The Plurilingual TESOL Teacher: The Hidden Languaged Lives of TESOL Teachers and Why They Matter

The Plurilingual TESOL Teacher: The Hidden Languaged Lives of TESOL Teachers and Why They Matter

by Elizabeth Ellis


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The Plurilingual TESOL Teacher: The Hidden Languaged Lives of TESOL Teachers and Why They Matter by Elizabeth Ellis

This book introduces a new topic to applied linguistics: the significance of the TESOL teacher's background as a learner and user of additional languages. The development of the global TESOL profession as a largely English-only enterprise has led to the accepted view that, as long as the teacher has English proficiency, then her or his other languages are irrelevant.

The book questions this view. Learners are in the process of becoming plurilingual, and this book argues that they are best served by a teacher who has experience of plurilingualism.
The book proposes a new way of looking at teacher linguistic identity by examining in detail the rich language biographies of teachers: of growing up with two or more languages; of learning languages through schooling or as an adult, of migrating to another linguaculture, of living in a plurilingual family and many more.

The book examines the history of language-in-education policy which has led to the development of the TESOL profession in Australia and elsewhere as a monolingual enterprise. It shows that teachers' language backgrounds have been ignored in teacher selection, teacher training and ongoing professional development. The author draws on literature in teacher cognition, bilingualism studies, intercultural competence, bilingual lifewriting and linguistic identity to argue that languages play a key part in the development of teachers' professional beliefs, identity, language awareness and language learning awareness.

Drawing on three studies involving 115 teachers from Australia and seven other countries, the author demonstrates conclusively that large numbers of teachers do have plurilingual experiences; that these experiences are ignored in the profession, but that they have powerful effects on the formation of beliefs about language learning and teaching which underpin good practice. Those teachers who identify as monolingual almost invariably have some language learning experience, but it was low-level, short-lived and unsuccessful.

How does the experience of successful or unsuccessful language learning and language use affect one's identity, beliefs and practice as an English language teacher? What kinds of experience are most beneficial?

These concepts and findings have implications for teacher language education, teacher professional development and the current calls for increased plurilingual practices in the TESOL classroom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781614515890
Publisher: De Gruyter
Publication date: 10/24/2016
Series: Trends in Applied Linguistics [TAL] Series , #25
Pages: 327
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.06(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Elizabeth Ellis, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

List of tables xii

Abbreviations and acronyms xiii

1 Introduction 1

My story 5

Purpose of the book 9

Objectives 9

Who is this book intended for 11

What next? 12

Vignette 1-Lidia 18

2 The TESOL profession as monolingual monolith 24

TESOL in Australia - the context 24

Structure of the profession 26

Brief history of the E5L profession in Australia 27

Published ESL materials 29

TESOL teacher qualifications and standards in Australia 31

Teachers in NEAS-endorsed ELT Centres 31

Teachers in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) 31

TESOL teacher competencies in Australia and other English-speaking countries 33

Australia 33

Canada 35

USA 35

UK 37

New Zealand 38

Summary and implications of statements of teacher qualifications, standards and competencies 40

Regarding language 40

Regarding the content of teaching 41

Regarding second language learning and the process of becoming plurilingual 41

Research questions 42

Vignette 2 - Stan 42

A native speaker - but not monolingual 48

3 Three studies of TESOL teachers' linguistic identities 50

Introduction 50

The three studies 53

Study 1 - Establishing a conceptual framework 55

Method 55

Findings: teachers' language biographies 57

Demographics 57

Language acquisition experiences 57

Circumstantial plurilinguals 59

Elective plurilinguals 60

Monolinguals 61

Study 2 - Casting the net wider - gathering international data 61

Method 61

Findings: teachers' language biographies 63

Demographics 63

Language acquisition experiences 64

Study 3 - A survey of the NSW TESOL profession 65

Method 65

Findings: teachers' language biographies 67

Demographics 67

Language acquisition experiences 68

Languages of the home 68

Additional languages 70

Vignette 3 - Tina 71

Native speaker monolingual with low-level elective learning experiences 71

4 Bilingualism, plurilingualism and TESOL teachers 75

The field of bilingualism 77

Definitions and dimensions of bilinguality 80

Relative competence 81

Routes to bilinguality 82

The bilingual person 85

Bilingual language use 88

Native and non-native English speaker teachers 91

The conflation of 'native speaker' with 'monolingual', and of 'bilingual' with 'non-native speaker' 94

Summary of bilingualism and second language learning 101

5 Teachers' identities as learners 103

Beliefs about teachers' own second language learning 104

Plurilinguals with circumstantial and/or elective experiences 104

Plurilinguals' views of their own language proficiency 104

Plurilinguals' views of discontinued attempts at learning languages or failures 106

Plurilinguals' beliefs about progress and attrition 108

Plurilinguals' beliefs about plurilinguality 109

Plurilinguals' belief that language learning is difficult, but possible 111

Monolinguals 112

Monolinguals' views of their own language proficiency 112

Monolinguals' views that language learning is difficult and humiliating 117

Teachers' beliefs about students' learning of English as a second language 120

The difficulty or ease of learning English compared to other languages 120

Beliefs about which aspects of English are difficult or easy for students 122

Difficult aspects of English for students 123

Easy aspects of English for students 125

Beliefs that learning English or language learning in general is a difficult task for students 127

Summary of teachers' beliefs about language learning 128

6 The value of language learning 130

Policy statements from past to present 131

Intellectual benefits of language learning 136

Language awareness 139

Language learning awareness 141

Cultural benefits of language learning 142

Other benefits of language learning 147

Language apprenticeship 147

Exhilaration 149

Social equity 150

The undesirability of monolingualism 151

Summary of the value of language learning and the implications for TESOL teachers 155

7 Teachers' knowledge and Insights about language and language use 158

General beliefs about the value of language learning for teachers 159

Language teaming as a major formative influence on ESL teaching 159

Beliefs about the value of language experience for ESL teachers 163

Insights about language and language use derived from teachers' own experience 168

Insights about language in general 169

Insights from comparing other languages to English and to each other 170

The usefulness of studying other grammars 172

Insights about life as a plurilingual and pluricultural 174

Code-switching 175

Linguistic aspects of migration 179

Subtractive bilingualism 180

Plurilingual identity 182

Insights about the use of other languages as a pedagogical tool in ESL 184

Summary 188

8 Teacher cognition: understanding how knowledge and beliefs underpin professional practice 189

Teacher cognition studies in general education 189

Teacher cognition studies in second language teacher education 190

Establishing the knowledge base of ESL teachers 194

Knowledge derived from experience 196

Research on language learning experience in teacher education 199

The structured language learning experience (SLLE) as a teacher development tool 201

Discussion of content knowledge and procedural knowledge desirable for ESL teachers 206

Content knowledge 206

Procedural knowledge 209

Which kinds of knowledge are Australian ESL teachers expected to have? 211

A framework for examining teachers' knowledge and beliefs 214

Summary 216

9 Applying insights about language learning and language teaching from teachers' own learning experience 218

Insights into learning and communication strategies from their own learning experience 218

Insights into the affective aspects of being a language learner from their own learning experience 226

Identifying oneself as a model of a learner to the students 227

Identifying with or empathising with students in one's own mind 228

Experience of the frustration and/or difficulties that students undergo 232

Experience of the humiliation and threat to one's ego posed by language learning 234

Insights into different teaching approaches from the perspective of a student 236

Experience of the medium of instruction not being Ll 237

Experience of different teaching methods as a student 239

How insights from their own experience are applied 241

Knowledge of issues relating to teaching one's own first language 245

Insights into the demands of varied language teaching contexts from their own experience as teachers 247

Summary of how teachers' language learning experience contributes to their knowledge and beliefs in ESL teaching 249

10 A survey of the NSW TESOL profession 251

Insights about other languages and comparisons with English 252

Empathy 253

Language learning awareness 254

Use of other languages in the TESOL classroom 257

The case for 'No' - languages are not valuable for TESOL teachers 258

Uninformed 259

English is the only option 259

You can be a good teacher without languages 260

Inclusivity 261

11 Rejecting the monolingual monolith: the way forward 263

Review 263

Implications of teachers' languaged lives 268

Imagining the future - TESOL as a plurilingual space 271

Recruitment and education of teachers 271

Ongoing professional development 271

Materials in the plurilingual TESOL centre 272

Language maintenance 272

Classes 272

Conclusion 273

References 275

Appendix A List of languages in Study 1 294

Appendix B Pre-interview questionnaire from Study 2 295

Appendix C Interview protocol for Studies 1 and 2 297

Appendix D Survey questions used for Study 3 301

Appendix E Summary chart of teachers' biographies in Study 1 305

Index 310

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