Language Education Policies Papageorgiou & Bailey, Eds. Global Perspectives on Language Assessment: Research, Theory, and Practice Damerow & Bailey, Eds. Chinese-Speaking Learners of English: Research, Theory, and Practice Bailey & Christian, Eds. Research on Teaching and Learning English in Under-Resourced Contexts For additional information on titles in the Global Research on Teaching and Learning English series visit https://www.routledge.com/Global-Research-onTeaching-and-Learning-English/book-series/TIRF
RESEARCH ON TEACHING AND LEARNING ENGLISH IN UNDER-RESOURCED CONTEXTS Edited by Kathleen M. Bailey and Donna Christian
A co-publication with The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF)
The International Research Foundation for English Language Education
First published 2021 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Kathleen Bailey and Donna Christian; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Kathleen Bailey and Donna Christian to be identiﬁed as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identiﬁcation and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this title has been requested ISBN: 978-0-367-52275-9 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-51377-1 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-05728-4 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Taylor & Francis Books
We are pleased to dedicate this book to Joan Morley and Yehia El-Ezabi and to the memories of Antonieta Celani and Kofﬁ Edoh. We honor these four TIRF Trustees for their tireless work to improve English language teaching and learning in under-resourced contexts around the world.
List of Tables Acknowledgments List of Contributors 1 Introduction Donna Christian and Kathleen M. Bailey 2 What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context? Andy Curtis
x xi xii 1 14
Policy Connections 3 Cambodia Language-in-Education Policy in the Context of ASEAN Economic Integration and the Internationalization of Higher Education Virak Chan 4 The Evolution of English as a Medium of Instruction in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL: Challenges, Strategies, and Possibilities Thi Hoai Thu Tran, Rachel Burke, and John Mitchell O’Toole
5 Access to English, Schooling Background, and Habitus: Evidence from Pakistani Graduate Students Rooh Ul Amin 6 Appropriation of Colombian ELT Policy in a Targeted School: The Creation of an “Elite” Yet Still Needy School in the Public Education System Norbella Miranda
Preparation of Teachers 7 What Challenges Do Novice EFL Teachers Face in UnderResourced Contexts in Turkey? An Exploratory Study Özgür S¸ahan and Kari Sahan
8 English Language Teacher Associations and the Exclusivity of Professional Development: A Rwandan Case Study Leanne M. Cameron
9 Vietnamese Primary English Teachers’ Cognition and Assessment Practices: A Sociocultural Perspective Anh Tran
10 Training Native and Non-Native English-Speaking Teachers: Task-Based Language Teaching in Honduras Lara Bryfonski
11 Stories as Innovation in English Language Teaching in Uganda Espen Stranger-Johannessen
12 “They Can Be Anywhere Someday”: Integrating Culture in Indonesian EFL Classrooms Tabitha Kidwell
13 Working for Social Justice in a Marginalized Colombian English Teaching Classroom Yecid Ortega
14 The Aﬀordances of Translanguaging as a Pedagogical Resource for Multilingual English Language Classrooms in Malaysia Shakina Rajendram
15 Readiness to Listen to Various Accents in an Asian English as a Lingua Franca Context in Thailand Panjanit Chaipuapae
4.1 4.2 7.1 9.1 10.1 12.1 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 15.1
Lecturers’ Challenges and Strategies Students’ Challenges and Learning Strategies Major Challenges Experienced by Novice EFL Teachers Participants’ Background and Teaching Situation Pre- and Post-Training Survey Themes Participants Cognitive-Conceptual Functions Planning-Organizational Functions Aﬀective-Social Functions Linguistic-Discursive Functions Replicated Four-by-Four Latin Squares Design of the Test Administration 15.2 Descriptive Statistics of Listening Scores by Speakers’ Accents (n = 144)
51 54 94 119 135 161 191 192 193 195 204 206
We wish to acknowledge the support of many people whose help has made this book possible: Karen Adler, our wonderful publisher at Routledge; the three anonymous reviewers, who provided helpful input on the proposal; Martin Pettitt, our conscientious copy editor, for his careful work; Andy Curtis, TIRF’s Publications Committee Chair; Ryan Damerow, our series editor; and our two amazing graduate students who served as project managers and editorial assistants— Kalina Swanson and Caleb Powers. We also wish to thank the authors, who contributed a great deal of time and eﬀort to the preparation of chapters related to the important theme of this volume. All the authors and editors in this series agree to forego any payments so that all royalties from book sales can be used to support TIRF’s programs. We are very grateful! Donna Christian Kathleen Bailey
Kathleen M. Bailey is a Professor in the TESOL-TFL MA Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She is a past president of both TESOL and AAAL, as well as the current president of TIRF and the Chairman of its Board of Trustees. Lara Bryfonski is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where she conducts research on a variety of topics in second language acquisition, including task-based language teaching, teacher training, corrective feedback, materials development, and language learning in study abroad. She was a recipient of a 2018 TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant. Rachel Burke is an Applied Linguist at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Rachel’s research and advocacy focus on linguistically and culturally diverse (CALD) educational contexts, the critical examination of policyscape, and praxis-driven approaches to languages and literacies education. Rachel’s work is particularly concerned with building educator capacity to engage with learners’ linguistic strengths and needs in higher education. Leanne M. Cameron is a Ph.D. candidate in Education at the University of Bristol in the UK. Her research focuses on the professional development of English teachers in low- and middle-income contexts, including Rwanda and Sri Lanka. She received a TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant in 2018. Panjanit Chaipuapae was a recipient of a 2018 TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant. She received her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Northern Arizona University. Currently, she is a lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities at Kasetsart
List of Contributors xiii
University in Thailand. Her research interests focus on second language assessment, second language teaching and learning, and English as a lingua franca in Asia. Virak Chan is a Clinical Assistant Professor in literacy and language at Purdue University. He has extensive ESL teaching experiences in Cambodia, California, Texas, and Indiana. His research interests include language policies, teacher education, linguistic landscape, and curriculum development. He is a recipient of a 2015 TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant. Donna Christian is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. Her scholarly interests focus on language diversity in education, including dual language education, dialects, and policy issues. She is a member of the TIRF Board of Trustees. Andy Curtis served as the 50th President of the TESOL International Association from 2015 to 2016. He is a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Anaheim University. He is currently at the forefront of the New Peace Linguistics ﬁeld, and Virtual Reality in Language Education. He is based in Ontario, Canada. Tabitha Kidwell received a TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant in 2017. She teaches academic writing in the TESOL program at American University and has conducted professional development for language teachers in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the United States. Her research interests focus on language teacher education, innovative language teaching methods, and the role of culture in language teaching. Norbella Miranda holds a Ph.D. degree in Educational Sciences from Universidad del Quindio, Colombia. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor at Universidad del Valle. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher agency, and ELT curriculum development. Her dissertation on the appropriation of Colombian ELT policy received a TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant in 2017. John Mitchell O’Toole is an Associate Professor within the School of Education at the University of Newcastle. His major research interests are in the impact of language style on science teaching, the interaction between student and teacher understandings of the history and nature of science; the environment; and information and communication technology. Yecid Ortega is a recipient of a 2019 TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant and a 2018 Canadian SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship Award. He is a Ph.D. candidate in Language and Literacies Education at the University of Toronto. His research interests focus on social justice and peacebuilding pedagogies in English language teaching in international contexts within decolonial ethnographic approaches.
xiv List of Contributors
Shakina Rajendram is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching & Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on teacher education and supporting English learners through translanguaging, and plurilingual and multiliteracies pedagogies. Shakina was the recipient of a TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant in 2017. Kari Sahan holds a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Oxford, Department of Education. Her research focuses on English medium instruction (EMI), language education policy, and classroom interaction. She is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and tutors on the MSc in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching at the University of Oxford. Özgür S¸ahan is a recipient of a 2017 TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant. He is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at Yozgat Bozok University, Faculty of Education. His research interests focus on language assessment, teacher education, and English medium instruction. Espen Stranger-Johannessen is an Associate Professor at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. He graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a Ph.D. in Literacy Education. His dissertation on teacher identity and the African Storybook (africanstorybook.org) received a TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant in 2014. Thi Hoai Thu Tran is a recipient of a 2017 TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant. She is a Lecturer of English at Hue University of Foreign Languages, Vietnam, and holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her research interests focus on the policy and practices of English as a Medium of Instruction in Vietnamese tertiary EFL contexts. Anh Tran is a recipient of a 2017 TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant. She graduated from the School of Education, University of New South Wales, Australia. She is now a lecturer at the Vietnam National University, ULIS, Vietnam. Her research interests include teacher professional learning, language assessment, teacher research, and ELT methodology. Rooh Ul Amin is a recipient of a 2015 TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant. He is a Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan. His research interests concentrate on teachers’/learners’ identity in ESL, language policy and planning, ESL pedagogies, language and gender, and im/politeness.
1 INTRODUCTION Donna Christian and Kathleen M. Bailey
From its founding, The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) has provided funding for research on English language teaching and learning around the world and has worked to collect and disseminate research ﬁndings as broadly as possible to assist educators and policymakers. Producing collections of research supported by TIRF is an important part of this mission. This volume, the eighth in the series Global Research on Teaching and Learning English, focuses on a fundamental purpose of TIRF’s work—improving our understanding of the challenges faced by language learners and teachers in under-resourced contexts and expanding our knowledge of ways to meet those challenges. As readers of this collection will learn, recommendations from research and experience in well-resourced contexts may not necessarily transfer in a straightforward manner to other situations. Often, new approaches and recognition of local assets and challenges need to be called on for eﬀective policy and practice. TIRF pursues its mission through a number of activities, including the Doctoral Dissertation Grant (DDG) program, which oﬀers ﬁnancial awards on a competitive basis to scholars at the dissertation stage of their education (see www.tirfonline.org for details). All applications for support must address one of the substantive research priorities set by the Foundation (such as “Language Assessment,” “English as a Medium of Instruction,” and “Language Teacher Education”). In addition, some of the funding is designated for applicants who come from or attend a university in a country that can be considered underresourced, or whose research would positively beneﬁt language education in one of those countries (based on a list published by the Organization of Economic Development). As a result, TIRF’s cadre of DDG awardees have addressed many practice and policy issues in language education that exist in
2 Donna Christian and Kathleen M. Bailey
under-resourced contexts. These issues range from the implementation of national language education policies in multilingual societies to the preparation of classroom curricula and instruction in schools with a scarcity of physical assets. This volume draws from the work of TIRF grantees in diverse locations whose studies expand our knowledge about how language is learned and taught in challenging circumstances. These studies add to the ongoing discussion of teaching language, or speciﬁcally English, in situations that for a variety of reasons are not ideal. Kuchah (2018) suggests that West (1960) was the ﬁrst to focus on the topic of Teaching English in Diﬃcult Circumstances and notes that “Nearly 60 years after the publication of West’s book, very similar circumstances can still be found throughout the developing world” (Kuchah, 2018, p. 2). The chapters that follow in this volume provide further support for that assertion, by connecting us to English language teaching and learning in such “diﬃcult” contexts, ranging from early childhood education to the university level, and in locations from Colombia to Rwanda to Vietnam and beyond.
Organization of the Book The theme of the collection naturally invites the question, “What is an underresourced context?” Following this introductory chapter, Andy Curtis (Chapter 2) explores that question and, further, discusses how such a context might develop. He starts with a consideration of the important role of context, especially in education and research, and guides us to recognize how easily and frequently context is ignored. Importantly, he emphasizes that the theme of this book is not limited to geographical areas (named as regions or countries) but encompasses characteristics that may be found in the most local setting (an under-resourced school in a poor community in a city that also has wealthy neighborhoods, for example). After reviewing several frameworks for categorizing nations based on economic criteria, Curtis then delves into the features and causes of underresourced contexts. In particular, he notes the devastating and long-term eﬀects of war on societies, including many of the communities involved in the research in this volume. Such contexts are diverse, and schools, as well as language teachers, must respond to the consequences of the lack of resources at all levels. Following these two stage-setting chapters, the volume is organized into three thematic sections, related to policy issues, teacher preparation, and classroom practice. Each of the 13 chapters in those sections presents the results of dissertation research supported by TIRF. In order to promote consistency across contributions, we asked the authors to address a common set of topics: (1) issues that motivated the research; (2) context of the research; (3) research question(s) addressed; (4) research methods; (5) ﬁndings and discussion; and (6) implications for policy, practice, and future research. Our goal was to give readers, in compact
form, a full account of each study, from “why?” and “how?” to “what did we learn?” and “what does it mean for educators, researchers, and policymakers?”
Part 1 The volume begins with a set of four studies related to “Policy Connections.” In these chapters, the authors consider how national language education policies and the status of English as an international language play into language education at secondary and post-secondary levels. In Chapter 3, “Cambodia Language-in-Education Policy in the Context of ASEAN Economic Integration and the Internationalization of Higher Education,” Virak Chan documents how internationalization in Cambodia, particularly its membership in an economic alliance, has caused a demand for English language proﬁciency, as shown in national policy documents and university-level job and scholarship notices. Chan tracks the impact of choices related to the medium of instruction at the university, particularly in light of limitations in resources and the desire to support the Khmer language. Chapter 4, “The Evolution of English as a Medium of Instruction in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL: Challenges, Strategies, and Possibilities,” extends the discussion of the implementation of English-medium instruction (EMI) in higher education by investigating teaching and learning strategies. The authors, Thi Hoai Thu Tran (DDG recipient), Rachel Burke, and John Mitchell O’Toole, also trace EMI to internationalization, noting that it is a “global phenomenon … [whose] practices should be tailored to local contexts” (this volume, p. 56). They examined lecturer and student perceptions, ﬁnding challenges that included low levels of English proﬁciency (in both groups), lack of available textbooks, and other issues that aﬀected student satisfaction and success. Rooh Ul Amin moves the discussion to Pakistan in Chapter 5, “Access to English, Schooling Background, and Habitus: Evidence from Pakistani Graduate Students.” In this study, Ul Amin examines the contextual variables of school location and socioeconomic situation as they relate to success in English and upward social mobility. Results of the research point to ways of addressing educational disparities and the importance of expanding access to linguistic and educational resources. Part 1 concludes with research in a Colombian secondary school. In Chapter 6, “Appropriation of Colombian ELT Policy in a Targeted School: The Creation of an ‘Elite’ Yet Still Needy School in the Public Education System,” Norbella Miranda documents how one English teacher implements the national language education policy. The teacher uses the oﬃcial text and task-based language teaching (TBLT) methods to put the policy into practice, while addressing various local challenges, including limited instructional time and other constraints. Miranda’s study continues the theme of the importance of connecting national policy to local contexts and recognizing (and addressing) the level of resource availability, among other factors.
4 Donna Christian and Kathleen M. Bailey
Part 2 In Part 2, the research focuses on teachers, particularly their preparation and ongoing development. In Chapter 7, Özgür S¸ahan (DDG recipient) and Kari Sahan ask, “What Challenges Do Novice EFL Teachers Face in Under-Resourced Contexts in Turkey?” English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers often begin their careers in rural, less developed areas of Turkey, where there are more vacant positions. The researchers identiﬁed several instructional diﬃculties and sociocultural challenges experienced by the teachers, as well as coping strategies that they employed to deal with these issues. In some cases, teachers encountered students from diverse language backgrounds (including Kurdish and Arabic), leading the authors to recommend that teacher education programs provide guidance on teaching in multilingual and multicultural environments. Chapter 8 takes us to Rwanda, where Leanne M. Cameron reports on a case study related to “English Language Teacher Associations and the Exclusivity of Professional Development.” Teacher associations often provide opportunities for professional development, and, especially in under-resourced contexts, may ﬁll gaps in training and promote growth. Cameron’s research found, however, that while the association emphasized professionalism and self-suﬃciency, practical factors such as cost of transportation to events were obstacles to participation for rural teachers. The tension between the discourse of the association and the reality of the teachers’ situation is revealed, and the chapter discusses implications for professional associations in similar contexts. In Chapter 9, Thi Lan Anh Tran reports on “Vietnamese Primary English Teachers’ Cognition and Assessment Practices: A Sociocultural Perspective.” The study focuses on the assessment practices of two primary-level English teachers in urban schools in Vietnam, acknowledging a recent national policy mandating English instruction in Grades 3 to 5. Tran explores the teachers’ beliefs about assessment, including their professional development in that area, and the formative and summative assessment practices in which they engage. Contextual factors (including large class size and number of classes per week) as well as the teachers’ beliefs and knowledge about assessment contribute to diﬀerences in practice and form the basis for recommendations for future action. Part 2 concludes with Chapter 10, a report on “Training Native and Non-native English-Speaking Teachers: Task-Based Language Teaching in Honduras,” by Lara Bryfonski. This study compares the experiences of novice native and non-native English-speaking teachers of English in a bilingual school who received training in TBLT and then taught lessons using that method. Bryfonski found that the training had an impact on the teachers’ beliefs and attitudes toward the task-based curriculum, including leading them to a more student-centered teaching style and to using tasks as vehicles for learning. The results also point to the teachers’ desire for more training on how to support bilingualism, and other suggestions for improving the school program and professional development.
Part 3 The third section of the volume brings together research that addresses insights for classroom practice. In Chapter 11, Espen Stranger-Johannessen reports on a study of “Stories as Innovation in English Language Teaching in Uganda.” Primary school teachers implemented a literacy intervention using print and digital stories from the African Storybook Initiative to teach English. Findings indicated that teachers shifted to richer teaching practices, including scaﬀolding and exploring identity through drama. These results point to the promise of this accessible approach for teaching English in under-resourced contexts. Chapter 12 addresses the question of how students can learn about culture while learning a new language. In “‘They Can Be Anywhere Someday’: Integrating Culture in Indonesian EFL Classrooms,” Tabitha Kidwell reports on qualitative research about teachers as they wove culture content into the language curriculum. The ﬁndings illustrate techniques that can be implemented in low-resourced schools, including addressing unfamiliar cultural content in texts and delivering direct instruction about cultural topics. As the results demonstrate, such methods can build intercultural competence while developing language skills. The next chapter moves us into questions of social engagement in English language learning, a topic that resonates strongly in many under-resourced contexts. Chapter 13, “Working for Social Justice in a Marginalized Colombian English Teaching Classroom,” by Yecid Ortega, describes an ethnographic case study of adolescent students and their teachers. These teachers incorporated social justice and peacebuilding topics as the content for their English language learning. In a context where homelessness, unemployment, and gang activity are prevalent, this content made the curriculum relevant to the students’ lives, increased their interest, and built their critical thinking skills as well as their language proﬁciency. In Chapter 14, “The Aﬀordances of Translanguaging as a Pedagogical Resource for Multilingual English Language Classrooms in Malaysia,” Shakina Rajendram presents research on the eﬀects of student translanguaging in their Grade 5 ESL classrooms, contrasting the practice with those in contexts where language policies require the use of only English. In the language minority Tamil-speaking community in Malaysia, students beneﬁted on several levels—cognitive, planning, social, and linguistic—from being able to use their full multilingual repertoire while working in small groups. As a result, Rajendram maintains, translanguaging increases the pedagogical resources available in under-resourced contexts. The ﬁnal chapter in Part 3, Chapter 15, deals with language learning in higher education: “Readiness to Listen to Various Accents in an Asian English as a Lingua Franca Context in Thailand,” by Panjanit Chaipuapae. In this study, Chaipuapae considers the often-neglected skill of listening in a context where English, as a lingua franca, is spoken by individuals from many diﬀerent linguistic backgrounds, leading to many diﬀerent accents of English. A listening test was devised to measure ability to understand several major English accents that would
6 Donna Christian and Kathleen M. Bailey
be encountered in international business. The test results showed that some accents were better understood than others and pointed to the need for more attention to developing the listening skills of Thai students to prepare them for conversing in English in Asia and beyond.
Methodological Considerations In the summaries above, we have concentrated on the contexts and the ﬁndings of the studies reported in the research-based chapters (3 through 15). Here we will focus on the data collection and data analysis methods the authors used. The majority of the research-based chapters in this volume can be considered qualitative in nature. For example, Chan’s policy analysis (see Chapter 3) used discourse analysis to address two research questions: The ﬁrst question asked, “How are Khmer and English represented in Cambodian educational policy documents?” Second, Chan posed the broader question: “What are the social, economic, and political contexts for the implementation of language policy in higher education in Cambodia?” (Chan, this volume, p. 34). The written data included four oﬃcial policy statements—three from the Ministry of Education and one from the university where the research was conducted—as well as announcements about jobs and scholarships. Chan also conducted semi-structured interviews with teachers and administrators at the university. In a semi-structured interview, according to Nunan and Bailey (2009), the researcher does not adhere rigidly to a pre-determined set of questions. Instead, the prepared questions guide but do not constrain the interview: “As the interview unfolds, topics and issues rather than pre-set questions will determine the direction the interview takes” (p. 313). Like other authors, Chan analyzed the data qualitatively, using software to identify key themes (in this case, NVivo 10) and employing coding strategies described by Saldaña (2013). In their research on novice teachers (discussed in Chapter 7), S¸ahan and Sahan addressed two research questions relating to the challenges faced by novice in-service EFL teachers in under-resourced contexts in Turkey and how the teachers cope with those challenges. These authors administered a questionnaire to 27 novice teachers (i.e., their teaching experience varied from two months to three years). The questionnaire included open-ended items to elicit the teachers’ views of how their teaching could be improved. Following completion of the questionnaires, four of these teachers participated in semi-structured interviews. The authors analyzed the interview data and the teachers’ responses to the open-ended questionnaire items to ﬁnd recurring themes about the challenges they faced and the strategies they use to meet those challenges. An important step taken by S¸ahan and Sahan was calculating inter-coder agreement: a percentage obtained “by dividing the number of instances two raters coded the data identically by the total number of stances coded” (Nunan & Bailey, 2009, p. 363). This procedure is done to make sure that the category deﬁnitions are clear and can be used consistently by various researchers. In this
chapter the ﬁrst author coded about 35% of the data in order to locate the categories. Then, “using these themes as a coding framework, both authors coded the same randomly selected 15% of the data independently” (S¸ahan & Sahan, this volume, p. 93). The inter-coder agreement was 84.9% (an acceptable value). The authors then resolved any disagreements and used their categories to code the rest of the data. In Chapter 12, Kidwell investigated the integration of cultural topics in EFL lessons in Indonesia. Kidwell’s data consisted, ﬁrst, of observations of 14 EFL teachers who taught in a variety of contexts: primary and secondary schools, adult vocational schools, and universities. These teachers may be considered to be similar, in some regards, to the novice teachers described in the chapter by S¸ahan and Sahan, because three of them had taught for less than a year and only one of them (the most experienced) had taught for four years at the time the data were collected. Kidwell observed, video-recorded, and audio-recorded lessons taught by all the teachers over a period of approximately six months. She also generated ﬁeld notes, especially when the EFL lessons addressed some aspect of culture. In addition, she reviewed teaching materials and examples of students’ work. These observations were followed by interviews, in which the author asked the teachers about their focus on culture in the lessons she had observed. Kidwell describes three stages in her data analysis procedures. First, she reviewed the ﬁeld notes and the interview transcripts. In this phase, she used Atlas.ti (data management software) to code those data segments that deal with culture. Then in the second stage, she examined the codes that had emerged, combined those that were similar, and recoded the data. Finally, she located the main themes in all the data. In Chapter 10, Bryfonski observed 19 novice EFL teachers in Honduran bilingual schools before and after a four-week training program about task-based learning and teaching. The teachers were both native and non-native speakers of English. The teachers also participated in semi-structured interviews and provided reﬂective writing samples as part of the training program. Another part of Bryfonski’s data consisted of a focus group interview with ﬁve parents. Focus groups are described as “a research technique that collects data through group interaction on a topic determined by the research” (Morgan, 1997, p. 6). In using focus group interviews “rather than an individual interview … the informants can stimulate and be stimulated by each other. The researcher may thereby elicit a richer data set than if he or she is conducting individual interviews” (Nunan & Bailey, 2009, p. 315). These Honduran community members shared their views about bilingual education and the English teachers with Bryfonski. Like the teachers in the chapters by S¸ahan and Sahan and by Kidwell, the teachers in Bryfonski’s study were relative novices. Sixteen of them had had less than two years of teaching experience, and four others had had only two years of experience. The majority of the teachers taught in elementary grades (up to ﬁfth grade) while the others worked with sixth- through ninth-grade students.
8 Donna Christian and Kathleen M. Bailey
Bryfonski collected data to study the impacts of task-based training on these novice native and non-native English-speaking teachers’ beliefs about the approach, how useful the components of the training program were, and how community stakeholders perceived the two groups of teachers. The data were analyzed for themes with the assistance of the NVivo (QSR International) software, and the researcher took a grounded approach. (This concept, which is often referred to as grounded theory, includes the view that the analytic categories in qualitative research should arise from the data, rather than from literature reviews of previous research or existing theory.) Quotes from the teachers were used to illustrate the themes that emerged. Their responses were mapped onto demographic data about them (e.g., their age, their teaching experience, whether their ﬁrst language was Spanish or English, and the grades at which they taught). In Chapter 5, Ul Amin used semi-structured interviews to elicit the views of eight Pakistani graduate students (English majors) about access to English in their prior school experiences as well as their perceptions of the status of English in Pakistan. The informants’ background with regard to the locations of their previous schools (rural versus urban) was also considered. The sample of informants was equally balanced in terms of gender and public or private school attendance in their prior schooling. The interviews were audio-recorded and later transcribed, with expressions in Urdu being translated into English. Ul Amin took the important step of having the informants review the transcripts to check on the representation of what they had said. This step is an example of a quality control procedure called member checking: “an opportunity for members (participants) to check (approve) particular aspects of the interpretation of the data they provided” (Carlson, 2010, p. 1105). Then, Ul Amin analyzed the interview data to develop the main ideas that arose in the students’ comments, through an iterative process of thematic coding. In Chapter 11, Stranger-Johannessen examined the responses of teachers in Ugandan primary schools to the introduction of African stories for teaching English. The chapter is based on data he collected using semi-structured interviews with two headteachers and 13 teachers who worked in ﬁrst- to fourth-grade classes at two schools. The author also observed classes, during which he generated ﬁeld notes, and conducted focus group interviews with the teachers. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. Stranger-Johannessen notes that by conducting both interviews and observations he was able to triangulate the data. Triangulation is a metaphor borrowed from astronomy, navigation, and land surveying. It refers to the idea that a better reading can be obtained on a particular position by sighting it from at least two perspectives. (The image of the triangle derives from the object or phenomenon being sighted and the two vantage points.) Several types of triangulation have been identiﬁed (Denzin, 1978). First, methods triangulation involves the use of various methods (such as interviews, observations, surveys, etc.) to gather data. Second, data triangulation refers to the sources of data—in our ﬁeld, often teachers,
parents, students, administrators, and so on. Third, in researcher triangulation, more than one investigator contributes to the study, thus possibly adding diﬀerent points of view to the design of the project and the interpretation of the data analysis. Finally, in theory triangulation, at least two theories are used to frame the study and/or interpret the results. In Stranger-Johannessen’s study, the use of triangulation enabled him to compare his own “observations and interpretations of lessons with the teachers’ reﬂections and rationale for how they taught” (this volume, p. 149). His coding categories were both inductive and deductive. That is, they were based on both a review of the literature and on a priori codes that had been used in an earlier study by this author (see Stranger-Johannessen, 2017), but also on the various themes that emerged as he combed through the transcripts. In other words, part of the coding evolved from taking a grounded approach. Authors of four other studies presented in this volume self-identiﬁed their research as using qualitative case study approaches to address their research questions. These include Ortega’s investigation of an innovative curriculum development process in Colombia (Chapter 13), Rajendram’s analysis of translanguaging in Malaysian EFL classes (Chapter 14), Tran’s investigation of two Vietnamese EFL teachers’ assessment views and practices (Chapter 9), and Cameron’s analysis of the discursive practices of a professional development organization in Rwanda (Chapter 8). Miranda’s research on how policy gets enacted in EFL classrooms in Colombia (Chapter 6) can also be considered a case study (although she does not identify it as such). Yin (2009) deﬁned a case study as an “empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon in depth and within its real-life context” (Yin, 2009, p. 18). The research methods in all ﬁve of these chapters are reﬂected in this quote from van Lier (2005): Among the advantages of the case study approach are the attention to context and the ability to track and document change (such as language development) over time. In addition, a case study zeros in on a particular case (an individual, a group, or a situation) in great detail, within its natural context of situation and tries to probe into its characteristics, dynamics, and purpose. (p. 195) In Chapter 13, Yecid Ortega’s case study reports on a curricular innovation in English language teaching in Colombia. Over a period of eight months, Ortega completed 57 lesson observations, keeping his notes in a research journal. He also conducted interviews with the students (in focus groups) and the teachers (both individually and in groups). He collected the national curriculum guidelines, the English textbooks, and the teachers’ lesson plans for the days on which he observed their lessons. He photographed the students’ posters and video-recorded their presentations of their projects.
10 Donna Christian and Kathleen M. Bailey
Ortega’s data analysis used a grounded theory analytical approach to locate the key themes. Like other authors, he used the NVivo software to help with this process. As this procedure unfolded, he regularly checked the themes as they emerged, to determine whether (and if so, how) they were related to other categories. Then he used a multi-step coding process to help him describe the main elements of the teachers’ practices in the development of a curriculum based on peacebuilding and local social justice issues. The results also highlight the way students’ experiences both grew from and informed the curriculum. In Chapter 14, Rajendram used a variety of qualitative data collection procedures in conducting her case study of two ﬁfth-grade English classrooms in Malaysian schools where Tamil was the medium of instruction. As shown in her title, she investigated the aﬀordances provided by translanguaging in cooperative learning activities. She employed van Lier’s (2004) deﬁnition of aﬀordances: “what is available to the person to do something with” (p. 91). Rajendram’s data included interviews with 55 students and video-recordings of these learners as they interacted in collaborative learning groupwork. She transcribed 100 of these interactions (lasting from half an hour to an hour and a half), which took place in a mix of Tamil and English. In completing this process, she analyzed over 8,000 speech acts. Rajendram used member checking by sharing the transcripts of their interactions with the learners. She encouraged them to talk about why they used translanguaging during their group work activities, in order to make sure she was interpreting their discourse correctly. She was then able to categorize these functions into four types of aﬀordances (i.e., what the learners were able to do by translanguaging): cognitive-conceptual, planning-organizational, aﬀective-social, and linguistic-discursive. In Chapter 9, Tran reports on her case study of two Vietnamese teachers of English for young learners. One had only begun teaching about a year before this study was conducted and had had some formal training in language assessment. The other had taught for 17 years and had had no formal coursework, although she had taken some summer workshops on language assessment. Tran’s study investigated how the two teachers’ cognition (what they think, know, and believe) relates to classroom assessment in Vietnamese public schools and the factors inﬂuence their assessment practices. Tran notes that “the case study approach is especially suitable for examining a small sample of teachers, clarifying their understandings of assessment, exploring their mental lives, and capturing the detailed descriptions of the context surrounding their practices” (this volume, p. 118). Tran’s data collection strategies included reviewing oﬃcial policy documents, tests, and course syllabi. She also conducted two interviews with each teacher, and two observations of each teachers’ lessons, during which she took ﬁeld notes. Her data analysis procedures involved analyzing the themes that arose. She used coding categories derived from the literature as well as those that emerged from the data. She reports her ﬁndings by summarizing the two cases and then providing a cross-case analysis.
In Chapter 8, the case consists of a professional association for English teachers in Rwanda. Cameron wanted to determine whether (and if so, how) “discourses of ELT professionalism within [the association] foster inclusion or promote exclusivity” (this volume, p. 106). The data consisted of interviews with leaders of the association, along with classroom observations, visits to schools, and observations of training sessions oﬀered by the professional association. Some of the association leaders also took part in a two-hour focus group. These events were audio-recorded and the data were transcribed. Cameron used a form of member checking, in which her participants “reviewed the transcripts, made edits and clariﬁcations, and redacted sensitive information” (this volume, p. 106). She then analyzed the transcripts by reviewing the data many times, coding the recurring issues and keywords in a discourse analysis process to answer her research question. In Chapter 6, Miranda investigated the ways in which an EFL teacher interacted with an educational policy and appropriated that policy to meet the needs of his students. Although the author does not refer to her research as a case study, we feel it can be classiﬁed as such because of the focus on a single teacher (although other participants inﬂuenced the data collection as well). Miranda sought to identify the teaching practices of this public-school English teacher and describe the relationship of his practices to the national educational language policy (adoption, adaptation, or rejection). To collect her data, Miranda observed classes and interviewed a range of participants in a particular urban school in Colombia over a period of six months. She created both audio and video-recordings of lessons. The interviews (conducted in either Spanish or English, at the choice of the interviewee) included three with the English teacher whose class she studied, as well as interviews with school personnel (the principal, the academic coordinator, and the English subject matter coordinator). Miranda also interviewed students and the English Language Fellow assigned to this school. Her data included relevant policy documents as well, such as school- and grade-level plans for English. She examined the textbook, examples of the students’ work, and the teacher’s notebook, which contained his notes about what he had done in each lesson. The interview data and some selected classroom interactions were transcribed. The author analyzed her data, with the help of Atlas.ti qualitative research software, by reading the transcripts many times and coding the data, utilizing the language of the participants as codes. As the process continued, she gathered the codes into groups, and documented the participants’ verbal and non-verbal behavior, identifying ways in which the teacher interacted with the national policy, and made decisions about implementing it in light of the local context. In Chapter 4, Tran, Burke, and O’Toole speciﬁcally identify their study as mixed-methods research. A mixed-methods study “involves the collection or analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data in a single study with some attempts to integrate the two approaches at one or more stages of the research process”
12 Donna Christian and Kathleen M. Bailey
(Dörnyei, 2007, p. 163). The authors used this approach to investigate English as a Medium of Instruction in six universities in Vietnam to identify the challenges faced by lecturers and students and to discover the learning and teaching strategies used to overcome those challenges. Their data collection procedures included interviews with professors, six focus groups with students, and surveys of both students and lecturers. The quantitative data from the survey were collected in the ﬁrst phase of the study, from 360 students and 30 lecturers in six universities around the country. The surveys consisted of Likert scale items on the advantages and disadvantages of EMI, including the challenges faced and strategies used to overcome those challenges. The quantitative data analysis, for which the authors used SPSS software, consisted of reliability checks and descriptive statistics. The qualitative data were analyzed in a reductive process of generating content categories about the challenges and the coping strategies the participants developed. NVivo software supported the qualitative data analysis. The results of the two analyses were then integrated to develop the conclusions of the study. Only one chapter in this volume can be considered to be entirely quantitative in nature. In the ﬁnal chapter (15), Chaipuapae investigated Thai university students’ ability to understand various forms of accented English. The experimental design used four equivalent mixed-level groups determined by the students’ English proﬁciency. The research subjects listened to monologues of Chinese-, Japanese-, Thai-, and American-accented English speech as the stimulus material in the “Workplace Listening Test,” which the author had developed for the purpose of this research. The subjects responded to questions about the content (details, main ideas, and inferences) of the speakers’ talks, and their scores on these listening questions comprised the dependent variable in the study. This procedure enabled the author to determine “the extent to which diﬀerent English accents aﬀected Thai students’ listening comprehension” (Chaipuapae, this volume, p. 205). Statistical procedures (three-way Analysis of Variance, the Kruskall-Wallace test, and Tukey’s post hoc tests) were used to analyze the data. In sum, the research in this volume reﬂects a range of methods for both data collection and analysis, but it clearly leans toward qualitative approaches. Since the most important consideration for any study lies in the suitability of its methods to answer its research questions, this inclination is fully justiﬁed by the goals of the research reported here. Many of the studies are exploratory, looking at under-researched contexts or questions, and qualitative methods provide a guide for understanding what is observed and a basis for the next set of questions that should be addressed. In all of the chapters, the implications for further research lead us to think about “what next?”
Conclusion This volume brings together the work of researchers who are searching for better ways to address policy, practice, and teacher education issues in the teaching and
learning of English in under-resourced contexts. One might argue that they are the most important contexts to address, since education plays a critical role in empowering these communities to combat injustice and increase their economic wellbeing. Together, the chapters that follow show us some ways forward in our quest to improve language teaching and learning around the world. However, they also remind us that we must remain aware of the lack of equity and equality that works against full access to skills that are needed to thrive in the global society of today and tomorrow. We are grateful to all the contributors for sharing their work with TIRF and allowing us to include it here. There are many causes and factors underlying what we call “under-resourced contexts,” as Curtis describes so well in Chapter 2, and the role of English learning and teaching may be a small part in addressing those factors. We trust that the discussions that follow will give readers some food for thought about what is possible, help them understand the complex interaction of forces in each community, and show them how language education can make progress toward increasing access and equity in policies and programs worldwide.
References Carlson, J. A. (2010). Avoiding traps in member checking. Qualitative Report, 15(5), 1102–1113. Denzin, N. K. (1978). The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods (2nd ed.). McGraw Hill. Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford University Press. Kuchah, K. (2018). Teaching English in diﬃcult circumstances: Setting the scene. In K. Kuchah & F. Shamim (Eds.), International perspectives on teaching English in diﬃcult circumstances: Contexts, challenges and possibilities (pp. 1–25). Palgrave-Macmillan. Morgan, D. (1997). Focus groups as qualitative research (2nd ed.). SAGE. Nunan, D. C., & Bailey, K. M. (2009). Exploring second language classroom research: A comprehensive guide. Cengage. Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers (2nd ed.). SAGE. Stranger-Johannessen, E. (2017). The African Storybook, teachers’ resources, and pedagogical practices. International Journal of Educational Development, 52, 26–36. https://doi.org/10. 1016/j.ijedudev.2016.10.003. van Lier, L. (2004). The ecology and semiotics of language learning: A sociocultural perspective. Kluwer Academic. van Lier, L. (2005). Case study. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (pp. 195–208). Lawrence Erlbaum. West, P. (1960). Teaching English in diﬃcult circumstances. Longmans. Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research, design and method (4th ed.). SAGE.
2 WHAT DO WE MEAN BY UNDER-RESOURCED CONTEXT? Andy Curtis
Overview This volume brings together reports of research on English language education practice and policy in a number of diﬀerent countries, all of which are in contexts that have been identiﬁed by the chapters’ authors as being “under-resourced.” In this chapter, I consider what we mean by the phrase under-resourced context. In terms of how we process language, including our understanding of the meaning of such phrases, we are inclined to focus on the text that is highlighted and the text that is likely to be most contentious, in this case, “under-resourced.” However, in the ﬁrst part of this chapter, I consider this question from back to front, starting with what we mean by context, why context is so important, and why it is often overlooked in language education. In the second part, I look at how three organizations—the OECD, the World Bank, and the United Nations—classify countries in terms of their resources, both ﬁnancial and non-ﬁnancial. Although those three organizations overlap and refer to one another, they are distinct international entities struggling with the same challenge, i.e., how to categorize countries in need of support and assistance. In the last part of this chapter, the eﬀects of war on education are considered, as most of the chapters in this book are based on research from countries that have experienced relatively recent, large-scale, armed conﬂicts. The consequences of war can be seen in the educational systems for many years, long after the last shot was ﬁred.
The Critical Importance of Context David Foster Wallace was an American author who was described as “one of the most inﬂuential and innovative writers of the last twenty years” (Noland &
What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context? 15
Rubin, 2008, para. 6). Wallace’s novels won literary prizes and much praise, but on 12 September 2008, after struggling with severe clinical depression for 20 years, he left a two-page suicide note and hung himself from the rafters of his home. He was 46 years old. Three years earlier, in 2005, Wallace had given a commencement speech at Kenyon College in Ohio, USA, which was described by Time magazine as possibly “the greatest commencement speech of all time” (5 takeaways, 2015, para. 1). Wallace began his commencement address by telling a short story: There are these two young ﬁsh swimming along and they happen to meet an older ﬁsh swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young ﬁsh swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?” (para. 1) In the series editor’s introduction to a TESOL Press book series titled ELT in Context, I cited Wallace’s opening short story to illustrate the fact that “when we are immersed in our context all the time, we stop noticing what we are surrounded by. Or if we were aware of it at some point in the past, we stopped noticing it some time ago” (Curtis, 2015, p. v). On the back of each of the nine books in the ELT in Context series is the tagline “Context Is Everything,” accompanied by the following explanation: “Every lesson and location, and every student and teacher, are unique. This fundamental truth means that every context is diﬀerent” (Curtis, 2015, back cover). In each of the books in the TESOL Press series (published between 2015 and 2017), the ﬁrst chapter is titled “The Individual as Context.” In this chapter, all the authors introduce themselves to the readers, based on the idea that such introductions are not simply biographic summaries, but are reﬂections of many diﬀerent worlds each of us embodies. My interest in the importance of context, and the relationships between contexts and methods, goes back to Washback in Language Testing: Research Contexts and Methods (Cheng et al., 2004). Co-editing that book eventually led to my editorship of the ELT in Context series, which culminated in my book Methods and Methodologies for Language Teaching: The Centrality of Context (Curtis, 2017). One chapter in that book explains why context is so important and why it is often overlooked by some methodology researchers. In those cases, researchers pay lip service to the importance of context, but then present a language teaching and learning method as though it were somehow universal, i.e., able to work well in all places at all times. I challenged that position: “Language teaching and learning do not occur in a vacuum [therefore] where we do what we do is at least as important as how we do it” (Curtis, 2017, p. 20, emphasis in the original). In that chapter, I also reviewed the relatively recent interest in context in the ﬁeld of second/foreign language education, going back around 20
16 Andy Curtis
years, to the work of Byram and Grundy (2002), who found that “‘context’ is thus as complex a concept as ‘culture’” (p. 193). One reason for context being given such short shrift is that everyone has a sense of what their own context is, especially if they have been in that place for a long time, like the ﬁsh in Wallace’s short story. Yet, when people are asked to describe their context to a person who has never been there and who knows nothing about that place, doing so can be challenging. And it can be even more challenging for them to say what makes their context unique. The answer— perhaps both obvious and somewhat hidden—is “I make this context unique” or “My presence here is what makes this context unique.” Although that statement sounds embarrassingly immodest, it is true based on two simple facts: (1) There is only one of me, and (2) I can only be in one place at one time. Even though my image can be projected online to multiple locations at the same time, the ﬂeshand-blood me is not actually in any of those places. And in relation to being online, the concept of context has been further complicated, as the centuries-old deﬁnition of a classroom as a physical space in which teachers and learners work together no longer applies. As alluded to by Wallace (discussed by Krajeski, 2008, para. 2), when we become so much a part of our context, and when our context becomes so much a part of us, we may no longer be able to distinguish between the two. Something similar may have happened to the notion of the phrase under-resourced, in terms of teaching and learning in under-resourced contexts. For example, after poring over more than 100 publications on education in such contexts, I was not able to ﬁnd any that presented a clear, concise, generally agreed-upon deﬁnition of what under-resourced means. One reason for that curious, conspicuous lack of deﬁnition (as discussed above) is the fact that every context is unique. But another reason is because everyone knows what they mean by the term under-resourced, and the assumption therefore is that everyone knows what the term means, so there seems to be no need to deﬁne or describe it. Here, I would like to take a small storytelling page out of Wallace’s big books. (His 1996 novel Inﬁnite Jest is over a thousand pages long, with more than 400 endnotes and footnotes.) On my university oﬃce wall in Hong Kong in 1995 was a faded, black-and-white cartoon, cut from an old newspaper. It shows an English language teacher explaining the verb to ﬂy to his students. After his explanation, the teacher asked, “Does everyone understand?,” to which all the students resoundingly replied “Yes!” But above the head of each student is a bubble showing what the student was actually thinking, for example, a bird, a plane, a ﬂy, etc. Therefore, while it is true that every student did indeed understand the teacher, each student understood something diﬀerent. That may be what happens with the descriptor under-resourced context. For some teachers and learners, that description might mean that they have no computers or no internet connection. But for others, the same phrase might mean there is no clean running water and/or no safe, reliable source of electricity.
What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context? 17
The original working title for this book was Teaching and Learning English in UnderResourced Regions. However, as I discuss below, because of the unequal distribution of resources across countries (and even more across regions), it is possible for schools to be in a city considered to be very poorly educationally resourced, but in a country that can be described as resource rich. And on a smaller scale, one part of one city can be very poorly resourced, while another part of that same city can be the opposite. Therefore, for the purposes of this book, each of the contributing authors wrote about the places where they did their research, which can be a particular school or university, or a number of schools in a particular place, such as a school district. That is their context, which each author considers to be under-resourced, but in diﬀerent ways. We can now brieﬂy consider some of the recurring themes in the published studies of teaching and learning contexts described by phrases such as underresourced, less resourced, low resourced, and even lowly resourced (Simui et al., 2017). Given the relation between working conditions and teacher turnover (Neuman & Okeng’o, 2019), such discrepancies are likely more pronounced for Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers working in under-resourced communities. One of the most common recurring themes in those studies was poverty, but that term was also rarely deﬁned. For example, Schwartz et al. (2019) considered the relationship between working conditions and teacher turnover among ECE teachers in the Accra region, where the capital of Ghana is located. Their deﬁnition is clear: “working in under-resourced communities, as deﬁned by high rates of poverty and low levels of community and educational infrastructure” (p. 271). However, income is more easily measurable than poverty, and in 2020 the United Nations deﬁned poverty as living on less than 1.90 USD per day. But there is more to poverty than just income, as the UN pointed out: The “manifestations [of poverty] include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision-making” (United Nations, Ending poverty, n.d., para. 2). At the time of this writing, the data on the UN website is mostly from 2018, when nearly 8% of the world’s workers and their families lived on less than 1.90 USD per person per day. In addition, most of those people were in two regions: Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Although the term Southern Asia can refer to a larger number of countries, the World Bank deﬁnes the region as being made up of eight countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (World Bank, 2020), although some lists also include Iran. However, Sub-Saharan Africa is made up of more than 1 billion people living in more than 50 countries, making it impossible to generalize about any aspect of life there, including education systems, resource levels, income, etc. The UN also reported that “high poverty rates are often found in small, fragile, and conﬂict-aﬀected countries,” a point which is discussed below in the section on teaching and learning in war-torn contexts (United Nations, Ending poverty, n.d., para. 3).
18 Andy Curtis
In addition to armed conﬂicts and low incomes, other recurring themes related to under-resourced educational contexts found in the literature include the following:
a lack of space and overcrowded classrooms (Coleman, 2018; Zulu et al., 2004); too little time in school and in class (Farbman, 2015); poorly-designed teaching and learning materials (Chirwa & Naidoo, 2016); lack of access to newer technologies, such as computers (Huang & Hong, 2015); and too little initial teacher training and/or on-going teacher development (Bietenbeck et al., 2018).
Lastly, with so many of the published studies about language education in under-resourced contexts coming from the two regions identiﬁed by the UN, i.e., Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, it is important to remember that, as noted above, many countries that are classiﬁed as being resource rich also have many poorly resourced schools. For example, Tatel (1999) reported on “teaching in under-resourced schools” (p. 37) in the US. Nearly 20 years later, Kokka (2016) considered what kept math and science teachers of color in an “underresourced urban school” somewhere in the US (p. 169). The location of the school is not given, but Kokka stated that the school was attended by “100% socioeconomically disadvantaged students, 98.5% of whom are students of color … with 35% students who are emergent bilinguals or English Language Learners” (p. 171). This comment highlights the relationship between social/ economic disadvantage and learning through a second/foreign language. In the section below, I brieﬂy consider how some international organizations and associations have attempted to clarify and quantify what is meant by the words poor or rich in terms of resources.
Putting a Price on Resources: Figuring It Out Foundations such as TIRF need to ensure that their support is going where it is most needed, partly because of having limited resources, but also so that the maximum beneﬁts can be realized by the recipients of TIRF’s support programs. In the case of TIRF’s Doctoral Dissertation Grants program (dissertations on which the chapters in this book are based), funding from the British Council has been dedicated to supporting studies conducted in under-resourced contexts and/ or by researchers who come from such contexts. For example, the proposal guidelines include that doctoral candidates seeking this source of funding “must either be from the countries and/or attending universities in the countries on the OECD DAC list of countries” (TIRF, 2020, p. 2). The ﬁrst of those two acronyms stands for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which describes itself as “an international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives [whose] goal is to shape policies that foster prosperity,
What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context? 19
equality, opportunity, and well-being for all” (OECD, 2020, para. 1). The OECD has a Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which draws up an oﬃcial list of countries and territories eligible to receive Oﬃcial Development Assistance (ODA). The OECD has four main categories of country eligible to receive ODA, starting with “Least Developed Countries,” under which are listed nearly 50 countries, including Afghanistan, Mali, and Zambia. The second group is referred to as “Lower Middle Income Countries and Territories,” under which around 40 countries are listed, including Armenia, Kenya, and Vietnam. The OECD criterion for “Lower Middle Income Countries and Territories” is a per capita, annual gross national income (known as GNI) of between 1,000 USD and 4,000 USD. No income appears to be given for the 50 “Least Developed Countries” but there is one OECD category, “Other Low Income Countries,” that includes just two countries: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (also known as North Korea) and Zimbabwe. The criterion for that group is a per person, per year GNI of less than 1,000 USD. The last and largest group, of nearly 60 countries, including Albania, Libya, and Venezuela, is called “Upper and Middle Income Territories,” the criterion for which is an annual per capita GNI of approximately 4,000 to 12,000 USD. As the OECD list includes most of the countries in the world—approximately 70% or around 140 of the 200 or so countries—a valid question is: Why use GNI? In response to that question, the World Bank explains that while it is understood that GNI per capita does not completely summarize a country’s level of development or measure welfare, it has proved to be a useful and easily available indicator that is closely correlated with other, nonmonetary measures of the quality of life, such as life expectancy at birth, mortality rates of children, and enrollment rates in school. (World Bank, n.d., para.1, emphasis added) However, the World Bank acknowledges that there are some limitations with using GNIs; for example, “GNI may be underestimated in lower-income economies that have more informal, subsistence activities. Nor does GNI reﬂect inequalities in income distribution” (World Bank, n.d., para. 2). As most countries of the world appear on the OECD list, it is, at best, of limited use in determining which countries might be classiﬁed as under-resourced in education (or any other area) in any meaningful way. Another major limitation of the OECD classiﬁcation system is that it does not take into account one of the most pressing economic problems of our times, namely, wealth disparity, as acknowledged by the World Bank. Somehow, we have created a world in which a very small proportion of the world’s population owns the vast majority of the world’s wealth—a world in which the owner of a single company can have more wealth than entire countries. How we got to this shocking situation is beyond the
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scope of this chapter. Nevertheless, as a result, countries like the Central African Republic and Lesotho, listed by the OECD under “Least Developed Countries,” also have some of the world’s highest income disparities, rendering the classiﬁcation somewhat meaningless in terms of deciding whether a particular teaching/learning context is under-resourced. A similar income-based approach was used by another international, non-proﬁt language education organization, the TESOL International Association. In 2020, the regular annual membership fee for individuals wanting to join the Association was 98 USD. However, in recent years, the Association has added a number of other categories of membership, including “Lower Income Professional” for those who earn less than 25,000 USD per year, whose fee is 65 USD instead of 98 USD. There is also a “Global Professional” membership category, which oﬀers discounted membership for TESOL professionals “who are legal or native-born residents of a country with a gross national income of US$15,000 or less per capita (as deﬁned by World Bank)” (TESOL, n.d., para. 2). For people in this category, instead of 98 or 65 USD, “Global Professional” membership costs just 10 USD for a year. Such a provision reﬂects the Association’s commitment to enabling TESOL professionals from lower-income-earning countries to become active members of the Association. However, an important limitation of the World Bank list is that three-quarters of the countries in the world (around 150 of 200 or so) are included, making the World Bank list, like the OECD list, of limited use in deciding what to classify as under-resourced. A more indicative measure than the OECD or the World Bank criteria may be the United Nations’ Human Development Index (UN HDI), which is based on three dimensions and four indicators. For the dimension of “Long and Healthy Life,” the indicator is “Life Expectancy at Birth”; for the “Knowledge” dimension, the two indicators are “Expected Years of Schooling” and “Mean [Average] Years of Schooling”; and for the “Decent Standard of Living” dimension, the indicator is “GNI per capita.” Those four indicators are then represented as three indices: “Life Expectancy Index,” “Education Index,” and “GNI Index” (United Nations, Human Development index, n.d., para. 4). The UN explains that the HDI “was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone” (United Nations, Human Development Index, n.d., para. 1). And even though the HDI is a far more complicated computation than the OECD or the World Bank calculations, the UN warns that the HDI simpliﬁes and captures only part of what human development entails. It does not reﬂect on inequalities, poverty, human security, empowerment, etc. The HDRO oﬀers the other composite indices as broader proxy on some of the key issues of human development, inequality, gender disparity and poverty. (United Nations, Human development report, n. d., para. 3)
What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context? 21
The acronym HDRO refers to the “Human Development Report Oﬃce,” which compiles an even more complicated set of more than a dozen criteria, including an “Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index,” a “Gender Development Index,” and a “Gender Inequality Index.” There is also a “Multidimensional Poverty Index” (MPI), which captures the multiple deprivations that people in developing countries face in their health, education, and standard of living. The MPI shows both the incidence of non-income multidimensional poverty (a headcount of those in multidimensional poverty) and its intensity (the average deprivation score experienced by poor people). (United Nations, Human development report 2019: Reader’s guide, 2019, para. 29) The ever-expanding formulas and calculations of the UN Development Program show just how mind-bogglingly diﬃcult it can be to decide how to classify a country in terms of its socioeconomic, educational, and other developmental parameters. Therefore, while the OECD and World Bank lists of countries may represent oversimpliﬁcations, the UN approach is so complicated as to be of limited use to anyone who is not a professional statistician. Looking at entire countries may be useful for large-scale, international resource planning, but for the purposes of this book, context rather than country or region seemed to be a more speciﬁc descriptor, better able to cover the range of situations represented in the research featured herein. If global organizations like the OECD, the World Bank, and the United Nations are not able to help us decide what constitutes an under-resourced teaching context, then maybe we should ask the teachers. In that category is Kuchah and Shamim’s (2018) book, International Perspectives on Teaching English in Diﬃcult Circumstances: Contexts, Challenges, and Possibilities, one of the few books to be published on this topic. In Chapter 1, Kuchah (2018) explains that “diﬃcult circumstances include, but may not be limited to, insuﬃcient or outdated textbooks, crowded classrooms with limited space, lack of adequate resources and facilities for teaching-learning, including ICT” (p. 2). (ICT refers to Information and Communication Technologies.) In terms of countries and contexts, the Kuchah and Shamim (2018) volume includes chapters written by teachers working in Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Cameroon, a prison in Argentina, and a Syrian refugee camp. In deﬁning diﬃcult, Kuchah (2018) points out that some researchers have questioned the rationale for labeling some educational contexts as “diﬃcult” [as] such a label might limit us to “pathologising” a context instead of helping us to acknowledge the real diversity of classroom situations as well as to notice what might be positive about such contexts. (p. 3)
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And with reference to being under-resourced, Kuchah draws on the work of Ekembe, in Cameroon: “Ekembe (2016) has argued that the conceptualization of some ELT contexts as ‘under-resourced’ [is based on] what is believed to be ‘standard’ rather than what may be considered adequate and suﬃcient by stakeholders within the speciﬁc context” (Kuchah, 2018, p. 3). In addition, in relation to the limits of language and labeling, Kuchah acknowledges that as with most labeling, comparisons and contradictions are inevitable [making] a deﬁnition of diﬃcult elusive. In fact … the circumstances which a practitioner might consider diﬃcult in one context might be perceived as a favourable opportunity by another practitioner within the same, or in another, context. (p. 3) It is important to note that Kuchah (2018) was not only referring to diﬀerent contexts being perceived diﬀerently, which is to be expected, but also to the same context being perceived diﬀerently by diﬀerent teachers. Therefore, whatever descriptor is chosen, whether the term is diﬃcult, under-resourced, or something else, there will be some limitations, and possibly some objections too. Once a context is fully understood and a classiﬁcation system agreed upon, the next logical step would be to address the question: What can be done to improve the situation in those places that are under-resourced? However, before jumping to the solution part of the problem-solution approach, it is necessary to ask an intermediate question: Why is this under-resourced context under-resourced? The reason that this question does not appear to be asked as often as it should is perhaps, again, because of the assumption of a shared or common understanding, in this case, time and money. That is, lack of ﬁnancial resources and limited time for essential activities such as teacher professional development are the reasons why these places are educationally under-resourced. While such limitations represent major educational constraints, the situation is more complicated than that. For example, in the literature review above, one of the most commonly recurring causes of a context being under-resourced was war. Indeed, 11 of the 13 research-based chapters in this book, including two from Vietnam and two from Colombia, represent countries that have experienced multiple armed conﬂicts that have happened relatively recently, often over extended periods of time, involving large-scale loss of life, thereby sometimes robbing a country of its next generation. Therefore, in the following part of this chapter, I will consider the eﬀects of war on the long-term development of a country, including its educational systems.
The Costs of War “The history of mankind is a history of war.” Somewhat ironically, that phrase is not credited to a famous historian, but to Michael Love (b. 1941), one of the co-founders of the 1960s U.S. pop band, The Beach Boys. However, that position has been
What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context? 23
challenged by scientists such as Rutgers University professor of anthropology, Brian Ferguson, who has been researching and writing about the causes of wars since the early 1990s (Ferguson, 1992). In his emphatically titled piece in Scientiﬁc American, “War Is Not Part of Human Nature” (2018, emphasis in the original), Ferguson concluded that people are people. They ﬁght and sometimes kill. Humans have always had a capacity to make war, if conditions and culture so dictate. But those conditions and the warlike cultures they generate became common only over the past 10,000 years—and, in most places, much more recently than that. (para. 29) Ferguson compares conﬂict in chimpanzee groups with armed conﬂicts between humans, and cites Mead’s (1940) essay, “Warfare is only an invention—not a biological necessity.” Based on this work, Ferguson (2018) challenges the idea that humans have always been at war, because we are biologically programmed to engage in armed conﬂict: “The high level of killing often reported in history, ethnography or later archaeology is contradicted in the earliest archaeological ﬁndings around the globe” (para. 29). Whether or not humans are genetically hardwired for war, most of the chapters in this book represent countries that have been, or still are, at war. And for the purposes of this chapter, war is deﬁned as large-scale, wide-spread, armed conﬂict, either within a country, or between two or more countries, which often lasts for a prolonged period of time, resulting in economic hardship and large-scale loss of life. Estimating the costs of war is extremely diﬃcult, as collecting reliable data during times of war is often impossible, for military, methodological, political, and other reasons. But some attempts have been and are being made. For example, the “Costs of War” is an on-going project, started in 2010, run by the Watson Institute of International and Public Aﬀairs at Brown University in the USA. It focuses on “the costs of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the related violence in Pakistan and Syria” (Watson Institute of International and Public Aﬀairs, 2020, para. 3). Chris Hedges, the American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times best-selling author, and Presbyterian minister, has also tried to keep track of some of the facts and ﬁgures of war in his books, including War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (Hedges, 2002) and What Every Person Should Know About War (Hedges, 2003). Gilbert’s (2000) Encyclopedia of Warfare: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day and the 2,000-page SAGE Encyclopedia of War (Joseph, 2017) have also attempted to document some of the costs of war. The ﬁgures below are based on those sources, and many others, including news reports, government reports, etc. Chapter 3, the ﬁrst chapter in the research studies reported in this volume, is from Cambodia, where the Cambodian Civil War, between the Khmer Rouge and the Khmer Republic, lasted more than eight years, from 1967 to 1975. During that time an estimated 300,000 people were killed. Chapters 4 and 9 are
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both about research conducted in Vietnam. Tragically, just a few years after the internal Cambodian Civil War ended, the cross-border, Cambodian–Vietnamese War began. That conﬂict lasted more than ten years (1978–1989) and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 200,000 Cambodian civilians and more than 30,000 Vietnamese civilians. Although such wars may seem far away and long ago, as of this writing the Cambodian–Vietnamese War ended barely 30 years ago. This fact means that the eﬀects of that war on both countries may still be present today, aﬀecting political, socioeconomic, and educational systems in those countries. Chapter 5 reports on research in Pakistan, which is a country that came into being when the British Empire partitioned India in 1947. Since then, there have been a number of post-colonial armed conﬂicts between the two countries, but thankfully, nothing large-scale has occurred in recent years, although skirmishes are on-going, and were reported as recently as early 2019. Chapters 6 and 13 are based on research conducted in Colombia, where a half-century war started in 1964. It was a conﬂict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC (in Spanish, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). There was also in-ﬁghting among FARC forces, the National Liberation Army, and the Popular Liberation Army. In 2016, two ceaseﬁre agreements were signed. In 2017, FARC forces disbanded and disarmed, although they reformed as a political party, the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, as part of the peace agreement. In 2019, a small group of former FARC leaders announced their plans to take up arms again—an announcement that was met with lethal force from the Colombian government. Because the war lasted so long, in addition to the 200,000 estimated civilian deaths, including more than 40,000 children, tens of thousands of people were abducted, disappeared, or became the victims of landmines. The total number of people displaced is estimated to be 5,000,000— including more than 2,000,000 children. The list of heart-breaking facts and ﬁgures goes on, but suﬃce it to say that the eﬀects of such unimaginable and incomprehensible loss of life will be felt all across a country, including within its educational systems, for generations to come. Chapter 7, on the preparation of teachers and challenges faced by novice teachers, is from Turkey, which (as of this writing) has been experiencing a government crackdown since a failed attempted coup in 2016. Turkey has also been involved in armed conﬂict in Syria, between Turkish-backed soldiers and Russian-backed soldiers, which is one example of what are called proxy wars, in which two countries, in this case, Russia and Turkey, ﬁght each other indirectly in a third country, in this case, Syria. Chapter 8 is about teacher development in Rwanda, where a four-year war was fought, from 1990 to 1994, between the governmental Rwandan Armed Forces, and the anti-government Rwandan Patriotic Front, resulting in 7,000 to 8,000 deaths. But those deaths pale in comparison to the Rwandan Genocide, which took place during 100 days of slaughter between April and July of 1994. In
What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context? 25
that short time, approximately 800,000 members of the minority Tutsi community were killed by members of the majority Hutu community. While it is not possible to comprehend the scale and scope of such a loss of life, the eﬀects, including the eﬀects on education, will be felt for decades. Fortunately, Honduras (discussed in Chapter 10) has not experienced any large-scale, armed conﬂicts for decades, although in 2014, the Red Cross estimated that more than half a million people in Honduras had been aﬀected by a severe drought. In Uganda (Chapter 11), a ﬁve-year civil war ended in 1986, again, with a loss of life in the hundreds of thousands. However, that was just one of more than a dozen large-scale armed conﬂicts involving Uganda, over more than 50 years, from the 1960s to the 2010s. For example, what is known as the “Rwenzururu Uprising” started in 1962 and went on until 1982. It was followed by the ﬁrst and second Sudanese Wars, fought from 1965 to 1969 and from 1995 to 2005, respectively. Written descriptions of war cannot capture its horrors, but some passages can be nonetheless heartrending. For example, in 2005, Paul Raﬀaele wrote this in the Smithsonian Magazine, about the 1.6 million people in Uganda who had been herded into camps, and the tens of thousands of children who had been abducted: As the light faded from the northern Ugandan sky, the children emerged from their families’ mud huts to begin the long walk along dirt roads to Gulu, the nearest town. Wide-eyed toddlers held older kids’ hands. Skinny boys and girls on the verge of adolescence peered warily into roadside shadows. Some walked as far as seven miles. They were on the move because they live in a world where a child’s worst fears come true, where armed men really do come in the darkness to steal children … (Raﬀaele, 2005, para. 1) Like Honduras, Indonesia (see Chapter 12) has not been involved in large-scale, wide-spread armed conﬂict for decades, although in 2018, a major earthquake and tsunami killed more than 1,000 people on the island of Sulawesi. Likewise, neither Malaysia nor Thailand (see Chapters 14 and 15) has been involved in wars in recent decades.
Conclusion: A Hierarchy of Resource Needs In 1943, Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) published a paper entitled “A Theory of Human Motivation,” in which he introduced his now-famous Hierarchy of Needs. In that paper, Maslow highlighted the importance of context, as he wrote that motivation “is also almost always biologically, culturally and situationally determined as well” (Maslow, 1943, p. 371). Maslow’s Hierarchy is commonly represented as a ﬁve-level pyramid, with Physiological Needs at the base, which include the needs for food, water, and rest. Above that foundational level are
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Safety Needs, which deal with security concerns, such as having somewhere to live that is free from danger. These ﬁrst two levels of the pyramid are considered basic, bodily needs, whereas the levels above are considered psychological needs. These ﬁrst two levels can be closely tied to the war-related contextual factors discussed in this chapter, as armed conﬂict—and the consequences of such conﬂict—usually make the meeting of basic physiological needs diﬃcult, and sometimes even impossible. (For further discussion of these issues, please see English across the Fracture Lines, edited by Elizabeth Erling in 2017.) However, the higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs may also be relevant in terms of what an educational context may lack, as well as what elements may need to be provided in order for the highest levels of teaching and learning to take place. For example, the third level of the pyramid, above Physiological and Safety Needs, is the need for Love and Belonging, about which Maslow (1943) wrote, “He will want to attain such a place more than anything else in the world and may even forget that once, when he was hungry, he sneered at love” (p. 381). (In the 1940s, the use of male-only pronouns and all-inclusive generalizations such as “All people in our society” were acceptable, although they would be questioned today.) This need for belonging may be reﬂected in the importance of being part of a community of learning, in a physical, bricks-and-mortar, traditional classroom or in an online environment (or elsewhere). Maslow (1943) labeled the penultimate level “Esteem Needs” (p. 381), which he described as follows: “All people in our society (with a few pathological exceptions) have a need or desire for a stable, ﬁrmly based, (usually) high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others” (p. 381). The importance of those self-esteem needs being met—or not— has clear educational implications, since, according to Maslow, “Satisfaction of the self-esteem need leads to feelings of self-conﬁdence, worth, strength, capability and adequacy of being useful and necessary in the world” (p. 382). Without such feelings, learning is more limited. The highest level of Maslow’s pyramid he called the “need for self-actualization: … This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming” (p. 381). A desire to become more than what we are at any given moment of our lives may be at the very heart of all teaching and learning, as that desire may serve as the ultimate motivation to know more, so that we may become more—being more through knowing and understanding more, about ourselves, the world around us, and the myriad relationships between those two. As the chapters in this volume show, the needs and wants, and the resources available or absent, in the various under-resourced contexts discussed herein are different, but they can all be related to one or more of the levels described above, with those contexts lacking the provision of the basic Physiological Needs being the most seriously under-resourced. The consequences for education, including language education, are explored and addressed in the research that is reported
What Do We Mean by Under-Resourced Context? 27
here. The contexts for the studies are diverse, but the authors all share with us how language educators pursue their mission in these diverse and challenging circumstances.
References 5 takeaways from the greatest commencement speech of all time. (2015, May 22). Time. https: //time.com/collection-post/3894477/david-foster-wallace-commencement-speech/. Bietenbeck, J., Piopiunik, M., & Wiederhold, S. (2018). Africa’s skill tragedy: Does teachers’ lack of knowledge lead to low student performance? Journal of Human Resources, 53(3), 553–578. Byram, M., & Grundy, P. (2002). Context and culture in language teaching and learning. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 15(3), 193–195. Cheng, L., Watanabe, Y., & Curtis, A. (Eds.). (2004). Washback in language testing: Research contexts and methods. Lawrence Erlbaum. Chirwa, G. W., & Naidoo, D. (2016). Teachers’ perceptions of the quality of the new Expressive Arts textbooks for Malawi primary schools. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 6(1), 1–10. Coleman, H. (2018). An almost invisible “diﬃcult circumstance”: The large class. In K. Kuchah & F. Shamim (Eds.), International perspectives on teaching English in diﬃcult circumstances (pp. 29–48). Palgrave-Macmillan. Curtis, A. (2015). Series editor’s preface. In C. Hastings, Perspectives on teaching English for speciﬁc purposes in Saudi Arabia (pp. v–vii). TESOL Press. Curtis, A. (2017). Methods and methodologies for language teaching: The centrality of context. Palgrave. Ekembe, E. (2016). Do “resourceful” methodologies work in “under-resourced” contexts? In A. Murphy (Ed.), New developments in foreign language learning (pp. 121–140). NOVA Science. Erling, E. J. (2017). English across the fracture lines: The contribution and relevance of English to security, stability and peace. The British Council. Farbman, D. A. (2015). Giving English language learners the time they need to succeed: Proﬁles of three expanded learning time schools. National Center on Time & Learning. Ferguson, B. R. (1992, January). Tribal warfare. Scientiﬁc American. https://www.scientiﬁ camerican.com/article/tribal-warfare/. Ferguson, B. R. (2018, September). War is not part of human nature. Scientiﬁc American. https://www.scientiﬁcamerican.com/article/war-is-not-part-of-human-nature/. Gilbert, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of warfare: From the earliest times to the present day. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Hedges, C. L. (2002). War is a force that gives us meaning. Public Aﬀairs Press. Hedges, C. L. (2003). What every person should know about war. Simon & Schuster. Huang, Y.-N., & Hong, Z.-R. (2015). The eﬀects of a ﬂipped English classroom intervention on students’ information and communication technology and English reading comprehension. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(2), 175–193. Joseph, P. (Ed.). (2017). SAGE encyclopedia of war. SAGE. Kokka, K. (2016). Urban teacher longevity: What keeps teachers of color in one under-resourced urban school?. Teaching and Teacher Education, 59, 169–179. Krajeski, J. (2008, September 19). This is water. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker. com/books/page-turner/this-is-water.
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Kuchah, K. (2018). Teaching English in diﬃcult circumstances: Setting the scene. In K. Kuchah & F. Shamim (Eds.), International perspectives on teaching English in diﬃcult circumstances (pp. 1–25). Palgrave-Macmillan. Kuchah, K., & Shamim, F. (2018). International perspectives on teaching English in diﬃcult circumstances. Palgrave-Macmillan. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370–396. Neuman, M. J., & Okeng’o, L. (2019). Early childhood policies in low-and middle-income countries. Early Years, 39(3), 223–228. Noland, R., & Rubin, J. (2008, September 14). Innovative “Inﬁnite Jest” author won critics’ raves. The LA Times. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2008-sep-14-me-walla ce14-story.html. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development). (2020). About. https://www.oecd.org/about/. Raﬀaele, P. (2005, February). Uganda: The horror. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.sm ithsonianmag.com/history/uganda-the-horror-85439313/. Schwartz, K., Cappella, E., Aber, J. L., Scott, M. A., Wolf, S., & Behrman, J. R. (2019). Early childhood teachers’ lives in context: Implications for professional development in under‐resourced areas. American Journal of Community Psychology, 63(3–4), 270–285. Simui, F., Chibale, H., & Namangala, B. (2017). Distance education examination management in a lowly resourced north-eastern region of Zambia: A phenomenological approach. Open Praxis, 9(3), 299–312. Tatel, E. S. (1999). Teaching in under-resourced schools: The Teach for America example. Redeﬁning Teacher Quality, 38(1), 37–45. TESOL. (n.d.). TESOL membership options. https://www.tesol.org/about-tesol/member ship. TIRF. (2020). TIRF call for proposals: Doctoral dissertation grants. https://www.tirfonline.org/ wp-content/uploads/2020/04/TIRF_DDG_2020_CallForProposals_RevisedDeadline.pdf. United Nations. (n.d.). Ending poverty. https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/p overty/. United Nations. (n.d.). Human Development Index (HDI). http://hdr.undp.org/en/con tent/human-development-index-hdi. United Nations. (n.d.). Human development report 2019: Reader’s guide. http://hdr. undp.org/en/content/human-development-report-2019-readers-guide. Watson Institute of International & Public Aﬀairs. (2020). Costs of War Project. https://wa tson.brown.edu/costsofwar/about. World Bank. (n.d.). Why use GNI per capita to classify economies into income groupings? https://datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/378831-why-use-gni-percapita-to-classify-economies-into. World Bank. (2020). South Asia. https://data.worldbank.org/country/8S. Zulu, B. M., Urbani, G., Van Der Merwe, A., Van Der Walt, J. L. (2004). Violence as an impediment to a culture of teaching and learning in some South African schools. South African Journal of Education, 24(2), 170–175.
3 CAMBODIA LANGUAGE-INEDUCATION POLICY IN THE CONTEXT OF ASEAN ECONOMIC INTEGRATION AND THE INTERNATIONALIZATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION Virak Chan
Issues That Motivated the Research The eﬀects of globalization in the 1990s have signiﬁcantly inﬂuenced the status of English and have impacted diﬀerent aspects of language-in-education planning in local contexts. In this globalized era, many national governments are interested in promoting the ability to use English among their populations because they believe it can help them develop economically (Ali, 2013). Speciﬁc language policies have been developed in relation to English, including the teaching of English as a subject and the use of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) in the education sectors. After its ﬁrst democratic election in 1993, Cambodia opened its doors to substantial international aid as well as foreign investments, and this period has also marked an increase in English language learning and teaching in the country. Nowadays, schools and universities oﬀer a variety of academic programs, many of which include English taught as a subject and some of which use EMI. The study discussed in this chapter was motivated by a desire to understand the status of diﬀerent languages, namely Khmer and English, and their uses in education in Cambodia, as well as the contexts surrounding the uses of these languages. According to Ear (2013), Cambodia has been heavily dependent on foreign aid and developmental assistance, which have not necessarily helped to improve the governance system in the country. Many of the aid and development projects take little account of local perspectives and use Cambodia as a testing ground to serve powerful countries like China and the United States. The inﬂuence of these countries may create interesting contexts for understanding the representation of diﬀerent languages in policy documents and the perceptions of policy actors on the status of Khmer and English in relation to each other.
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Context of the Research Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia with an area of 181,035 square kilometers (about the size of the U.S. State of Missouri). It borders Thailand and Laos in the north, Vietnam in the east and south, and the Gulf of Thailand in the west. The general census estimated Cambodia’s population in 2019 to be at around 15.3 million. Its adult population (age 15 and over) has a literacy rate of 78% (Cambodia National Institute of Statistics, 2019) with Khmer as the only oﬃcial language. Cambodia has experienced both a glorious and a tragic past. The Angkor period between the ninth and thirteenth centuries AD marked its high point, when Cambodia was a powerful kingdom that occupied large territories covering much of the present-day mainland of Southeast Asia (Chandler, 1988). After the fall of Angkor in the fourteenth century, Cambodia was ransacked by Thailand and Vietnam and lost much of its territorial integrity to these two neighboring countries. To escape its subordinate relationship with Thailand, Cambodia became a protectorate of the French in 1863 and was under French colonial rule from 1883 to 1953. In 1953, Cambodia gained independence from France and became a constitutional monarchy under the reign of King Norodom Sihanouk. The peace and prosperity after Cambodia’s independence lasted until March 1970, when the king was overthrown in a coup d’etat. This coup was followed by a civil war between the U.S.-backed government, led by General Lon Nol, and the communist group, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot. On April 17, 1975, Cambodia fell into the hands of the Khmer Rouge, backed by communist Vietnamese forces. This period, when the country was known as Democratic Kampuchea, lasted for almost four years and left the physical and institutional structure of Cambodia completely devastated. Under the Pol Pot regime, the entire population was forced into army camps or collective farms (Chandler, 1998). Almost three quarters of Cambodia’s educated population, including teachers, students, professionals, and intellectuals, were estimated to have been killed, to have died of disease or starvation, or to have escaped into exile. On January 7, 1979, the communist Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia and ended the Khmer Rouge regime and its genocide. A new government, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, was installed and supported by communist Vietnam, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, and other socialist bloc nations (Dy, 2004; Neau, 2003). Although the genocide ended and a new government was formed, the civil war among diﬀerent factions of Cambodians was still ongoing. Under increasing international pressure, peace accords, and promises of assistance from the United Nations to end the ongoing civil war that had begun with the Vietnamese occupation, Vietnam eventually began withdrawing its forces from Cambodia in the late 1980s. Temporary control was turned over to the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia until a free and fair election was held in 1993 for Cambodians to choose their government leaders from among the
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various warring factions. As Clayton (2002) noted, there were three important transitions after the Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia in 1989: (1) from a single-party communist system to a system with multiple parties and democratic principles; (2) from central planning to a free market economy; and (3) from an emergency to a development mandate in national rehabilitation. The ﬁrst democratic election in 1993 marked an important political transition in the history of Cambodia. Since then, developmental assistance to Cambodia has signiﬁcantly increased with major bilateral donors (including countries such as Japan, France, the United States, Australia, and Sweden) and with multilateral aid from the United Nations agencies, the European Union, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. This assistance was also provided through many non-governmental organizations operating in the country (Clayton, 2002). After this ﬁrst democratic election, the Cambodian economy also underwent restructurings and reforms, which have helped to bring the Cambodian GDP from USD 1.27 billion to USD 10.3 billion and its per capita annual income from USD 152 to USD 739 from 1989 to 2009 (Pou et al., 2012). The World Bank put the Cambodian GDP at USD 24.54 billion and its per capita income at USD 1,390 in 2018. Khmer is the national language of Cambodia and, according to Thong (1985), has always been the medium of instruction at public schools. (The term Khmer is also used to refer to the people of Cambodia.) According to Bradley (2010), Khmer is the language of more than 10 million people including all ethnic Khmer in Cambodia, over a million in the Mekong delta of Vietnam, over 800,000 along the northern border of Cambodia in north-eastern Thailand and among post-1975 refugees in the west. (p. 101) Besides the Khmer language, according to Paul, Simons, and Fennig (2016), Cambodia has 22 other languages used by ethnic minorities, including Brao, Cham (Western), Chinese (Hakka), Chong, Jarai, Kaco’, Kavet, Kraol, Kru’ng, Kuay, Lao, Lao Phuon, Mnong (Central), Pear, Samre, Sa’och, Somray, Stieng (Bulo), Suoy, Tampuan, Thai, and Vietnamese. After 1993, Cambodia began to see a growing inﬂuence of the English language, particularly in its education system. English is integrated into the national curriculum and is taught as a separate subject in many public secondary schools and institutions of higher education. Many private schools and universities even claim to oﬀer English medium international programs. The need for and inﬂuence of the English language is growing stronger with Cambodia’s integration into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the world. In 1999, Cambodia joined ASEAN, an alliance currently comprising 10 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore,
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Thailand, and Vietnam. The association aims to promote peace and stability, and to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region. And more recently, in 2015, Cambodia was integrated into the ASEAN Economic Community, where goods and labor are allowed to ﬂow freely among member states. It is important to note here that ASEAN has adopted English as its working language. Even with the recent improvement in its GDP per capita income and stronger regional and international integration, Cambodia’s education system is still limited in its resources, physical infrastructure, and human capital. Access to education has improved but is still marked by high levels of inequality across gender, location, and socioeconomic status. The drop-out rate gets higher as students move up the grade levels, especially among females and those in rural areas. This high drop-out rate is usually due to the lack of basic infrastructure such as water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in school buildings, the distance to schools, and the lack of relevant school curricula and qualiﬁed teachers. Higher education has also become more accessible, particularly in provincial towns and cities, but still remains far beyond the reach of most rural youths as the cost for traveling and of the education itself is high. The government of Cambodia is currently working with many non-governmental organizations and funding agencies to develop its physical and human capital, but it will take time and eﬀort to overcome its tragic past, especially the genocide and the civil war in the 1970s and 1980s.
Research Questions Addressed In order to investigate the growing inﬂuence of the English language in Cambodia, this study aimed to examine the current Cambodian language-in-education policy and the conditions for choices about language in Cambodian higher education. The following research questions were posed in this study: 1. 2.
How are Khmer and English represented in Cambodian educational policy documents? What are the social, economic, and political contexts for the implementation of language policy in higher education in Cambodia?
Research Methods This chapter reports on part of a larger dissertation study on the medium-ofinstruction policy in Cambodian higher education. In this part of the research, I sought to understand the current language-in-education policy in Cambodia and the social, economic, and political contexts for its implementation. To accomplish this goal, I collected and examined data from diﬀerent layers of the policy, including policy documents and interviews with university stakeholders.
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Data Collection Procedures The main data for this study are four policy documents which include the Cambodia Education Law (2007), Policy on Higher Education Vision 2030 (MoEYS, 2014b), Education Strategic Plan 2014–2018 (MoEYS, 2014a), and the Cambodia University Strategic Plan 2014–2018. The ﬁrst three documents were publicly available on the website of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport at http://www.moeys.gov.kh/en/ and were downloaded from the website for analysis in March 2015. I obtained the fourth document at Cambodia University (a pseudonym used here and afterwards as CU). CU was the research site for this study and was purposefully selected because of its leading status in higher education and its seemingly increasing number of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and EMI classes. In addition to the four policy documents, 25 job advertisements and 13 scholarship announcements were also collected from CU notice boards from February to May 2015. I collected these documents because they provided important contexts for decision-making about language in education. They gave information about the language skills required in the labor market and for opportunities to pursue studies in developed countries. The other main source of data for this study was a set of semi-structured interviews with six teachers and four administrators at CU. The teachers and administrators were purposefully selected to represent diﬀerent layers of policy actors. Each interview was conducted in a language that the interviewee was comfortable with, and doing so usually meant switching between Khmer and English, since the interviewees were all Khmer-English bilinguals. Each interview lasted from 45 to 60 minutes. The interviews focused on interviewees’ academic and professional backgrounds, their attitudes and practices with diﬀerent languages inside and outside their classrooms and institution, and their perspectives toward the use of English and Khmer and relevant policies. All the interviews were later transcribed and used for analysis.
Data Analysis Procedures All the data (policy documents, job advertisements, scholarship announcements, and interview transcripts) were entered into NVivo 10, the qualitative data software used to organize and assist with the analysis of the data. All data were coded through a cycle of coding processes suggested by Saldaña (2013), and the interpretation of the emerging themes was done through the lens of critical discourse analysis. The policy documents were examined for their representation of Khmer, English, and other languages and the discourses around these languages that inform the formulation of these policies. These discourses included factors such as the importance of Khmer language preservation and promotion for Khmer identity or the importance of English in giving Cambodia a competitive advantage in regional and global markets. Then, the job advertisements and scholarship announcements,
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which make up an important part of the language ecology of the university, were also examined for these diﬀerent discourses about languages potentially circulating at the time I was collecting the data. Finally, interviews with university instructors and administrators were analyzed for insight into the speciﬁc contexts in which policies were implemented, such as the internationalization of selected programs at the university and the integration of Cambodia into the ASEAN Economic Community.
Findings and Discussion How Khmer and English Are Represented in Policy Documents This section discusses the de jure policy on language in education, which is based on law (Schiﬀman, 1996). The examination of the four important legal documents focuses speciﬁcally on the requirements related to language(s) used for instruction and their representation in the documents. The ﬁrst document is the Cambodia Education Law (2007), which was enacted by the National Assembly of Cambodia on October 19, 2007, and approved by its Senate on November 21, 2007. Examination of this law shows three important articles relevant to the analysis. Article 24 of the Cambodia Education Law (2007) mandates the Khmer language as the oﬃcial language in public schools providing general education. It also states that international languages can be taught as a subject (foreign language) in the curriculum, based on the needs of students. However, Article 24 provides ﬂexibility for the language of instruction for Khmer learners of minority Khmer origin (e.g., the indigenous ethnic minority groups who speak their own tribal languages), and leaves the decision to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS): Article 24: Languages of teaching and learning The Khmer Language is the oﬃcial language and a subject of the fundamental curriculums at public schools providing general education. The private schools providing general education shall have a Khmer educational program as a fundamental subject in their educational programs. The language for Khmer learners of minority Khmer origin shall be determined by Prakas [a regulation issued by a minister] of the Ministry in charge of Education. Foreign languages, which are international languages, shall be speciﬁcally determined as subjects for the fundamental educational programs of general education in accordance with the learners’ needs. (Cambodia Education Law, 2007) It is important to note that this law does not include any mandates for the oﬃcial language of instruction in higher education. The law leaves space for further interpretation at the Ministry and university levels in making language-of-instruction
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decisions for higher education. Moreover, Article 13 of the same law encourages managerial autonomy in higher education establishments, which seems to suggest that many decisions, including ones about the language of instruction for educational programs, shall be made at the level of universities and institutes. However, this Article also instructs the MoEYS to issue guidelines on this provision, which might serve the purpose of drawing a parameter for this autonomy. Article 13: Autonomy of educational institutions Higher educational institutions shall be provided rights as institutions with managerial autonomy. The administrations of higher education institutions shall be based on the principles of accountability, transparency, and public interest. The Ministry in charge of Education shall issue a guideline on the provision of managerial autonomy to institutions. (Cambodia Education Law, 2007) Article 27 of the Cambodia Education Law (2007) focuses on the determination of education policies, principles, plans, and strategies. It designates the MoEYS as the agency to set up a master plan for developing the education sector in general: The Ministry in charge of Education shall set up a master plan for developing the education sector in compliance with the policy of the Supreme National Council of Education, and be responsible for developing, reviewing, and modifying education policies, principles, plans, and strategies in accordance with the national policies and strategic development plans. (Cambodia Education Law, 2007) From this law, the MoEYS prepared two other legal documents—the Policy on Higher Education Vision 2030 (MoEYS, 2014b) and the Education Strategic Plan 2014–2018 (MoEYS, 2014a). The last part of Article 13 of the 2007 Education Law regarding the managerial autonomy of higher education institutions is realized in the Education Strategic Plan 2014–2018 of the MoEYS. This plan attempts to regulate the managerial autonomy of higher educational establishments through the provision to “prepare a regulation on the HEI (Higher Education Institutions) autonomy in 2014” (MoEYS, 2014a, p. 36). However, none of these legal documents have clear regulations on the language of instruction in higher education. Nonetheless, the movement toward English seems to be embedded in the emphasis on the knowledge and skills needed to live and work in the era of globalization and the reform eﬀort to meet the regional and international standards of higher education, reﬂected in these later documents. In the Policy for Higher Education Vision 2030, publicly available on the MoEYS’s website, the vision is “to build a quality higher education system that develops human resources with excellent knowledge, skills and moral values in
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order to work and live within the era of globalization and knowledge-based society” (MoEYS, 2014b, p. 3). This vision speciﬁcally refers to globalization, and one of its strategies is to “develop a targeted plan to enhance professional skills for all Accreditation Committee of Cambodia staﬀ to ensure that quality assurance processes applied to Cambodian HEIs are consistent with regional and international standards” (MoEYS, 2014b, p. 4). This vision and strategy implicitly place English language instruction at the center of Cambodian education. Using the text in the vision document, the MoEYS formulated its Education strategic plan 2014–2018. The connection between these two documents is the use of regional and international standards as a yardstick for the improvement of higher education in Cambodia. This eﬀort to ensure that the quality of higher education (abbreviated as HE in the quote below) in Cambodia is consistent with regional and international standards and provides a strong rationale for the increasing use of English in Cambodian higher education (HE). For instance, two of the strategies of the MoEYS are to “strengthen capacity absorption of students at regional HE,” and “enhance curriculum diversiﬁcation and priority programs with ASEAN standards” (MoEYS, 2014a, p. 36). Moreover, in many programs and activities in this strategic plan, the diﬀerent departments and development partners of the MoEYS will have their staﬀ members “attend national and international workshops, training programs and study visits on curriculum development … on learning and teaching methodology … on higher education quality assurance … and on research and development” (MoEYS, 2014a, pp. 37–38). These activities are usually conducted in English, given English is the lingua franca of ASEAN and the region. The fourth document in this data set was prepared at Cambodia University: the Strategic Plan 2014–2018. Much of the wording of this document is borrowed from the text of the Education Strategic Plan 2014–2018 of the MoEYS. These passages include the following: 1.
Enhance teaching staﬀ and middle-level administrative staﬀ to hold at least master’s degrees with both English and ICT [Information and Communications Technology] competence; … increase the number of international students in all types of courses; enhance student and faculty exchange with universities in the ASEAN University Network (AUN) and other partner universities … (CU Strategic Plan, 2014–2018, unpublished, p. 4)
Professional development opportunities for staﬀ members through internships, fellowships, or scholarship opportunities for working and studying abroad usually require candidates to have a high level of English proﬁciency as demonstrated through international tests, such as the TOEFL or IELTS. This requirement is typically reﬂected in the scholarship announcements publicly displayed on the
Cambodia Language-in-Education Policy 39
notice boards at the university, in which a TOEFL or IELTS score is one of the important criteria for selection. This need for high English proﬁciency becomes even more important when faculty members or students want to present their academic papers at international conferences or to publish their work in peerreviewed journals, as English has been adopted by many international conferences and publishers. Only one of CU’s strategies mentions the plan to create a Center for Khmer Studies, and this plan extends the MoEYS’s strategy to promote the Khmer language through translating important publications into Khmer and publishing research papers in Khmer. This Center may play an important role in Khmer language promotion. Khmer continues to be used as a medium of instruction in many of the programs at CU; however, whenever resources allow, EMI is employed or English proﬁciency is encouraged through the promotion of EFL classes.
Social, Economic, and Political Contexts for the Language Policy In this section, I will discuss three important contexts for the policy decisions on the medium of instruction in Cambodian higher education: the development scholarships provided to Cambodian students, the economic integration of the ASEAN nations, and the internationalization of the university. These three contexts emerged in the interview data with university teachers and administrators and in the scholarship and job announcements collected at the university. These contexts are important in understanding the implementation of the language policy discussed in the previous section. Each year, hundreds of scholarships are provided to Cambodian students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The most prestigious of these are from English speaking countries, such as the Australian Awards from the Australian government, the Fulbright scholarships from the U.S. State Department, the New Zealand Development Scholarships from the New Zealand government, and the Chevening Scholarships from the government of the United Kingdom. To access detailed information or be eligible for these scholarships, candidates need to be highly proﬁcient in English, as demonstrated by their scores on the TOEFL or IELTS tests. Moreover, even the scholarships provided to Cambodian students by nonEnglish speaking countries such as Japan, Korea, and Thailand require a high English proﬁciency level demonstrated in the TOEFL or IELTS tests. Here is a typical example of an eligibility requirement for the scholarships (from a one-page hard copy advertisement): “be a national of Cambodia or Lao PDR, hold a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant ﬁeld, be proﬁcient in English, … be of good health physically and mentally” (2015 ASEA-UNINET Thailand On-Place Scholarships under the ASEA-UNINET [ASEAN-European Academic University Network] Programme for Cambodia and Lao PDR). English language proﬁciency is usually one of the important requirements for these scholarships,
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and this fact provides a strong rationale for universities in Cambodia to oﬀer EMI programs, or, when not having enough resources to do so, to oﬀer Khmer Medium Instruction programs with a strong EFL component. Another context for the policy is the ASEAN economic integration, which was launched in December 2015. This agreement calls for a free ﬂow of goods, labor, and services within its 10 member countries. The integration aims to help boost the economy of each member state by attracting investors and creating jobs in the region; it has also been perceived to create competition among the goods, labor, and services of each member state. The fact that English has been adopted as a working language of ASEAN has signiﬁcantly inﬂuenced the language choices for the medium of instruction in Cambodian higher education. To participate in ASEAN meetings, workshops, or trainings, delegates need to have a good level of English proﬁciency. For instance, according to the interviews with Tim (all names used in this study are pseudonyms), a head of a department at CU, many of the staﬀ members working for diﬀerent ministries of the Cambodian government, including the MoEYS, have had English language training at his department to enable them to participate in ASEAN meetings more eﬀectively: We are doing training for the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Commerce. They try to equip their students, their staﬀs with English knowledge. What they say is at least their staﬀs can have meeting with uh… the other countries in the region, they can present in international conferences, at least they understand what the other people are doing. (Tim, Interview, 11 March 2015) Mony, a content instructor at CU, also observed that some universities have started to oﬀer English language-based programs as a result of this (ASEAN economic) integration. Mong and Pichey (other content instructors at CU) often use this integration as motivation to encourage students to learn English so that they can be more competitive in the labor market. Moreover, Chunry, the head of another department at CU, explained his choice for EMI in his department: “Because in the region, English is the oﬃcial language of ASEAN, it is even more important and we make the right decision from the beginning to adopt English as a medium of instruction and to strengthen English” (Interview, 22 March 2015). Moreover, as discussed earlier, the use of ASEAN standards as a goal for Cambodian higher education was also seen in many of the policy documents including the MoEYS’s Higher Education Policy Vision 2030 (MoEYS, 2014b) and Strategic Plan 2014–2018 (MoEYS, 2014a), and CU’s Strategic Plan 2014–2018. The last context for the policy decisions is the internationalization of the university. The eﬀort to internationalize the university includes not only using regional and international standards in university reform, but also establishing more international programs often with English as a medium of instruction. This
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goal to internationalize the university is important for the promotion of EMI courses and the teaching of EFL in Cambodia. For instance, on his rationale for EMI, Chunry added: The ﬁrst reason for this (EMI) is because we prepare it as an international program. It means that we are one part of the university programs for the internationalization, meaning the instruction is in English. That’s the ﬁrst reason. The second is that we see a strong need for English of the labor market, that students need to know English. Also, the economic, political, and regional situations, the ASEAN integration, and the world integration make us choose English as a medium of instruction. (Interview, 22 March 2015) The choice of EMI programs and the promotion of teaching EFL are in line with CU’s strategic plans to promote student and faculty exchanges with its partner universities, to encourage students and faculty to become members of professional societies and publish in peer-reviewed journals, and to increase the number of international students. All of these activities, which are signiﬁcant parts of CU’s internationalization eﬀort, require university programs with a strong English language component. Mong sees internationalization of the university as a trend that cannot be stopped and equates sticking to the Khmer language to being conservative: We can’t stop this trend because the trend is moving toward globalization. So, we can’t be conservative and think we have to use the national language; because if we look at big universities now, they are moving toward internationalization. So, we can’t just keep on using Khmer language, but we have the Khmer language department, which specializes in the training in Khmer language. And for other courses if we still think like that, we won’t be able to compete with other universities abroad. (Interview, 23 March 2015)
Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research While the policies do not explicitly state what languages are to be used as the medium of instruction in higher education in Cambodia and at what level this decision is to be made, they seem to encourage a decentralization of power in the decision-making at the university level. However, it is clear that the promotion of the English language is embedded in the wording of many of the policy documents, which are strongly connected to one another. For instance, the MoEYS reform eﬀort to promote the quality of higher education to meet regional and international standards is seen in the Policy on Higher Education Vision 2030 (MoEYS, 2014b), the MoEYS’s Education Strategic Plan 2014–2018 (MoEYS, 2014a), and CU’s Strategic Plan 2014–2018.
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Also, the diversiﬁcation of the curricula based on regional and international standards and the strengthening of Cambodia University’s ability to absorb international students imply the internationalization of selected programs and/or creation of new international programs. This internationalization provides a good context for the increasing use of the English language in Cambodian universities. Only one of the programs and activities related to research and publication in the strategic plan mentions the idea of promoting the Khmer language in higher education by translating important publications into Khmer while also encouraging the publication of original research papers in the Khmer language. Although the importance of English is emphasized in many policy documents and by diﬀerent policy actors, school administrators and teachers should not assume that the adoption of English as a medium of instruction will make their programs eﬀective. They need to consider the level of English proﬁciency of their students and instructors and how well they can navigate grade-level content instruction in English. Actually, in his examination of the economic and demographic data of the Greater Mekong Sub-region that includes Cambodia, Bruthiaux (2008) found that because of poverty, low literacy rates, and the agriculture-based economies, many people in the area are not yet likely to experience life with English. He went on to question the notion of the need for English ﬂuency in the population to participate in the global economy and suggested that policymakers in the region should focus on the improvement of literacy in a local language of the population instead. In the current context of Cambodian higher education in particular, academic programs may beneﬁt more from some forms of the bilingual model for the medium of instruction, in which both Khmer and English are used strategically and purposefully. In addition, it is interesting to note that the formulation of policy documents, like those I reviewed for this study, usually involves international organizations such as the World Bank, which provide grants and loans for diﬀerent projects at the MoEYS (Ford, 2015). Even within the Ministry’s own working groups that draft these documents, there are typically high-ranking oﬃcials with graduate degrees from foreign countries where English is used as a medium of instruction. Also, the MoEYS typically requests consultants from Western countries such as the US or Australia to assist in drafting these documents. This assistance creates a perfect condition for the use and promotion of English, and many of these legal documents may initially be prepared in English and only later translated into Khmer. The analysis of the policy documents above shows a growing inﬂuence and power of English and English speakers, particularly in higher education in Cambodia. This inﬂuence and this power are reﬂected in a strong emphasis in these documents on skills needed to live and work in the era of globalization, the movement toward regional and international standards, and the ability to participate fully in a global system of quality-assured higher education. English language learning and use is expanding as Cambodia becomes more integrated into the ASEAN Economic Community and makes eﬀorts to internationalize its universities.
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With regard to the Khmer language, the documents examined in this study explicitly promote its use in higher education through the eﬀort to translate important research publications and promote the publishing of research papers in Khmer. This promotion is also expressed in CU’s plan to establish a Center for Khmer Studies. Such a center would be a major contribution to the translation and Khmer publication eﬀort. However, such translation eﬀorts are not without challenges, given the lack of resources of the MoEYS and the increasing use of English, speciﬁcally in the publication of research and instructional materials. Added to this lack of resources are the many challenges of producing an accurate translation of even a single textbook, as evidenced in a case study detailing attempts to create a Khmer version of a textbook used in an undergraduate science course at a university in Cambodia (Quigley et al., 2011). Future research may include the examination of the situated social actions of policymakers at the national level and the investigation of a larger context for policy decision-making, such as the developmental assistance provided to MoEYS by its partners, such as the World Bank. Such investigations may shed important light on the diﬀerent ideologies behind the policy statements analyzed in this study. Future research may also need to examine this language-in-education policy at a classroom and school level and investigate what language(s) is/are generally used.
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Ford, D. (2015). Cambodian accreditation: An uncertain beginning. International Higher Education, 33, 12–14. https://doi.org/10.6017/ihe.2003.33.7384. MoEYS (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport). (2014a). Education strategic plan 2014– 2018. http://www.moeys.gov.kh/images/moeys/policies-and-strategies/559-en.pdf. MoEYS (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport). (2014b). Policy on higher education vision 2030. http://moeys.gov.kh/index.php/en/policies-and-strategies/policy-on-high er-education-2030.html#.XpCmsW57nOQ. Neau, V. (2003). The teaching of foreign languages in Cambodia: A historical perspective. Language, Culture, and Curriculum, 16(3), 253–268. Paul, L. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (2016). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (19th ed.) http://www.ethnologue.com/. Pou, S., Geoﬀ, W., & Mark, H. (2012). Cambodia: Progress and challenges since 1991. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Quigley, C., Oliviera, A. W., Curry, A., & Buck, G. (2011). Issues and techniques in translating scientiﬁc terms from English to Khmer for a university-level text in Cambodia. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 24(2), 159–177. doi:10.1080/07908318.2011.583663. Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers (2nd ed.). SAGE. Schiﬀman, H. F. (1996). Linguistic culture and language policy. Routledge. Thong, T. (1985). Language planning and language policy of Cambodia. In D. Bradley (Ed.), Papers in South-East Asian linguistics No. 9: Language policy, language planning and sociolinguistics in South-East Asia (pp. 103–117). Paciﬁc Linguistics.
4 THE EVOLUTION OF ENGLISH AS A MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION IN VIETNAMESE TERTIARY EFL Challenges, Strategies, and Possibilities Thi Hoai Thu Tran, Rachel Burke, and John Mitchell O’Toole
Issues That Motivated the Research The world has witnessed a rapid rise of educational approaches that emphasize the teaching of content through a foreign language. Approaches include English for Academic Purposes (EAP), English for Speciﬁc Purposes (ESP), Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), Content-based Instruction (CBI), and English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI). These approaches emphasize diﬀerent learning outcomes ranging from solely linguistic objectives (ESP and EAP) to both linguistic and content-related objectives (CLIL and CBI), to mainly content-focused education (EMI). EMI is “the use of the English language to teach academic subjects in countries or jurisdictions where the ﬁrst language (L1) of the majority of the population is not English” (Dearden, 2014, p. 4). The major diﬀerence between these approaches is the shift from language courses to courses of non-linguistic disciplines taught in the target language. The integration of language and content is a core feature of CLIL and CBI; meanwhile, EMI aims to broaden learners’ subject-area knowledge while promoting their English proﬁciency and professional linguistic expertise. In EMI contexts, English is used as a “tool for academic study, not as a subject itself” (Taguchi, 2014, p. 89). EMI has been adopted for its potential to increase students’ English language proﬁciency, and, therefore, as a vehicle for greater internationalization of universities in non-English speaking countries (Doiz et al., 2011). The linguistic beneﬁts of EMI approaches are also advantageous to non-English speaking nations’ economic and cultural relations on the global stage, prompting the emergence of this approach as a worldwide phenomenon (Dearden, 2014; Goodman, 2014; Othman & Saat, 2009). In Europe, English has become the language of higher education (Coleman, 2004). European tertiary educational institutions have adopted EMI programs as
46 T. H. T. Tran, R. Burke, and J. M. O’Toole
an educational reform under the initiation of the Bologna Declaration in 1999 (Goodman, 2014). As Salomone (2015) notes, EMI courses are oﬀered to enhance European universities’ reputations and economic stability, and to create a barrier-free European Higher Education Area “where countries would standardize their higher education system in three cycles corresponding to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees” (p. 247). Doiz et al. (2011) report that 800 EMI programs operated in Europe in 2002. The number of programs taught in English numbered 2,389 in 2007 and rose to 8,089 in 2014 (Wächter & Maiworm, 2014). Adoption of EMI at Asian higher education institutions (HEIs) is a fashionable policy (Byun et al., 2011; Le, 2012). Asian HEIs have reshaped their education policies to internationalize (Kirkpatrick, 2011), attract international students, and enhance their reputations in the international arena. EMI has therefore played a signiﬁcant role in the higher education systems of Asian countries. For example, in the Chinese context, EMI has provided universities with opportunities to “engage in international exchange and collaboration” (Hu & Lei, 2014, p. 558). Further, as noted by Ali (2013), Malaysia has introduced EMI in public universities as a strategy “for improving graduates’ English proﬁciency” and “to achieve internationalization” (p. 13). In various contexts, especially in under-resourced areas, diﬀerent challenges facing lecturers and students in EMI courses are identiﬁed in the research literature, such as lecturers’ and students’ inadequate language proﬁciency, lecturers’ lack of pedagogical training support, limited textbooks and educational resources, and lack of preparation for the implementation of EMI approaches (Byun et al., 2011; Tatzl, 2011; Vu & Burns, 2014). However, the strategies used by lecturers and students to overcome those diﬃculties have not been explored suﬃciently. Both lecturers and students have reported facing linguistic challenges in the implementation of EMI. A study undertaken in Austria by Tatzl (2011), which examined students’ and lecturers’ attitudes, experiences, and challenges regarding English-medium higher education, indicates that lecturers feel challenged by students’ low levels of English proﬁciency and mixed levels of proﬁciency in classes. Goodman (2014), who conducted an ethnographic case study at a university in Ukraine, suggests that content lecturers feel anxious about their own knowledge of English and whether their language is suﬃcient to deliver the content. Likewise, the results of Othman and Saat’s study (2009), based on questionnaire data from 154 pre-service EMI teachers in Malaysia, suggest that lecturers have diﬃculty explaining scientiﬁc concepts in English and dealing with students’ low language proﬁciency. Meanwhile, Evans and Morrison (2011) conducted a longitudinal study at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and found that there was little interaction in the classroom due to lecturers’ “lack of conﬁdence in English” (p. 153). Students in EMI courses also face linguistic challenges. A study conducted in South Korea by Byun et al. (2011) shows that students consider lecturers’ limited English proﬁciency and their own language abilities as problems. Likewise, Yeh (2014), who investigated students’ experiences with EMI at six Taiwanese universities, asserted that students ﬁnd their own lack of language ability problematic.
EMI in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL 47
Lecturers struggle with pedagogical issues and their teaching skills (Chapple, 2015) because they are not necessarily trained to become EMI lecturers, and they lack professional development and access to literature about teaching courses in English (Seitzhanova et al., 2015). For example, Austrian lecturers who participated in surveys and interviews in Tatzl’s research (2011) reported struggling to motivate students while lecturing in English. Further challenges facing students and lecturers in under-resourced contexts are also identiﬁed in previous research. A case study conducted by Goodman (2014) examining the impact of EMI on pedagogy in a private university in eastern Ukraine revealed that lecturers and students faced diﬃculty obtaining Englishmedium textbooks and online resources, which may deprive them of access to the curricular content in the target language. Meanwhile, Byun et al. (2011) stated that the large class sizes of EMI sites in South Korea, which can be “more than 200 students in one room at times” (p. 445), limit students’ opportunities to improve their English proﬁciency. Although there is little research on techniques used in EMI courses, some teaching and learning strategies have been reported. As Tsai and Tsou (2015) found at a Taiwanese university, lecturers have adopted a range of accommodation strategies to compensate for the diﬃculty they experience in teaching course content and managing classroom processes (including the provision of feedback to students) in English. For example, lecturers in their study used eliciting approaches to deal with content and language diﬃculty, such as encouraging explanations or displays of knowledge from students, by “asking questions from the easiest to the most diﬃcult ones for the purpose of helping them organize ideas consistently” (Tsai & Tsou, 2015, p. 405). Repeating keywords, paraphrasing, and speaking slowly were also applied to help students with low English language ability in the Taiwanese context. A case study conducted by Hu and Lei (2014) in China indicated that lecturers and students use varied strategies in EMI courses. These strategies included watering down curricular content, codeswitching, using Chinese-language reference books, and preparing lessons before the lecture.
Context of the Research The study reported on in this chapter explores the implementation of EMI in higher education in Vietnam, a nation with a population of over 95 million and 54 diﬀerent ethnic groups. Vietnam is recognized as a poor country with a per capita income level in 2006 of only 723 USD (Hayden & Lam, 2010). The formal education system in Vietnam is divided into levels: primary education (year 1 to year 5); lower secondary education (year 6 to year 9); upper secondary education (year 10 to year 12); higher education; and postgraduate education. Vietnamese is the main medium of instruction in schools at all levels of education in Vietnam, while English is used as a foreign language and in limited situations, such as for international communication, business purposes, or international
48 T. H. T. Tran, R. Burke, and J. M. O’Toole
education. Thus, Vietnam belongs to the Expanding Circle of Kachru’s (1991) concentric circles model, which is used to represent the way a global language may function across diﬀerent contexts. English was not used in Vietnam before World War II (Wright, 2002). During the period 1954–1975, English was widely promoted in southern Vietnam (Bui & Nguyen, 2016). After 1975, there was a dramatic decrease in English learning and teaching (Bui & Nguyen, 2016), and hundreds of private English language centers were closed (Do, 1997). Since Doi Moi (the Renovation) encouraged the country to open its doors to the outside world in 1986, English has been increasingly emphasized and has attained a dominant foreign language status in the country (Le, 2008). However, as noted by Pham (2010), Vietnam is still “a developing economy with limited availability of funds to invest in its higher education system” (p. 53). Consequently, the higher education system in Vietnam “has poorly equipped facilities, lacks suﬃcient space and has few ﬁnancial incentives for the development of academic staﬀ or for the renovation of academic programmes” (Pham, 2010, p. 53). The high student/staﬀ ratio (30:1) and demanding curriculum frameworks in Vietnamese higher education institutions may also result in some problems such as a heavy teaching workload for lecturers (Hayden & Lam, 2010). First introduced in Vietnam in the 1990s, EMI has gradually come to be considered by the government as a way to achieve educational, political, and socioeconomic goals. However, the implementation of EMI in Vietnam is still at a modest proportion, with about 70 Vietnamese universities (out of 235 universities in Vietnam in 2016) introducing EMI programs in their curricula (Hamid & Kirkpatrick, 2016). EMI is not widely employed in Vietnam, occurring only in selected universities meeting the requirement of the Ministry of Education and Training for students’ voluntary enrollment (Government, 2008). The universities typically make local decisions on choice of disciplines, time allocation, and the number of students for EMI courses. Most of the materials for EMI programs in Vietnam are imported from countries where English is used as a ﬁrst language, which may make it diﬃcult for Vietnamese students to access English-medium learning resources (e.g., due to the expense and lack of available textbooks) (Le, 2012). In Vietnam, EMI “appears to be beneﬁcial to a minority of students, who are ﬁnancially well-oﬀ and have access to English” (Le, 2012, p. 116). Although this educational approach has been adopted for decades, there is little existing research or reporting on the practices for implementing the EMI policy in Vietnam, which limits objective assessments of its eﬀectiveness in Vietnamese tertiary EFL contexts. Most reports of EMI programs in Vietnam have appeared in conference proceedings, newspapers, or other mass media sources (Le, 2012). Vu and Burns (2014) investigated the implementation of EMI by conducting interviews with 16 lecturers in a Vietnamese university. The researchers noted that apart from linguistic and pedagogical issues, heavy workloads and inadequate resources, such as “inadequate supplies of reference materials, teaching
EMI in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL 49
equipment, Internet access, and electricity” (Vu & Burns, 2014, p. 20), have aﬀected both lecturers and students. They found that outdated and inﬂexible curricula in Vietnam create another obstacle for EMI programs. Meanwhile, a study conducted by Do and Le (2017) with 28 content lecturers in a public university in the Mekong Delta indicated that EMI lecturers face a number of challenges, including students’ low language proﬁciency, lack of preparation time for lectures, diﬃculty engaging class discussion in English, and their own struggles with language ability. Despite the ubiquity of EMI, particularly throughout Europe and Asia, and claims of increased language proﬁciency attained through this approach (Collins, 2010), the adoption of EMI needs to be considered in terms of the local educational context. EMI’s origins in Western cultural settings, its assumption of educators’ high levels of English language proﬁciency, and its requirement for extensive second language (L2) resources (e.g., textbooks, reference materials) can render its application challenging in comparatively under-resourced contexts, such as Vietnam. Tertiary educators struggle to reach required outcomes with limited professional development, and students receive minimal English language exposure outside of the classroom. They frequently experience diﬃculty engaging with content taught through the L2. The impact of EMI on both students and lecturers warrants further consideration and raises questions about the wholesale importation of approaches to using English as part of higher education in Vietnam. This chapter examines the evolution of EMI in Vietnamese higher education, seeking to better understand the challenges and the potentials of this approach for language learning outcomes. Using data from research conducted in six Vietnamese universities located in northern Vietnam, central Vietnam, and southern Vietnam, this chapter considers the experiences of educators and students at the classroom level of higher education. We explore issues of infrastructure such as teaching and learning resources for EMI courses, educators’ linguistic and content-area knowledge, and the Vietnamese government’s intentions to increase its citizens’ English language proﬁciency as part of the national internationalization agenda. We consider possibilities for shaping the implementation of EMI to better support educators and students, and to attain greater language learning outcomes.
Research Questions Addressed This chapter reports on part of a larger study that investigated policies and practices of EMI in Vietnamese tertiary contexts. This discussion speciﬁcally focuses on the following research questions: 1. 2.
What challenges are faced by lecturers and students in EMI courses? What learning and teaching strategies are used to overcome these challenges?
50 T. H. T. Tran, R. Burke, and J. M. O’Toole
Research Methods In order to address the research questions, a mixed-methods sequential explanatory design, including surveys (students and lecturers), interviews (lecturers), and focus groups (students), was adopted. The questionnaires mainly used a closed-question format with ﬁve-point Likert scales (adapted from Byun et al., 2011; Othman & Saat, 2009; Tatzl, 2011; Yeh, 2014) for the participants’ answers. Likert-type responses can be quickly and easily analyzed (Kumar, 2011). Particular Likert items asked participants to indicate their opinion of possible sources of challenges that they face on a scale from 1 = Strongly disagree, through 2 = Disagree, 3 = Uncertain, 4 = Agree, to 5 = Strongly agree, and of their use of particular strategies on a scale from 1 = Never, through 2 = Rarely, 3 = Often, 4 = Very often, to 5 = Always. The items in the questionnaires explored participants’ experiences with and understandings of both the advantages and disadvantages of EMI.
Data Collection Procedures The data for this study were collected in two stages. In the ﬁrst stage, the quantitative data were collected using questionnaire responses from 30 content lecturers and 360 students undertaking EMI courses. The questions posed will be discussed in the following sections. The data were collected from six Vietnamese universities in the southern (two universities), northern (two universities), and central (two universities) parts of Vietnam. The qualitative data in the second stage consisted of interviews with 12 content lecturers and six, ﬁve-student focus groups (30 students total). The questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews were conducted in Vietnamese. To ensure the accuracy of the content and the quality of the translations, codes, nodes, and quotes were translated into English by the main researcher author, who is bilingual and familiar with the concepts of the study.
Data Analysis Procedures SPSS software version 25 was used to support the process of quantitative data analysis. After the data were entered, coded, and scored numerically in SPSS, the ﬁndings from the surveys were analyzed thematically and statistically based on Reliability Analysis and Descriptive Analysis. The value of the Scale of item deleted was examined to ensure that no items in the questionnaire caused a substantial decrease in Cronbach’s Alpha or aﬀected the overall reliability. The items with the value of corrected item-total correlation < .3 were removed so that the correlation between each item and the overall score of the scale was ensured. With the support of NVivo 22, the qualitative data were coded and analyzed. The large quantities of text data were organized into fewer content categories, including lecturers’ and students’ challenges and teaching/learning strategies. The relationships between themes were also identiﬁed.
EMI in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL 51
Findings and Discussion Lecturers’ Challenges and Teaching Strategies Overall, lecturers indicated that they faced varied challenges in EMI courses. They “Often” used the teaching strategies listed in the questionnaires in their EMI classes with a range of mean scores from 2.6 to 3.9. More detailed descriptive statistics are presented in Table 4.1. As with previous research (Goodman, 2014; Othman & Saat, 2009; Tatzl, 2011; Vu & Burns, 2014; Yeh, 2014), this study found that lecturers faced linguistic challenges in EMI courses. Lecturers identiﬁed students’ lack of language proﬁciency as the most important challenge, with this item receiving the highest mean
TABLE 4.1 Lecturers’ Challenges and Strategies
Lecturers’ Challenges (n = 30) (1 = Strongly disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Uncertain, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly agree) Items
Students’ lack of English proﬁciency Lack of methodological guidelines Too much work before the course Lack of English proﬁciency Large size classes The course is too short Learning and teaching materials used in the course Diﬃcult vocabulary and terminology Lack of subject-area knowledge
3.9 3.0 2.9 2.6 2.6 2.5 2.4 2.3 1.9
0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.1
Lecturers’ Teaching Strategies (n = 30) (1 = Never, 2 = Rarely, 3 = Often, 4 = Very often, 5 = Always) Items
Adjusting the speed of lecture delivery to that suitable for students’ English level in speciﬁc classes Designing my own textbooks based on sources from the internet, original materials Spending more time preparing for lessons before EMI classes Attending national and international workshops and conferences on EMI programs Giving students some English exercises in class Giving students English homework Getting extra English qualiﬁcations (e.g., IELTS) Teaching vocabulary before lecturing the content Attending the methodological courses for EMI classes
2.8 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.6
1.5 1.5 1.0 1.1 1.2
52 T. H. T. Tran, R. Burke, and J. M. O’Toole
rating (M = 3.9 out of 5). This result was conﬁrmed by most of the lecturers (n = 8 out of 12) in interviews when they explained that students’ language abilities inﬂuenced the quality of EMI courses, students’ understanding of the content, and communications in class. Some lecturers (n = 3 out of 12) were concerned about the students’ mixed levels of English, which matches the ﬁndings in Tatzl (2011). In the present study, lecturers believed that students with high levels of language competence found lectures satisfying and comprehensible, while others with lower levels of language ability could ﬁnd lectures challenging. Another concern about linguistic issues was the lecturers’ own language proﬁciency. The quantitative data showed that these lecturers seemed not to perceive their own language proﬁciency as an obstacle (Strongly disagree: 13.3%, Disagree: 43.3%, Uncertain: 20%, Agree: 16.7%, and Strongly agree: 6.7%). However, this issue was admitted by more than half of the lecturers in interviews (n = 7 out of 12), as they could not deliver lectures totally in English due to their inadequate language abilities. Interestingly, the lecturers’ ratings on “Lack of methodological guidelines” (M = 3.0, SD = 0.9) showed a broad diversity in the responses: 36.7% agreed with this issue while 36.6% disagreed and strongly disagreed with it. The rest felt uncertain about the lack of methodological guidelines for lecturers teaching EMI courses. During interviews, lecturers expressed the belief that experiences in Vietnamese-medium classes, expertise in the content, and overseas study could help them in EMI courses in terms of their language proﬁciency and EMI pedagogy. The ﬁndings of the qualitative data also showed that although lecturers had diﬃculty balancing the speed of lecture delivery with keeping students motivated and interested in lectures, they did not consider these problems to be pedagogical challenges. However, the focus group discussions indicated that the students identify lecturers’ inability to pace EMI lessons appropriately and maintain student interest as problems with lecturers’ teaching methods as seen in the following examples: Lecturers deliver lectures too fast for students to catch up with. (Focus Group 4, 25 February 2017) Students just listen; write down without asking any questions. (Focus Group 2, 28 February 2017) Lecturers repeat exactly what is written in the textbook. (Focus Group 1, 16 March 2017) As shown in Table 4.1, lecturers were more challenged by lacking the guidelines for teaching methods, rather than the other obstacles, including vocabulary diﬃculty, materials, time allocation, class size, and workload, with the means ranging from 2.3 to 2.9. In interviews, one lecturer complained about inadequate time allocation among subjects; meanwhile, another lecturer was not happy with expensive
EMI in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL 53
imported textbooks. All lecturer interviewees felt conﬁdent about their contentarea knowledge for EMI courses, which is in line with the results of the quantitative data (M = 1.9). These results might have been obtained because all the lecturer participants in the interviews had attained advanced graduate degrees (master’s degrees and PhDs). The quantitative data of this study indicated that lecturers used varied strategies in EMI courses. Adjusting the suitable speed of lecture delivery and designing their own textbooks were the most frequently used (M = 3.9 out of 5), followed by spending more time preparing lectures for EMI classes (M = 3.7 out of 5). Other strategies (including attending national and international workshops and conferences on EMI programs, giving students English exercises in class, and asking students to do extra English homework) were given slightly less attention (M = 2.9, 2.8, and 2.7, respectively). Meanwhile, getting extra English qualiﬁcations, attending the methodological courses, and teaching relevant vocabulary before delivering lectures received the lowest ratings (M = 2.6). The emphasis for teaching strategies seemed to be on addressing students’ lack of language proﬁciency, content diﬃculty, and the availability of textbooks to ensure that students understood the content. Consequently, the teaching strategies were less related to pedagogical issues and lecturers’ lack of language proﬁciency than other factors, such as delivering the lecture according to students’ English level and designing their own textbooks. Consistent with the results from the surveys, lecturer interviewees shared varied teaching strategies. For example, one person said, “I regularly check how much students can get from the lecture by asking them, and then adjust the speed based on the students’ ability” (Lecturer 2, Interview, 14 March 2017). As found by Hu and Lei (2014), some lecturers in the present study used codeswitching (n = 4) as a ﬂexible strategy for various reasons, including explaining technical terms, adapting to students’ language proﬁciency, and providing equivalent meanings of technical terms in Vietnamese. Lecturers seemed to perceive the beneﬁts of codeswitching for students’ content understanding and considered this strategy as an eﬀective way to cope with students’ lack of language proﬁciency. However, in the interviews, some lecturers (n = 3 out of 12) expressed concern about the impact of codeswitching between English and the ﬁrst language on students’ language learning. Consequently, these lecturers suggested that this strategy should be used at the ﬁrst stage of EMI and the use of English should be increased gradually. Other teaching strategies were reported by a few lecturers, such as asking students to prepare lessons (n = 2), assisting students with English (n = 2), and repeating technical terms many times during class (n = 2). Some lecturers asked students to take notes in English during lectures (n = 1), grouped students according to their English levels (n = 1), and improved their own language proﬁciency (n = 1). Clear descriptions of EMI courses and reference books in Vietnamese were also provided at the beginning of the course. Slides with explanations and glossaries for technical terms were delivered before and during class. By taking these steps, lecturers believed that they helped students reduce content and vocabulary diﬃculties.
54 T. H. T. Tran, R. Burke, and J. M. O’Toole
Students’ Challenges and Learning Strategies With the mean scores on student questionnaire responses ranging from 2.2 to 3.5, the quantitative ﬁndings showed that there was a range of challenges facing EMI students, and that they applied varied learning strategies. More detailed descriptive statistics are presented in Table 4.2. Students in this study reported that they were most pressured by the ﬁnal exams (M = 3.5 out of 5). Typically, students have a test at the end of the course, in which they are expected to demonstrate their content-area knowledge in English. As with Tatzl (2011), students in this study appeared to be pressured to answer examination questions correctly in the target language. Table 4.2 shows that students were also challenged by linguistic issues, such as their own lack of English proﬁciency (M = 3.0) and vocabulary diﬃculty (M = 3.4). In focus groups, the linguistic challenges, especially technical terms and students’ TABLE 4.2 Students’ Challenges and Learning Strategies
Students’ Challenges (n = 360) (1 = Strongly disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Uncertain, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly agree) Items
The pressure of ﬁnal exams for EMI courses Diﬃcult vocabulary My lack of content knowledge The course is too short Too much work in the course Learning materials used in the course My lack of English proﬁciency before I attend EMI courses Lecturers’ lack of language proﬁciency Large size classes Lecturers’ lack of content knowledge
3.5 3.4 3.3 3.1 3.1 3.1 3.0 3.0 2.4 2.2
1.0 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.0 0.9
Students’ Learning Strategies (n = 360) (1 = Never, 2 = Rarely, 3 = Often, 4 = Very often, 5 = Always) Items
Paying close attention to lectures in class Seeking help from classmates Taking notes in class using English Reading extra materials in English Seeking help from lecturers Taking notes in class using Vietnamese Preparing lessons before class Attending extra English classes Asking questions in class
3.4 3.3 3.3 3.0 2.9 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.8
0.8 0.8 0.8 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 1.0 0.9
EMI in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL 55
communicative skills, were matters of concern. These issues found in this study match those in previous studies (Byun et al., 2011; Tatzl, 2011), as shown in this comment from a focus group discussion: “We [students] cannot know all technical terms. For example, we know some words with their ordinary meanings, but in the content-area context, we do not know their meanings” (Focus Group 5, 24 February 2017). As a lecturer interviewee explained, students seemed to inherit passive learning styles and habits from their secondary schools, where students typically acted passively as listeners and receivers of the knowledge. In focus groups, while some students admitted being motivated in discussions and interactions with lecturers and peers, others said they expected lecturers to be the providers of content in the classroom. Being afraid of losing face when they made mistakes, students were reluctant to participate in activities in the classroom. As Hoang (2010) notes, general English classes in Vietnam tend to emphasize reading skills, vocabulary, grammar, and structures for ﬁnal tests. Potentially, this emphasis in their earlier education might be one of the causes of students’ lack of communicative skills when they enroll in EMI courses in higher education. As shown in Table 4.2, students’ responses to lecturers’ lack of language proﬁciency (M = 3.0 from 5) displayed considerable diversity, as shown by the value of the standard deviation (1.1). In all the focus groups, lecturers’ English proﬁciency was discussed as the most problematic issue in EMI courses, especially lecturers’ accents and pronunciation, as shown in this comment from a focus group: “The lecturer pronounces wrongly, so sometimes I do not understand what he is talking about … Sometimes his accent is so strange; it goes up and down irregularly, so I do not understand what he is talking about” (Focus Group 2, 28 February 2017). As mentioned above, pedagogical issues were found in this study when some students (n = 3 out of 30) blamed their lack of motivation in EMI on the lecturers’ teaching methods. Some students reported that lecturers spoke too fast, and, in some cases, lecturers just read what was written in the textbook, as students listened and wrote down what they heard. As with the quantitative ﬁndings shown in Table 4.2, some students (n = 8) complained that the inappropriate time allocation for EMI courses led to too much of the content-area knowledge being conveyed in a class period and too many subjects being taught in a semester. The following comments from the focus groups illustrate this point: We have 11 classes [for one subject] allocated in 11 weeks, which is too short for us to gain the content-area knowledge of the subject. (Focus Group 4, 25 February 2017). We study two chapters in one period [50 minutes], so we just listen to the lecture, we cannot ask any questions. (Focus Group 6, 1 March 2017).
56 T. H. T. Tran, R. Burke, and J. M. O’Toole
This study also found that the lack of available textbooks (n = 2) and unfamiliar language in textbooks (n = 2) challenged students. The textbooks for EMI programs in Vietnam are typically imported from partner universities. They are often expensive and unavailable. Consequently, as students reported, copied versions were alternative sources. This study indicated that students had numerous learning strategies to overcome the challenges they faced in EMI classes. The quantitative ﬁndings were consistent with the results gathered from the focus groups. Learning strategies seemed to be aﬀected by the students’ goals—understanding the content knowledge and improving their language proﬁciency. These strategies tended to be directly related to their engagement and involvement in lectures in class: paying attention to lectures, taking notes during the lectures, recording the lectures, and asking questions. Some students sought help from peers and lecturers through communications inside and outside the classroom for both the language and the content. For example, in a focus group, one student said, “If I have something that I cannot understand, I will ask the lecturer or my friends, or I have a look at other previous students’ documents as references” (Focus Group 3, 24 February 2017). Other possible solutions for students’ linguistic and content diﬃculty were discussed in the focus groups, such as increased work outside of class (reading extra learning materials, preparing lessons before classes) and improving language ability (attending extra English classes). However, as with the quantitative data, students in the focus groups seemed not to consider class size (M = 2.4) and lecturers’ expertise in the subject (M = 2.2) as challenges in EMI courses in Vietnam.
Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research The EMI trend is a global phenomenon, but its practices should be tailored to local contexts. Vietnam is an example of an under-resourced context that has adopted EMI in higher education as a response to globalization. However, the transition from English as a subject to using the language as a medium of instruction in Vietnam is not accomplished simply by methodology and policy borrowing; rather, the implementation of EMI needs to be well prepared to ensure its suitability and eﬀectiveness. The ﬁndings of this study suggest a number of implications for policy, practice, and further research in Vietnamese tertiary EFL contexts. First, the data for this study were based on the participants’ perceptions and beliefs. More research should be conducted with diﬀerent methods, such as classroom observations, to get a better understanding of actual practices of EMI in Vietnam. The second implication involves linguistic challenges. Students’ language ability needs to be well prepared for EMI at both secondary and tertiary levels. This goal could possibly be achieved by ﬁrst oﬀering ESP and EAP courses to equip students with skills of using language academically, before they attend EMI courses.
EMI in Vietnamese Tertiary EFL 57
In addition, lecturers’ language proﬁciency should be tested based on the same standardized benchmarks used for students (i.e., IELTS, TOEFL). To enhance opportunities for student exposure to English, policymakers should also consider regulations on the use of the mother tongue in EMI programs. In recruitment, lecturers should be assessed by content experts and language experts. Language experts can evaluate lecturers’ ability to use English to deliver content academically and pedagogically. For pedagogical implications, universities and departments should support lecturers by organizing in-house workshops or sending them to international conferences. Finally, for long-term targets, Vietnamese universities should consider the development of appropriate curricula and textbooks for EMI programs in its under-resourced contexts. These actions could potentially reduce content and language diﬃculty and enhance the availability of resources for, and the eﬀectiveness of, EMI courses.
References Ali, N. L. (2013). A changing paradigm in language planning: English-medium instruction policy at the tertiary level in Malaysia. Current Issues in Language Planning, 14(1), 73–92. doi:10.1080/14664208.2013.775543. Bui, T. T. N., & Nguyen, H. T. M. (2016). Standardizing English for educational and socio-economic betterment—A critical analysis of English language policy reforms in Vietnam. In R. Kirkpatrick (Ed.), English language education policy in Asia (pp. 363–388). Springer. Byun, K., Chu, H., Minjung, K., Park, I., Kim, S., & Jung, J. (2011). English-medium teaching in Korean higher education: Policy debates and reality. Higher Education, 62, 431–449. Chapple, J. (2015). Teaching in English is not necessarily the teaching of English. International Education Studies, 8(3), 1–13. Coleman, J. A. (2004). The language of higher education. In C. Mar-Molinero & P. Stevenson (Eds.), Language and the future of Europe: Ideologies, policies and practices (pp. 1–33). University of Southampton. Collins, A. B. (2010). English-medium higher education: Dilemma and problems. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 10(39), 97–110. Dearden, J. (2014). English as a medium of instruction – a growing global phenomenon. https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk. Do, M. H., & Le, T. D. L. (2017). Content lecturers’ challenges in EMI classroom. 2017. https://oapub.org/edu/index.php/ejel/article/view/479/1303. Do, T. H. (1997). Foreign language education policy in Vietnam: The reemergence of English and its impact on higher education. [Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Southern California, California, US. Doiz, A., Lasagabaster, D., & Sierra, J. M. (2011). Internationalisation, multilingualism and English-medium instruction. World Englishes, 30(3), 345–359. doi:10.1111/j.1467971X.2011.01718.x.
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Evans, S., & Morrison, B. (2011). The student experience of English-medium higher education in Hong Kong. Language & Education: An International Journal, 25(2), 147–162. doi:10.1080/09500782.2011.553287. Goodman, B. A. (2014). Implementing English as a medium of instruction in a Ukrainian university: Challenges, adjustments, and opportunities. International Journal of Pedagogies & Learning, 9(2), 130–141. Government. (2008). Decision No. 1505/QÐ-TTg on the proposal on “Advanced Programs in Vietnamese Universities in the Period of 2008–2015”. Vietnamese Government. http:// vbpl.vn/bogiaoducdaotao/Pages/vbpq-luocdo.aspx?ItemID=87404. Hamid, O. M., & Kirkpatrick, A. (2016). Foreign language policies in Asia and Australia in the Asian century. Language Problems and Language Planning, 40(1), 26–46. doi:10.1075/ lplp.40.1.02ham. Hayden, M., & Lam, Q. T. (2010). Vietnam’s higher education system. In G. Harman, M. Hayden, & T. Nghi Pham (Eds.), Reforming higher education in Vietnam (Vol. 29, pp. 15–20). Springer Netherlands. Hoang, V. V. (2010). The current situation and issues of the teaching of English in Vietnam. 立命館言語 文化研究, 22(1). Hu, G., & Lei, J. (2014). English-medium instruction in Chinese higher education: A case study. Higher Education, 67, 551–567. doi:10.1007/s10734-013-9661-5. Kachru, B. (1991). World Englishes and applied linguistics [e-book]. Available from: ERIC, Ipswich, MA. Kirkpatrick, A. (2011). English as a medium of instruction in Asian education (from primary to tertiary): Implications for local languages and local scholarship. In L. Wei (Ed.), Applied linguistics review (Vol. 2, pp. 99–119). De Gruyter Mouton. Kumar, R. (2011). Research methodology: A step-by-step guide for beginners (5th ed.). SAGE. Le, D. M. (2012). English as a medium of instruction at tertiary education system in Vietnam. The Journal of Asia TEFL, 9(2), 97–122. Le, H. P. (2008). Teaching English as an international language: Identity, resistance and negotiation. Multilingual Matters. Othman, J., & Saat, R. M. (2009). Challenges of using English as a medium of instruction: Pre-service science teachers’ perspective. Asia-Paciﬁc Education Researcher (De La Salle University Manila), 18(2), 307–316. Pham, T. N. (2010). The higher education reform agenda: A vision for 2020. In G. Harman, M. Hayden, & T. Nghi Pham (Eds.), Reforming higher education in Vietnam (Vol. 29, pp. 51–64). Springer Netherlands. Salomone, R. (2015). Challenges for English-medium instruction and language rights. Croissance de l’anglais mondialisé: Droit linguistiques et déﬁs en didactique de l’anglais., 39(3), 245–268. https://doi.org/10.1075/lplp.39.3.03sal. Seitzhanova, A., Plokhikh, R., Baiburiev, R., & Tsaregorodtseva, A. (2015). Language in education. Perspectives of Innovations, Economics & Business, 15(3), 113–116. doi:10.15208/ pieb.2015.11 Taguchi, N. (2014). English-medium education in the global society. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 52(2), 89–98. https://doi.org/10.1515/ira l-2014-0004. Tatzl, D. (2011). English-medium masters’ programmes at an Austrian university of applied sciences: Attitudes, experiences and challenges. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 10, 252–270. doi:10.1016/j.jeap.2011.08.003.
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Tsai, Y.-R., & Tsou, W. (2015). Accommodation strategies employed by non-native Englishmediated instruction (EMI) teachers. The Asia-Paciﬁc Education Researcher, 24(2), 399–407. Vu, N. T. T., & Burns, A. (2014). English as a medium of instruction: Challenges for Vietnamese tertiary lecturers. The Journal of Asia TEFL, 11, 1–31. Wächter, B., & Maiworm, F. (2014). English-taught programmes in European higher education. Lemmens. Wright, S. (2002). Language education and foreign relations in Vietnam. In J. W. Tollefson (Ed.), Language policies in education: Critical issues (pp. 225–244). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Yeh, C.-C. (2014). Taiwanese students’ experiences and attitudes towards English-medium courses in tertiary education. RELC Journal, 45(3), 305–319. doi:10.1177/ 0033688214555358.
5 ACCESS TO ENGLISH, SCHOOLING BACKGROUND, AND HABITUS Evidence from Pakistani Graduate Students Rooh Ul Amin
Issues That Motivated the Research Pakistan, a socioeconomically and linguistically diverse country, presents complex interrelationships between access to English via schooling and social class dynamics. Schooling in Pakistan is delivered in either an Urdu or an English medium, with public schools (commonly known as government schools) providing education in Urdu and private schools providing instruction in English. The dichotomy in the languages of instruction potentially shapes students’ dispositions about social inequality through schooling, which, in turn, contributes to social reproduction (Bourdieu, 1977a). This chapter explores this dichotomy by investigating the access of English language learners (henceforth, ELLs) to English during their early schooling and the eﬀect of this experience on them at the graduate level in one of the public sector universities in Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan. The focus is on how students’ English language learning experiences during early schooling and access to educational resources, their interpersonal abilities in a second language (L2), and their skills that promise social mobility (cultural capital) all shape their social habitus (ingrained habits, dispositions, and skills [Bourdieu, 1977a]). (The terms dispositions and habitus are used interchangeably in the present study.) In addressing linguistic disparities in the Pakistani educational system, the scope of this study considers the symbolic domination of English, highlighting the invisible power of English, and provides suggestions for equitable access to English in Pakistan. According to Bourdieu (1977b), by leading to the inequitable distribution of cultural capital among diﬀerent social classes, education systems contribute both to the structure of power and to symbolic relationships among diﬀerent social strata. In Bourdieu’s words (1977b), educational systems ensure that academic
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success directly depends on the possession of cultural capital and predispositions toward investing in the academic market while working objectively toward “the reproduction of the structure between the sections of the dominant class” and hierarchical ordering (p. 96, emphasis in original). One place where this stratiﬁcation is clear is in the educational system (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977). Educational institutions primarily work to safeguard the dominant culture, and transmit social ideals and dogmas that foster, sustain, and propagate social disparities (Giroux, 2001; Stanton-Salazar, 2004). According to Giroux (2001), academic settings serve as sites that maintain and constantly reproduce existing hierarchies and have the potential of disrupting the possibility of upward class mobility. In the same vein, Hellevik (2002) argues that education and social recognition in academic and social spheres of life are strongly related, because education is one of the signiﬁcant factors that inﬂuences an individual at the micro level and society at the macro level. Phillipson (2009) argues that English (in societies where it is a second language) has a two-way role: While opening doors for some, it has a gatekeeping role that closes doors for others. Since the schooling system in Pakistan is not uniform in its language of instruction and syllabi, it is reasonable to expect that students’ access to English could be inequitable, based on their early schooling. What is unclear and scarcely explored about the Pakistani school system is how diﬀerent schooling backgrounds (public versus private) can re-shape a students’ habitus inside the graduate classroom and in the social spheres of life. There is abundant research on English language learners’ experiences and the challenges they face in diverse educational settings (e.g., Abada & Tenkorang, 2009; Canagarajah, 1999; Fuentes, 2012; Gaddis, 2013; Varghese, 2012). Nevertheless, with the exception of a few studies (e.g., Capstick, 2011; Gu, 2010; Khan et al., 2005; Tamim, 2014), there is a dearth of research on Pakistani graduate students’ perceptions of access to English at previous school levels and its role in shaping their dispositions.
Context of the Research The context of this study is Pakistan, a multiethnic and a multilingual country where English is considered a source of power (Rahman, 2007), but the practice of English language teaching is minimal in public schools (Capstick, 2011; Rahman, 2010). According to Rahman (2006, 2010), there are 62 registered languages in Pakistan, and among those Urdu is the national language of the country. However, only 7.57% of the total population speaks Urdu as their ﬁrst language (L1). Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, and Siraiki are the major regional languages of Pakistan. English is the oﬃcial language of the country and is widely used in the judiciary, the military, education, and business. The schooling context in Pakistan is exceptionally complex. Three dominant streams of education run in parallel: (1) public schools (Urdu or vernacular
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medium, commonly known as government schools); (2) private schools (elite and nonelite, English medium); and (3) madaris or madrassahs (religious schools or seminaries, Arabic medium). The formal education system follows a pattern comprising the primary level (ﬁrst ﬁve years of schooling); secondary (through 10 years of schooling); and higher secondary (a total of 12 years of schooling). This level is followed by the bachelor’s degree (a total of 14 years of schooling), and the master’s degree (a total of 16 years schooling), followed by other higher education degrees. Madaris (religious seminaries) oﬀer Islamic education, which includes interpretation of the holy Quran, the prophet Muhammad’s sayings, and Islamic jurisprudence. These types of schools (urban/suburban/rural and private/public) vary widely in the availability of basic resources for education. At the two extremes, urban private schools have better resources (infrastructure such as buildings, entertainment facilities, electricity, playgrounds, and recreation centers; equipment such as computers, multimedia, and smartboards; qualiﬁed teachers; transportation services; etc.) than public schools located in rural areas. Rural and suburban private schools are better equipped than rural and suburban public schools. Urban public schools might have some resources, but they could not be compared to the well-supplied urban private schools, which oﬀer education to students from families with higher socioeconomic status. It is also important to mention here that very few students from the madaris eventually attend university. Therefore, the data for this study do not include any participants from madaris. According to Byrnes and Rickards (2011), students’ perceptions of their schooling have a strong relationship with their academic performance. The stratiﬁed schooling system in Pakistan (Rahman, 2010), therefore, presents an instructive case of academic inquiry because theoretically English has L2 status, but in practice students in the public schools have limited access to English. The point of this argument is that Pakistani students enter their graduate studies (an all-English milieu) having either minimal or very high exposure to English based on their early schooling. This discrepancy suggests the value of exploring issues related to access to English language learning in Pakistan, where English is not only the language of instruction inside the classroom (depending on the status of schools), but also plays a key role in upward social mobility. The study reported on in this chapter explores how earlier access to English aﬀects students’ habitus (Bourdieu, 1977a) in the graduate classroom and shapes their social life trajectories.
Research Questions Addressed To explore the inequitable access to English language and understand how prior schooling aﬀects graduate students’ social habitus, this study will address the following questions:
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How do university graduate students in Pakistan (studying in an all-English academic milieu) associate access to English (cultural capital) with their previous schooling background? What is the role of school location in shaping students’ dispositions with reference to access to English? How do university graduate students in Pakistan perceive the status of English?
Research Methods Data Collection Procedures Eight graduate students majoring in English were recruited via purposeful selection (Creswell, 2013). They were equally distributed according to gender and schooling background (e.g., public and private). Out of the four students from private schools, Khan, Qamoos, and Arsalan studied in urban areas whereas Mahnoor studied in a rural private school (all student names are pseudonyms). Among the four participants from a public-school background, Sara studied in an urban public school whereas Haleema, Junaid, and Wahdat studied in rural areas. The participants range in age from 20 to 25 years old. The selected institution for data collection oﬀers admission on the basis of regional quotas and accommodates students from all regions of Pakistan. As mentioned above, the participating students came from both public and private schools, which potentially diﬀer in providing opportunities for access to English. In addition to the two systems’ diﬀerent curricula, the scope of this study encompasses diﬀerences in how these systems gave the students access to facilities, such as satellite or cable television, the internet, theaters showing movies in English, opportunities for speaking English outside the classroom, and interactions with native English speakers (in exceptional cases, if any) prior to their graduate studies. Using interview protocols, data were collected via semistructured interviews with the eight participants, ranging between 30 and 60 minutes. The questions were primarily related to students’ early schooling, educational backgrounds, and their perceptions about English learning. The data also include students’ views on the role of English in academic settings and the status of English in Pakistan.
Data Analysis Procedures The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim except for some expressions in Urdu, which were converted to an English gloss and then translated into English. Any translations from Urdu to English were italicized. The ﬁrst draft of the transcribed interviews was double-checked with the participants to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the representation of what they had said and meant. As there was no translation involved for the major part of the
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transcription, I did not face any of the methodological issues pointed out by some researchers (e.g., Peña, 2007), except for ﬁnding linguistically equivalent terms of vocabulary while translating a few utterances into English. The data were analyzed in an ongoing, iterative, and recursive way, characterized by constant evaluation, re-evaluation, and cross-referencing (Creswell, 2013) grounded in thematic coding (Strauss & Corbin, 1998), and reconstructive analysis (Carspecken, 1996). Carspecken’s (1996) reconstructive analysis was used to derive meaningful and all-encompassing themes and discourses as the larger social phenomena leading to (re)shaping learners’ social habitus.
Findings and Discussion The students’ accounts of their experiences related to access to English in early schooling allowed the exploration of the socioacademic context of English learning at the micro (i.e., individual) and the macro (i.e., social context of Pakistan) levels. The participants discussed their English language learning experiences and shared their perceptions on how access to English was associated with schooling opportunities. Their experiences provided rich data because they all had varying levels of access to English language learning in their early schooling, a factor that played an important role in framing their dispositions.
Schooling Background: Access to English A central focus of the study related to the students’ perceptions about access to English during their prior schooling and how it aﬀected their dispositions in a university classroom. A general criticism and dissatisfaction resonated in the narratives of students from public schools compared to their counterparts from private schools, who expressed satisfaction with their access to English. Students from a public-school background criticized the public sector education system for providing very limited access to English. They also referred to a lack of resources in public schools. For example, Haleema said, “In government schools, we studied English in only one course. Teachers did not have English skills. The courses were not good for learning English” (Interview, 14 September 2015). She added, “Government schools do not have good teachers and modern resources. Class performance of students from private schools is always better than us” (Interview, 14 September 2015). Sara said, “Students from government schools usually remain silent inside the class” (Interview, 14 September 2015). She also stated, “In government schools, the teachers are not qualiﬁed, and courses are very old. Students who learn good English during primary school education, they perform well in universities” (Interview, 14 September 2015). In the same vein, Junaid said, “If teachers in the government schools cannot speak English, how their students can have good English?” (Interview, 15 September 2015). While commenting on the public-school system in Pakistan, Wahdat went so
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far as to criticize the public-school system in general. She said, “Government schools are unsuccessful in providing good education as compared to private schools. We speak less in the classroom” (Interview, 15 September 2015). She added that “students from government schools are not ﬂuent in English because they never have a chance to practice English. Course books are very old and the teachers use old teaching methods.” (Italics represent translation from Urdu into English.) These excerpts from interviews with students from public-school backgrounds provide evidence that limited access to English during their early schooling caused them to perceive their position as disadvantaged in the university classroom compared to those students coming from private schools. In contrast, students from private schools reported that those schools, particularly the elite schools, provided enough access to English language learning. While commenting on access to English in private schools, Khan said, “My good English skills are due to my good schooling. In my opinion, private school students have the upper hand in the classroom” (Interview, 17 September 2015). Similarly, Qamoos, reported, “Good private schools in Pakistan are only for rich people. Students from such schools perform better than students from government schools” (Interview, 17 September 2015). He also observed, “There is no comparison of Cambridge courses taught in private schools to the local textbooks of government schools” (Interview, 17 September 2015). Likewise, Arsalan remarked, “My English is better than others because I have studied in a good private school” (Interview, 28 September 2015). He continued, “Private school students have chances to get good grades as compared to the students from government schools” (Interview, 28 September 2015). While comparing the level of access to English through diﬀerent school systems, Mahnoor noted, “Students from private schools are well prepared for discussions in class because the courses in such schools are the latest and taught by qualiﬁed teachers” (Interview, 28 September 2015). She continued, “Government school students cannot lead discussions because their English is not like students from private schools” (Interview, 28 September 2015). These excerpts from interviews with students from private schools provide evidence that enough access to English during their early schooling caused them to perceive their position as advantaged in the classroom compared to those coming from public schools. Taken as a whole, the breadth of opportunities (Callahan, 2005) for access to English through early schooling led students to report varying experiences that aﬀected their academic life trajectories inside the graduate classroom. For instance, public-school students reported less qualiﬁed teachers, outdated English language courses, and lack of practice in English during their early schooling as a barrier to better performance in the graduate classroom. In contrast, private school students referred to their good English language skills, getting good grades, and leading classroom discussions. The reported disparities in access to English during the students’ early schooling support Bourdieu’s (1977a, 1977b) concerns about the role of schools in reproducing inequalities. These data show that the extent of
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access to English aﬀects students’ dispositions to position themselves either as dominant or dominated (owing to diﬀerent school systems in Pakistan) in the socioacademic (Pérez-Milans & Soto, 2016) setting of a graduate classroom. This positioning related to cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1977a), in turn, reinforces inequalities through educational institutions, which in the words of Bourdieu (1991), is cultural reproduction.
Schooling Location: Rural and Urban Divide Another striking ﬁnding of this study was the rural and urban divide (by location of the schools) aﬀecting students’ perceptions with regard to access to English and their dispositions. The participants from both public and private school backgrounds reported that access to English television channels, the internet, and other technological resources was scarce in rural areas compared to urban areas. Among the students from public schools, Sara studied in an urban public school, whereas Haleema, Junaid, and Wahdat were from rural public schools. They pointed to diﬀerences between urban and rural schools (both public and private). For example, Sara reported, “It depends on the institution if it’s in a good city, you have a chance of good English. If the school is in a village or a remote area, then English learning is less. Rural schools lack facilities” (Interview, 14 September 2015). Similarly, Haleema said, “My background in English is not good. In my village school, tables and chairs were for teachers only. We cannot compete with students from good private schools because they learn a lot from good teachers and school environment” (Interview, 14 September 2015). Junaid stated, “My school was in a village and there was only English subject. Schools in cities have good facilities and all the subjects are in English” (Interview, 15 September 2015). Among students from private schools, Khan, Qamoos, and Arsalan studied in urban private schools, whereas Mahnoor studied in a rural private school. Students from urban private schools felt that their schools had better facilities to provide access to English than those located in rural areas. For example, Arsalan said, “My school was located in the city. We used to watch academic cartoons and movies in school. These things improved my English a lot and made me diﬀerent and more sociable than others in classroom” (Interview, 28 September 2015). He continued, “Private schools in cities have good buildings with modern facilities. For example, multimedia, computer labs, air-conditioned classrooms and much more” (Interview, 28 September 2015). Qamoos observed, “My school was located in the capital city and schools in cities have a lot of facilities, not available in villages. I think, studying in big cities is much better” (Interview, 17 September 2015). Similarly, Khan commented, “Schools in cities have talented teachers and a good learning environment. Students from the best schools perform the best in classroom activities” (Interview, 17 September 2015). While noting the superiority of the private school system in Pakistan, Mahnoor also commented on the urban advantage: “Top schools like Beaconhouse and
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City Schools are in cities. These schools have good facilities and sometimes students visit foreign countries. Teachers in such schools have good degrees and good training” (Interview, September 2015). These excerpts from the data reveal that the location of the schools determined the availability of resources such as qualiﬁed teachers, a competitive school environment, and better infrastructure. For Mahnoor, Arsalan, Qamoos, and Khan (private school students from urban contexts), accumulation of enough cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1977a) in the form of exposure to English was due to well-resourced private schools located in cities. On the other hand, Wahdat, Junaid, and Haleema (rural public-school students) had less exposure to English, which positioned them on the disadvantaged side because they studied in underresourced rural public schools. In line with Sultana’s (2014) ﬁndings, the present study indicates that students from rural public schools have limited access to English compared to those from urban private schools. The perceptions voiced by the students also signaled that the disparities in English language skills they bring into the graduate classroom from early schooling histories are instrumental in shaping their desired goals and habitus (Bourdieu, 1977a, Canagarajah, 1999; Pennycook, 2001).
English: The Passport to Success The third research question asked the university graduate students about their perceptions of the status of English. The interview data for this study also revealed realities about the status of English and the deﬁning role it plays in shaping students’ life trajectories. The participants from both public and private school systems unanimously reported that good English skills are essential for success in Pakistan. While reporting on their beliefs about the status of English in Pakistan, students from private schools declared English to be an important requirement for upward social mobility (Shamim, 2011). For example, Mahnoor said, “After all, I have to compete for jobs and there is a tough merit and competition, but English skills makes it a bit easier” (Interview, September 2015). Khan noted, “English is not only needed for academic achievement, but it is also important for job opportunities and a good social status. Good English language helps in competition for competitive jobs after completing education” (Interview, 17 September 2015). In a similar vein, Qamoos observed, “I will say that learn the language of the day and rule over the world. English is the basic requirement in the Pakistani job market” (Interview, 17 September 2015). For Arsalan, English was the source of success in the classroom and beyond. He said, “Success is not passing exams but how to succeed in the long run” (Interview, 28 September 2015). He noted, “English is needed for progress in Pakistani society because it is the symbol of high social class in Pakistan” (Interview, 28 September 2015). Students from public schools also perceived good English language skills as the passport to success and upward social mobility. For example, Junaid explained, “I
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need good English for my job. Interviewers always judges candidates on their English and good English is required for respect in our society” (Interview, 15 September 2015). Sara pointed to the importance of good English skills as she said, “English language is necessary for the classroom and for jobs but they [the students] depends on where they go to school” (Interview, 14 September 2015). She added, “Good English gives a good identity in Pakistani society” (Interview, 14 September 2015). Persuaded by the symbolic prestige associated with English and the actual power that English confers in Pakistani society, the graduate students provided many valuable details in their interviews with regard to the role of English in both academic and future life trajectories. All the participants, irrespective of their schooling backgrounds, declared that English is an essential tool, not only for academic success in classroom discourses (Fairclough, 2003; Wenger, 1998), but also for upward social mobility and social recognition in the future. Their responses with regard to the need for, and the prestige of, English testiﬁed that good English skills increase the chances of employment and securing membership in prestigious social groups. For all the participants, learning English was not only a symbol of power and prestige but also a source of access to socioeconomic resources that could be termed as cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1977a; Duﬀ, 2002). A thorough exploration of students’ perceptions about their access to English in their early schooling provided evidence of the interrelationship of schooling, English language learning opportunities, and habitus. The profound eﬀects of students’ lived experiences with English resonated throughout the interview data, signaling the meaningful connections of those experiences with their lives in the classroom and beyond. Putting it all together, students from public schools could be considered disadvantaged compared to their advantaged counterparts who attended private schools. The location of the school was also a predictor of perceived access to English beyond the classroom. When we see a classroom as a microcosm of the larger sociocultural world (Pennycook, 2001), we can understand how students’ earlier English language experiences inside the classroom play a deﬁning role in shaping their dispositions in that setting. It is worth mentioning that students not only analyzed their own level of access to English during prior schooling but also juxtaposed it with that of their peers who had had diﬀerent types of schooling. This positioning of peers’ English language skills and type of schooling resulted in varying proﬁles of students’ habitus in the classroom and beyond—the professional and social spheres of future life. Since the ﬁndings of this study point to a strong relationship among access to English, schooling background, and shaping of students’ habitus, I will discuss practical eﬀorts needed to encourage students’ equitable access to English inside the classroom and to prepare them for making use of those skills in the outside social spaces.
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Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research Unless access to English is equitably granted through schooling systems, social class dynamics will get stronger day by day, resulting in persistent cultural reproduction (Bourdieu, 1977a, 1991). Such disparities could be reduced through students’ improved access to English in the public-school system in Pakistan. Equitable access to English in public schools is also possible through judicious inclusion of course content in English taught through content-based instruction. This practical step would improve students’ English language skills and prepare students well before they start their university education, consistent with their needs. It is anticipated that expanded content delivered in English would oﬀer enhanced opportunities for substantial exposure to English language learning early in schools. I recognize the fact that introducing uniform language policies in education might prove to be a daunting task for the education policymakers in Pakistan; however, increasing the time designated for teaching English at the elementary and secondary school levels could be a starting point toward more equitable educational policies. A scarcity of trained teachers at public schools also resonated in the data for the present study. That being the case, enhanced course content in English might contribute very little to equitable access to English in public schools unless appropriate teacher training is also ensured. In order to match the objectives of English courses aligned with students’ needs and to discourage the teaching of new English course contents in old ways, taking the following steps is essential. First, testing the content knowledge and professional skills of prospective teachers is highly desirable. Second, assessment of prospective teachers’ English skills and abilities to use various instructional strategies to meet all students’ needs would be a plus for equitable access to English through diﬀerent school systems in Pakistan. Finally, in-service teacher training aimed at increasing teachers’ English language teaching and learning skills and the use of student-centered teaching methods inside the classroom would be very valuable. Given the lack of resources in public schools noted in the students’ responses, it would not be prudent to recommend the institution of uniform syllabi for all school systems in Pakistan all at once. However, improving the public schools’ infrastructure (buildings, entertainment facilities, electricity, playgrounds, recreation centers, etc.), access to technology, and recruiting qualiﬁed and trained teachers, would help by providing better English language learning opportunities for students in Pakistan. With the goal of Education for All (Government of Pakistan, 2014; Shamim, 2011), as well as the importance of English language learning in Pakistan (Rahman, 2010) and ensuring equity in access to English, it would be helpful for the educational policymakers in Pakistan to devise uniform education policies for the diﬀerent school systems. In conclusion, the exploration of students’ lived experiences of access to English during their early schooling oﬀered valuable insights into the role of these experiences in shaping students’ dispositions in a Pakistani graduate classroom. The same insights might also apply to other settings. Since attitudes are not static in nature (Baker, 1992) and the ﬁndings of the present study are based on data collected in a
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speciﬁc timeframe, future longitudinal studies are recommended for capturing changes in students’ attitudes toward their access to English. In order to further the scope of studies on (in)equitable access to English diﬀerent schooling systems resulting in sustained cultural reproduction (Bourdieu, 1977a), a comparative analysis of elite and non-elite private schooling in Pakistan is also recommended. Furthermore, since this study was limited to graduate students majoring in English in one of the public sector universities in the Federal Capital Area of Islamabad, gathering data from participants at other universities and those students majoring in disciplines other than English might bring diﬀerent issues to light in regard to access to English language learning in Pakistan and its impact on students.
References Abada, T., & Tenkorang, E. Y. (2009). Gender diﬀerences in educational attainment among the children of Canadian immigrants. International Sociology, 24(4), 580–608. Baker, C. (1992). Attitudes and language. Multilingual Matters. Bourdieu, P. (1977a). Cultural reproduction and social reproduction. In J. Karabel & A. H. Halsey (Eds.), Power and ideology in education (pp. 487–511). Oxford University Press. Bourdieu, P. (1977b). The economics of linguistic exchanges. Social Science Information, 16(6), 645–668. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (1977). Reproduction in education, society and culture (R. Nice, Trans.). SAGE. Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power. (G. Raymond & M. Adamson, Trans.) Harvard University Press. Byrnes, L. J., & Rickards, F. W. (2011). Listening to the voices of students with disabilities: Can such voices inform practice? Australasian Journal of Special Education, 35(1), 25–34. Callahan, R. (2005). Tracking and high school English learners: Limiting opportunity to learn. American Educational Research Journal, 42(2), 305–328. Canagarajah, A. S. (1999). Resisting linguistic imperialism in English teaching. Oxford University Press. Capstick, T. (2011). Language and migration: The social and economic beneﬁts of learning English in Pakistan. In H. Coleman (Ed.), Dreams and realities: Developing countries and the English language (pp. 207–228). British Council. Carspecken, P. F. (1996). Critical ethnography in educational research: A theoretical and practical guide. Routledge. Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed.). SAGE. Duﬀ, P. A. (2002). The discursive co-construction of knowledge, identity, and diﬀerence: An ethnography of communication in the high school mainstream. Applied Linguistics, 23(3), 289–322. Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. Routledge. Fuentes, R. (2012). Beneﬁts and costs of exercising agency: A case study of an English learner navigating a four-year university. In Y. Kanno & L. Harklau (Eds.), Linguistic minority students go to college: Preparation, access, and persistence (pp. 220–237). Routledge. Gaddis, S. M. (2013). The inﬂuence of habitus in the relationship between cultural capital and academic achievement. Social Science Research, 42(1), 1–13.
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Giroux, H. A. (2001). Theory and resistance in education: Towards a pedagogy for the opposition. Bergin & Garvey. Government of Pakistan. (2014). Education for All 2015 National Review Report: Pakistan. Ministry of Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education, Academy of Educational Planning and Management. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/ 002297/229718E.pdf. Gu, M. M. (2010). Identities constructed in diﬀerence: English language learners in China. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(1), 139–152. Hellevik, O. (2002). Inequality versus association in educational attainment research: Comment on Kivinen, Ahola and Hedman. Acta Sociologica, 45(2), 151–158. Khan, S. R., Kazmi, S., & Latif, Z. (2005). A comparative institutional analysis of government, NGO and private rural primary schooling in Pakistan. The European Journal of Development Research, 17(2), 199–223. Peña, E. D. (2007). Lost in translation: Methodological consideration in cross-cultural research. Child Development, 78(4), 1255–1264. Pennycook, A. (2001). Critical applied linguistics: A critical introduction. Lawrence Erlbaum. Pérez-Milans, M., & Soto, C. (2016). Reﬂexive language and ethnic minority activism in Hong Kong: A trajectory-based analysis. AILA Review, 29(1), 48–82. Phillipson, R. (2009). The tension between linguistic diversity and dominant English. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas, R. Phillipson, A. K. Mohanty, & M. Panda (Eds.), Social justice through multilingual education (pp. 85–102). Multilingual Matters. Rahman, T. (2006). Language policy, multilingualism and language vitality in Pakistan. In S. Anju & B. Lars (Eds.), Trends in linguistics: Lesser-known languages of South Asia: Status and policies, case studies and applications of information technology (pp. 73–104). Mouton de Gruyter. Rahman, T. (2007). The role of English in Pakistan with special reference to tolerance and militancy. In A. B. Tsui & J. W. Tollefson (Eds.), Language policy, culture, and identity in Asian contexts (pp. 219–239). Lawrence Erlbaum. Rahman, T. (2010). Language policy, identity, and religion: Aspects of the civilization of the Muslims of Pakistan and North India. Chair on Quaid-i-Azam & Freedom Movement, National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University. Shamim, F. (2011). English as the language for development in Pakistan: Issues, challenges and possible solutions. In H. Coleman (Ed.), Dreams and realities: Developing countries and the English language (pp. 291–309). British Council. Stanton-Salazar, R. D. (2004). Social capital among working-class minority students. In M. A. Gibson, P. Gandara, & J. P. Koyama (Eds.), School connections: U.S. Mexican youth, peers, and school achievement (pp. 18–38). Teachers College Press. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). SAGE. Sultana, S. (2014). English as a medium of instruction in Bangladesh’s higher education: Empowering or disadvantaging students. Asian EFL Journal, 16(1), 11–52. Tamim, T. (2014). The politics of languages in education: Issues of access, social participation and inequality in the multilingual context of Pakistan. British Educational Research Journal, 40(2), 280–299. Varghese, M. M. (2012). A linguistic minority student’s discursive framing of agency and structure. In Y. Kanno & L. Harklau (Eds.), Linguistic minority students go to college: Preparation, access, and persistence (pp. 148–162). Routledge. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press.
6 APPROPRIATION OF COLOMBIAN ELT POLICY IN A TARGETED SCHOOL The Creation of an “Elite” Yet Still Needy School in the Public Education System Norbella Miranda
Issues That Motivated the Research In Colombia, the promulgation of the Programa Nacional de Bilingüismo (the National Bilingual Program, hereafter referred to as NBP) in 2004 raised opposing reactions, from hope in its promise of economic development to critique of the oversimpliﬁcation of its goals and what it means to be bilingual. The NBP is the educational policy that favors the teaching of English in the oﬃcial curricula across all levels of schooling, calling for developing students’ higher communicative competence levels that compare to international standards. The government perceived the lack of proﬁciency in the English language as an impediment for the country’s globalizing agenda; hence, the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) planned actions to promote English teaching in public schools. Language competence levels based on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages were set by the MoE as policy goals for schooling: beginners A1 for primary, basic A2 for middle school, and pre-intermediate B1 for high school. Soon after, the results of the high school exit exam started to show that school leavers’ proﬁciency was far below the B1 level. Generally, teachers were held accountable for the poor results despite the varied conditions of their teaching contexts. The NBP had been created within the traditional linear top-down policymaking perspective, with little teacher participation. The critical sociocultural perspective, however, considers the irreplaceable role of teachers in policy creation, interpretation, appropriation, and instantiation (Johnson, 2013). Teachers negotiate and create educational language policies in their contexts (Menken & García, 2010) as they interact with their students and other school actors.
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Similar to other countries where ELT policies have been developed (Canale, 2011; Le, 2018; Nunan, 2003; Zhang & Hu, 2010), it was evident that Colombia’s educational system was not ready to achieve the policy goals. The shortage of primary school teachers proﬁcient in English (Correa & González, 2016), inadequate school infrastructure and management practices (Cardenas & Miranda, 2014; Miranda et al., 2016), unsound teaching methodologies (Chaves & Hernández Gaviria, 2013), insuﬃcient instructional time (Guerrero, 2010), and large class size (Sanchez Solarte & Obando Guerrero, 2008) arose as factors contributing to this lack of readiness in studies of the policy and ELT in general. In its eﬀorts for policy enforcement, the MoE designed curricular guidelines, classroom materials, and online resources. In addition, the MoE implemented immersion journeys for both teachers and students and started an English Teaching Fellowship Program, a strategy that brings professionals in various areas of knowledge to co-teach with local English teachers. Fellows come from diﬀerent countries and can be native speakers of English or have a C1 certiﬁed language level. Besides teaching, Fellows also plan cultural activities for the schools and work with teachers to strengthen their English level. With the new focus on ELT and its accompanying actions, it became advisable to examine the way teachers were negotiating policy processes and plans in their schools to identify new or persisting practices and challenges. This chapter centers on the NPB policy appropriation by an English teacher in an institution that has been focalizada by the government (i.e., it has been targeted for the implementation of oﬃcial policy plans). Fictitious names chosen by the participants are used to preserve the teacher’s and school’s anonymity.
Context of the Research Colombia is listed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank as a developing country, with upper middle income and the potential to play an increasing role in global economic growth. But what is reported to be an increasingly rising economy with the recent membership in the OECD hardly reﬂects life on a daily basis, as Colombia’s unequal living conditions continue to show among the largest gaps in the world. In the education sector, the breach between private and public schools has been widely documented (e.g., Gaviria, 2002), including English teaching and learning (e.g., Sanchez Jabba, 2012). Within the public sector, the focalization strategy for the allocation of the national budget might be creating a new gap. The Colombian education system implements focalización, or targeting, to rationalize social spending. Universalization, a model of social policy aimed at free access to services for the entire population that prevailed in the 1970s and 1980s, was replaced by targeting in the 1990s. As a strategy, targeting intends to direct spending to the sectors of the population that need it most, and it is considered by the government to be a means of ﬁghting poverty and inequality (Consejo
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Nacional de Politica Económica y Social [Conpes], 2006). However, targeting translates into reduced budgets. In fact, the expenditure on education by the government—4.5% of its GDP in 2017 (UNESCO, 2020)—was one of the main reasons for strikes and marches in three consecutive years (2018, 2019, and the beginning of 2020), with people requesting the allocation of a larger budget. Targeting has been applied in educational policies which seek to promote equity, as in the case of the NBP. Following implementation of the NBP, targeting has meant that whereas the policy goals are universal (i.e., set for all schools), strategic actions are directed only to a selected group, leading to an imbalanced situation. Mélida Zamora School (a pseudonym) is a targeted public school, and beneﬁciary of most national government implementational actions for the NBP. In this case, targeting means that, unlike most schools in the country, Mélida Zamora School has been the recipient of resources, software programs, and the oﬃcial textbooks Way to Go, for Grades 6–8 (ages 11–13), and English, Please! Fast Track for Grades 9–11 (ages 14–16). Teachers at the school have been invited to participate in professional development programs for English language proﬁciency and the use of the new materials. Furthermore, the school had the support of mentors and two foreign assistant language teachers or Fellows in 2016. The Fellow participating in the study was an arts teacher originally from London. With regard to infrastructure and resources, Mélida Zamora School has a Sala de Bilingüismo, with ample space, a TV set, video projector, and some computers for teachers’ and students’ use. The case of Mélida Zamora School is an example of the steps taken by the Ministry of Education to address under-resourcing for policy implementation, and yet—as I will argue later in the chapter—other school conditions clearly keep the school in a challenging situation to attain policy goals. Mélida Zamora School is located in Cali, a city in the southwestern region of Colombia. English is allocated one hour per week in the primary grades, three hours in middle school (Grades 6–9), and two hours in high school (Grades 10–11). The class size is generally 35–45 students and teachers are assigned 22 hours of teaching time per week. The context of the research was an 11th-grade (ages 16–18) class, a group of 42 students with 29 girls and 13 boys. Their English classes took place in the Bilingualism Room, where they had easy access to the English textbooks that were kept on a bookshelf. The students had a two-hour class once a week and, while their level of proﬁciency in English was somewhat heterogenous, most of them were at a basic level. Compared to other public schools, Mélida Zamora School’s students attained better results in the school exit exam, yet less than 20% achieved the B1 CEFR goal level of the NBP. The English class was led by a teacher who called himself José for the purposes of this research report. He was the focal participant. José was born and raised in Cali, in a middle-class family. He obtained a Bachelor of Languages degree and has been concerned with maintaining a good level of English. This goal prompted him to travel to the United Kingdom for a year after his graduation, in order
Appropriation of Colombian ELT Policy 75
to work as a language assistant and improve his English proﬁciency. His own experience as an assistant teacher abroad motivated him to take the role of mentor for the Fellows who arrived at Mélida Zamora School. At the time of this writing, José had had almost 30 years of experience and had been working for Mélida Zamora School for 17 years.
Research Questions Addressed The broader research project aimed to investigate how English teachers have interpreted and appropriated the NBP in two secondary public school classrooms in Cali. More speciﬁcally, in this chapter, I address the following two questions: 1. 2.
What teaching practices does the English teacher implement in a targeted public school? What do these routines indicate in terms of adoption, adaptation, or rejection of the educational language policy (NBP)?
Research Methods Data Collection Procedures To answer the research questions, I employed ethnographic and discourse analytic methods and collected data through observation, interviews, and review of policy documents. My visits to Mélida Zamora School were held from August 2016 to January 2017. During my visits to the school, I took ﬁeld notes of its routines and special events, and focused on the 11th-grade English classes. I recorded audio and video of class sessions, after the students were acquainted and comfortable with my presence in the classroom. I conducted three interviews with José (the teacher). The ﬁrst interview focused on the teacher’s past experience with regard to his personal and academic life, the second one centered on his current ELT teaching practices, and, in the third interview, I validated my understanding of his interpretation and appropriation of the NBP. To enrich the analysis, I also interviewed the Fellow, the 11th-grade class students, the school principal, the academic coordinator, and the coordinator of the English subject area. One particular interview question that illuminated the analysis asked about the real possibilities and limitations of the school to reach the policy goals. The documents analyzed included the school’s educational project; the English area plan containing the theoretical principles of language, and language teaching and learning; and the 11th-grade classroom plan for English. In addition, the teacher shared a notebook with me, which he used to brieﬂy log what he had done in each class. Student work and the textbook were part of the analysis too. Data were collected in both Spanish and English, depending on the participants’ choice and the situation.
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Data Analysis Procedures The analysis of the collected data was guided by procedures from ethnographic (Copland & Creese, 2015) and classroom discourse research (Martin-Jones, 2015). I transcribed the interviews and segments of classroom interactional data and typed my handwritten ﬁeld notes. Using Atlas.ti qualitative research software, the analysis involved multiple readings and coding of the data, through descriptive, process, and in vivo coding, a method that employs the direct language of participants as codes. I followed a chronological order based on my ﬁeld notes. The ﬁrst round of coding allowed me to identify groundedness (the number of associated quotations) and guided the second and third rounds, where I grouped codes into families. I selected audio and video segments for classroom discourse analysis, paying attention to verbal and non-verbal signs, students’ and teachers’ discourse and activities, and their use of the textbook. The analysis was aided by contextualization cues (Gumperz, 1982), such as increasing loudness to emphasize a word or vowel elongation to maintain attention. I employed constant comparison methods to compare data, codes, categories, and concepts (Charmaz, 2014).
Findings and Discussion Teaching Practices and Policy Appropriation José’s pedagogical practices revealed policy appropriation through the use of the oﬃcial textbook English, Please! 3, Fast Track and eﬀorts to develop students’ oral skills. In the analysis of data for this study, the phrase “Everybody Speaks” emerged as an in vivo code that condensed the meaning of José’s practice. It represents a pedagogical sequence based on the book content with a task designed by the teacher to practice speaking. In one task, the students created a poster and performed an oral presentation in teams about what they considered to be the world’s biggest problem. Four phases were identiﬁed in the sequence: (1) setting the stage, where the teacher provided the necessary input and instructions for the task; (2) on task, the actual work of students to complete the task; (3) outcome, the result of students’ work; and (4) feedback, which included the teacher’s assessment and comments about the outcome. The following excerpt is part of the pedagogical sequence “Everybody Speaks” and belongs to the Setting the stage phase. Extract 1 below depicts the teacher’s and students’ interaction while the former is giving instructions for the task. In previous classes, the Fellow had introduced language related to the topic using the textbook. (See Appendix A for the transcription conventions.) Extract 1: The World’s Biggest Problem 1 2 3
J: You are going to come out with something like this, similar to this [the teacher
shows a poster with world problems]. This … this … or … I’ll give some examples, something like this… something like this … or something like this…or something
Appropriation of Colombian ELT Policy 77
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
like this [he continues showing posters]. So, what is the idea? What’s the idea? The group with ﬁve members, or six members of the group will come out with something, a drawing, an image, a picture that represents the world’s … the world’s biggest problem. What’s the world’s biggest problem for you? Let’s remember about world’s problems, what are some world’s problems? Some examples of world problems … (0.5) [the students keep quiet] Some examples of world problems … (0.7) [some students whisper among themselves]. Examples of world problems … Some examples … [students continue to whisper, but they don’t answer]. You forgot (?). After two weeks with no classes, you forgot. What are the world’s problems? [no answer from the students] (0.5) What is it? S1: J: S2: J: S3: J: S4: J:
Poverty, poverty [one student answers] Poverty, yeah. [José repeats the word while the Fellow writes it on the board] War. War, ok, war. [the Fellow writes the word on the board] (?) Violence. [the Fellow writes the word on the board] (?) What is it? Pollution … pollution. There are some more … [the Fellow writes the word on the board while José continues asking questions] There are some more. Any other? More, give some more. Give some more. [José insists on his questions and the students talk to each other, giving answers]. Say it again? Again? Hunger. (Field notes enriched with audio transcript, 21 September 2016)
With little modiﬁcation, José’s pedagogy included task-based language learning and teaching (TBLT), as opposed to the grammar translation method, the privileged approach used by most public school teachers in Cali (Chaves & Hernández, 2013). In the excerpt, José employed modeling (lines 1–4) and eliciting information (lines 7–13; 21–24), which are techniques associated with TBLT. Together with project-based and problem-based teaching, TBLT is one of the methodological approaches recommended by the NBP (MoE, 2016a) and José is clearly aware of this policy on ELT methodology. In several conversations, he mentioned that one of the policy intentions was the use of more communicative approaches and insisted that it represented a challenge to teachers, who were afraid of changes. In his words, MoE’s instructors in teacher development programs encouraged participating teachers to take risks in trying new methodologies and strategies. In terms of skills learning, the task aimed at speaking: “Listen up, the instruction is a:ll the group. Everybody speaks. Not one. No. Everybody speaks” (José, Field notes, 21 September 2016). The teacher’s use of English while interacting with the students and his request that the students do the same contributed to his
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goal of increasing the use of English. In Extract 1 above, José’s insistence on student participation was apparent. In all instances when he asked the students for words about the world’s problems, the teacher purposefully waited a few seconds for students to answer (lines 8–13). Even though the students could not recall the vocabulary at the beginning of the lesson, they later mentioned some words, albeit with hesitation. The teacher noted that the MoE expected “more use of L2 in class, from both parties, both agents, both actors, students and teachers” (José, Interview, 3 November 2016). José speaks conﬁdently of the MoE’s expectations primarily due to his participation in teacher development programs, where he learned about the policy intention ﬁrsthand. Extract 1 and the task in general reﬂect the teacher’s appropriation of NBP. The teacher adopted the policy aims of augmenting the use of English in class, developing speaking skills, and employing TBLT. He embraced these goals and incorporated them into his practice. Nevertheless, the way José used the oﬃcial textbook to design the task demonstrated policy adaptation. José not only moved a poster task that was at the end of the unit forward in the book sequence, but he also changed the task content. In the original task, the students were invited to talk about their “Ideal World,” while José’s modiﬁed task asked them to talk about world problems. Hence, the teacher reordered the book content and added a new topic and activity in order for the students to practice the speaking skill, which he thought they needed most, and to adjust the book content to the students’ level of competence. Keeping the “Ideal World” task would have demanded that students use complex language that they were not ready for (e.g., conditionals). Instead, “The World’s Biggest Problem” was a simpler task in language complexity, though still meaningful and cognitively demanding.
Affordances Within Targeting Being a targeted school visibly represents an advantage for Mélida Zamora School and its English teachers. In José’s case, he participated in teacher development programs to learn about diﬀerent aspects of the NBP, had easy access to the oﬃcial textbook and other teaching resources, and counted on the Fellow’s support during his teaching. These aﬀordances equipped him with tools to get acquainted with and appropriate the educational language policy. José prizes the MoE’s eﬀorts for policy implementation: I see there’s been support in terms of methodologies, a signiﬁcant support in terms of resources. The truth is that we have to value this; we tend to complain and complain, see the bad things and what the other person does is not enough (…) but we have to value these things about English. (José, Interview, 21 September 2016)
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As a recipient of most oﬃcial policy plans, José speaks from a privileged position that has enabled him to ease his teaching from limitations that teachers must deal with in non-targeted schools. Particularly signiﬁcant are the teacher development programs in which he participated. José was able to reﬂect upon his practice and make decisions about changes in his methodological approach. He now tries to focus on communication, implements content and activities closely related to students’ real life, and uses more English in class than before. According to Guerrero (2019), after NBP, language in ELT has come to signify a system of representation, not just words, and this new way to approach language and language teaching is visible in José’s policy appropriation. Counting on the textbook represents an aﬀordance to teachers, and it gives support to instruction. Lack of classroom materials has been identiﬁed as a major constraint for language teaching in the country and, noticeably, the English, Please! series represents a relief for teachers when they have access to it. In the case of José, not only does he count on the textbooks, but he also stores them in his classroom and has participated in workshops to learn how to use them eﬀectively. Mélida Zamora School’s principal concedes that the textbook has a noteworthy position in ELT: “So, that is an important investment. I know that the English textbook plays an important role [in teaching], right?” (translated from Spanish) (Principal, Interview, 11 September 2016) Like José, the school principal acknowledges the MoE’s implementational actions and the monies allocated to the NBP. His school demonstrates that there has been an important investment in the policy. In the case of resources, the design, publication, and availability of the book constitute a signiﬁcant advance in ELT in the country. Prior to having the textbook, teachers used photocopies with exercises pasted from other books or ones they designed themselves. They sometimes paid for their students’ copies. As textbooks continue to be a major teaching resource in ELT, the Colombian book series no doubt represents an asset. The help of the Fellow in conducting oral activities, presenting language items, or supporting the local teacher’s instruction as he did in the pedagogical sequence above (lines 15, 17, 19) also represented an increased opportunity for teaching and learning. He facilitated the goal of augmenting the use of English in the school. According to the NBP, Fellows’ tasks include strengthening teachers’ and students’ English skills, co-teaching with the schoolteacher, planning classes, and assisting teachers in student evaluation (MoE, 2016b). As José mentioned, some Fellows have taken the passive role of class observers in other targeted schools, sometimes because they do not have teaching skills or because local teachers do not recognize them as peers. In the case of Mélida Zamora School, however, the Fellow provided the local teacher with an opportunity to change his communication practices with the students. As can be seen, there are a number of diﬀerent aﬀordances provided by the targeting strategy. They have permeated teaching practices and student learning. A quote by a student (translated from Spanish) can illustrate this point well:
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Well, I didn’t like English before and, from the moment all these projects started and they began to improve English language education, I like it now. I can understand and I can talk to another person, so I deﬁnitely think that now, maybe not before, but now, one can really achieve a basic level. (Student, Interview, 3 November 2016) The students have perceived the changes in their school and react positively to them. They mentioned that what they enjoyed most were the talks and activities involving the Fellows’ cultures. In spite of acknowledging these aﬀordances for language learning, the students do not think they can reach the B1 or pre-intermediate level of proﬁciency in English but feel they may attain the basic level.
Constraints Within and Beyond Targeting Despite being one of the targeted schools, Mélida Zamora School faces structural challenges that hinder the achievement of the English proﬁciency goal. These challenges are not unique to the school context which, in fact, can be considered privileged if compared to non-targeted schools in the city or country. Most stakeholders at Mélida Zamora School identify various constraints, one of the most critical being the limited instructional time. José and the rest of the English teachers believe that the time allocated to English classes is not enough. The 11th-grade class is assigned two hours per week, so the implementation of projects, which demands considerable time, is disregarded by José, who designs shorter tasks instead. Insuﬃcient instructional time was identiﬁed as a constraint from the early days of the NBP (Sanchez Solarte & Obando Guerrero, 2008) and, despite advances in some schools, most institutions maintain only from two to three hours per week for ELT. In most public institutions in Colombia, the school day lasts only ﬁve hours in primary and six hours in secondary school. With this limited school time, there is constant tension around the choice of instructional time for each subject; if a subject is augmented, this time will be removed from another subject. Although the government created Jornada Unica, a policy to extend the school day by an hour, in 2015, at the time of this writing the practice has only reached 7% of public schools, due to infrastructure limitations and insuﬃcient budgeting. Furthermore, ELT in public schools in Colombia faces constant interruptions that reduce the already limited instructional time. School meetings, extra-curricular activities, teachers’ strikes, or simply disruptions by people coming in during classes, all aﬀect teaching time considerably. Class discontinuity was common during my ethnographic work at Mélida Zamora School. The records in José’s notebook revealed that only 61.1% of the English classes were actually taught in 2016. The remaining classes (38.9%) were cancelled due to school meetings (22.2%), student preparation for the school exit test (5.6%), activities associated with the teachers’ union (8.3%), or other reasons not speciﬁed in José’s notebook (2.8%). The recurrent cancellation of classes meant that only 44 hours of English were actually taught out
Appropriation of Colombian ELT Policy 81
of the 72 hours planned for the school year at Mélida Zamora School. In Extract 1 above, the teacher told the students that they did not remember the vocabulary items probably because the classes had been suspended (“You forgot (?). After two weeks with no classes, you forgot,” lines 11–12). The Fellow also commented on interruptions: It’s broken all the time, like—Oh! you’ve seen this group, well, I haven’t seen them for a month, you know? Because every Monday has been oﬀ, or every Wednesday or… We had football matches at the beginning, there was a big football competition …every day for a month (…) But when you’re trying to like, teach them week in and week out and you want to follow through with the scheme of work it’s very diﬃcult when … we’re having this day oﬀ, or this day isn’t here, or you have like a teachers’ meeting, or you have to go somewhere else, and in the end, you don’t see them and then you see that they’ve regressed back, they haven’t remembered anything. (Fellow, Interview, 19 October 2016) Without a doubt, interruptions aﬀect the continuity needed for language learning. As these students are in an EFL context, they are not surrounded by the English language constantly, so they tend to forget what they have studied, and they regress. The Fellow was particularly worried about the frequency of classes and how it aﬀected the teaching and learning process. With few hours allotted to classes and interruptions, there is a “drip-feed” approach in ELT and this situation leads to teachers’ and learners’ frustration (Lightbown & Spada, 2006, p. 187). José uses the term “insalvable”— insurmountable—to refer to time constraints for language teaching (Field notes, 16 December 2016). This perception of the constraints is one of the main reasons why José sets A2-basic as the goal level for his 11th-grade class and dismisses the B1 goal established by the MoE in the NBP. Despite being a targeted school with most implementational actions underway, Mélida Zamora School faces the same structural instructional time constraint as many other targeted and non-targeted schools. What we observe in the present study is a teacher taking an active role in appropriating the policy. He was not a cog in the wheel but a policy negotiator (Menken & García, 2010) who made decisions impacting students’ learning. His pedagogical decisions and practices were guided not only by his understanding of the policy, but by the characteristics of the school context.
Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research This research substantiates the need to genuinely consider curriculum structures (Kaplan & Baldauf, 1997) in language education policymaking. Policy appropriation does not operate in a vacuum. On the contrary, it is highly aﬀected by the teaching contexts, as is policymaking. Countless studies have documented the crucial role of space allocated to language instruction for language learning, so this variable should not be taken for granted or disregarded in any educational language policy. By not
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paying attention to intensity and continuity in language learning, one risks maintaining or increasing the belief that foreign languages are not learned in public schools. Previous studies in Colombia (Guerrero, 2010; Miranda et al., 2016; Sanchez Solarte & Obando Guerrero, 2008) and elsewhere (e.g., Galante, 2018) point to time as a major constraint for educational language policy; therefore, it is essential to observe curriculum structures with regard to time allocation. Educational policies in general and educational language policies in particular usually include equity as a noble goal to be achieved. For this equity to happen, educational systems need to provide the necessary conditions to all those that need them. This provision of the required conditions is not happening in Colombia, mostly because of the limited national budget assigned to education (Gaviria, 2002). Through the strategy of targeting, the planning actions of the NBP reach only a small number of schools, yet the policy benchmarks continue to be used for all. Targeting in under-resourced contexts as a strategy to meet proper conditions for policy implementation leaves non-targeted schools at the disadvantage of being held accountable for the expected results without consideration of their material contexts or institutional projects. A fairer strategy needs to be devised to support policy appropriation, one that recognizes particularities and provides what each school needs in order to accomplish its mission. I have contended elsewhere (Miranda & Valencia Giraldo, 2019) that targeting represents an unfortunate scheme that might, in time, open a breach among public schools. Furthermore, teachers are at the heart of language policy (Ricento & Hornberger, 1996). They are policymakers who can generate positive changes in schools. At Mélida Zamora School, José presented himself as a policymaker (Menken & García, 2010) who knows his teaching context well and is able to make good decisions to beneﬁt students’ learning. Policy appropriation involves teachers’ sound judgment, adoption, adaptation, and even rejection of policy components (Johnson, 2013). As active agents, teachers are entitled to demand governmental policy actions for their schools if their institutions are to be held accountable for results. This does not mean that teachers should passively wait. On the contrary, such a stance requires taking a proactive and critical attitude toward what exists already as oﬃcial and explicit policies and what are or might become implicit and de facto policies, both outside and inside schools. New research agendas emerge as opportunities to critically analyze policy processes. For space reasons, I will only refer to the use of textbooks, a main resource in EFL and one particularly important in under-resourced contexts where other classroom materials might be absent. Textbooks also represent the embodiment of oﬃcial policy in the classroom; it is through textbooks that the oﬃcial aims, content, and suggested methodologies reach the teaching practice. The ﬁeld of textbooks remains under-researched (Garton & Graves, 2014), and when studied in conjunction with language policies, it promises interesting and useful avenues of inquiry. The content and use of the textbook oﬀer rich opportunities to
Appropriation of Colombian ELT Policy 83
explore policy discourses and practice. How is language approached and how are diﬀerent languages represented in textbooks published to enact educational language policy? How do these representations of language aﬀect policy appropriation? How does the content of the textbook intersect with or digress from other educational policies? What kinds of policy appropriation does the teacher demonstrate while using the oﬃcial textbook? These are but some questions that should be asked in order to critically analyze language educational policies and improve English language teaching and learning.
References Canale, G. (2011). Planiﬁcación y políticas lingüísticas en la enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras: El acceso al inglés en la educación pública uruguaya. Políticas Lingüísticas, 3(3), 45–74. Cardenas, R., & Miranda, N. (2014). Implementación del Programa Nacional de Bilingüismo 2004–2019: Un balance intermedio. Educación y Educadores, 17(1), 51–67. Chaves, O., & Hernández Gaviria, F. (2013). EFL teaching methodological practices in Cali. Prácticas metodológicas en la enseñanza de inglés como lengua extranjera en la ciudad de Cali. Proﬁle, 15(1), 61–80. Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing grounded theory (2nd ed.). SAGE. Consejo Nacional de Política Económica y Social [Conpes] (MoE). (2006). Lineamientos para la focalización del gasto público social. Departamento Nacional de Planeación. Colombia, Ministerio de Educación Nacional (MoE). (2016a). Orientaciones y Principios Pedagógicos. Currículo Sugerido de Inglés. Grados 6° A 11°. English for Diversity and Equity. MEN. Colombia, Ministerio de Educación Nacional. (2016b). Modelo de Implementación de un Programa de Formadores Nativos Extranjeros. MEN. Copland, F., & Creese, A. (2015). Linguistic ethnography: Collecting, analysing and presenting data. SAGE. Correa, D., & González, A. (2016). English in public primary schools in Colombia: Achievements and challenges brought about by national language education policies. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(83), 1–30. Galante, A. (2018). Examining Brazilian foreign language policy and its application in an EFL university program: Teacher perspectives on plurilingualism. In J. C. Crandall & K. M. Bailey (Eds.), Global perspectives on language education Policies (pp. 46–55). Routledge. Garton, S., & Graves, K. (2014). Materials in ELT: Current issues. In S. Garton & K. Graves (Eds.), International perspectives on materials in ELT (pp. 242–279). Palgrave-Macmillan. Kindle Edition. Gaviria, A. (2002). Los que suben y los que bajan. Educación y movilidad en Colombia. Alfaomega. Guerrero, C. H. (2019, October). Plan Nacional de Bilingüismo 2004–2019: The good, the bad and the ugly ﬁfteen years later. Paper presented at the 54th annual congress of ASOCOPI, Bogotá, Colombia. Guerrero, C. H. (2010). Is English the key to access the wonders of the modern world? A critical discourse analysis. Signo y Pensamiento, 57(29), 294–313. Gumperz, J. J. (1982). Discourse strategies. Cambridge University Press. Johnson, D. C. (2013). Language policy. Palgrave Macmillan. Kaplan, R. B., & Baldauf, R. B. (1997). Language planning: From practice to theory. Multilingual Matters.
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Le, D. M. (2018). Agentic responses to communicative language teaching in language policy: An example of Vietnamese English primary teachers. In J. C. Crandall & K. M. Bailey (Eds.), Global perspectives on language education policies (pp. 34–45). Routledge. Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. Martin-Jones, M. (2015). Classroom discourse analysis as a lens on language-in-education policy processes. In F. Hult & D. C. Johnson (Eds.), Research methods in language policy and planning. A practical guide (pp. 94–106). Wiley Blackwell. Menken, K., & García, O. (Eds.). (2010). Negotiating language policies in schools: Educators and policymakers. Routledge. Miranda, N., Echeverry Portela, A., Samacá, G., Tejada. H., Cruz, J., García, L., García, J., Monroy, M., Vásquez, E., & Bolívar Agudelo. M. J. (2016). Programa Nacional de Bilingüismo en Cali- Colombia. Instituciones, directivos docentes, estudiantes y padres de familia. Un diagnóstico. Programa Editorial Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia. Miranda, N., & Valencia Giraldo, S. (2019). Unsettling the “challenge”: ELT policy ideology and the new breach amongst state-funded schools in Colombia. Changing English, 26(3), 282–294. doi:10.1080/1358684X.2019.1590144. Nunan, D. (2003). The impact of English as a global language on educational policies and practices in the Asia-Paciﬁc region. TESOL Quarterly, 37(4), 589–613. Ricento, T., & Hornberger, N. (1996). Unpeeling the onion: Language planning and policy and the ELT professional. TESOL Quarterly, 30(3), 401–427. Sanchez Jabba, A. (2012). El bilingüismo en los bachilleres colombianos. Banco de la República. Sanchez Solarte, A. C., & Obando Guerrero, G. V. (2008). Is Colombia ready for “bilingualism”? Proﬁle, 9(1), 181–195. UNESCO. (2020, January 3). Colombia. http://uis.unesco.org/en/country/co. Zhang, Y., & Hu, G. (2010). Between intended and enacted curricula: Three teachers and mandated curricular reform in Mainland China. In K. Menken & O. García (Eds.), Negotiating language policies in schools: Educators as policymakers (pp. 123–142). Routledge.
APPENDIX Transcription conventions Symbol Meaning J: José F: fellow S#: student Comma short pause Period long pause : phoneme elongation Underlined emphasis … pause shorter than ﬁve seconds (0. 6) measured pause in seconds, longer than ﬁve seconds (?) unintelligible deleted speech [italics] comments about nonverbal behavior
Preparation of Teachers
7 WHAT CHALLENGES DO NOVICE EFL TEACHERS FACE IN UNDERRESOURCED CONTEXTS IN TURKEY? An Exploratory Study Özgür S¸ahan and Kari Sahan
Issues That Motivated the Research When English teachers start teaching, they are expected to translate what they have learned from their training into real-life classroom practices (Farrell, 2012). However, the transition from teacher trainee to in-service teacher can be a “dramatic and traumatic” process (Veenman, 1984, p. 143). Apart from this “reality shock” (Veenman, 1984, p. 144), novice teachers face additional challenges, such as globalization, constantly advancing technology, societal mobility, and migration, as well as increased violence and terrorism across the world (Madalin´ska-Michalak & Bavli, 2018). Moreover, these challenges may appear in varying forms and conditions in diﬀerent contexts, even within the same country. For example, Turkey is a country in which these diﬃculties manifest diﬀerently across regions, largely due to issues of socioeconomic disparities among regions: The western part of the country is more developed than the eastern and southeastern regions (OECD, 2018). As a result, teachers working in the east and southeast typically have less access to resources than those in western, urban areas. Given these disparities, this study investigated the challenges experienced by novice in-service English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers and the strategies they employed to cope with these problems. The participants were all teachers in their ﬁrst three years of working in under-resourced contexts in Turkey. EFL teacher training programs in Turkey oﬀer courses on teaching pedagogy, content knowledge, and general culture (general education requirements) in the curriculum. Furthermore, prospective teachers gain experience teaching in reallife classrooms through an internship in their ﬁnal year of study. However, when novice teachers graduate and begin instructing, they might encounter diﬃculties while familiarizing themselves with a new professional environment (Akcan,
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2016). Given that the initial few years in their positions are critical for teachers’ professional development (Warford & Reeves, 2003), it is important to investigate issues that novice teachers face in their communities and professional environment so that teacher education programs can prepare students to deal with these matters. Although several researchers have conducted studies on this issue in other contexts (e.g., Baecher, 2012; Farrell, 2003; Senom et al., 2013), to our knowledge, there is a scarcity of research on novice EFL teachers’ adaptation to the profession in rural Turkey. A limited number of studies have examined the problems that in-service or pre-service EFL teachers face, or expect to face, in rural and urban areas of Turkey. For instance, Kızılaslan (2012) investigated 115 pre-service EFL teachers’ expectations of working in rural schools and found a variety of perceived challenges. While some of those issues were related to sociocultural aspects— such as students’ cultural backgrounds, parents’ attitudes, limitations of being in a small town, and feelings of social isolation—others were professional concerns, including lack of teaching experience, students’ low motivation, and limited access to technology and teaching resources. Moreover, these pre-service EFL teachers listed concerns about safety due to terrorism, as well as transportation and housing, as their perceived challenges. Focusing on in-service teachers, Çiftçi and Cin (2017) investigated the perceptions of EFL teachers working in rural Turkey as well as teachers of other subjects. These researchers framed the challenges under four overarching categories: limited teaching resources; limited understanding of the social, cultural, and economic expectations of rural life; limited engagement with local community members; and local perceptions that the school curricula were irrelevant to rural life. While these themes stemmed from uneven distribution of resources between rural and urban areas, Çiftçi and Cin (2017) claimed that the centralized education system and enforcement of a standard curriculum without any recognition of local dynamics also contributed to the aforementioned problems. Although the studies by Kızılaslan (2012) and Çiftçi and Cin (2017) identiﬁed a number of challenges, neither report focused speciﬁcally or solely on the needs of in-service EFL teachers. In a study that did focus on in-service EFL teachers in Turkey, Kizildag (2009) identiﬁed issues according to three categories: institutional, instructional, and socioeconomic challenges. According to the semi-structured interview data Kizildag collected from 20 EFL teachers, institutional challenges included the lack of infrastructure, especially limited internet access and computer technology; school administrators’ apathy; heavy workloads that resulted in teacher burnout; and crowded classrooms (although the study did not report typical class size). Second, at the instructional level, teachers reported problems related to a busy curriculum with unrealistic learning goals and a lack of ﬂexibility; inappropriate textbooks and lack of supplementary materials; and grammar-oriented achievement tests used to evaluate students’ success, which prevented teachers from enacting communicative approaches. Finally, teachers reported a lack of parental support and
EFL Teachers in Under-Resourced Contexts 89
understanding of the importance of learning English, especially for students coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds. However, Kizildag’s (2009) study did not provide contextual information about the participating teachers’ schools. This missing information makes it diﬃcult to draw conclusions about regional factors, which may have contributed to the reported challenges. In a cross-contextual study, Madalin´ska-Michalak and Bavli (2018) compared the challenges faced by EFL teachers working at secondary schools in Poland and Turkey. The data were collected from 24 teachers (12 from Turkey and 12 from Poland) using semi-structured interviews. The Turkish teachers included in that study were based in the central Marmara region, a developed area of Turkey. The ﬁndings revealed that teachers experienced challenges at the classroom, school, and system levels. As for classroom-related challenges, students’ low motivation, large class sizes, and wide disparities in students’ academic levels ﬁgured as the prominent problems. Lack of quality professional development activities and limited hours allocated to English lessons were reported as school-level challenges. Furthermore, the quality of teachers’ pre-service education, attractiveness of the profession, and career-path incentives emerged as system-related challenges faced by the teachers. In another study conducted in the Marmara region, Akcan (2016) investigated the eﬀectiveness of a teacher education program through the lens of 55 newly graduated EFL teachers. She found that novice EFL teachers described challenges related to classroom management, overcrowded classrooms, an exam-oriented system, unmotivated students, and teaching students with learning disabilities. Most teachers used in-class activities (e.g., drills and dictation) to ease classroom management issues and overcome these challenges. In addition, teachers reported searching for eﬀective teaching strategies in books and articles, as well as getting help from experienced colleagues, as frequently used coping strategies. Because these studies (Akcan, 2016; Madalin´ska-Michalak & Bavli, 2018) were conducted in a developed region of Turkey, further research is needed to evaluate the ﬁndings in comparison to the situation in under-resourced areas. This brief review of previous empirical research in Turkey has shown that novice EFL teachers, or teachers with at most three years of experience, encounter problems at the classroom, school, and system levels. However, teachers working in rural areas may also face unique diﬃculties beyond the school contexts, as was perceived by pre-service teachers in research by Kızılaslan (2012). To our knowledge, research has not examined the problems faced by in-service, novice EFL teachers working in rural Turkey. Thus, we consider the present study to be important as it aims to ﬁll this gap by investigating the challenges novice teachers face while working in under-resourced contexts.
Context of the Research EFL is a required subject in the Turkish public-school system. Starting from the second grade, when students are about seven years old, they receive two hours of
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English instruction per week. The number of weekly hours of instruction increases in the ﬁfth grade to three hours per week and again in the seventh grade to four hours per week. EFL is mandatory at secondary schools, although the amount of instruction varies between two and ﬁve hours per week, depending upon the type of high school. Materials and course curricula are determined centrally by the Ministry of National Education (MoNE). In other words, a “uniform nationwide curriculum … is prepared and put in front of teachers by the Ministry, and [teachers] have no authority to revise it or to build a new one” (Sahin & Gülmez, 2000, p. 96). Broadly speaking, university education faculties are responsible for training prospective teachers through four-year undergraduate programs in Turkey. During this four-year training, prospective teachers take courses on general culture, content knowledge, and pedagogy. They put their theoretical knowledge into practice through demo-lesson performances in the fourth year in collaboration with a supervising faculty member and a mentor teacher at internship schools (Öztürk & Aydın, 2019). Following graduation, teachers can seek employment in public or private schools. In the private sector, teachers directly apply to the school where they would like to work. However, the recruitment and hiring processes are not as straightforward in the public sector. The MoNE controls the hiring and assignment of teachers to public schools across the country. Prospective EFL teachers are subjected to an examination (called the Public Personnel Selection Examination) as part of the application process to teach at public schools. Teachers who pass this examination with the required score are invited to an interview conducted by a committee of senior oﬃcers appointed by the MoNE. Teacher candidates who are successful, based on the combined score derived from their written and oral examinations, must select from a list of schools where teaching positions are available and submit their preferences to the MoNE. Based on the teacher candidates’ rank orders and submitted school preferences, they are appointed to public schools by the MoNE as contracted teacher candidates. The contracted teacher period lasts four years, and in their ﬁrst year, new teachers are assigned mentors (experienced peers) to guide and support their early career development. At the end of their ﬁrst year of teaching (known as the induction year), teachers are required to take another written examination, and depending on reports from their mentors, school administrators, and MoNE inspectors they either keep their positions or their contracts are terminated. The teaching positions available to novice teachers through the centralized point system are typically hardship posts, characterized as such due to their location in under-resourced areas. The concept of hardship posts is not limited to education but applies to all civil servant sectors in Turkey. Cin (2017) explained that the “underlying agenda in hardship posts is to ensure that there are enough teachers, doctors, and police/soldiers for facilities of education, health, and security in underdeveloped regions” (p. 84).
EFL Teachers in Under-Resourced Contexts 91
Teachers working in public schools are required to serve a minimum of four years in areas designated as hardship posts; such areas are determined by socioeconomic criteria. While some hardship posts exist in villages located in the western part of the country, the majority are found in eastern and southeastern Anatolia (Cin, 2017; Sahin & Gülmez, 2000). Separatist terrorist activities, an underdeveloped economy, high unemployment rates, and lack of schools and trained teachers contribute to the characterization of the east and southeast regions as hardship posts (Sahin & Gülmez, 2000). Furthermore, the eastern and southeastern regions are arguably the most multilingual and ethnically diverse in the country: A high proportion of the population in both regions is Kurdish, and many members of these communities speak Kurdish rather than Turkish as a ﬁrst language. These regions have also experienced the highest inﬂux of Syrian refugees in Turkey due to their proximity to the Syrian border, resulting in a large population of Arabic speakers. Following the completion of a four-year hardship post, public-school teachers are granted the right to apply for new school placements in diﬀerent locations. Many teachers use this opportunity to transfer from rural areas to more developed urban centers in the west. As a result, new teachers are generally assigned to ﬁll vacant positions in underdeveloped parts of Turkey. Although there may be problems in public schools in urban centers, working in rural eastern and southeastern Turkey likely brings with it an array of diﬃculties. In other words, disparities between rural and urban areas, which arise from economic, geographic, cultural, and social diﬀerences, lead to extra problems which may prevent novice teachers from focusing their attention and eﬀort on their teaching practices. Therefore, in this chapter, we set out to describe challenges that potentially decrease the quality of English education and the coping strategies used by novice teachers to overcome these problems.
Research Questions Addressed Building upon existing studies, we aimed to investigate the challenges faced by novice in-service EFL teachers working at public schools in under-resourced contexts and the strategies they enact to deal with these challenges. There were two research questions addressed in this study: 1. 2.
What challenges do novice in-service EFL teachers face in public schools located in under-resourced contexts in Turkey? How do these novice in-service EFL teachers cope with the challenges experienced in their professional environment?
Research Methods We employed purposive sampling since we intended to conduct our inquiry with a relatively small sample of teachers with similar characteristics (Dörnyei, 2007).
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In this way, we aimed to obtain rich data that could reveal issues of great importance to the research. In order to have a deep understanding of teachers’ experiences, we opted for a qualitative research design through which participating teachers’ voices could be articulated. The data for the current study were collected using an open-ended questionnaire, after which follow-up semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sub-sample of participants (n = 4) who indicated on the questionnaire that they would be interested in discussing their experiences further via voice/video calls. Although 33 EFL teachers responded to our research invitation, six of them were excluded from the study because they did not meet the criterion of being novice teachers. Therefore, we used the data collected from the remaining 27 teachers in this study. Twenty-one of the teachers were female and six were male. Their ages ranged between 23 and 35 with a mean age of 26 years. They had all graduated from English departments in Turkish universities and had the same ﬁrst language (L1) background (Turkish). The length of teaching time used to deﬁne novice teachers varies in diﬀerent research articles (Farrell, 2012) from one to ﬁve years of teaching. We decided to follow Huberman’s (1989) deﬁnition of the ﬁrst three years as career entry years and used a cut-oﬀ of a maximum of three years of full-time teaching experience, including the teachers’ induction year, to identify our participants as novice teachers. Our participants’ teaching experience varied from two months to three years, and the average teaching experience was 11 months. The participant teachers were all working in hardship posts and were based in 11 diﬀerent towns or villages located in the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey.
Data Collection Procedures Following a detailed review of empirical studies related to challenges faced by teachers in rural areas, we prepared open-ended questionnaire items that touched upon various issues. In addition to open-ended questions, we included uncompleted if/because prompts (e.g., My students would be learning better if … in the classroom) on the questionnaire in order to elicit what participants thought was most important to improve their teaching and their students’ learning situations. We prepared the 19 questionnaire items in English and then translated them into Turkish, considering the likelihood that we could obtain more detailed answers if the participants responded in their L1. Following that step, we consulted a Turkish language expert to ensure that the questions and statements were not ambiguous or confusing. In the next phase, six experienced EFL teachers, who had had teaching experience in under-resourced contexts during their initial years of teaching, were contacted and asked to evaluate the questionnaire items. In taking these steps, we had two aims in mind: (1) to ensure that the questions addressed a broad range of challenges of working in under-resourced contexts, and (2) to check whether the items would elicit relevant answers. While ﬁve of
EFL Teachers in Under-Resourced Contexts 93
these experienced teachers found the questionnaire well prepared, one teacher thought that collecting data through a Likert-type scale would be more eﬀective in terms of increasing participation. However, this study intended to provide an in-depth analysis of teachers’ experiences rather than reporting on those experiences quantitatively. After we explained the research aims to this experienced teacher, he agreed that the questionnaire seemed to be eﬀective. We contacted the participating EFL teachers through social media or email and invited them to contribute to the study voluntarily. They were asked to respond to the open-ended questionnaire, which we provided to them electronically. After the preliminary analysis of the data obtained from the teachers’ responses, we conducted follow-up interviews with four EFL teachers via video/voice calls to triangulate the questionnaire data and to attain a deeper understanding of challenges faced by the teachers. The interviews, which were conducted in Turkish, were recorded and transcribed for the analysis.
Data Analysis Procedures We analyzed the data using qualitative text analysis (Kuckartz, 2014) to identify recurring themes. In so doing, we thematically coded the participants’ responses to the open-ended questionnaire items and the transcribed interview data. We took measures to ensure inter-coder agreement. First, one of the authors (Özgür S¸ahan) coded a substantial amount of the data (approximately 35%) to generate categorical themes. Second, using these themes as a coding framework, both authors coded the same randomly selected 15% of the data independently. In order to evaluate the applicability of the framework, the sample of data coded at this step was diﬀerent from the original sample used to generate the codes. Intercoder agreement was determined by calculating the percentage of agreement between the two raters, and an acceptable level of agreement was found (84.9%). After the level of agreement was calculated and coding disagreements were discussed, we coded the whole data set using the ﬁnalized coding frame.
Findings and Discussion To address the ﬁrst research question, we found three overarching categories for the challenges reported by the teachers: lesson planning and implementation (instructional), the professional community (colleagues and administrators at school), and regional challenges. In addition, coping strategies reported by teachers in response to these issues were identiﬁed in the data in response to the second research question, which concerned how the teachers coped with problems experienced in their professional environment. Table 7.1 lists the major challenges experienced at three levels. The following sections address the problems reported by teachers with respect to lesson planning and implementation, interacting with their professional community, and adjusting to life in the region.
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TABLE 7.1 Major Challenges Experienced by Novice EFL Teachers
students’ low English proﬁciency and preparedness disparities in students’ academic level overcrowded classrooms classroom management students’ motivation to learn English students’ L1 background schools’ physical conditions and lack of technology lack of collaboration with colleagues lack of support from colleagues diﬀerent teaching styles administrative indiﬀerence to English lessons lack of support from administration fear of communicating with administration transportation limited sociocultural opportunities cultural diﬀerences housing cost of living L1 diﬀerences
Lesson Planning and Implementation Teachers reported students’ limited English proﬁciency and lack of preparedness as the greatest challenges that they faced while preparing and implementing their lesson plans. Because the students’ English level was under the expected proﬁciency, one teacher stated, “I am having trouble making myself understood in the classroom no matter how much I simplify the language” (Teacher 1, Questionnaire, 13 December 2019). Teachers emphasized that they had diﬃculty preparing lesson plans in accordance with the learning outcomes outlined in the curriculum. Another challenge reported was academic disparity in that “teaching students with varying levels and needs is a big problem … Lesson plans do not appeal to all the students and in such cases, I do not know what to do” (Teacher 7, Questionnaire, 20 December 2019). Additionally, overcrowded classrooms were considered the main source of classroom management issues, decreasing the quality of instruction. In this study, teachers reported 35–40 students in their primary and secondary school classes. When teaching large groups of students, as one teacher noted, “students’ motivation decreases, and it is impossible for me to pay attention to each of my students in the limited time” (Teacher 2, Questionnaire, 14 December 2019). Another major challenge was students’ motivation to learn English. For example, one person commented that teachers “cannot teach English when [their] students
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have negative attitudes and prejudices toward English” (Teacher 26, Questionnaire, 22 December 2019). Added to these problems, teachers reported that their schools’ physical conditions and lack of technology prevented them from eﬀectively implementing their lesson plans. While most participants reported a lack of technology in the classroom, some participants reported having access to smart boards; however, these teachers could not use the smart boards because of frequent power cuts. One teacher observed that “we do not have blinds in the classrooms and when I hang some visual materials on the board, students cannot see them” (Teacher 20, Questionnaire, 21 December 2019). A quote from Teacher 3 summarizes the importance of a good learning environment to students’ success: I do not have the atmosphere to focus students’ attention on the topic. I have neither smart board nor Internet access, which prevents me from organizing a ﬂawless lesson. Using the blackboards is wasting my time and is not helpful to clarify the topics. (Teacher 3, Questionnaire, 13 December 2019) To cope with the aforementioned instructional challenges, the most commonly employed strategy was revisiting the learning outcomes based on the students’ level. Teachers observed, “I am keeping the learning goals in my lesson plans simple” (Teacher 13, Questionnaire, 20 December 2019) and “I am only focusing on the basics of the topic” (Teacher 15, Questionnaire, 20 December 2019). Another frequently reported coping strategy was using games and visuals in order to increase students’ motivation, attract their attention, and overcome a lack of technology in their classrooms. Additionally, teachers mentioned preparing tailormade materials when the coursebook was insuﬃcient. They also tried to improve students’ understanding by implementing various activities during their lessons in order to engage as many students as possible from diﬀerent levels and learning styles.
The Professional Community In this section, we present the challenges that novice teachers experienced in communicating and collaborating with other teachers and school administration. Although 60% (n = 16) of the participants did not report problems with school administration and colleagues, the remaining teachers noted various issues related to their colleagues at the workplace. First, three teachers commented on the lack of collaboration with their colleagues as one of the major challenges that they faced. Because “elementary school teachers and subject matter teachers may have diﬀerent approaches” (Teacher 8, Questionnaire, 20 December 2019) and because “more experienced teachers check my students’ homework without informing me, as if they are auditing my job” (Teacher 3, Interview, 26 December 2019), novice teachers reported they had diﬃculties building a sound
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system of communication with their colleagues. Second, lack of support from colleagues was also a concern in that novice teachers felt isolated: “I was left alone and I had to learn everything by myself” (Teacher 9, Questionnaire, 20 December 2019). Finally, two teachers indicated that diﬀerent teaching styles caused them some problems at work. That is to say, one was unhappy with “some teachers’ insuﬃcient content knowledge and autocratic teaching styles” (Teacher 2, Questionnaire, 14 December 2019), and the other reported that “because teachers employ diﬀerent teaching styles, students’ learning situations might vary” (Teacher 15, Questionnaire, 13 December 2019). Despite these challenges within their professional communities, none of the participants reported any coping strategies. As for the challenges experienced with school administrators, the most frequently reported issue was administrative indiﬀerence to English lessons. Teachers (n = 4) observed that “the fact that the school administration considers the English course the same as the other courses is the biggest challenge I have experienced” (Teacher 10, Questionnaire, 20 December 2019). For example, one teacher reported that administrators “wanted me to speak Turkish in the lessons” (Teacher 26, Questionnaire, 22 December 2019). The following quote illustrates how an indiﬀerence to EFL classes is expressed on the administrative level: School administration generally focus their attention on the exam that students take in the 8th grade and Turkish reading and writing skills. Sometimes, they declare that English is not as important as this exam content and Turkish language skills. Therefore, weekly English hours are very few, limiting students’ exposure to the English language. This also makes it diﬃcult to cover all the topics, causing me to exclude some topics from the pacing. (Teacher 1, Interview, 26 December 2019) These ﬁndings suggest that school administrators do not understand the importance of EFL or approaches to language teaching that diﬀer from the standardized, exam-based curriculum in other subjects. Another challenge mentioned by two teachers was lack of support in that school administrators “treat me as if I were an experienced teacher” (Teacher 4, Questionnaire, 14 December 2019) and “they did not provide any orientation when I ﬁrst started working” (Teacher 16 Questionnaire, 20 December 2019). Furthermore, six of the 27 teachers reported they were afraid of or experienced diﬃculty communicating with administrators. Despite these concerns, participants did not report any coping strategies that they used to overcome the challenges that they experienced with the administrators. Teacher 14 said, “I have a lot of problems and I cannot do anything since I am in my induction year” (Questionnaire, 13 December 2019), meaning that contracted teachers, especially those in their ﬁrst year of service, might not feel comfortable expressing themselves to the administrators.
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While the school-related issues described in this section may not be unique to under-resourced areas of Turkey, they are potentially exacerbated by other sociocultural factors stemming from the diﬃculty of living in rural areas.
Regional Challenges Living in under-resourced areas can be hard, and novice teachers reported having to adapt to their new social environments while trying to adjust to their new professional environments. In other words, participants identiﬁed issues outside the school context. In this respect, the greatest challenge confronting the participants was transportation. Teachers whose schools were based in villages also found that housing was quite limited, and they had to make daily commutes from the nearest towns. For instance, one teacher said, “Our school is in a village, which is a one-hour drive to the city center and it is really tiring to commute everyday” (Teacher 27, Interview, 28 December 2019). Because the towns located in the eastern and southeastern parts of Turkey are quite small compared to towns in the west of the country, some teachers “had a lot of trouble ﬁnding a house” (Teacher 20, Questionnaire, 21 December 2019), and “had to stay in a teacher’s guest house” (Teacher 2, Questionnaire, 14 December 2019). In addition, limited sociocultural opportunities, including eating out (“I can’t ﬁnd a place to eat lunch,” Teacher 3, Questionnaire, 14 December 2019) or engaging in hobbies, were a big problem. Some teachers remarked, “I am living in a place where there is no social life” (Teacher 20, Interview, 27 December 2019) so “I am spending all my time at home reading books and watching movies” (Teacher 24, Questionnaire, 21 December 2019). Adapting to the local culture as well as the local community’s L1 diﬀerences (generally Kurdish or Arabic) were two of the diﬃculties experienced by participant teachers. Moreover, two teachers commented on the high costs of living in their towns, claiming that “local people are cheating the civil servants” (Teacher 1, Questionnaire, 13 December 2019) and “charging high prices to non-local people” (Teacher 9, Questionnaire, 20 December 2019). For these challenges, teachers reported no coping strategies other than getting used to their new social environments. In this study, we examined the challenges faced by novice teachers in under-resourced contexts at public schools in Turkey. These issues directly impacted novice teachers’ practices in the classroom. Additionally, these problems aﬀected the teachers’ welfare outside of school. Some of the classroom challenges reported in this study, such as class size, classroom management, course materials, and students’ proﬁciency and motivation, have corroborated the ﬁndings of previous research (e.g., Akcan, 2016; Kizildag, 2009; Madalin´ska-Michalak & Bavli, 2018). The similarity of classroom-level diﬃculties found in diﬀerent studies suggests that issues related to the curriculum and materials are found nationwide. In Turkey, the ELT curriculum and classroom materials are prepared centrally by the MoNE. These ﬁndings, together with previous research, suggest that the national curriculum may need to be re-evaluated.
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More striking are the diﬀerences between this study and previous research in terms of sociocultural diﬀerences. While research conducted in more developed parts of Turkey (e.g., Akcan, 2016; Madalin´ska-Michalak & Bavli, 2018) produced similar results in terms of classroom-based challenges, these studies did not ﬁnd issues with sociocultural adaptation or school infrastructure, such as L1 diﬀerences and frequent electrical power cuts, both of which emerged in the present study. Some of the problems reported in this study, such as overcrowded classrooms and classroom management, might be considered predictable because these issues are found in teaching contexts worldwide. However, the rural teaching context seems to bring its own challenges because of the unequal distribution of educational resources and diﬀerences in teacher satisfaction between rural and urban areas (Çiftçi & Cin, 2017). Moreover, the ﬁndings with respect to the second research question have indicated that novice teachers may be unable to devise coping strategies to deal with administrative or sociocultural challenges. While teachers identiﬁed a number of strategies used to mitigate classroom challenges—such as revising the curriculum or adding supplementary materials based on students’ needs—the only strategy identiﬁed with respect to challenges outside the classroom was “get used to it with time” (Teacher 12, Questionnaire, 20 December 2019). Despite the mentor system established by the MoNE, several participants commented on a lack of support from administrators and colleagues. Novice teachers reported feeling helpless dealing with administrative issues, which might be due to the fact that school managers play a role in determining newly appointed contracted teachers’ future employment. Administrators and mentors prepare performance reports at the end of novice teachers’ induction years, and negative reports could result in the termination of their contracts. Thus, novice teachers might be hesitant to communicate their problems or raise complaints with administrators out of fear of retaliation or pressure to conform. This situation may put novice teachers in a vulnerable position during their career entry years, and it might prevent them from seeking support in their professional communities. In this study, a majority of participants reported no problems with administrators and colleagues. While this ﬁnding could reﬂect participants’ honest experiences of having had no negative professional issues, it could also reﬂect a reluctance to provide negative statements about their administrators, even though they were assured of anonymity in this study.
Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research This study investigated the challenges faced by novice teachers in under-resourced areas of eastern and southeastern Turkey. One ﬁnding of the study was that teachers experienced diﬃculties due to L1 diﬀerences with their students and the local community, a ﬁnding that did not emerge in previous research in western Turkey (e.g., Akcan, 2016). Considering the multilingual characteristics of the region (e.g., high
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populations of L1 Kurdish and Arabic speakers as well as a growing population of Syrian refugees), teacher education programs should revisit their undergraduate ELT curricula to include modules on teaching in multilingual and multicultural environments. Further research is also needed to explore the issues faced by L1 Turkish teachers in multilingual educational contexts. In addition, teacher training programs could incorporate strategies for dealing with the instructional challenges found in this study, such as overcrowded classes and classroom management. Furthermore, based on the ﬁndings of this study, it could be helpful for teacher education programs to establish a system of communication with recent graduates, through which they could monitor the needs and challenges of novice teachers. This system of communication could be used to support teachers after graduation and to re-evaluate the appropriateness of the ELT curriculum in terms of preparing pre-service teachers for hardship posts. Additionally, because novice teachers are typically appointed to under-resourced areas, they may experience sociocultural challenges that aﬀect their welfare and motivation. The ﬁndings of this study revealed that novice teachers experience diﬃculties ﬁnding housing and they may lack social opportunities. Policymakers could consider providing incentives to improve the welfare of teachers working in under-resourced areas. For example, a housing and transportation allowance could be provided to compensate for a lack of available resources, and infrastructure investment could be made to improve physical conditions in rural villages. Moreover, policymakers should revisit the structure of the mentorship scheme and the system of evaluating contracted teachers to ensure that novice teachers are supported during their initial years of teaching. An open and sustainable channel of communication is needed between teachers and policymakers in order to address the challenges that novice EFL teachers face. In addition, teacher education programs might better prepare prospective teachers for the profession by recognizing the challenges that novice teachers face due to regional diﬀerences and the realities of working in under-resourced contexts. By lending an ear to teachers’ needs and making small changes at the system level, revolutionary changes may result in the ﬁeld.
References Akcan, S. (2016). Novice non-native English teachers’ reﬂections on their teacher education programmes and their ﬁrst years of teaching. PROFILE Issues in Teachers Professional Development, 18(1), 55–70. doi:10.15446/proﬁle.v18n1.48608. Baecher, L. (2012). Feedback from the ﬁeld: What novice preK–12 ESL teachers want to tell TESOL teacher educators. TESOL Quarterly, 46(3), 578–588. doi:10.1002/tesq.43. Çiftçi, S¸. K., & Cin, F. M. (2017). What matters for rural teachers and communities? Educational challenges in rural Turkey. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 48(5), 686–701. doi:10.1080/03057925.2017.1340150.
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Cin, F. M. (2017). Gender justice, education and equality: Creating capabilities for girls’ and women’s development. Palgrave-Macmillan. Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. Oxford University Press. Farrell, T. S. C. (2003). Learning to teach English language during the ﬁrst year: Personal inﬂuences and challenges. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(1), 95–111. doi:10.1016/ S0742-051X(02)00088-4. Farrell, T. S. C. (2012). Novice‐service language teacher development: Bridging the gap between pre-service and in‐service education and development. TESOL Quarterly, 46(3), 435–449. doi:10.1002/tesq.36. Huberman, M. A. (1989). The professional life cycle of teachers. Teachers College Record, 91(1), 31–57. . Kızılaslan, I. (2012). Teaching in rural Turkey: Pre-service teacher perspectives. European Journal of Teacher Education, 35(2), 243–254. doi:10.1080/02619768.2011.643394. Kizildag, A. (2009). Teaching English in Turkey: Dialogues with teachers about the challenges in public primary schools. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 1(3), 188–201. Kuckartz, U. (2014). Qualitative text analysis: A guide to methods, practice & using software. SAGE. Madalin´ska-Michalak, J., & Bavli, B. (2018). Challenges in teaching English as a foreign language at schools in Poland and Turkey. European Journal of Teacher Education, 41(5), 688–706. doi:10.1080/02619768.2018.1531125. OECD. (2018, October 9). OECD regions and cities at a glance 2018. doi:10.1787/ reg_cit_glance-2018-en. Öztürk, G., & Aydin, B. (2019). English language teacher education in Turkey: Why do we fail and what policy reforms are needed? Anadolu Journal of Educational Sciences International, 9(1), 181–213. doi:10.18039/ajesi.520842. Sahin, I., & Gülmez, Y. (2000). Social sources of failure in education: The case in East and Southeast Turkey. Social Indicators Research, 49(1), 83–113. Senom, F., Zakaria, A. R., & Ahmad Shah, S. S. (2013). Novice teachers’ challenges and survival: Where do Malaysian ESL teachers stand? American Journal of Educational Research, 1(4), 119–125. doi:10.12691/education-1-4-2. Veenman, S. (1984). Perceived problems of beginning teachers. Review of Educational Research, 54(2), 143–178. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543054002143. Warford, M. K., & Reeves, J. (2003). Falling into it: Novice TESOL teacher thinking. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 9(1), 47–65. doi:10.1080/1354060032000049904.
8 ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS AND THE EXCLUSIVITY OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT A Rwandan Case Study Leanne M. Cameron Issues That Motivated the Research Voluntary associations are a key aspect of an in-service teacher’s ongoing learning and growth as a professional. As separate from unions, language teacher associations are networks operated by and for professionals to disseminate knowledge and improve the professional skills of members. For example, the TESOL International Association and IATEFL, English language teacher associations (ELTAs), were both founded in the 1960s and attract members from around the world. Motteram (2016) surveyed IATEFL members to understand their motivation for joining: They listed instrumental factors, including pedagogical development through conferences and other learning opportunities. But, more importantly, participants emphasized the association as the locus for their sense of belonging and identity, providing ongoing professional development (PD) and networking, and allowing individuals to demonstrate professionalism. For teachers separated by classroom walls, associations provide an area to engage in the English language teacher (ELT) discursive community and discipline; thus, they are often a space for constructing and enacting their sense of professionalism. But large ELTAs also accommodate the diversity of the global English language teaching community: Universities which produce scientiﬁc knowledge sit alongside government-funded institutions and multi-national conglomerates. Within this community, there are assumptions around ELT professionalism: what forms the epistemic base for the discipline, what pedagogies and methods are accepted broadly as best practice, and even what credentials, examinations, or certiﬁcations will convey a standardized, globally-transferable reﬂection of an ELT’s professional capabilities. As the ﬁeld has evolved, recommended practice has come to emphasize oral expression through communicative language methods, to value small and
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diverse classes which require English-only, and to measure individual language skill—or certify ELT competence—through standardized exams and credentials such as TOEFL and CELTA. These practices and the discourses, which convey teachers’ professional legitimacy, are powerful, especially when they emanate from global ELTAs. In this chapter, I argue that individuals’ understanding of their own professionalism is “constituted through a set of discursive practices and formations, which cuts across institutions to shape and reify a particular way of knowing the world” (Flanigan Adams, 2012, p. 328). From this understanding of discourse and professionalism, I am particularly interested in what “cuts across institutions” and moves outside of home contexts: Outside of the North American and European contexts, how is ELT professionalism constructed, and to what extent are global ELTA professionalism discourses absorbed, transformed, or rejected? Academics and practitioners have pointed out that the oﬀerings of global ELTAs have negligible value for ELTs outside of the Global North (Europe, North America, and high-income Asian nations). Learner-centered pedagogies, the IELTS and TOEFL assessments, and other ELTA foci reﬂect a broadly Eurocentric ontological orientation but are often positioned as neutral and universal. In Motteram’s (2016) survey, Global South participants—especially those from low- and middle-income nations—indicated that the promoted classroom practices and pedagogies were of the Global North and irrelevant, and were even ignorant of the vast diversity of African educational and linguistic realities. In sub-Saharan contexts, where English has recently been adopted as the medium of instruction for all grades (e.g., Rwanda) or secondary education (e.g., Ethiopia), ELTs operate alongside content teachers who may struggle to communicate their subjects in English. On the other hand, ELTAs in francophone Africa (e.g., Togo, Burkina Faso) or in nations where English-medium education has been entrenched since the colonial era (e.g., Kenya, Uganda) may focus more narrowly on members of the ELT community who teach English as an additional language. With this constellation of English-medium and language teaching conﬁgurations, there is great diﬀerence in classroom and institutional cultures, educational purpose, size and composition of classroom populations, and motivation for language learning. Furthermore, ELTs in sub-Saharan Africa—perhaps in contrast with their Global North colleagues—are more ensconced within their national education systems. The conceptualization of valued professional practice tacitly advocated in global ELTAs appears unsuitable for ELT needs in this region. Instead, regional groups of teachers and ELT professionals in the Global South have their own local associations (Cameron, 2017). These associations often model their organizational structure and operations on global ELTAs and maintain relationships through TESOL or IATEFL aﬃliate status, but they oﬀer pedagogical and practical development focused on contextualized needs, such as coping with large classrooms or developing materials in low-resource schools. Many ELTAs have been founded across sub-Saharan Africa since 2000, often
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with assistance from the British Council and the U.S. Department of State, though little academic research has captured this phenomenon (Cameron, 2017; Odhiambo & Oloo, 2007; Smith & Kuchah, 2016). Rather than facilitating ongoing professional development, ELTAs in low- and middle-income contexts may instead focus on reskilling teachers for pedagogies and practices mandated by ambitious education policies. This focus is often accomplished through peer-led trainings or by tapping into English language knowledge, policy, and funding networks to source trainers and materials from global ELTAs, the British Council, U.S. embassies, or other global resources. Smith and Kuchah (2016) thus contended that low- and middle-income context ELTAs work as an “antidote to top-down directives from Ministry oﬃcials, donor agencies, or other ‘outside experts’ who may be less well positioned to understand the actual classroom realities that teachers and learners encounter” (p. 220).
Context of the Research This research is focused on the Association of Teachers of English in Rwanda (ATER), the national Rwandan ELTA. I collaborated with ATER for two years (2014–2016) prior to commencing doctoral studies. During that time, I worked in Rwanda as a university lecturer and ELT trainer through the U.S. Department of State’s English Language Fellows program. As part of its actions toward recovering from the social and physical destruction of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has adopted policies that prioritize neoliberal, market-led reforms in order to present the nation as attractive to investors and business leaders (Block et al., 2012). Globally competitive is a widely used term which cuts across economic policy and education (MINEDUC, 2013). Under President Paul Kagame and his political party, the government has fused nationalism and technocracy with education as the carrier for national development. Ambitious, aspirational education reform seeks to reshape the Rwandan population into “human capital with necessary skills and knowledge as a vehicle for socio-economic development” within a globalized marketplace (Simpson & Muvunyi, 2012, p. 154).
English Language in Rwanda As part of this globalized national re-orientation, Rwanda underwent a rapid, haphazard shift from French to English as the medium of instruction in 2009. It was “a policy without a plan” (Pearson, 2014, p. 51) to align education with national development goals, but one that critics contend was politically motivated since English is widely spoken among ruling party elites (Samuelson & Freedman, 2010). Sporadic and insuﬃcient language training was oﬀered to teachers in the transition period, primarily by the British Council. To date, English language and pedagogical training continue to be supported by a variety of international
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partnerships (Simpson & Muvunyi, 2012). Ten years on, few data are available to evaluate the success of the shift; in 2014, widespread British Council standardized English language testing found that a mere 6.5% of primary school teachers exhibit intermediate or advanced proﬁciency according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Simpson, 2014). The challenges presented by their target language proﬁciency are further compounded by the realities of the Rwandan classroom context. Large class sizes are especially burdensome and limiting for Rwandan teachers: Rubagiza (2011) reported a pupil/teacher ratio of 58:1 for primary schools. Further, in a mixed-methods study with 120 Rwandan schools, Milligan et al. (2017) found widespread problems with textbook access and quality, with a signiﬁcant gap between the textbook language and the level of student proﬁciency. A textbook is often a teacher’s only instructional aid; even with ambitious policies that call for integration of technology across the curriculum, computer use is hampered by inconsistent power and limited internet connectivity. Computer labs are often overcrowded, or, in many cases, locked to prevent teacher and student access in a bid to ‘protect’ expensive equipment (Rubagiza et al., 2011). A second radical reform to align Rwanda with global education standards instituted a learner-centered, competence-based curriculum to replace the previous knowledgebased curriculum (REB, 2015). Beginning in 2015, the revised curriculum was rolled out in phases with limited practical training for teachers to adjust to the pedagogical shift (REB & VVOB, 2018). Understanding the competency-based approach and how to implement it in a classroom with low-proﬁciency learners remains a signiﬁcant challenge. Even early-career teachers struggle to implement the revised curriculum, in part because teacher training centers only began pre-service professional development on competency-based methods in 2019 (Mbonyinshuti, 2019). Both reforms have signiﬁcantly impacted teachers’ work by changing the language and pedagogical orientation required, though teacher salaries in Rwanda remain among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank, 2011) and are inadequate for basic living costs (UNESCO, 2014). Collective bargaining oﬀers little support: The national teachers’ union is considered politically weak (Muvunyi, 2016). Criticism of government policies is rare and a continual theme in research studies with Rwandan teachers is their unwillingness to criticize educational policies (Pearson, 2014). In sum, the lived reality shared by many Rwandan teachers is one of perpetual uncertainty and reaction (Williams, 2017), governed by sweeping reforms enacted and required of teachers without their input, with very little re-training and coaching, and with continued poor remuneration. Government rhetoric shifts responsibility onto individuals (Purdekova, 2012) by emphasizing their role as part of the solution for Rwandan development. Pyysiäinen et al. (2017) label this tactic as responsibilization, a form of governance wherein citizens “are persuaded into active responsibility-taking by the appeal of increased personal freedom and possibilities of self-realization” (p. 219). English language proﬁciency promises access to employment opportunities, and constructivist pedagogies emulate the skills required in the global marketplace.
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Rwandan education policy thus can be claimed to provide the path to individual (and national) development and enrichment. At the same time, however, the state fails to provide adequate ﬁnancial and institutional support to reskill teachers. By reframing policy mandates as a market-oriented patriotic duty, the discourse aligns the work of teachers with the needs of the global economy. However, teachers are expected to acquire English and constructivist pedagogies without much assistance, just as Rwandan citizens are expected to pull themselves out of poverty.
The Rwandan Association ATER is poised to address the gaps produced by these ambitious policies: It eschews political activism to focus exclusively on teacher PD. ELTs from across the nation collaborate in regional clusters to oﬀer peer-led trainings which address the unique needs of EL teaching. While the association primarily targets ELTs, the mission statement makes clear its sense of responsibility toward all Rwandan teachers, as it seeks “to advance teacher-driven professional development in EL teaching and learning for teachers of English in Rwanda” (ATER, n.d., para. 1). ATER events are thus open to members and non-members alike, since the trainings are seen as language learning events and provide pedagogical skills which can be used across the curriculum. The association is stratiﬁed into two levels. The ﬁrst group is a small core of leaders, many of whom were involved in the association’s 2011 founding; they hold executive positions and are not working teachers but are employed with primarily non-government associations and foreign embassies in Kigali, the capital. They have strong connections with the U.S. Embassy, the British Council, and a variety of international NGOs. These leaders often leverage these professional networks to secure funding for ATER events. Some leaders have studied in the US and UK on prestigious graduate scholarships and attend TESOL International and IATEFL conferences each year. The second group consists of the lay membership, which is made up of primary, secondary, and tertiary ELTs. Membership ﬂuctuates, especially when the Rwf 15,000 (16 USD) membership fee is due. Paran (2016) noted that associations do not necessarily represent the national profession but might favor a region or service branch. I noted throughout the data collection period that most ATER members appear to work in private or semi-private institutions. At the periphery of the association are communities of practice, local groups organized by one or two association members (community leaders) who gather non-member teachers from the local area and facilitate trainings. Attendance varies according to availability and interest. At events I attended or organized, I primarily met community of practice attendee teachers who were employed at government schools. In my work with the association, I was impressed with the dedication of core members, who engaged in ongoing learning and worked diligently to grow the group. Embassy oﬃcers would speak of ATER as a valued partner that was able to recommend Embassy program participants who understood the pedagogical expectations of the global ELT sector. I witnessed members move out of
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government teaching roles into private institutions and tertiary or NGO positions; some have taken on supplementary, well-paid work for the British Council and U.S. Embassy. But these ostensible rewards were not openly available, and the association struggles to engage all of its members and draw in large numbers of new recruits, even at a time when government teachers especially require EL ﬂuency and pedagogic reskilling. Paran (2016) noted the challenge of engaging peripheral participants and posed an important question: Whom does the association serve?
Research Question Addressed Here, I focus on a line of ﬁndings within my broader dissertation research, which aims to explore the discursive production of ELT professionalism in ATER. The association presents itself as a solution for the poor professional skills of the Rwandan teaching service. By oﬀering English language and pedagogical training opportunities, ATER can potentially reach marginalized teachers found in more rural and remote contexts. However, professional associations can also promote exclusion by emphasizing an elitist sense of professionalism available only through membership in that association. To examine this situation more closely, I consider the following question in my research: Do discourses of ELT professionalism within ATER foster inclusion or promote exclusivity? If so, how?
Research Methods This research was part of a larger comparative case study (Bartlett & Vavrus, 2016) with data collected around Rwanda for three months in 2018. The data presented here were gleaned from three methods partitioned from the larger case study.
Data Collection Procedures First, I conducted sub-case studies with ﬁve community leaders, which were based on three to ﬁve one-hour interviews following classroom observations, school site visits, and ATER training sessions. I also conducted stand-alone interviews with three other community leaders, each for one hour. Finally, ﬁve association leaders participated in a semi-structured focus group session for two hours. Three of these leaders agreed to participate in follow-up interviews. All events were audio recorded and the recordings were transcribed. Participants reviewed the transcripts, made edits and clariﬁcations, and redacted sensitive information. All names and geographical sites have been anonymized.
Data Analysis Procedures The transcripts were analyzed via a form of discourse analysis inﬂuenced by Foucault (e.g., 2004), wherein discourse provides the boundaries of what is thinkable. Utilized
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within the comparative case study framing, Foucauldian discourse analysis allows for tracing discourses which transverse global, national, and local levels, but also looks for places of resistance. Powerful discourses have the eﬀect of shaping how members and leaders might view themselves and their organization, but those members are also able to modify and oppose those discourses. I followed the basic steps of Foucauldian discourse analysis as provided by Rose (2001) and identiﬁed recurrences and keywords which form a “regularity of statements, both in general form and dispersion” and can be “linked to a constituting ﬁeld of power-knowledge” (Graham, 2005, p. 10). Recurrences—such as mindset change—do not have a single, agreed-upon meaning but are instead ﬁlled with diﬀerent meanings and result in diﬀerent truth eﬀects. Through multiple reviews of the data, coding processes, and paying attention not only to what is said but what is left undiscussed or ignored, patterns of discourse within the association emerged.
Findings and Discussion A strong discourse throughout the association was the concept of mindset change. In a 2019 speech, President Kagame called for African education systems to prioritize high-quality human capital and make the continent more competitive to investors—via the inexpensive ﬁx of mindset change: “Mindset has no price, yet nothing has greater value” (Kagame, 2019, para. 21). Rwandans are individually tasked with the challenge of national development: Mindset change toward self-improvement and entrepreneurship embodies their patriotic duty.
“Owning” Professionalism Association leadership has adopted a similar orientation toward member professionalism: A valued member is one who shifts his/her mindset to a new, growth approach to PD. The old, ﬁxed mindset is a static view in which teaching is something that can be mastered and then requires no input. This binary is an application of psychologist Carol Dweck’s work, favored in education training programs worldwide (see Tes Reporter, 2015). According to one leader, “ﬁxed” mindsets involve “thinking about an issue, and then thinking, someone else can come help me ﬁx it. As opposed to, where can I ﬁnd a solution?” (Leader 1, Focus Group, 22 July 2018). A growth mindset, the expected professional attitude of association members, is evident when “their mindset is shifting more to thinking about their professional growth, especially through identifying with colleagues in the same profession and learning from each other and giving their time” (Leader 2, Focus Group, 22 July 2018). In a follow-up interview, one leader framed this self-reliance as ownership and informed me that they led two sessions with each community of practice to focus speciﬁcally on “changing the mindset and owning professionalism” (Leader 1, Interview, 16 June 2018).
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Owning professionalism entails owning the challenges faced in the Rwandan classroom: In confronting these challenges, professional members should seek out a solution or consult an expert on their own. One leader said that he loved to see teachers “taking ownership of their challenge and trying to ﬁnd a solution themselves” (Leader 2, Focus Group, 22 July 2018). Ownership, here, speeds up the process of problem solving by responsibilizing the individual (Pyysiäinen et al., 2017): Problem solving is not necessarily distributed but rather individualized.
Professionalism as Investment Beyond ownership, another ﬁnancial term co-opted in association discourse is the notion of investment. Investment and ownership work together: People who own their professionalism also invest in it. Investments in the association were both temporal and ﬁnancial; engaging with the association requires attending meetings and trainings on weekends and in the evenings. PD via a voluntary association (rather than school-based oﬀerings) requires time away from family and friends, as leaders noted. In seeking new leadership recruits, ATER leaders looked for members “learning from each other and giving their time” and demonstrating their commitment (Leader 3, Focus Group, 22 July 2018). There is, however, a gendered aspect to this investment. The association struggles to maintain a strong female membership. Association leadership consists of one woman and ﬁve men, and across the association, men outnumber women three to one. A female ATER leader struggled to diagnose the gender problem, indicating that she tried to be an example to get women more involved, but often they have “a traditional mentality … they are not very active in getting involved, they don’t like it” (Leader 4, Interview, 26 July 2018). She referred to the challenge of convincing women to lead training sessions and attributed this reticence to laziness, or, especially when a woman is married, “a culture-related thing” (Leader 4, Interview, 26 July 2018). Rwandan women have broadly been expected to be submissive, quiet, and even shy (Rubagiza, 2011). Their duties are often oriented toward their home, with little time to invest in their careers or toward functioning as dedicated association members. The association also requires ﬁnancial investment. A peer-led association appears sustainable: Those who want to be members can pay the yearly dues, and those who cannot are still able to attend the community meetings, which are open and free. But especially in rural and remote parts of the country, attending even free events requires paying for a bus or moto-taxi. With past partnerships, teachers had transportation sponsorship. The practice of subsidizing transport costs is also common for government PD events. There is much internal discussion about transport stipends; leaders informed me that this culture creates the potential for ﬁnancial dependency. One community leader explained that his group went from 28 to just six attendees when the U.S. Embassy cut support for transportation. He now seeks out attendees
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“who don’t know the story about money” (Community Leader 1, Interview, 31 May 2018). Once the potential for reimbursement is known, it is hard to convince teachers to come without reimbursement: “The legacy left by the initial money is very detrimental” (Community Leader 1, Interview, 31 May 2018). Outside of Rwanda, there’s little research around who sponsors voluntary PD, even in contexts with more developed and entrenched professionalism. The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS; OECD, 2009), a survey of 260,000 teachers in 48 countries conducted primarily in the Global North, suggested that 25% of teachers surveyed paid some amount of PD costs, and 8% were responsible for the full amount; no system oﬀered completely free PD. “Investing in your career” is a ubiquitous Global North discourse, but it is especially prevalent in the ELT sector, where the industry relies heavily on contract workers (Codó, 2018). The TESOL International Association and IATEFL do not appear to collect data on whether attendees personally cover conference fees or if they are sponsored by institutions. Their conferences feature member presentations and recruitment opportunities, but they also serve to normalize personal ﬁnancial investment. Indeed, a blog posted on the TESOL website exhorts teachers to see the value of attending conferences and “start saving” (Malupa-Kim, 2010, para. 6).
“Bad Mindset” This (seemingly) small investment for PD is a signiﬁcant point of tension within association discourses. A community leader told me that attendees asking for transport reimbursement, like rural teachers in general, have “a bad mindset” and a “corrupted mind of money” (Community Leader 2, Interview, 16 July 2018). Another association leader similarly referenced teachers who have a “closed mind” in only looking for their own “beneﬁt” (Leader 4, Interview, 26 July 2018). For both leaders, teachers who ask for reimbursement are unmotivated or wrongly motivated, as indicated in the interviews and roundtable sessions with leaders. When participants ask what they will gain from participation in association events, it demonstrates a motivation based only on material advantage. When inviting a teacher to a training session, Leader 4 notes that “immediately he or she asks if there is transport … if the transport is not there, someone is not motivated to come. You want people to motivate you instead of having intrinsic motivation” (Leader 4, Interview, 26 July 2018). Another leader indicated that “these people need to know that it’s their own professional development; people can’t pay them for being professionally empowered” (Leader 1, Interview, 16 June 2018). With these responses, the underlying assumption appears to be that money is the motivation, not the facilitation. I asked the community leader, who described rural teachers as having “a corrupted mind of money,” why teachers request reimbursement and the answer was blunt: “Because they are so poor” (Community Leader 2, Interview, 16 July 2018). The combination of little pay and “many children to feed at home”
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(Community Leader 2, Interview, 16 July 2018) means that even Rwf 2,000 (2 USD) to reach the training site represents extravagance. Salaries for government primary teachers, who are arguably most in need of English and pedagogical support, have been described as a “poverty wage” (IPAR Rwanda, 2014) at around Rwf 44,000–55,000 (48–60 USD) per month, with secondary and private teachers at the higher end of that range (Ntirenganya, 2016). For leaders though, low salaries were presented as something that can be overcome with adequate motivation. A community leader indicated that he personally sponsors attendees since “I know that their salary is low, but they have the heart for attending” (Community Leader 4, Interview, 11 July 2018). Their dedication to improving their English language skills to perform their work better impressed him; he went on to add that there were “few” teachers who demonstrated this commitment and those who did manage to travel and cover their own expenses were obviously motivated.
Broader Discussion of Exclusive Professionalism As seen from these ﬁndings, there is a distinct discourse of valued professional performance for an association member. Passive, unprofessional teachers are those who are unwilling to invest, do not take ownership of the problems within their classrooms and school environment, wait for the government to direct, and are otherwise unmotivated to undertake PD. This unprofessional teacher can be ‘ﬁxed’ via the approach to professionalism found within leader discourses, which broadly aligns with neoliberal discourses that value entrepreneurial, ﬂexible individuals who take responsibility for reskilling themselves around policy mandates. Already, within the association, members merge patriotism and professionalism, taking on the burden of Rwandan educational quality. A rural community leader argued that “the government should not invest money in improving the quality of education for us teachers, [we] should be able to ﬁnd [our] own solutions to improve it” (Community Leader 3, Interview, 16 July 2018). Though this argument boldly speaks to the language of empowerment, there are troubling aspects to this discourse, with ramiﬁcations beyond the conﬁnes of ATER. Academics have pointed out how poverty has become individualized within Rwanda (Purdekova, 2012). In recasting poverty as an individual failing, the government relinquishes some responsibility and “respond[s] to the suﬀerer as if they were the author of their own misfortune” (Pyysiäinen et al., 2017, p. 216). Those who do not invest are unmotivated; those who ask for assistance (money) in making the commitment of time are accused of caring only for the money. It is as if the government were saying, “We gave you the opportunity; it’s your fault that you didn’t invest.” Fraser (2013) deﬁned justice as parity of participation, so injustice is its inverse, or impeded participation. One obstacle, maldistribution, occurs when individuals are denied participation by “economic structures that deny them the resources they
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need in order to interact with others as peers” (p. 193). The TALIS report similarly noted the potential “equity concerns” which could arise from some being able to manage the “cost and time commitment” of PD and others being unable to surmount this barrier (OECD, 2009, p. 68). For ELTAs like ATER, Paran (2016) noted that exclusionary discourses have an impact “on individual members (who may leave the association); on non-members (whose needs are then not met); and on the development of the profession as a whole” (p. 134). When associations deploy discourses that present a member ideal far outside of the lived reality of teachers, they risk becoming a form of elite enclosure and creating ﬁssures within the teaching service, pitting professional against unprofessional. A professional teacher participates in the association; an unprofessional teacher is caught within a negative discursive portrayal. In considering the research question, then, the data indicate that ATER is an association in tension between inclusivity and elitism.
Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research ELTAs in low-resource contexts have great potential for professionalization of the teaching profession: They ﬁll gaps around linguistic and pedagogical training, while encouraging self-reliance and autonomy. But professionalism can be co-opted by neoliberal responsibilizing discourses, further burdening marginalized teachers to solve the problems created by ambitious government policy. As this chapter indicates, “ownership” and “investment” might be the only available options for teachers who seek the basic knowledge of language and pedagogy needed for their work, though there is a limit to what this mindset change can aﬀect. With the many challenges that face teachers within the Rwandan education system (such as overcrowded classrooms, unsuitable textbooks, and limited access to desperately needed pedagogical and language training), do these expectations not merely add to their individual burden and increase the likelihood of burnout and exhaustion? In moving forward, ATER leaders, and those at similar associations, might consider introducing a sliding scale for membership fees based on place of employment (government or private) and teaching level (primary, secondary, etc.). Another suggestion would be to institute alternative forms of payment for membership, such as logging a certain number of service hours, leading one training each term, or helping to recruit teachers at their home institution. ELTAs—and the bodies which help fund them in low- and middle-income contexts—often unwittingly promote certain conceptions of teacher professionalism. These associations are a key aspect of professional life, but their leaders and members must engage critically with the potential consequences and exclusivity of individualizing professionalism and actively seek out contextualized solutions to engage impoverished teachers. Further research—perhaps from a participatory approach, critically engaging leaders and members alike—could examine those consequences and solutions.
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References ATER. (n.d.). Mission statement. www.aterw.org. Bartlett, L., & Vavrus, F. (2016). Rethinking case study research: A comparative approach. Routledge. Block, D., Gray, J., & Holborow, M. (2012). Neoliberalism and applied linguistics. Routledge. Cameron, L. M. (2017, September). Sustainable continuous professional development? Considering models from East and Central African teacher associations. Paper presented at UKFIET: Education and Development Forum International Conference, Oxford, UK. Codó, E. (2018). The intersection of global mobility, lifestyle, and ELT work: A critical examination of language instructors’ trajectories. Language and Intercultural Communication, 18(4), 436–450. Flanigan Adams, K. (2012). The discursive construction of professionalism. Ephemera, 12(3), 327–343. Foucault, M. (2004). The archeology of knowledge. Routledge. Fraser, N. (2013). Fortunes of feminism. Verso. Graham, L. J. (2005, November–December). Discourse analysis and the critical use of Foucault. Paper presented at Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, Sydney, Australia. IPAR Rwanda. (2014). Evaluation of results-based aid in Rwandan education: 2013 evaluation report. Upperquartile/Institute of Policy Analysis and Research. Kagame, P. (2019, March 25). Remarks made at the Africa CEO Forum. http://paulka game.com/?p=14313. Malupa-Kim, M. (2010). Professional development: Why attending conferences counts. TESOL Aﬃliate News. https://www.tesol.org/connect/tesol-aﬃliate-network/access-aﬃlia te-beneﬁts/aﬃliate-news/aﬃliate-news-november-2010/professional-development-why-at tending-conferences-counts. Mbonyinshuti, J. (2019, February 27). Teacher training curriculum reviewed. The New Times. https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/teacher-training-curriculum-reviewed. Milligan, L. O., Tikly, L., Williams, T., Vianney, J.-M., & Uworwabayeho, A. (2017). Textbook availability and use in Rwandan basic education: A mixed-methods study. International Journal of Educational Development, 54, 1–7. MINEDUC. (2013). Education sector strategic plan 2013/14–2017/18. Ministry of Education, Republic of Rwanda. Motteram, G. (2016). Membership, belonging, and identity in the twenty-ﬁrst century. ELT Journal, 70(2), 150–159. Muvunyi, E. (2016). Teacher motivation and incentives in Rwanda: Analysis of stakeholders’ perceptions of the changes in teachers’ motivation during 2008–2013 (Unpublished EdD thesis). University of Sussex, Sussex, UK. Ntirenganya, E. (2016, June 21). Teachers want minimum monthly wage of Rwf80,000. The New Times. https://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/read/200994. Odhiambo, F., & Oloo, D. (2007). ELTED around the world: Sharing examples of existing successful practice in ELT associations in East Africa. ELTED, 10(Winter), 63–68. OECD. (2009). Creating eﬀective teaching and learning environments: First results from TALIS. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Paran, A. (2016). Language teacher associations: Key themes and future directions. ELT Journal, 70(2), 127–136. Pearson, P. (2014). Policy without a plan: English as a medium of instruction in Rwanda. Current Issues in Language Planning, 15(1), 39–56.
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Purdekova, A. (2012). Civic education and social transformation in post-genocide Rwanda: Forging the perfect development subjects. In M. Campioni & P. Noack (Eds.), Rwanda fast forward: Social, economic, military and reconciliation prospects (pp. 192–210). Palgrave-Macmillan. Pyysiäinen, J., Halpin, D., & Guilfoyle, A. (2017). Neoliberal governance and “responsibilization” of agents: Reassessing the mechanisms of responsibility-shift in neoliberal discursive environments. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 18(2), 215–235. REB. (2015). Competence-based curriculum: Summary of curriculum framework pre-primary to upper secondary. Rwanda Education Board, Ministry of Education, Republic of Rwanda. REB & VVOB. (2018). Implementing CBC: Successes and challenges. Urunama Rw’abarezi, 6(July). https://rwanda.vvob.be/publications. Rose, G. (2001). Visual methods. SAGE. Rubagiza, J. (2011). Exploring gender issues in the teaching and learning of ICT in lower secondary schools in Rwanda Graduate School of Education (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Bristol, Bristol, UK. Rubagiza, J., Were, E., & Sutherland, R. (2011). Introducing ICT into schools in Rwanda: Educational challenges and opportunities. International Journal of Educational Development, 31(1), 37–43. Samuelson, B. L., & Freedman, S. W. (2010). Language policy, multilingual education, and power in Rwanda. Language Policy, 9(3), 191–215. Simpson, J. (2014). Baseline assessment of English language proﬁciency of school teachers in Rwanda. British Council. Simpson, J., & Muvunyi, E. (2012). Teacher training in Rwanda and the shift to Englishmedium education. In R. Jones-Parry (Ed.), Commonwealth education partnerships 2012/2013 (pp. 154–157). Commonwealth Secretariat. Smith, R., & Kuchah, K. (2016). Researching teacher associations. ELT Journal, 70(2), 212–221. Tes Reporter. (2015, September 25). Watch out for your own ﬁxed mindset, Carol Dweck tells teachers. TES News. https://www.tes.com/news/watch-out-your-own-ﬁx ed-mindset-carol-dweck-tells-teachers. UNESCO. (2014). EFA global monitoring report 2013/4—Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all. UNESCO. Williams, T. P. (2017). The political economy of primary education: lessons from Rwanda. World Development, 96, 550–556. World Bank. (2011). Rwanda education country status report. The World Bank.
9 VIETNAMESE PRIMARY ENGLISH TEACHERS’ COGNITION AND ASSESSMENT PRACTICES A Sociocultural Perspective Anh Tran
Issues That Motivated the Research In the last three decades, educational reform across the globe has brought with it the need to change the way teachers assess students’ language learning. The shift in assessment paradigms moves language teachers away from traditional testing to alternative assessment, with the latter aiming to “gather evidence about how students are approaching, processing, and completing ‘real-life’ tasks in a particular domain” (García & Pearson, 1994, p. 357). Based on current empirical evidence, English teachers are encouraged to evaluate students not only on what they can recall and reproduce, but also on what they are able to apply, synthesize, evaluate, and produce in real-life assessment tasks (Huerta-Macías, 2002). However, these recommendations may not apply in the same way for learners from diﬀerent contexts. This chapter, which is based on research I conducted in Hanoi, Vietnam, argues that assessment practices rooted in a well-resourced setting may not be applicable in a resource-constrained setting like the locale for this study. According to World Bank statistics in 2018, Vietnam has a GDP per capita equivalent to 16% of the world’s average. Hanoi, the speciﬁc setting of this research, is a densely-populated city accommodating a huge number of migrants from neighboring provinces. In 2018, an average primary classroom at a public school in Hanoi had 60–70 students and due to the large student population, schools had a serious shortage of teachers (Pham, 2013). The extent to which the assessment practices established in Western contexts work in Vietnamese local schools and resource limitations impact teacher assessment practices is still open to further empirical research. In addition, teachers’ assessment practices with older learners and adults are not necessarily appropriate for young language learners (YLLs) who are still developing
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physically, cognitively, and emotionally. YLLs in English teaching contexts are deﬁned as those students learning English as a foreign/second language during the ﬁrst six or seven years of formal schooling, roughly between the ages of 5 and 12 (McKay, 2006). As these learners diﬀer in a variety of linguistic and sociocultural ways from older and adult learners, more research into the factors inﬂuencing the practices of assessing YLLs is required to provide further guidelines to teachers in terms of eﬀective approaches and techniques. YLL assessment has gained increased emphasis in recent decades due to the widespread introduction of foreign language instruction in primary education (Kuchah, 2018). Current research has pointed out the complexities of YLL assessment, highlighting the interactions among YLLs’ individual diﬀerences, speciﬁc contextual and teacher- and parent-related variables, and the languages being learned. Therefore, calls for further investigations in this ﬁeld have risen (Nikolov, 2016). In response to this appeal, the present study focuses on the teacher variable (teachers’ cognition and practice) and contextual factors (those of an under-resourced setting) in YLL assessment.
Primary Teachers’ Assessment Cognition and Practices in Under-Resourced Contexts Language teacher cognition, deﬁned as “the unobservable cognitive dimension [of teaching] or what language teachers think, know, and believe” (Borg, 2003, p. 81), has emerged as a worthwhile area of research in language education. The term cognition is not only used to denote key factors in this ﬁeld including knowledge, beliefs, and thinking; it also subsumes other cognitive constructs, such as perspectives, conceptions, assumptions, or attitudes in an attempt to unify these highly connected constructs in the literature (Borg, 2003). Understanding teachers’ cognition, or their mental lives, is essential in understanding their professional practice (Borg, 2003). Research in the broad ﬁeld of English language teaching has generally conﬁrmed that teacher cognition may act as a ﬁlter through which teachers interpret new information and make instructional decisions (Burns et al., 2015). Thus, in order to capture the complexities of language teachers’ assessment practices, it is necessary to examine their cognition of language assessment in relation to practice. In the area of EFL language assessment, an expanding number of studies have been conducted to explore YLL teachers’ cognition, for example, their conceptions of assessment (e.g., Tan, 2013) and their attitudes, knowledge, skills, and training needs (e.g., Berry et al., 2017). Meanwhile, in studies that explore YLL teachers’ assessment practices (such as Hui et al., 2017; Kirkgoz & Babanoglu, 2017), major ﬁndings indicate that YLL teachers use a variety of assessment tasks in their teaching. In addition, a range of critical cognitive factors, such as teacher beliefs and perceived competency (self-eﬃcacy), have been found to inﬂuence teachers’ practices.
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Building on these contributions from the literature, the relationship between cognition and practice in this ﬁeld merits further consideration. As noted above, in some studies (e.g., Hui et al., 2017; Tan, 2013), cognition and practice were studied in isolation. This study, however, addresses cognition and practice together, and considers the two as inseparable. In addition, the current study uniﬁes the highly interrelated constructs (beliefs, knowledge, and conceptions, for example) by using the umbrella term cognition to emphasize that these cognitive constructs can be closely related to one another and can interactively inﬂuence the decision-making processes in the assessment practices of teachers (Borg, 2003). While EFL classroom assessment research has mainly been based on wellresourced settings (e.g., Tsagari & Vogt, 2017), YLL teachers’ assessment practices in less-privileged contexts remain under-explored. Among the few available studies on YLL assessment in low-resourced settings, Lalani and Rodrigues (2012) examined a Pakistani YLL teacher’s beliefs and her reading assessment practices in the classroom. That study revealed that the teacher had her own perceptions and purposes for choosing a particular assessment strategy, some of which were found not to align with what is widely advised in the assessment literature. In another study based in Turkey, Yildirim and Orsdemir (2013) investigated 43 YLL English teachers’ performance-based assessment practices and concluded that there was a mismatch between what the Ministry of National Education dictated on the use of performance-based assessment and the way teachers implemented the performance tasks in their classrooms. These ﬁndings are important for teachers across the globe, as they should be informed of how YLL language assessment is being conducted by teachers in under-resourced contexts. Nevertheless, further research focusing on under-resourced contexts deserves more attention, since understanding of English language teaching in speciﬁc contexts outside developed countries is still limited, and the current number of investigations in these contexts remains small (Kuchah, 2018). In the Vietnamese context, the setting of the study reported here, as of this writing, I am aware of only two studies (Ai et al., 2019; Pham, 2013) that have examined YLL teachers’ assessment practices. Pham’s (2013) research explored the assessment practices of three primary English teachers in an urban city. These participants seemed to be conﬁdent about the purposes of assessment at the primary level and the characteristics that distinguish YLL assessment from adult assessment. However, their understanding of formative assessment practice in the classroom appeared to separate assessment from teaching, and they tended to associate formative assessment with an accumulation of periodic assessments. The second study (Ai et al., 2019), on the other hand, highlighted the need to examine the alignment between teachers’ classroom assessment practices and the broader sociocultural context, including national assessment policies. The present study addresses the need for more research on teachers’ assessment practices in the Vietnamese setting, particularly from a sociocultural perspective.
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A Sociocultural Approach to Understanding YLL Teacher Cognition and Assessment Practices A sociocultural approach to EFL teacher cognition and assessment practices aims to provide insights into the activity of assessment by scrutinizing teachers’ cognitive processes, their actual practices, and how these dimensions interrelate with teachers’ working contexts. Studies of cognition more generally (e.g., Daniels, 2008) have increasingly emphasized the role of the physical, social, cultural, economic, and historical circumstances (the sociocultural contexts) in the development of cognition and practice. This increased role of context requires researchers to capture a coherent whole of the dialectical relationship among cognition, practice, and context. In previous research (e.g., Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1985), context is also widely perceived as the social situation of development. Therefore, the current study looks into the cognition and assessment practices of YLL English teachers in Vietnam and takes into account the role of the under-resourced context as the social situation of development.
Context of the Research The study was conducted in light of the most recent innovation in primary English education in Vietnam. In 2018, policymakers oﬃcially introduced English as a compulsory subject for students in Grades 3–5 (ages 8–10). Before this policy was enacted, English had been taught as an optional subject in the primary school curriculum. Another notable transformation in English language teaching in Vietnam at the time of this study revolved around competency-based education. The national foreign language project initiated by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) aimed to boost students’ ability to use English in communication, study, and work after high school graduation (Harman et al., 2009). As an integral part of this reform, assessment policy guidelines (Dispatch 22, MOET, 2016) were issued to highlight the need for primary teachers to increase their use of formative assessment in their classrooms to develop students’ English competency. According to that document, tests should be restricted in use and formative assessment should be conducted on a regular basis in various forms aiming at motivating and promoting young learners’ language development. In other words, the MOET’s document places a strong emphasis on formative assessment and restricts teachers’ use of test scores to assess young learners. However, the directives are stated without providing further guidelines about how teachers can implement formative assessment in their context (Pham, 2013). The lack of empirical research on YLL teachers’ assessment practices under this reform in Vietnam was another impetus for this study.
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Research Questions Addressed The following research questions guided the current study: 1. 2.
How is English YLL teachers’ cognition (what they think, know, and believe) related to classroom assessment in Vietnamese public schools? What factors inﬂuence YLL teachers’ assessment practices in Vietnamese public schools?
Research Methods The dynamic and complex nature of YLL teachers’ cognition and practice would make it diﬃcult to examine this issue from a quantitative research perspective. Thus, I decided to adopt a qualitative case study approach to explore the wholeness or integrity of factors that may be inﬂuencing the phenomena of this study. The case study approach is especially suitable for examining a small sample of teachers, clarifying their understandings of assessment, exploring their mental lives, and capturing the detailed descriptions of the context surrounding their practices (Duﬀ, 2018).
Data Collection Procedures This study was set in two public schools (referred to as School A and School B) in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. With more than 25 years of development, School A has grown into a large-sized school with more than 100 teachers and staﬀ members, and nearly 3,500 students and a total of 57 classes. School B has a longer history, and its student population of more than 1,000 students in 23 classes and a teacher population of over 50 make it a medium-sized school in Hanoi. Although their classrooms have limited space to accommodate a large number of students, both schools have computer rooms, libraries, art and music rooms, and PE rooms. However, with a large student population and a high student/ teacher ratio, these public schools can still be considered as under-resourced contexts, as suggested by Kuchah (2018). These schools impose micro constraints related to crowded classrooms with limited space, and they are also likely to encounter “the broader policy issues” as macro challenges (Kuchah, 2018, p. 3). The participants for this study were two female English teachers, Lucy and Kim (pseudonyms), who were selected based on their varied experiences in teaching and assessment. The reason behind this purposive sampling is the assumption that experiential inﬂuences might exert eﬀects on teachers’ assessment practices. Lucy is a recent graduate who began her teaching career only one year before this study began. While novice teachers may encounter diﬃculties in seeking employment in public schools in Hanoi because of the limited number of positions available, Lucy is one of the three English teachers employed at School
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A. Kim, on the other hand, has a total of 17 years of experience teaching English, with six years spent at a private school before her transfer to School B. While Lucy attended a course on language testing and assessment in her undergraduate studies, Kim did not have any coursework related to language assessment in her university education. However, over the years of teaching, Kim received training in assessment during several summer courses. Some brief information about these two teachers is provided in Table 9.1. Table 9.1 shows the major features of an under-resourced teaching environment (i.e., huge teaching loads) experienced by the two teachers. In this context, a period equals 35 minutes and a class consists of 60 students. Each class has two periods a week learning English with Vietnamese teachers and two periods learning with foreign teachers. Lucy taught nine classes (i.e., nine diﬀerent groups of students), making up 18 periods of weekly teaching, plus two periods being a teaching assistant in a foreign teacher’s class. Kim was responsible for 13 classes, for a total of 26 periods of weekly teaching. It is important to note that Kim had to teach nearly 800 students per week. Vietnamese teachers like Lucy and Kim were in charge of teaching grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing skills, and undertaking administrative and assessment duties while foreign teachers, provided by English centers in partnership with the schools, would teach English speaking and listening skills to students. These schools use the instructional materials (textbooks and workbooks) developed by the MOET and strictly follow its new curriculum. Parents pay the schools for instructional materials at aﬀordable prices at the beginning of the academic year. To explore the processes and complexities in English teachers’ cognition and assessment practices, this study employed qualitative data collection strategies, including the gathering of documents, school syllabi, and tests, as well as conducting classroom observations and interviews. The collection of documents, such as Dispatch 22 (MOET, 2016), in the extensive period of a semester was considered necessary in order to gain a comprehensive and realistic overview of the contextual factors underlying teacher cognition and practices. A total of four classroom observations were conducted with two visits per teacher. During these classroom observations, semi-structured ﬁeld notes were used to record teachers’ assessment activities as part of their routine teaching process. Interviews were conducted twice with each teacher, each lasting from 30 to 45 minutes. The ﬁrst
TABLE 9.1 Participants’ Background and Teaching Situation
Years of experience
Number of diﬀerent classes taught per week
1 year 17 years
School A School B
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interview generated background information and teachers’ cognition about formative and summative assessment activities. Examples of interview questions were, “How do you deﬁne alternative assessment in your classroom?” and “What do you think about using observation to assess students in your classroom?” The second interview was designed after two classroom observations to probe further details on these teachers’ reﬂections about the assessment strategies and cognition underlying their assessment practices.
Data Analysis Procedures To analyze the data collected from these diﬀerent sources, thematic analytical procedures were employed (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Both literature-driven and data-driven coding methods were used to identify and generate the teachers’ cognition and their use of summative and formative assessment strategies. A literature-driven analysis involved identifying pre-determined codes (e.g., time constraints, heavy workloads), while a data-driven analysis aimed at searching for emerging codes (e.g., the role of English centers). Both analyses looked for patterns in teachers’ assessment practices and factors inﬂuencing these practices. In the following section, I organize the ﬁndings case by case, addressing both research questions at the same time. Then, I undertake a cross-case analysis of the two teachers’ cognition and practice.
Findings and Discussion Teacher Cognition and Assessment Practices in Public Schools Lucy School A, where Lucy works, employs only three English teachers, each taking charge of 9 to 11 classes in a single grade. Lucy was teaching nine classes in Grade 3 (60 students each) and her two colleagues took responsibility for Grade 4 and Grade 5 classes. Having only two periods a week with each class, Lucy compensated for the limited contact time by working as an assistant in the foreign teachers’ English lessons, giving her “extra time to observe students’ learning” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019). With regards to her assessment practice, Lucy stated that it strongly aligns with MOET’s assessment policy. She summarizes this practice as follows: “In Grade 3 at this level we are not allowed to give grades and we have no [formative] tests. Only at the end of the ﬁrst and second semesters, students have two tests. Only two of them” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019). Despite being a novice teacher in her ﬁrst year of teaching, Lucy showed conﬁdence in her knowledge of assessment methods. She was also aware of the details of Dispatch 22 (MOET, 2016), recalling that it had been introduced to the
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whole school in a training session at the beginning of the school year. After this school-wide training, she clearly understood the techniques required for assessing YLLs for formative purposes. However, she blamed the large number of students for her restricted use of these techniques. She shared this concern: They are very crowded. It is very hard to focus on their writing skills. I then shift my focus to listening and reading skills. I ask them to cross-check with each other … They already practice speaking skills with foreign teachers. I don’t have time for one-to-one assessment. (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019) Individualized assessment, as she mentioned above, is hardly possible in her context. She chose to focus her assessments on receptive skills as these could be practically done in a large class. Peer assessment was applied to the extent of students’ cross-checking their answers with each other. Observation data from Lucy’s review lesson also show that she organized a group work activity, in which students drew and described their houses, and then talked about their pictures (Lucy, Observation 1, 28 November 2019). Reﬂecting on this assessment activity, she considered it as a way to check if students could apply what had been taught in the whole unit. In a limited time, only some students had a chance to speak, but Lucy believed it was necessary for them to practice pronunciation, vocabulary, and structures. She recorded their speaking “to compare with those from other classes” (Lucy, Interview 2, 13 December 2019). Although she viewed group work as a beneﬁcial activity, she was afraid that her two colleagues might not like it because “they might think it would be hard to manage the class” (Lucy, Interview 2, 13 December 2019). Despite enormous eﬀorts to assess students in diﬀerent ways during the lessons, Lucy did not seem to feel satisﬁed with her practice due to the limited class time and the large class size. She stated, “There’re only 35 minutes but 60 students, you know, it can’t be up to my expectations” (Lucy, Interview 2, 13 December 2019). To overcome contextual constraints, Lucy said a teacher should develop a ﬂexible assessment strategy. She described her own approach: “In each of my review lessons, I often have about ten students in mind so that I can focus on observing their learning” and “I would choose the place where I could best observe these students” (Lucy, Interview 2, 13 December 2019). Lucy felt sorry that she did not pay equal attention to every student. When giving written comments about students’ learning in the school’s computerized system, she admitted that her comments might be accurate on more than half of the students. She could describe the weakest or strongest students’ learning abilities but could not write detailed comments for average students “who did not display any outstanding features in the class” (Lucy, Interview 2, 13 December 2019). This evidence presents a common problem of assessing a large class through qualitative evaluations (Kuchah, 2018).
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Evidence also shows that there was a conﬂict between Lucy’s cognition of formative and summative assessment and the policies of the school. While she believed she would need to “spend more time on developing weaker students’ language skills,” the school expected her “to identify stronger students to take part in the English school team” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019). This school team would participate in the Olympic English test organized annually among schools of the same level throughout the country. Students’ high scores and their awards in this test might contribute to establishing the school’s reputation in the city and possibly attracting students to enroll in the coming year. Thus, teachers like Lucy were required to give priority to the selection and training of potential students for the test. With regard to the end-of-semester test, which was supposedly administered for achievement purposes, there was also a dissonance between Lucy’s cognition and the school’s policy. Instead of asking teachers in the school to construct the test for their classes, School A had requested an English center to provide testing services for the school in the last six years. “It was the English center who constructed the test and sent it to the school. We were only responsible for administering it” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019). Lucy made it clear that the school aimed to create fairness in testing with this procedure because there was only one teacher teaching all the classes in the same grade. For Lucy, however, the test did not reﬂect the actual progress in the teaching sequence. She gave this example: “The students haven’t ﬁnished Unit 10 in the MOET’s curriculum, but the test included items from the whole unit, which was unjustiﬁable” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019). Lucy not only expressed her dissatisfaction with the test’s content coverage, but she also criticized the quality of the test tasks, saying that the test design was “illogical” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019). She added that “students in Grade 3 cannot do such a long reading task. They can’t do it in 40 minutes” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019). If given an opportunity to design the test, Lucy would have constructed diﬀerent test tasks, such as “rearranging the words to make complete sentences” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019) as this task was familiar to her students. However, during the test, the students were asked to do a translation task, which was completely unfamiliar: “Students didn’t even understand the task instructions” (Lucy, Interview 1, 8 November 2019). Upon voicing these complaints to the headteacher, Lucy did not receive a positive response. She said she could not proceed further with her complaint as she was very new in the job.
Kim Kim, an experienced teacher compared to Lucy, taught nearly 800 students from 13 classes in a semester. With only two periods spent with each class every week, she felt that this time was insuﬃcient for her to understand her students’ language development. The large class size and a huge teaching load posed numerous
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diﬃculties in assessing students. She said she could neither remember their faces nor assess them accurately. Repeatedly, she cited large classes or limited teaching time as main hindrances to her formative assessment practice. For example, she said: “It was hard to observe students. Because of the large class, I can’t cover all the students. I can’t assess them regularly” (Kim, Interview 1, 10 October 2019) and “[Formative] assessment is very diﬃcult because I have two periods [per week]” (Kim, Interview 2, 6 December 2019). To give further evidence, Kim compared her previous experience in a private school with that in her current public school to emphasize that she was lacking time to be able to assess students properly. Like School A, School B relied on an English center for the provision of foreign teachers. The teaching of the foreign English teachers, as Kim revealed, adhered to and consolidated the contents in the MOET’s textbooks. Kim appreciated the assistance of the foreign teachers and viewed it as an essential component of English teaching in her school, particularly when it could compensate for her limited class time. Unlike Lucy, Kim was unaware of the details of the assessment policy for primary teachers. She had vague ideas about what the policy referred to. She also seemed to have a limited understanding of assessment methods and strategies as she cited tests and homework checking as forms of formative assessment used in her classes. While she was aware that she was not allowed to use tests to assess YLLs for formative purposes, she perceived this policy as “a hindrance” and consistently wished to “conduct more tests with the students during the semester to track their learning progress” (Kim, Interview 1, 10 October 2019). Kim held the belief that teachers should rely on test results to be informed about student learning because testing was “the accurate way of assessment” (Kim, Interview 2, 6 December 2019). Kim’s strong preference for tests might have been attributed to the inadequate time to assess such a huge number of students. Unlike Lucy, she could not spend time supporting the foreign teachers in speaking and listening lessons as she already has “a huge workload to cover” (Kim, Interview 2, 6 December 2019). This limited contact time, again, left her “very little time to get to know [her] students” (Kim, Interview 2, 6 December 2019). To complicate her problem, she added, the MOET’s content-rich curriculum did not allow her to have adequate time to assess students. In this way, Kim was viewing assessment as separate from teaching. Kim viewed self-assessment as an infeasible activity to use for Grade 3 and 4 students, as “the children are small and their knowledge is insuﬃcient” (Kim, Interview 2, 6 December 2019). Similarly, she felt that peer assessment was an unworkable strategy because “strong students can assess weak students, but the other way is impossible” (Kim, Interview 2, 6 December 2019). These negative feelings continued when Kim had low conﬁdence in giving accurate written comments for a large number of students in the school’s electronic platform. Kim argued that the only way to resolve her diﬃculties was to reduce her workload and student numbers and increase class time. Kim emphasized that unless these problems were solved, she would not be able to improve her assessment practices.
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Being restricted in the use of tests for formative purposes and believing that other strategies were impractical in her context, a common method Kim used was to collect her students’ workbooks to mark at home and return them with corrections. Even this activity was “a huge workload” so she remained strategic by collecting only the work of “one in four blocks” of students (Kim, Interview 2, 6 December 2019) and rotated among the blocks throughout the semester. As students sit in blocks and each class has four blocks, Kim aimed to assess one fourth of students in each lesson. Like Lucy’s strategy of selective observation, this practice was also a solution used to overcome contextual constraints of a crowded classroom.
Cross-Case Analysis Despite the small scale of this study, its ﬁndings reveal interesting discussion points. The data analysis of the two cases clearly shows the dynamic and interrelated nature of context, cognition, and practice. It is evident that the conditions of teaching in these two under-resourced public schools are roughly the same (e.g., large class size, huge teaching load, and rigid classroom setting). Yet the two teachers in this study diﬀered greatly in their cognition and use of assessment activities. While homework checking and correction were believed to be forms of formative assessment and were used more commonly in Kim’s class, Lucy preferred using a variety of formative assessment strategies. While Lucy attempted to use group work, peer assessment, or observation, Kim showed more resistance to these activities. The teachers’ diﬀering practices could partially be explained by their divergent cognitions about assessment activities. While Lucy appeared to have more positive attitudes toward alternative assessment through observing the beneﬁts of such practice, Kim often questioned the practicality of these practices and blamed contextual constraints for her not being able to use them. Lucy considered assessment as part of the teaching process, but Kim appeared to regard it as distinct from her teaching. It was therefore evident that teachers’ cognition is shaped by context but at the same time acts as a ﬁlter shaping their practice. It is important to note that Lucy is a recent graduate who had been introduced to the principles of communicative language teaching and assessment in her BA program, while Kim, an experienced teacher, had graduated from her university a long time ago when there was much less attention paid to classroom assessment. While Lucy could conﬁdently talk about the concepts and procedures related to alternative assessment, these remained unclear to Kim. The two teachers’ diﬀerent training backgrounds might contribute to their diﬀering assessment literacy levels. This ﬁnding contrasts with previous research (e.g., Zolfaghari & Ashraf, 2015) which suggests that teachers with more years of teaching experience might have more exposure and practice in using a variety of assessment methods. It is therefore important that policymakers attend to individual teachers’ assessment literacy levels with careful consideration of their assessment backgrounds.
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The ﬁndings also support previous studies (Kuchah, 2018; Nikolov, 2016) by conﬁrming that the typical characteristics of an under-resourced context can impede YLL teachers’ practice. There is suﬃcient evidence from this study that contextual constraints (such as limited teaching time and large class sizes) make it diﬃcult for teachers to conduct alternative assessment. In both public schools under scrutiny in this study, Lucy and Kim reported that the teacher shortage led to increased workload per teacher. Large class size and increased workload were major factors contributing to Kim’s resistance to using alternative assessment. However, reducing class size, as Kim wished, appeared not to be a possible solution, since the number of students continues to grow in urban and suburban areas of Hanoi. The city is expanding in size, and many families choose to reside in this city for increased employment opportunities. Yet the large number of students does not seem to coincide with an increase in human resources, as in the case of School B, which has more than 1,000 students but only three English teachers. However, Lucy’s case also echoes Yang’s (2008) ﬁnding—that even in less-privileged settings, if teachers are conﬁdent and strongly believe in the beneﬁts of alternative assessment, they will ﬁnd strategies to implement it in the classroom. As with the application of observation and homework checking strategies by Lucy and Kim to overcome contextual constraints, the under-resourced setting can also serve as the social situation of development for teachers (Vygotsky, 1978).
Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research Classroom realities in less-privileged contexts similar to the schools in this study show that large class size, huge teaching loads, and teacher shortages continue to create major hindrances not only to YLL teacher assessment practices but also to their knowledge and beliefs about assessment. The characteristics of under-resourced contexts therefore need to be systematically and consistently brought to the attention of policymakers and related stakeholders. Eﬀorts to adopt imported innovative assessment practices from developed countries, like the ideas of self and peer assessment, without understanding speciﬁc local diﬀerences, might not result in the desired practices. In this way, the issue of an assessment policy for local teachers should be rooted in local realities, considering teachers’ diverse cognition and assessment literacy levels. Assessment guidelines, for instance, should exemplify various possibilities that may work in typical local contexts. Likewise, adaptive strategies (like that of Lucy when selecting students to focus her observation in a large class) should be encouraged by school leaders and colleagues as good practices to overcome contextual constraints. These adaptive strategies can be transferred to similar settings. This study also stressed the importance of taking a sociocultural view in understanding the situated nature of teachers’ cognition and practices (Wertsch, 1985). Besides scrutinizing macro assessment policies and micro classroom realities, future research can pay attention to meso contexts such as school cultures,
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which are likely to be important determinants of teachers’ assessment practices. In addition, the ﬁndings of this study suggest that teachers’ cognition and practices should continue to be interwoven in ongoing research. If teachers encounter problems during the implementation of assessment, then the experience could turn into a negative belief that could aﬀect their attitudes toward assessment. Thus, attending to teachers’ cognition and practices simultaneously could contribute to the development of a dynamic and contextually sensitive assessment literacy culture in the EFL education of YLLs. One shortcoming of this research is that YLLs’ perspectives were not examined in relation to teachers’ practices. YLLs’ views are hardly ever incorporated into existing research due to the complications of data collection. However, their perceptions may give clues as to why some teachers are resistant to formative assessment, particularly in an under-resourced context (Nikolov, 2016). Also, the impact of diﬀerent kinds of assessment on YLLs’ language development, from their own perspectives, can be interesting topics of further research.
References Ai, P. T. N., Nhu, N. V. Q., & Thuy, N. H. H. (2019). Vietnamese EFL teachers’ classroom assessment practice at the implementation of the pilot primary curriculum. International Journal of Language and Linguistics, 7(4), 172–177. Berry, V., Sheehan, S., & Munro, S. (2017). Assessment: attitudes, practices and needs. British Council. Borg, S. (2003). Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe, and do. Language Teaching, 36(2), 81–109. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. Burns, A., Freeman, D., & Edwards, E. (2015). Theorizing and studying the language‐ teaching mind: Mapping research on language teacher cognition. The Modern Language Journal, 99(3), 585–601. Daniels, H. (2008). Reﬂections on points of departure in the development of sociocultural and activity theory. In B. V. Oers, W. Wardekker, E. Elbers, & R. V. De Veer (Eds.), The transformation of learning: Advances in cultural-historical activity theory (pp. 58–75). Cambridge University Press. Duﬀ, P. A. (2018). Case study research in applied linguistics. Routledge. García, G. E., & Pearson, P. D. (1994). Assessment and diversity. In L. Darling-Hammond (Ed.), Review of research in education (pp. 337–391). American Educational Research Association. Harman, G., Hayden, M., & Pham, T. N. (Eds.). (2009). Reforming higher education in Vietnam: Challenges and priorities (Vol. 29). Springer Science & Business Media. Huerta-Macías, A. (2002). Alternative assessment: Responses to commonly asked questions. In J. C. Richards & W. A. Renandya (Eds.), Methodology in language teaching (pp. 338–343). Cambridge University Press. Hui, S. K. F., Brown, G. T., & Chan, S. W. M. (2017). Assessment for learning and for accountability in classrooms: The experience of four Hong Kong primary school curriculum leaders. Asia Paciﬁc Education Review, 18(1), 41–51.
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Kirkgoz, Y., & Babanoglu, M. P. (2017). Turkish EFL teachers’ perceptions and practices of foreign language assessment in primary education. Journal of Education and E-Learning Research, 4(4), 163–170. Kuchah, K. (2018). Teaching English to young learners in diﬃcult circumstances. In S. Garton & F. Copland (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of teaching English to young learners (pp. 73–92). Routledge. Lalani, S. S., & Rodrigues, S. (2012). A teacher’s perception and practice of assessing the reading skills of young learners: A study from Pakistan. Journal on English Language Teaching, 2(4), 23–33. McKay, P. (2006). Assessing young language learners. Ernst Klett Sprachen. MOET (Ministry of Education and Training). (2016). Revision and addition of the regulations about assessing primary students. (Dispatch 22/2016/TT-BGDÐT). https://thuvienp hapluat.vn/van-ban/giao-duc/Thong-tu-22-2016-TT-BGDDT-sua-doi-danh-gia-hoc-si nh-tieu-hoc-thong-tu-30-2014-TT-BGDDT-323463.aspx. Nikolov, M. (2016). Trends, issues, and challenges in assessing young language learners. In M. Nikolov (Ed.), Assessing young learners of English: Global and local perspectives (pp. 1–17). Springer International. Pham, L. A. (2013). A case study into English classroom assessment practices in three primary schools in Hanoi: Implications for developing a contextualized formative assessment practice framework. VNU Journal of Foreign Studies, 29(1), 1–16. Tan, K. H. (2013). Variation in teachers’ conceptions of alternative assessment in Singapore primary schools. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 12(1), 21–41. Tsagari, D., & Vogt, K. (2017). Assessment literacy of foreign language teachers around Europe: Research, challenges and future prospects. Papers in Language Testing and Assessment, 6(1), 41–63. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press. Wertsch, J. V. (1985). Vygotsky and the social formation of mind. Harvard University Press. Yang, T. L. (2008). Factors aﬀecting EFL teachers’ use of multiple classroom assessment practices with young language learners. English Teaching & Learning, 32(4), 85–123. Yildirim, R., & Orsdemir, E. (2013). Performance tasks as alternative assessment for young EFL learners: Does practice match the curriculum proposal?. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 5(3), 562–574. Zolfaghari, S., & Ashraf, H. (2015). The relationship between EFL teachers’ assessment literacy, their teaching experience, and their age: A case of Iranian EFL teachers. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 5(12), 2550–2556.
10 TRAINING NATIVE AND NON-NATIVE ENGLISH-SPEAKING TEACHERS Task-Based Language Teaching in Honduras Lara Bryfonski
Issues That Motivated the Research The study described in this chapter investigated the experiences of a cohort of native and non-native English-speaking teachers participating in a task-based teacher training program at a network of bilingual schools in Honduras. Task-based language teaching (TBLT) is an approach to language teaching that utilizes tasks, driven by the authentic needs of the learners, as the basis of language curricula, syllabi, instruction, and assessment (e.g., Long, 2015). This approach is in contrast to traditional language teaching, which typically organizes instruction around grammar, vocabulary, or other discrete language forms. TBLT pedagogy arose from a desire to reconcile second language acquisition (SLA) research ﬁndings with traditional and popular approaches to language teaching (as summarized in Long, 2016). For example, prior research identiﬁed natural development stages known to aﬀect the order of acquisition of language forms (Mackey, 1999; Pienemann, 1984) and provided evidence that traditional grammatical syllabi cannot alter this order. TBLT focuses on only the grammatical forms that naturally arise from tasks relevant to learners and is therefore thought to be more compatible with natural second language (L2) development. Due, in part, to this theoretical grounding in SLA research, TBLT has garnered global attention, and successful programmatic implementations have been reported in contexts worldwide (e.g., González-Lloret & Nielson, 2015; Müller-Hartmann & Schocker-von Ditfurth, 2011; Van Avermaet & Gysen, 2006). However, the majority of this research represents economically developed contexts and TBLT has not been widely examined in lower- or middle-income southern hemisphere countries, also known as the Global South.
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In recent years, Latin American countries have made considerable eﬀorts to improve English language education through national strategies, the creation of new programs, and increased investment (Cronquist & Fiszbein, 2017). Despite these eﬀorts, students’ English language proﬁciency has reportedly remained stubbornly low, along with the quality of English teacher training programs (Stanton & Fiszbein, 2019). In Honduras, a recent study reported that the English proﬁciency of the majority of public-school English teachers was rated at or below the level expected of their students (Cronquist & Fiszbein, 2017). Furthermore, little prior research in any world region has focused on the relationship between English teacher education programs and the outcomes of pedagogical innovations. This dearth of research is especially problematic for language pedagogies like TBLT, which require specialized training and skills from teachers. Without the use of a one-size-ﬁts-all textbook or curriculum, teachers must be trained to identify and respond to individual learner needs, devise tasks relevant to those needs, and provide tailored input and feedback to learners (Long, 2016). For novice teachers, training is of particular importance, as training programs have been shown to aﬀect teachers’ preexisting beliefs about language learning and teaching (Borg, 2015). Teachers are known to experience an apprenticeship of observation (Lortie, 1975), in that their own experiences in learning environments throughout their lives shape their approaches to education. Prior work has found that language teachers are particularly aﬀected by this apprenticeship of observation. Warford and Reeves (2003), for example, found the eﬀect to be qualitatively stronger for non-native speaker (NNS) teachers who were teaching their L2, due to the fact that NNSs are living the language learning experience as they teach, while native speakers (NSs) are not. NNS and NS teachers have also been shown to experience components of teacher training courses diﬀerently, as these courses are often designed with NS teachers in mind and may not be well-suited to NNS teacher needs (Anderson, 2016). The current study investigated the changing beliefs and experiences of a group of native and non-native English-speaking teachers completing a task-based teacher training program. These ﬁrst-year teachers participated in interviews and surveys regarding their experiences in the training. Stakeholders from the local community participated in a focus group regarding their perceptions of the English-speaking teachers and the implementation of TBLT in their children’s bilingual schools. The resulting data were analyzed to understand the impacts of the training on teachers’ beliefs about TBLT and to explore the interaction between parents’ and teachers’ perceptions about teaching and learning in their community.
Context of the Research The current study is set in several English-Spanish bilingual schools in Honduras. English-Spanish bilingualism is perceived as a signiﬁcant asset in Honduras and is viewed as a critically important factor in access to further education and
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employment. Not long after this study was conducted, news coverage of so-called migrant caravans, mostly originating in Honduras, highlighted the systematic inequalities facing many Hondurans in their pursuit of sustainable employment and personal safety and security (e.g., Kinosian, 2019). English language proﬁciency is recognized as a marketable skill due to the demand for English speakers in local call centers, factories, and tourism industries (Soluri, 2005). Despite this demand for English speakers, a recent study found that Honduras ranked the lowest out of 14 Latin American countries in the level of English proﬁciency spoken in the workplace, ﬁnding that on average, workers were only able to communicate using simple sentences and could not actively participate in workrelated tasks using English (Pearson, 2013). Because of the desire to obtain the language skills needed to access sustainable employment in English-speaking industries, the demand for bilingual education in Honduras is high. However, most high-quality Spanish-English bilingual schools are private, charge high tuition fees, and are therefore only accessible to the aﬄuent upper-class. Bilingual Education for Central America (BECA) Schools, a U.S.-based nonproﬁt that participated in the current project, is working to dismantle these structural inequalities by recruiting and training English-speaking teachers and placing them in bilingual schools at very low cost or no cost to rural, under-resourced communities. BECA partners with three community-run schools in western Honduras, collectively supporting quality English-Spanish bilingual education for over 600 students from preschool to 9th grade. Many students from these communities are from lowincome families, and most do not have regular access to computers or the internet. They are often aﬀected, either directly or indirectly, by the gang and drug-related violence that is endemic to the area. San Jeronimo Bilingual School is in the municipality of San Pedro Sula, a city that has often topped the list of highest homicide rates worldwide (U.S. Department of State, 2019). Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School operates within a home for abandoned, abused, and impoverished children. Santa Monica Bilingual School serves students in Vida Nueva, an area settled by those displaced by Hurricane Mitch, which physically and economically devastated Honduras in 1998. (The names of the schools and the NGO are used with permission.) Nine of the 19 teachers who participated in the current study grew up in or adjacent to one of these communities. The schools themselves are also under-resourced, in that facilities are relatively basic and teaching materials such as activities and books are donated or created by volunteers. The schools utilize a content and language integrated learning (CLIL) approach to language teaching, in which English Language Arts (ELA), math, and science are taught in English by the BECA-recruited English-speaking teachers. Social studies and Spanish are taught in Spanish by local Honduran staﬀ who are monolingual Spanish speakers. In conjunction with BECA staﬀ and school administrators, the researcher carried out a needs analysis and program evaluation in 2014 and 2015 to identify skills and target tasks that graduates of the schools would need to enter the local bilingual workforce. To implement the ﬁndings of the evaluation,
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teacher training and professional development were updated to include task-based principles for driving day-to-day lesson planning and instruction. (See Ortega, 2015, for an overview of TBLT/CLIL interfaces.) Using this approach, teachers design tasks to deliver content (e.g., a science topic), while simultaneously providing opportunities for linguistic development in line with TBLT principles. For example, teachers develop pedagogic tasks that require negotiation for meaning, the use of the students’ own linguistic resources, and non-linguistic, content-based outcomes (Ellis & Shintani, 2014). The current study investigates the implementation of this task-based teacher training program for new English-speaking teachers who came from both native Spanish-speaking and native English-speaking backgrounds. Regardless of ﬁrst language (L1) background, teachers who use English to deliver content instruction (ELA, math, and science) and support their students’ bilingual development through tasks are referred to as the English-speaking teachers in this study to distinguish them from the teachers who use Spanish as medium of instruction in the bilingual program.
Research Questions Addressed The following three research questions were investigated in this study: 1. 2. 3.
What were the impacts of the task-based training program on novice NS and NNS English teachers’ beliefs about task-based language teaching? What were community stakeholder perceptions of the NS and NNS English teachers? How useful were components of the task-based training for the NS and NNS English teachers?
Research Methods The participants in the current study included 19 newly recruited English-speaking teachers and a small group of community stakeholders that were all parents of children in one of the participating bilingual schools. The novice teachers came from a variety of Latin American countries, including the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, and Venezuela, as well as from the US. The teachers represented two distinct groups: teachers who were recruited from abroad to move to Honduras to teach at the bilingual schools (n = 10), and teachers who were local Hondurans (n = 9). Of the nine Honduran teachers, six were alumni from one of the participating bilingual schools. Teachers self-identiﬁed as L1 English (n = 7) or L1 Spanish speakers (n = 11), as well as one L1 speaker of Garifuna, an indigenous language spoken along the western coast of Central America. The NS English teachers were not required to speak Spanish, although they all reported at least a novice level at the beginning of training and a desire to improve as they began to live and work in the community.
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The teachers had diverse backgrounds in terms of their prior teaching experiences and credentials. The majority of the teachers indicated they had less than two years of prior teaching experience (n = 16) and no formal teaching credentials (n = 10). However, four teachers began the training with either a TESOL certiﬁcate or a teaching license and two years of prior teaching experiences. Eleven of the teachers were assigned to teach elementary school grades (PreK through 5th grade), while the others were assigned to teach upper-grade levels (6th through 9th grade). The community stakeholders (parents) participated in a focus group, in which they discussed their own beliefs about the value of bilingual education and the success of the English-speaking teachers in their children’s school. These ﬁve parents together represented 14 students and alumni from a range of grade levels (1st through 9th grades, as well as graduates). All teachers and parent participants are referred to with pseudonyms.
Data Collection Procedures Participating teachers took part in a four-week training program designed speciﬁcally for ﬁrst-year English-speaking teachers at BECA schools. The training was approximately 160 hours and divided into two parts (see Figure 10.1). In part one, teachers attended whole-group and grade-level speciﬁc training sessions on topics related to task-based language teaching and general pedagogy. These sessions were themselves task-based, in that trainers modeled TBLT strategies in a student-centered, interactive format. During this time, teachers also participated in one-on-one advising sessions with trainers. The second part of the training program was a teaching practicum, where teachers designed and implemented tasks with students and were observed by trainers and peer-teachers. All aspects of the training were delivered in English. Data were collected via pre- and post-training surveys, reﬂective writing assignments, classroom observations, teacher interviews, and a parent focus group. The pre-training survey asked teacher trainees to answer two key questions: “What aspects of English language teaching do you anticipate being easiest to implement?” and “What aspects of English language teaching do you anticipate being the most diﬃcult to implement?” Teachers were also asked to rate how prepared they felt to design, implement, and assess task-based lessons in their classrooms. Teachers could take the survey in English or Spanish. Throughout the ﬁrst two weeks of training, teachers wrote daily reﬂections about their experiences. They were asked to include at least one positive reﬂection, take-away lesson, or meaningful aspect of the day’s training. They were also asked to write one critique or suggestion for changing the training (for example, aspects of training they found confusing, unproductive, or ineﬀective, or other concerns). During the ﬁnal week of the training, teachers participated in semistructured interviews and completed equivalent post-training surveys. In the
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Weeks 1 & 2 TBLT Training
TBLT Training Sessions: Theories of SLA and Bilingualism, Task-Based Lesson Planning, Providing Quality Feedback, Planning for Differentiated Group Work, Task-Based Assessments
Weeks 3 & 4 Teaching Practicum
Grade-level lesson planning with mentor, cross grade-level planning time
Data collection procedures
Pre-training teacher survey
Daily teacher reflections, Parent focus group
Teaching Practicum: Teachers rotate every hour for three hours to teach Mentor and peer teachers observe all lessons Teachers debrief with mentor and peers each day
Video-recorded classroom observations
Grade-level lesson planning with mentor, cross grade-level planning time
Post-training teacher survey and interviews
interviews, teachers were asked a series of questions about their experiences during the training, areas they found most and least useful, speciﬁc outcomes they achieved, and suggestions for improvement of the training. While teachers reﬂected on all aspects of the training including content-based sessions (e.g., math and science teaching) in interviews and written reﬂections, the data discussed below include only their reﬂections relevant to second language development and task-based teaching. While success in teaching is clearly closely tied to teacher and student performance, students’ families are also key stakeholders in the process of their children’s developing bilingualism. In order to examine teacher eﬀectiveness from
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the perspective of community stakeholders, a group of parents participated in an hour-long focus group. Parents were asked, in Spanish, to reﬂect on their own deﬁnitions of high-quality teaching in English, the skills they envisioned their children obtaining by graduation, and the opportunities aﬀorded by English language proﬁciency in their community.
Data Analysis Procedures Responses on open-ended survey questions, written reﬂections, and interviews were transcribed and, when necessary, translated into English. The use of ellipsis in quotes below refers to omitted materials in the original quotes. Responses were thematically analyzed in NVivo (QSR International). The researcher and two trained coders coded the qualitative data for emergent themes using a grounded approach (following suggestions in Mackey and Gass, 2015) and aligned themes with illustrative quotes from the teachers. Individual teachers’ responses were compared with background characteristics, such as their L1, age, prior teaching experiences, and assigned grade-level.
Findings and Discussion Teachers’ Beliefs about Task-Based Language Teaching Responses on the surveys administered before and after the task-based training, along with teacher interviews, uncovered a variety of factors that inﬂuenced the teachers’ experiences. When teachers were asked before the training to identify the aspects of English language teaching that would be easiest and most diﬃcult to implement, one emergent theme was a focus on grammar and other discrete linguistic forms. Teachers’ open-ended responses included memorization of nouns, greetings, everyday words, grammar (“straightforward rules that don’t have exceptions”), vocabulary, and pronunciation as areas they perceived to be easiest to teach in English. When asked what would be diﬃcult to implement in their classrooms, teachers again focused on grammar points, for example, citing “proper grammar” and “grammatical exceptions” as diﬃcult aspects to teach. They also raised concerns before the training about teaching in their L2, with one teacher indicating she was concerned about not knowing key vocabulary words in English. After the training, teachers were asked, in light of their experiences in the training and practicum, to identify aspects of English language teaching that had been the easiest and the most diﬃcult to implement. While grammar persisted as a “diﬃcult” theme, many of the linguistic features that were prominent pretraining themes (as being easy or diﬃcult), such as grammar, were replaced by task-based themes, including peer interaction, classroom management, elaborating input, diﬀerentiation, and scaﬀolding. (See Table 10.1 for themes and illustrative quotes from the teachers.)
“Straightforward rules that don’t have exceptions,” “Memorization of nouns, greetings, everyday words and structures.” “Comprensión oral; comprender y seguir instrucciones [oral comprehension, understanding and following instructions].” “Encouraging students to utilize the language.” “La fonetica [pronunciation],” “teaching new sounds.” Grammar
“Proper grammar,” “exceptions.”
“Conversations,” “actually speaking the language.”
“Aprender a leer en inglés [learning to read in English] (decoding, coding),” “writing.”
“Not being a native English speaker. There are a few things I might need extra time to get to know some words.”
English as a NNS
Most Diﬃcult Post-Training
“Grammar is hard to teach when the students have a very low understanding of their language.” “I’ve been able to grasp large group levels, but some individuals are more diﬃcult as I can’t tell if they are just quiet or don’t understand.” “Yo pienso que también sería la disciplina porque sería la más fácil y al mismo difícil de mantener. [I think that it would also be discipline because it is both the easiest and most diﬃcult to maintain].” “Knowing the way on how to teach concepts or breaking down them so that it easy and understandable to give or be more instructional.”
“Guided reading and writing workshop,” “spelling,” “introducing new vocab for new subjects.”
“Task-based activities, group work activities,” “En actividades para que ellos aprendan practicando [activities where they learn by practicing].” “Gestures w/ words/repetition/procedures.”
Peer interaction/Group work
Elaborating input, scaﬀolding
“Classroom management and behavior systems,” “following an agenda.”
Most Diﬃcult Pre-Training
TABLE 10.1 Pre- and Post-Training Survey Themes
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These results highlight teachers’ shifting perspectives on English language teaching after participating in the task-based training. This change was also uncovered in post-training teacher interviews, where the teachers described their developing theoretical and pedagogical approaches to English language teaching. One L2 English-speaking kindergarten teacher cited her prior experiences in a local public school and contrasted them with the style of teaching she experienced at the training: I learned so many things [that] changed my perspective as a teacher … I grew up with a diﬀerent method that I don’t like, but when you work in a public school you are forced to work with those methods … The teacher here is actually the facilitator and in contact with the student and cares about the social emotional part of each student and doesn’t just prepare a lesson just to go through the content. (Isabel, Interview, 8 August 2018) The concepts of “teacher as a facilitator” and the ability to individualize instruction are aspects of task-based instruction that Isabel was able to contrast with her prior teaching and learning experiences. A native English-speaking middle school teacher described the transition from focusing on theory and grammar for language teaching to being able to visualize teaching in a task-based classroom: I have been able to clearly walk though my classes. Before when I had to do a lesson plan I was so ﬁxated on the words and theories. But now, if I want to start my day, I would start a “do now” [activity] and walk around and visualize what a day would look like a lot more clearly. (Beth, Interview, 8 August 2018) Beth described her own process of transforming from a novice teacher who could not see beyond “words and theories” to a more experienced teacher who could visualize and anticipate the learning experiences in her classroom. In the same interview, she also described how the process of visualization allowed her to adjust for comprehension issues by elaborating input. She said, “I know that I need to make things as detailed and visual as possible and anything that can make my teaching … go smoother.” The theme of diﬀerentiation was echoed by several teachers who described a developed recognition of individual diﬀerences based on the training. Claudia, a non-native English-speaking 2nd-grade teacher, described how the training raised her awareness of the variety of English proﬁciency levels she would have in her classroom. She said, “todos aprenden diferente no todos los sistemas funcionan para todos igual, los estudiantes están a diferentes niveles [everyone learns diﬀerently, the systems do not work in the same way for everyone, the students are at diﬀerent levels]” (Claudia, Interview, 8 August 2018). As a result of this realization she went
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on to say, “I’ve deﬁnitely changed the way I express myself,” adding that she tends to elaborate her input more and use more gestures and visuals to ensure student comprehension. Natalia, a non-native English-speaking kindergarten teacher, echoed Claudia’s perspective. Natalia reﬂected after training that she had noticed the following: Cado niño aprende de forma diferente. Cado niño tiene capacidades diferentes. Aprenden [mejor] de hacer una actividad del tema a dar que sólo leer el “context.” [Each child learns diﬀerently. Each child has diﬀerent abilities. They learn better doing an activity on the given topic than only reading the context.] (Interview, 8 August 2018) Natalia’s reﬂection also highlights the transition from a didactic teaching style to a more student-centered teaching style where learning happens through experiences that are individualized, a hallmark of a task-based approach. Overall, surveys and interviews highlighted teachers’ developing beliefs about task-based language teaching as a result of the training, with teachers demonstrating recognition of the importance of diﬀerentiation, visuals, interaction, and tasks as vehicles for learning after receiving the training. However, survey ﬁndings also echoed prior research that found language teachers in general have strong beliefs about grammar instruction that are diﬃcult to alter, even after training in communicative or task-based approaches (e.g., Borg, 2015).
Community Perspectives For additional perspectives on the impacts of the training program for the bilingual schools and the community, a small group of parents participated in a focus group. These parents were asked to share their perceptions of the success of the teachers in the bilingual school program where their children were enrolled. When asked how they deﬁned a strong English-speaking teacher, parents spoke to the importance of the teachers’ knowledge about individual diﬀerences and classroom management practices. Parents also highlighted the importance of teachers understanding the resources available or unavailable to some families. One parent, for example, shared this view: Tienen que ser ﬂexibles y sensibles con la tarea en la internet … poner la tarea para uno o dos días después, porque no todos tenemos internet en casa. [They should be ﬂexible and sensible with online assignments … have the homework due a day or two after because we don’t all have internet at home.] (Fabiola, Focus Group, 25 July 2018) Fabiola’s observation highlights how some teachers, especially those from more privileged backgrounds outside of Latin America, assumed that families have
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regular access to the internet and technology at home, which was not the case for the majority of these students. In the focus group, parents also discussed the changing linguistic and cultural demographics of the English-speaking teachers. In prior years, almost all the English-speaking teachers were NSs of English, who moved to Honduras from North America or Europe. However, in recent years, non-native English speakers from the community (school alumni) and from around Latin America had been recruited to join the English-speaking teaching team. The parents discussed the tension between the beneﬁts of having bilingual teachers who were easier for them to communicate with, and the desire for their children to be taught by NSs. One parent said that “una gran ventaja de este año es que hablan bien el español [a great advantage this year is that [the teachers] speak Spanish well]” (Oscar, Focus Group, 25 July 2018). Another parent echoed this sentiment and pointed out that teachers who speak Spanish and English have better control of their classrooms, especially when there are behavioral disputes between students. She said, “Que sepan las dos lenguas porque así ellos saben a quién creer y a quién no … [They need to know both languages to be able to know whom to believe …]” (Giselle, Focus Group, 25 July 2018). However, parents also raised concerns about the transfer of non-native accents from Spanish-speaking teachers: “No es el mismo acento que un americano, eso es el problema. [The accent is not the same as an American, that’s the problem]” (Genesis, Focus Group, 25 July 2018). Another parent agreed: Es bueno que sea americano, que sea nativo en inglés, que no sea su segunda lengua, por el acento. [It would be good to have American teachers that are native in English, not as a second language, for the accent.] (Fabiola, Focus Group, 25 July 2018) One parent oﬀered that perhaps a native speaker is only necessary during the critical ﬁrst years of English exposure for a good accent. She said, “Que por lo menos hasta el cuarto o quinto año sea americano. [At least until 4th or 5th grade, the teacher should be American.]” (Rubi, Focus Group, 25 July 2018). The inaccurate perception that NNS teachers are less adequate than NS teachers has been persistently documented in worldwide contexts. Braine (2010) described this as the “ironic phenomenon,” (p. 4) where NNS English teachers, who return to their home countries after receiving specialized training (in some contexts, even earning advanced degrees abroad), ﬁnd they are unable to obtain employment teaching English. Braine speciﬁcally notes cases in Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong where language program administrators preferred hiring unqualiﬁed native English speakers rather than qualiﬁed local teachers. A similar pattern occurred in the context of the current study: Parents identiﬁed bilingualism as an advantage for both students and teachers. However, they also shared their concerns about the transmission of non-native English accents, despite the fact that
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several of the NNS teachers were alumni from the very schools where they were about to teach.
Utility of Task-Based Teacher Training for NNS English Teachers Findings from the pre-training survey discussed above provided early insight into how NS and NNS English teachers experienced the training diﬀerently. These themes were also uncovered in reﬂections and interviews, where teachers were asked how useful they found the training. Some teachers oﬀered practical changes to the training to make it more accessible. For example, one non-native Englishspeaking teacher wrote in her reﬂection, “Some words are diﬃcult and some of them speak so fast. So fast. Trainers and students. Slow down and use words that are not so diﬃcult” (Maria, Written Reﬂection, 27 July 2018). In an interview, another teacher described her experience teaching alongside native English speakers and those who, from her perspective, were more proﬁcient bilinguals: I think most of the people who are Americans or from other countries they have more conﬁdence speaking English because many years ago they learned the second language. For me, I sometimes felt shy because I only learned [English] two years [ago] and sometimes I can’t ﬁnd the words I need to express myself. So, sometimes it has been a little diﬃcult, but I’m trying my best and trying to practice my English every day and express myself. Sometimes I felt intimidated because I can’t express myself and what I think because of my limited English but I’m trying to be open to new experiences and not be silent. (Natalia, Interview, 8 August 2018) Teachers who considered themselves NNSs of English raised concerns about community perceptions of their teaching abilities. One teacher explained that she was worried the parents would be disappointed to ﬁnd she was a non-native English speaker and say, “Oh, we don’t have a gringo for our class” (Andrea, Interview, 8 August 2018). Another teacher said he recognized parents’ concerns but disagreed. He said: Some of us didn’t get the “real” accent from Americans and that’s why they [parents] think “if no American teachers are here, my kids can’t learn English.” We need to change [that] orientation … We can do it the same as you guys do it. (Alejandro, Interview, 8 August 2018) In this quote, Alejandro is advocating for upending the stereotype that students can only learn a language from NSs, aligning himself with the NNS English
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teachers in contrast with “you guys,” the NS English teachers and researcher. Several teachers mentioned that speciﬁc training sessions reﬂecting the linguistic diversity represented in the teaching team may help open the conversation surrounding teaching when English is the teacher’s L2. Notably, it was the NNS English teachers, not the NSs, who reﬂected in interviews and written reﬂections on English language use in the training and the experience of being a bilingual educator. Those teachers called for more training on supporting bilingualism within the teaching team and within in the school community, for example, by educating community members with evidence debunking the transmission of L2 pronunciation errors from NNS teachers to learners (e.g., Levis et al., 2016). The native English speakers mainly reﬂected on their diﬃculties in designing task-based lesson plans and the lack of pre-made resources for developing pedagogic tasks. These contrasting perspectives provide further evidence that NS and NNS teachers experience teacher training programs diﬀerently (as in Anderson, 2016), underscoring the need for these programs to recognize the perspectives and experiences of teachers from diverse language backgrounds (Braine, 2010).
Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research This study investigated the experiences of novice NS and NNS English teachers in bilingual programs in Honduras who participated in a training program on task-based language teaching. The results discussed above point out the ability of short-term training to impact teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and dispositions toward a task-based curriculum. However, teachers did not experience the training uniformly; instead, their beliefs were inﬂuenced by factors such as their L1 backgrounds. The experiences of the non-native English teachers underscore the need for teacher training programs to recognize the perspectives of teachers from other language backgrounds and work to support them. This recognition can be demonstrated, for example, by oﬀering additional trainings on related topics, such as on collaboration in a bilingual teaching team, or on cross-cultural communication and awareness. In order to hear the concerns of parents, but at the same time work to upend stereotypes about NNSs, teachers, trainers and administrators must work to promote and uphold a standard that bilingualism is an advantage—not a disadvantage—for language educators. Future studies should aim to connect teachers’ experiences in training to implementation during the academic year, furthering our understanding of what NS and NNS teachers take away from training programs, and what they subsequently implement. Additionally, while teacher and parent perspectives were accounted for in the current study, the perceptions of an additional key stakeholder, the bilingual school students themselves, should also be examined. Student or alumni interviews could be used to assess buy-in to the task-
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based teaching style and gather perceptions of the language teaching they receive. These data would add further evidence as to whether the task-based program is meeting students’ authentic English language needs. An additional area worthy of investigation is the eﬀects of the training on student outcomes in terms of their L2 development. Connecting teacher cognitions, teacher training, and student outcomes has been called for in prior research (e.g., Borg, 2015). This connection could be made through an analysis of student performance in task-based assessments. On a micro level, as of this writing, the results of this study are being put into practice by BECA and the schools’ administration to inform future implementations of the training program and to provide ongoing resources to evaluate the program in future iterations. For example, following the comments from parents that urged teachers to adapt their expectations about the types of resources available to families for completing homework tasks, additional training has been added to support teachers in designing units and lessons with easily accessible resources. The results of the study provide evidence for TBLT as an appropriate approach to language pedagogy for under-resourced contexts by allowing language teachers to avoid relying on a curriculum or textbook that may have assumptions about the availability of materials or technology. This ﬁnding adds to the growing body of research on TBLT’s applicability in worldwide contexts (e.g., Carless, 2003; McDonough & Chaikitmongkol, 2007); however, more research is needed to better understand TBLT implementation in understudied Global South contexts such as Latin America. On a macro level, the arrival of thousands of Honduran immigrants at the U.S.–Mexico border has highlighted Hondurans’ diﬃculties ﬁnding sustainable local employment and avoiding the dangers of violence in their home communities. By engaging in a bilingual teacher training program aimed at promoting pedagogical innovation, the beneﬁt and immediate direct impact to partner schools in Honduras is contributing to upending the systemic educational inequalities that drive many young Latin Americans to migrate to the US.
Acknowledgments The research presented in this chapter was ﬁnancially supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Grant from The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) and a dissertation research travel grant from Georgetown University.
References Anderson, J. (2016). Initial teacher training courses and non-native speaker teachers. ELT Journal, 70(3), 261–274. Borg, S. (2015). Teacher cognition and language education: Research and practice. Bloomsbury Publishing.
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Braine, G. (2010). Nonnative speaker English teachers: Research, pedagogy, and professional growth. Routledge. Carless, D. (2003). Factors in the implementation of task-based teaching in primary schools. System, 31(4), 485–500. Cronquist, K., & Fiszbein, A. (2017, September). English Language Learning in Latin America. The Inter-American Dialogue. https://www.thedialogue.org/wp-content/uploa ds/2017/09/English-Language-Learning-in-Latin-America-Final.pdf. Ellis, R., & Shintani, N. (2014). Exploring language pedagogy through second language acquisition research. Routledge. González-Lloret, M., & Nielson, K. B. (2015). Evaluating TBLT: The case of a task-based Spanish program. Language Teaching Research, 19(5), 525–549. Kinosian, S. (2019, January 15). “I have to try”: New migrant caravan leaves Honduras and heads for the United States. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/ world/the_americas/i-have-to-try-new-migrant-caravan-leaves-honduras-and-heads-forthe-united-states/2019/01/15/db7240c8-183c-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html. Levis, J. M., Sonsaat, S., Link, S., & Barriuso, T. A. (2016). Native and non-native teachers of L2 pronunciation: Eﬀects on learner performance. TESOL Quarterly, 50(4), 894–931. Long, M. H. (2015). Second language acquisition and task-based language teaching. John Wiley & Sons. Long, M. H. (2016). In defense of tasks and TBLT: Nonissues and real issues. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 36, 5–33. Lortie, D. C. (1975). School teacher: A sociological study. University of Chicago Press. Mackey, A. (1999). Input, interaction and second language development: An empirical study of question formation in ESL. SSLA, 21(4), 557–587. Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2015). Second language research: Methodology and design. Routledge. McDonough, K., & Chaikitmongkol, W. (2007). Teachers’ and learners’ reactions to a task-based EFL course in Thailand. TESOL Quarterly, 41(1), 107–132. Müller-Hartmann, A., & Schocker-von Ditfurth, M. (2011). Task-supported language learning. Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh. Ortega, L. (2015). Researching CLIL and TBLT interfaces. System, 54, 103–109. Pearson. (2013). The 2013 Business English Index & globalization of English report. GlobalEnglish. http://static.globalenglish.com/ﬁles/GlobEng_BEIreport%202013_EN_A4_ FINAL.pdf. Pienemann, M. (1984). Psychological constraints on the teachability of languages. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 6(2), 186–214. Soluri, J. (2005). Banana cultures: Agriculture, consumption, and environmental change in Honduras and the United States. University of Texas Press. Stanton, S., & Fiszbein, A. (2019, October). Work in progress: English teaching and teachers in Latin America. The Inter-American Dialogue. https://www.thedialogue.org/wp-content/ uploads/2019/11/white-paper-2019-completo-ﬁnal.pdf. U.S. Department of State. (2019). Country information: Honduras. https://travel.state. gov/content/passports/en/country/honduras.html. Van Avermaet, P., & Gysen, S. (2006). From needs to tasks: Language learning needs in a taskbased approach. In K. Van den Branden (Ed.), TBLT: From theory to practice (pp. 17–46). Cambridge University Press. Warford, M. K., & Reeves, J. (2003). Falling into it: Novice TESOL teacher thinking. Teachers and Teaching, 9(1), 47–65.
11 STORIES AS INNOVATION IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING IN UGANDA Espen Stranger-Johannessen
Issues That Motivated the Research In the public debate and research on education in Africa, the paucity of print materials is often cited as one of the major challenges to student achievement. Thus, providing books seems like an obvious solution. Storybooks, compared with textbooks, have the beneﬁts of being cheaper and not being tied to the curriculum or speciﬁc grades. As such, they are a good place to start to address the concerns about educational achievement in Africa, especially students’ poor literacy skills in local languages as well as in English. Several studies have led to furnishing schools with books, either as part of a larger intervention with relatively comprehensive teacher training in particular methodologies (e.g., Sailors et al., 2014), or as more hands-oﬀ approaches where books have been donated with little or no guidance on their use (e.g., Pretorius & Machet, 2008). While the former situation leaves little room for the teachers to develop their own ways of using the books and integrating them with their existing practices, the latter type of studies have often focused on the limited use of books and have not reported how teachers actually used them. This situation calls for research that acknowledges and investigates teachers’ agency, as well as their challenging work conditions, which limit the relevance of what might be described as best practices in developed countries. The study reported here focuses on the ways in which teachers use stories in their lessons, placing teacher agency and their ability to improve teaching at the locus of inquiry. The motivation for the research is not to give a balanced account of all the teachers’ lessons, but rather to highlight some promising aspects of their work that arose from the teaching of stories. When teachers develop methods and approaches themselves, these practices are in keeping with their notions of sound
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pedagogy and are realistic within the arduous conditions under which they work. Documenting the innovative ways in which teachers use stories can point to improved, context-speciﬁc teaching practices and give new direction for further research into this area. This research came about out of my interest in print materials during my ﬁeldwork in Uganda for my master’s thesis, as well as in the African Storybook Initiative (ASb), which took form around the same time I started my Ph.D. program. The ASb is, in brief, a website (africanstorybook.org) with children’s stories in English and more than a hundred African languages. I learned about the ASb at a conference in Nairobi in 2013, the year before the website launched, and the opportunity to research print (and digital) materials, speciﬁcally stories, was evident. One of the pilot sites, a primary school in Uganda, was invited by the ASb to test the website and have its teachers gain experience in using the stories in their teaching. This school was the host oﬃce for a regional educational coordinator, who was my supervisor’s former student. My connections to both the ASb and the main research site were thus established.
Context of the Research Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 214 out of 230 countries measured by gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity per capita (World Bank, n.d.). Reasons for Uganda’s poor performance include the civil war and conﬂicts that raged in the country after independence. After independence in 1962, the education system in Uganda was considered relatively good (Altinyelken, 2010a), but it was severely damaged by the political chaos and civil war that ravaged the country in the following two decades (Altinyelken, 2010b). Since its civil war ended in 1986, the Ugandan primary education system has been growing and expanding, but great challenges remain. The state of education is reﬂected in poor student performance and retention. After the introduction of universal primary education and the elimination of school fees in 1997, enrollment rose dramatically (Grogan, 2009). However, in 2003 only 22% of the cohort that entered the education system in 1997 graduated from Grade 7 (typically age 12–13), which suggests that retention is a bigger challenge than enrollment. This situation is in part an expression of the low quality of education, which has been the focus of government and NGO eﬀorts in recent years (Lucas et al., 2014). Nevertheless, it is estimated that only one in three children who starts primary school continues up to the last grade (Grade 7) in sub-Saharan Africa (UNESCO, 2014). The language of instruction policy has changed several times, which is both an expression of political instability and of the fact that most Ugandan languages are poorly established as literary languages, making it challenging to use them for instruction. While the British Protectorate government largely promoted regional languages, the ﬁrst Ugandan government changed to English as the language of
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instruction. Swahili, an important language in several neighboring countries and parts of Uganda, became the second oﬃcial language in 2005, and it is to some extent taught as a foreign language (Jjingo & Visser, 2017; Ssentanda & Nakayiza, 2017). The current policy stipulates that local languages should be used for teaching in the lower grades in rural areas, whereas English is the language of instruction from Grade 4 (typically ages 9–10) and in urban areas (Meierkord et al., 2016). In practice, however, parents and some teachers often prefer English to be taught from Grade 1 (typically ages 5–6), and teaching in English beginning with this grade is a common practice in spite of the government policy (Ssentanda, 2016). Extensive reading is one of the key factors in developing reading and language skills (Garan & DeVoogd, 2008), but without proper access to books, reading is severely constrained. The scarcity of reading materials in Ugandan schools has been highlighted by researchers (see, e.g., Dent & Goodman, 2015). Teachers in Uganda often make wall charts and vocabulary cards, and write on the blackboard, but these activities do not adequately compensate for the lack of books. Several research projects have investigated storybooks in African schools, often as part of an intervention where teachers were trained in a particular way of teaching. In two projects in South Africa, Nassimbeni and Desmond (2011) and Pretorius and Machet (2008) equipped schools with storybooks. Both studies trained teachers in the use of the books and found some positive eﬀects, including improved motivation and literacy-related skills, but that research also noted a lack of use and display of books. In a study from Malawi, Sailors et al. (2014) found that even though teachers were coached in methods such as read-alouds, guided reading, and comprehension strategy teaching, the training did little to change how they taught. Other studies (e.g., Sailors et al., 2010) are a bit more encouraging, but the review of the literature shows that providing books is only part of the solution. Actively using books in teaching and increasing students’ reading inside and outside the classroom is also required, but there is little research on how teachers use stories or books, which is the focus of the study reported in this chapter. The research took place in northwestern Uganda, close to the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, both of which have experienced conﬂicts that have led to an inﬂux of refugees cross the Ugandan border. Because of the conﬂict and poor state of education in their country, some parents from South Sudan send their children to go to school in Uganda, including to the ASb pilot school that was part of this research. These children did not speak Lugbara, the local language, and lived in Uganda without their parents, which is indicative both of the value placed on education in the region as well as the dire conditions in neighboring South Sudan. The lack of storybooks to support early reading development in African schools is the major driving force of the ASb, which was developed by Saide (formerly SAIDE, the South African Institute for Distance Education) to promote multilingual literacy for young African students (Welch & Glennie, 2016). The
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ASb website collects and provides openly licensed digital stories for use in schools and communities in Africa. New stories can be written and uploaded by teachers, parents, librarians, and other community members. When the website was launched in March 2014, schools, libraries, and other institutions had been recruited to serve as pilot sites to try out the website in three countries. The pilot sites received a projector, an internet modem, and a laptop computer to project the stories, as well as a grant for miscellaneous expenses. The pilot site where this study took place used the grant to refurbish a classroom, including installing electrical wiring, a door, windows, and metal bars in the window openings as a security measure. The teachers attended a workshop on how to use the computer and internet, because none of them had ever done this before. At my suggestion, the school also received ﬁve titles in English and four in Lugbara (the local language), printed as simple booklets in a photocopying shop in the capital, Kampala. The school received 50 copies of each title. Two other schools in the area, which were not ASb pilot sites, were given copies of the same books and were included in the research to expand the scope of the study. Data from one of those schools are also reported here, along with data from the pilot site school. The ASb pilot site is located in central Arua and has 1,700 students and 34 teachers. The courtyard is kept clean by students, and a few trees, patches of grass, and ﬂowerbeds give it an appealing and welcoming appearance. Even though it is bigger, more centrally located, and perhaps even better equipped than most schools in the region, the classrooms are overcrowded (60–90 students), and teachers sometimes go for months without pay. The school charges school fees, which were used to hire two more teachers to reduce the student/teacher ratio. However, during the ﬁeldwork, the children whose parents could not pay the fees were sent home. Education, though greatly appreciated, is not aﬀordable for everyone. English was a subject in all grades, and the number of 30-minute lessons allotted to this subject increased from ﬁve per week in Grade 1 to ten in Grades 2 to 4. Literacy was a separate subject in Grades 1 to 3, with ten 30-minute lessons per week in Grade 1 and twelve lessons in Grades 2 and 3. In spite of the government policy, some teachers taught literacy in English rather than in the local language.
Research Question Addressed The doctoral research that this chapter is based on was primarily a study on teacher identity (Stranger-Johannessen & Norton, 2017, 2019). It argued that teaching resources and prevailing ideologies framed—and to some extent constrained— teachers’ work and their investment in the use of stories (Stranger-Johannessen, 2017a). As a digital initiative, the ASb required the teachers to navigate the internet and operate unfamiliar equipment, which they managed relatively well with the help of more experienced colleagues (Stranger-Johannessen, 2017b). This chapter, however, focuses on teachers’ responses to the introduction of stories through the
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ASb in the teaching of English and the practices they developed as a result. The research question I address here is: How do Ugandan primary school teachers respond to the introduction of stories in the teaching of English?
Research Methods Data Collection Procedures The ﬁeldwork for this research took place at three schools in the last six months of 2014, but here I only analyze data from teachers at two of the schools. The data consisted of classroom observations of all lessons throughout the ﬁeldwork, interviews with 13 teachers from Grades 1 through 4 and two headteachers, and focus group discussions with the teachers. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim (except for two, during which I took extensive notes). Field notes are at the heart of ethnographic research and other ﬁeld research: “If you are not writing ﬁeld notes, then you are not conducting ﬁeld research” (Bailey, 2007, p. 113). I took extensive notes, mainly during classroom observations. Berg and Lune (2012) oﬀer the simple deﬁnition of an interview as “a conversation with a purpose” (p. 105), which covers the essentials, but also omits the immense theoretical and methodological concerns that arise with using interviews as a method. As with most other methodological choices, the type of interviews should be informed by one’s research design, research questions, and other aspects of methodology (Bailey, 2007). Semi-structured interviews are common, perhaps because they oﬀer a balance between carefully worded and thought-through questions, and the ability to probe and ask follow-up questions. I chose this type of interview for this reason. The combination of observations and interviews served to triangulate the data (Miles et al., 2019) and allowed me to combine my observations and interpretations of lessons with the teachers’ reﬂections and rationale for how they taught. All but one of the teachers were female, which reﬂects the tendency for women to teach in primary schools, particularly in the lower grades. Male teachers are more often found in higher grades in Uganda, as was the case at these participating schools.
Data Analysis Procedures In order to facilitate the data analysis, the interview transcriptions were analyzed using NVivo. Thematic analysis was used to code the interview data. This approach entails a process of reducing and making sense of large amounts of data, as well as assisting the researcher in making sense of what stands out as signiﬁcant. This approach is not to say that thematic analysis can uncover the truth, but rather it facilitates and provides a justiﬁcation for an interpretation of the data that is ultimately that of the researcher. The total impression of the research, both
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through objective data, such as transcribed text, and more subjective impressions such as hunches and assumptions based on prior experiences and reviews of the literature, contributes to the thematic analysis (Miles et al., 2019). Codes were developed partly as a priori codes based on the conceptual framework (see Stranger-Johannessen, 2017b) and literature review, and partly based on themes that arose from the process of reading through the transcripts with an eye for salient issues, such as “characteristics of a good teacher,” “parents,” and “drama or acting.” This process of combining deductive and inductive approaches to coding is known as retroductive coding (Ragin, 1994), which means that the codebook evolves along with the coding process. The next step of the thematic analysis was making connections between the codes to develop broader categories or themes that were in keeping with the conceptual framework and literature and represented a condensed, meaningful interpretation of the data.
Findings and Discussion Stories were only used in some lessons, but when they were used the amount of reading that took place usually increased, as virtually all other reading in the classroom was what the teacher had written on the blackboard or on vocabulary ﬂashcards. The teachers at the pilot site mostly projected stories onto a makeshift screen (i.e., a bedsheet) or handed out booklets to the students. The teachers at the non-pilot school included in the study did not have a projector but handed out books. The four lessons described below represent some of the innovative ways in which the teachers incorporated the stories into the curriculum and created lessons around them.
Story as Drama Music, oral storytelling, dance, and drama are often associated with African culture. Although drama in a narrow Aristotelian sense may not have existed in pre-colonial Africa (for a discussion on this topic, see Losambe & Sarinjeive, 2001), various forms of recitals and storytelling have clearly been part of African culture, and not least education, for a long time. Modern schooling has entailed a shift away from this oral tradition in favor of rote learning and vocabulary at the expense of creative production and comprehension in English language learning, as well as in education in general. Written stories represent a way of bridging the cultural divide between oral storytelling culture and text-based learning, but making this connection still requires a fair amount of eﬀort on the part of the teacher. The Grade 4 teacher, Santurumino (all names are real, in accordance with the teachers’ stated preference), used the story Akatope (Kariuki, 2014) as the basis for a play that the students created and performed. The story is about a childless old woman who makes a girl out of clay. The girl, Akatope, starts to dissolve
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when she is caught in the rain. Before the villagers can oﬀer an orphan girl as replacement, Akatope returns. The story is short with no direct speech, so the students had to write the dialogue needed to turn it into a play, as the teacher explained: I didn’t write the dialogue. And I just made them to use the right words, the exact words of Akatope. The right words, not of Akatope, but the right words in the story. They had to use their creativity, and they used their imagination, that the Akatope used with their own words. “I am Akatope, these are the words of Akatope in the story.” “I am the mother; this is the word of the mother of Akatope in the story.” So they have to use those words. Use those words only to act the drama. The original words from myself reading it. (Santurumino, Interview, 26 November 2014) The students enjoyed the play and spoke and joked about it afterwards, clearly engaged in this kind of activity that diﬀered notably from the lecture-style instruction that dominated lessons. Santurumino had taught the same story in the conventional way of reading it with the whole class ﬁrst, so this dramatization was an expansion of the topic, and a way of giving more emphasis to written and spoken language production. Although the story itself contains fairly conventional gender roles, the fact that the protagonist was a girl meant that a female student got to play the part of Akatope. The play became a way for the children to assume an identity diﬀerent from that of passively listening and providing answers to closed questions, and Santurumino pointed out the broad purpose of turning the story into a school drama: “I just felt these children could understand better by acting, so I felt also to have conﬁdence in these children. These children, I wanted to see how they can express themselves” (Santurumino, Interview, 6 August 2014).
Story as Scaffolding for Vocabulary and Writing Using tangibles, such as plants, toys, paper cuttings, and clay objects was a way in which teachers made their lessons more stimulating and provided scaﬀolding. An example of such use of tangibles is Jemily’s teaching of the story Akatope (Kariuki, 2014) in Grade 3, where she combined clay models, gestures, and imitations with the teaching of a story in a way that scaﬀolded vocabulary learning and the writing exercise that followed the reading of the story: The teacher Jemily hands out the Akatope booklets and asks the students to tell her what they see at the cover page. The students say they see a girl who is dancing. Jemily talks about what makes a person happy (as an explanation to why a person dances) and asks a lot of questions. She says the girl is Black,
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and that since Africans are Black, this is a book for Africans. She shows a clay model of a head and asks about eyes, ears, etcetera, and explains that it is possible to make a doll out of clay soil. She invites a student to stand up and represent “a real human being,” a phrase from the story. The teacher demonstrates “elderly woman” by hunching and pretending to walk with a stick, to the students’ roaring laughter. She proceeds with such demonstrations of key vocabulary, including antonyms. In the end the students write a sort of cloze exercise based on the story. After the lesson Jemily comes to me and says the story matches the theme, “Things we make.” (Field notes, 7 November 2014) Some aspects of this class were quite typical, such as the rereading of the story and questions and answers. But the lesson was notably varied, humorous, and connected with the curricular topic (“Things we make”) and the ﬁnal written activity provided more scaﬀolding than most other written exercises. While the clay head and imitations enriched the story, the lesson was centered on the story, which provided the context for the words and sentences and made them meaningful and engaging. In contrast, conventional lessons often used random sentences and words without context.
Story as Bridge to Life Experiences The stories served to connect the lesson in the classroom to the students’ experiences outside, as the stories held familiar themes, characters, and narratives with which the students would be familiar. The oral storytelling tradition meant that the students knew the genre of stories, which often included a moral lesson (Eisemon et al., 1986). One such story was One Hot Saturday Afternoon (Thabane, 2014), in which children go for a swim in the river, only to realize that cows ate their clothes and they had to walk home in their underwear. Judith, the Grade 1 teacher, expanded on the story by talking to the students about the risk of bathing in rivers and engaged in an open-ended whole-class conversation about this and other dangers. They also discussed what they saw in the illustrations, and the students thoroughly enjoyed the illustration of the three children in their underwear. The story provided context and vocabulary for addressing risks in daily life and made it easier for the students and teacher to move beyond the closed questions and choral responses that usually dominated the student–teacher interactions.
Story as Change Agent Another example of opening a conversation and bridging the content of a lesson and the outside world was the teacher Monica’s use of the story Andiswa Soccer Star (Daniels, 2014) to address stereotypical views of gender roles among her Grade 3 students. In this story, the girl Andiswa wants to play football, but the
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coach tells her football is for boys and netball is for girls. Later, Andiswa attends a match as a spectator, and when one of the players is sick, the coach lets Andiswa play on the team. She scores, and her team wins the game. Monica taught physical education as well as literacy, and as she showed the front cover, with Andiswa looking at the football ﬁeld, she asked her students which lesson this was. The students guessed almost all other subjects, but not physical education, as they apparently did not think reading had anything to do with that subject. The story was in English, but she switched between English and Lugbara in her questions to the students. She chose the story because the very same gender stereotypes that the story is about were present at her school. Even in her physical education lessons, boys would not pass the ball to the girls, eﬀectively excluding them from the game. Before the lesson she asked the students if they thought girls could play football, and they said “no.” After the lesson she asked again, and they said “yes.” In the interview, Monica was animated as she explained: Yes, it really helped me. It changed the attitudes of boys, where they could think that a girl is not supposed to play football. But this time when I go for my physical education lesson, when I prepare a lesson about football, they don’t now complain, they don’t kick the ball away from the girls. They just play together like that. This time they have started attitude change instead. It helped me a lot. (Monica, Interview, 27 November 2014) The story not only helped Monica change the attitudes of the boys, as she put it, but it also repositioned her as a teacher who could address the challenge of gender stereotypes and discrimination. The story resonated with the students and reﬂected their world, while at the same time challenging it. For Monica, the story gave her not just a pretext for raising this issue, but also the authority by virtue of the story as a moral guide. Without the story, Monica might not even have raised her concerns with the students, and if she had it would probably have had much less eﬀect. It is not known whether boys now include girls when they play football, but the story, and the conversation around it, was still an important step in questioning the traditional gender norms.
Implications for Policy, Practice, and Future Research There is considerable interest in providing storybooks to African schools, and literacy programs and school libraries are bringing books to an increasing number of students. Teachers who have little or no prior experience with using storybooks might need some basic support to get started, but extensive training programs are expensive, and they run the risk of imposing outside methods and perspectives. This research has demonstrated some of the ways in which the teachers connected the new practice of teaching using ASb stories with their conventional
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teaching methods and views of teaching English as well as other subjects. Although these new practices were not very prevalent, their presence suggests that these are practices that the teachers developed themselves, and as such can be further developed and enhanced with time and support. The scarcity of books and other reading materials in most of Africa means that what students read is largely what they can access through school. The six months of observations in this research showed that what reading the students did in school was severely limited, and mostly consisted of the words and phrases the teacher wrote on the blackboard, even in upper primary classes. By reading stories, students can increase the overall amount of reading they do, as well as enjoy and learn from the content of the reading materials. If they are allowed to take books home, the opportunity to read will increase, and reading time will not be in conﬂict with teaching time. The overcrowded curriculum—often mentioned as a challenge to reading stories—should be revised to pay more attention to reading. This research has shown how teachers—in spite of the lack of resources and other challenges—exercised their agency to use stories as more than mere tools for language and literacy development in a narrow sense. Apart from the evident beneﬁts of reading stories, their use expanded the prevalent chalk-and-talk practices to much richer and more varied ways of teaching, including scaﬀolding learning, engaging students through drama, drawing on their life experiences, and addressing social issues. These lessons are inspirations for policy and practice and point toward research that further investigates how teachers in under-resourced contexts can use stories to improve and expand students’ learning of English as well as other subjects.
References Altinyelken, H. K. (2010a). Curriculum change in Uganda: Teacher perspectives on the new thematic curriculum. International Journal of Educational Development, 30(2), 151–161. Altinyelken, H. K. (2010b). Pedagogical renewal in sub-Saharan Africa: The case of Uganda. Comparative Education, 46(2), 151–171. https://doi.org/10.1080/03050061003775454. Bailey, C. A. (2007). A guide to qualitative ﬁeld research (2nd ed.). Pine Forge Press. Berg, B. L., & Lune, H. (2012). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (8th ed.). Pearson. Daniels, E. (2014). Andiswa soccer star. African Storybook Initiative. http://africanstory book.org/reader.php?id=5283&d=0&a=1. Dent, V. F., & Goodman, G. (2015). The rural library’s role in Ugandan secondary students’ reading habits. IFLA Journal, 41(1), 53–62. Eisemon, T. O., Hallett, M., & Maundu, J. (1986). Primary school literature and folktales in Kenya: What makes a children’s story African? Comparative Education Review, 30(2), 232–246. Garan, E. M., & DeVoogd, G. (2008). The beneﬁts of sustained silent reading: Scientiﬁc research and common sense converge. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 336–344. doi:10.1598/RT.62.4.6. Grogan, L. (2009). Universal primary education and school entry in Uganda. Journal of African Economies, 18(2), 183–211.
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Jjingo, C., & Visser, M. (2017). The Ssenteza Kajubi legacy: The promotion of teaching Kiswahili in Uganda. Journal of Pan African Studies, 10(9), 1–14. Kariuki, A. (2014). Akatope. African Storybook Initiative. http://africanstorybook.org/rea der.php?id=2821&d=0&a=1. Losambe, L., & Sarinjeive, D. (Eds.). (2001). Pre-colonial and post-colonial drama and theatre in Africa. New Africa Books. Lucas, A. M., McEwan, P. J., Ngware, M., & Oketch, M. (2014). Improving early-grade literacy in East Africa: Experimental evidence from Kenya and Uganda. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33(4), 950–976. doi:10.1002/pam.21782. Meierkord, C., Isingoma, B., & Namyalo, S. (2016). Ugandan English: Its sociolinguistics, structure and uses in a globalising post-protectorate. John Benjamins. Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2019). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (4th ed.). SAGE. Nassimbeni, M., & Desmond, S. (2011). Availability of books as a factor in reading, teaching and learning behaviour in twenty disadvantaged primary schools in South Africa. South African Journal of Libraries & Information Science, 77(2), 95–103. Pretorius, E. J., & Machet, M. P. (2008). The impact of storybook reading on emergent literacy: Evidence from poor rural areas in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Mousaion, 26(2), 261–289. Ragin, C. C. (1994). Constructing social research. Pine Forge. Sailors, M., Hoﬀman, J. V., Pearson, P. D., Beretvas, S. N., & Matthee, B. (2010). The eﬀects of ﬁrst- and second-language instruction in rural South African schools. Bilingual Research Journal, 33(1), 21–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/15235881003733241. Sailors, M., Hoﬀman, J. V., Pearson, P. D., McClung, N., Shin, J., Phiri, L. M., & Saka, T. (2014). Supporting change in literacy instruction in Malawi. Reading Research Quarterly, 49(2), 209–231. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.70. Ssentanda, M. E. (2016). Tensions between English medium and mother tongue education in rural Ugandan primary schools. In C. Meierkord, B. Isingoma, & S. Namyalo (Eds.), Ugandan English: Its sociolinguistics, structure and uses in a globalising post-protectorate (pp. 95–118). John Benjamins. Ssentanda M. E., & Nakayiza J. (2017) “Without English there is no future”: The case of language attitudes and ideologies in Uganda. In A. Ebongue & E. Hurst (Eds.), Sociolinguistics in African contexts (pp. 107–126). Springer. Stranger-Johannessen, E. (2017a). Digital stories and the African Storybook: Teaching English in the digital age. In M. Carrier, R. M. Damerow, & K. M. Bailey (Eds.), Digital language learning and teaching: Research, theory, and practice (pp. 116–126). Routledge. Stranger-Johannessen, E. (2017b). The African Storybook, teachers’ resources, and pedagogical practices. International Journal of Educational Development, 52, 26–36. doi:10.1016/ j.ijedudev.2016.10.003. Stranger-Johannessen, E., & Norton, B. (2017). The African Storybook and language teacher identity in digital times. The Modern Language Journal, 101(S1), 45–60. doi:10.1111/ modl.12374. Stranger-Johannessen, E., & Norton, B. (2019). Promoting early literacy and student investment in the African Storybook. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 18(6), 400–411. doi:10.1080/15348458.2019.1674150. Thabane, N. (2014). One hot Saturday afternoon. African Storybook Initiative. http://a fricanstorybook.org/reader.php?id=988&d=0&a=1.
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UNESCO. (2014). Assessment of teacher education and development needs to ensure education for all (EFA): Needs assessment report. UNESCO. Welch, T., & Glennie, J. (2016). Open educational resources for early literacy in Africa: The role of the African Storybook Initiative. In F. Miao, S. Mishra, & R. McGreal (Eds.), Open educational resources: Policy, costs and transformation (pp. 195–210). UNESCO. World Bank (n.d.). GDP per capita, PPP (current international $). http://api.worldbank. org/v2/en/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD?downloadformat=excel.
12 “THEY CAN BE ANYWHERE SOMEDAY” Integrating Culture in Indonesian EFL Classrooms Tabitha Kidwell
Issues That Motivated the Research Culture is a central and essential aspect of language study because culture and language are inextricably linked—language use is a cultural practice, and culture is expressed through language (Kramsch, 1993; Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013). Culture is deﬁned as the “practices, codes and values that mark a particular nation or group” (Richards & Schmidt, 2002, p. 138). Language classrooms are sites of cultural contact, where teachers can expose students to new ways of thinking, explore how identity is shaped by linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and help students develop intercultural competence (Byram & Wagner, 2018). As globalization, technology, and migration increasingly bring people from diﬀerent cultural backgrounds together, attention to unfamiliar cultural content in the language classroom need not be limited to the cultures of nations where the target language is spoken (Kumaravadivelu, 2008; Risager, 2007). Rather, language teachers have a great opportunity to help students better understand the nature of culture and its impact on their lives. Despite the deep connection between language and culture, in many contexts, education policy does not support the integration of cultural content in language classrooms. The absence of cultural objectives in grammar- and structure-focused standards and curricula presents a signiﬁcant impediment to the teaching of culture (Sercu et al., 2005; Siregar, 2016; Young & Sachdev, 2011). Standardized assessments based on those standards and curricula often focus on grammar and writing, so teachers feel pressured to prioritize objectives related to those issues over objectives related to culture (Luk, 2012; Mahbouba, 2014). Some teachers cite inappropriate teaching materials as a challenge to their ability to incorporate the teaching of culture (Castro at al., 2004; Stapleton, 2004;
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Young & Sachdev, 2011). Others hesitate to address cultural content because of a perceived lack of institutional support; they feel pressured to conform to more traditional, linguistic-focused teaching practices (Gandana & Parr, 2013; Young & Sachdev, 2011). An additional challenge is that many language teachers have received minimal preparation to integrate culture in their language classes (Kidwell, 2019). These impediments are even more pronounced in underresourced contexts (such as the setting of the current study), where standards, curricula, assessments, and materials are more likely to be outdated or poorly designed, and where educators often teach large, multi-level classes and have limited opportunities for professional development. Perhaps due to these challenges, many teachers report integrating culture rather infrequently (Castro et al., 2004; Mahbouba, 2014), primarily focusing on linguistic objectives instead (Sercu et al., 2005). They report addressing culture only when it happens to come up (Lazaraton, 2003; Stapleton, 2004), or when linguistic content can be made more appealing by practicing it within a new cultural context (Luk, 2012). When teachers are able to integrate culture, they often focus on transmitting facts about target language cultures, speciﬁcally the national cultures of countries where the language is spoken (Byram & Risager, 1999; Gandana & Parr, 2013; Young & Sachdev, 2011). Participants in several studies display a tendency to address cultures as the diﬀerence between national cultures, with little attention to the diversity within national cultures (see, e.g., Lee, 2014; Menard-Warwick, 2008). The research literature reveals a number of practices frequently used to integrate cultural content in language classes. First, teacher-led class discussions are the most commonly reported practice (Duﬀ & Uchida, 1997). These discussions tend to focus on topics that match language teachers’ knowledge base (Lazaraton, 2003), and teachers often share anecdotes from their own experiences (Ryan, 1998). In some instances, teachers draw on their knowledge to ask questions that challenge students’ assumptions and help them consider alternate perspectives (Siregar, 2016). In other situations, discussions about a particular cultural topic oﬀer little space for real dialogue or reﬂection about culture because the primary lesson objective is language use and form (Menard-Warwick, 2008). An additional frequently reported practice is the use of texts to introduce cultural content: Teachers use literature, movies, and textbook content to discuss culture (Ryan, 1998). Teacher-led class discussions and the use of texts appear to be among the most common practices for addressing culture within language classes. Several smaller-scale qualitative studies, however, have revealed the potential for more innovative practices when language teachers are oﬀered support or have opportunities to participate in professional development. For instance, an action research study by Kohler (2015) described quite sophisticated and creative teaching practices after participants had collaboratively explored methods for teaching about culture. Edited volumes by Byram et al. (2018) and Wagner, Conlan
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Perugini, and Byram (2018) report on the eﬀorts of groups of motivated educators to integrate meaningful cultural content within their language classrooms. Case studies in these volumes reveal teachers’ use of inquiry-based learning, action research, community service projects, and digital exchanges. These case studies oﬀer examples of promising practices for teaching about culture, but they were primarily conducted within well-resourced settings where teachers had been encouraged and supported to address cultural content. There is a need for similar research in under-resourced contexts. This chapter aims to address that gap in the literature; it describes the practices used by teachers in an under-resourced context to integrate culture into their language instruction. During the period of the study, teachers were invited to participate in a professional development program that included a focus on teaching about culture.
Context of the Research This study was conducted in Central Java, Indonesia, with EFL teachers who had all graduated from the same university’s English teacher education program. Indonesia is classiﬁed as a lower-middle-income country by the World Bank. The Central Java region has developed rapidly over the past 20 years, and the per capita GDP for the region is 2,775 USD (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2019). Bahasa Indonesia is the oﬃcial national language, but more than 700 languages are spoken across the archipelago (Lewis, 2009). In Central Java, Javanese is the most commonly used language in homes and social settings. English is designated the “ﬁrst foreign language” (Kaplan & Baldauf, 2003, p. 97), and is compulsory in secondary school, when students receive between 5 and 11 hours of weekly English instruction. Based on demand from parents, many primary schools also oﬀer English classes. Many Indonesians view English-language skills as essential for access to information technology and personal, professional, and academic advancement (Lie, 2017). The national English curriculum is genre-based, and strongly emphasizes character building. Culture is not speciﬁcally referenced within the curriculum, though elements related to culture are included. The character education portion of the curriculum requires teachers to support students’ development of some behaviors that could have a connection to culture, such as curiosity, tolerance, and mutual cooperation (Badan Standar Nasional Pendidikan, 2013). The focus on genres within the curriculum also oﬀers English teachers the possibility of discussing how those genres are used in particular cultural settings. Though the national curriculum is clearly organized, few teachers possess a copy they can consult. Each school receives a limited number of printed copies, and many teachers do not have the internet and computer access necessary to use a digital version.
160 Tabitha Kidwell
Resources are limited at the majority of Indonesian schools, including those where this study’s participants taught. At a minimum, classrooms are equipped with a blackboard or whiteboard, and students have locally produced textbooks (which they purchase from local bookstores). These textbooks often contain inaccuracies and errors, and the exercises within them tend to emphasize vocabulary and grammar. Schools in more aﬄuent towns or cities may have technological resources such as computer labs and LCD projectors. Photocopies can be made at local shops if teachers are willing and able to cover the cost. Otherwise, the facilities (e.g., gyms, libraries), technology (e.g., interactive whiteboards, internet access, devices for student use), and programming (e.g., professional development programs, instructional coaches) typical of schools in betterresourced contexts are not available in this situation.
Research Question Addressed This study addresses the following research question: What practices do Indonesian EFL teachers in this under-resourced context use to integrate unfamiliar cultural content into their language instruction?
Research Methods This study used qualitative methods to learn about how Indonesian EFL teachers teach about unfamiliar cultures. Data sources were interviews with and observations of 14 EFL teachers in the Central Java region. Data were collected between September of 2017 and March of 2018.
Data Collection Procedures Participants were recruited through recommendations by university professors, Facebook posts, and word-of-mouth. Participants had up to four years of teaching experience, and their student population ranged from primary school students to adults. (See Table 12.1 for details about the participants and their teaching placements.) All these teachers had access to textbooks, but only 6 of the 14 had LCD projectors in their classrooms, which they used to show videos or project presentation slides. The majority (10 of 14) of teachers taught in the same communities where they had attended school themselves; therefore, their prior cultural experiences were likely similar to those of their students. However, some instructors taught in areas that represented a diﬀerent cultural context from the one where they had grown up: Lala and Siti were from Sumatra (the island west of Java), and Kandu and Harto were from other communities within Central Java. (All the teachers’ names used in this chapter are pseudonyms.)
Culture in Indonesian EFL Classrooms 161
TABLE 12.1 Participants
From school community
LCD projector in the classroom
Famy Aril Muhay Eka Latifah Harto Lala Kandu Rizqy Okta Putri Siti Lily Nita
F F F F F M F M M F F F F F
2 years 1 year 2 years