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Exploring ‘unknown worlds’: The lives and careers of non-native speaking teachers of English in Asia

Hayes, David (2007) Exploring ‘unknown worlds’: The lives and careers of non-native speaking teachers of English in Asia. In: The Second Biennial International Conference on Teaching and Learning of English in Asia : Exploring New Frontiers (TELiA2), 14-16 June 2007, Holiday Villa Beach & Spa Resort, Langkawi. Faculty of Communication and Modern Languages, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, pp. 1-11. ISBN 978-983-42061-2-3

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It is a decade since Richards remarked that “How the teacher believes, thinks, acts and reacts is central to educational endeavour, but about the EFL (English as a foreign language) language teacher we know almost nothing” (1997:243), going on to suggest that the world of the teacher of English as a foreign language was terra incognita (1997:251). Regrettably, this remains particularly true of non-native speaking teachers of English working in their own state educational systems. Even within particular countries the experiences of ‘ordinary’ teachers – who are far from ‘ordinary’ in so many ways – is given little prominence in debates about educational innovation and improvement. We hear so much about methods and materials in English language teaching but too little about the teachers who work with these in their classrooms on a daily basis. This paper argues, then, that much greater importance needs to be given to investigating and understanding the contexts of English language teaching in all their variety, within countries and across countries, from the perspective of teachers themselves. It will draw on life history interview data from teachers in Sri Lanka and Thailand to illustrate what may be gained from such research in three important areas: as a means of extending the knowledge base of English language teaching worldwide; as a means of redressing western – non-western imbalances in status, power and prestige within ELT; and as a means of enabling teachers to reflect on their own lives and careers as a means of professional self-realisation and self-empowerment. It is surely time that the voices of classroom teachers were heard more widely, their experiences and perceptions given greater prominence in our professional thinking and this paper hopes to contribute to that process.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Organised by Department of Modern Languages Faculty of Communication and Modern Languages, Universiti Utara Malaysia
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: College of Arts and Sciences
Depositing User: Mrs. Norazmilah Yaakub
Date Deposited: 29 May 2011 06:57
Last Modified: 29 May 2011 06:57
URI: http://repo.uum.edu.my/id/eprint/3200

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