Professional development is the process that should always be performed by every language teacher throughout their career (Macalister, 2018). Additionally, the increasing speed globalisation allows more international students to study with diverse education providers much easier and more often than was common previously, especially if we look at Australia. This increased opportunity requires the teachers to be highly aware of different cultures and understand the ethics of the countries where their current and potential students arrive from. Plus, culture itself being semiotic is used as an advantageous concept in language learning and teaching (Kramsch, 2016). The aims of this work are to investigate what professional developments are practiced in Australia and to find out which practice is more beneficial for successful teaching. The topic is the effects of cultural difference on variations in TESOL delivery strategies.
1) How do teachers develop cultural awareness for teaching EAL students?
2) What professional development is most efficient for cultivating a rich language-learning environment?
Reasons for doing the study and choosing the topic
Our understanding of the link between culture and English language learning has broadened and transformed in light of recent theoretical insights and research on international class communications. The basic premise of our modern understanding is the close connection between lexical, communal and intellectual knowledge with effective practise and training in public cultural events and action that are vital to our everyday life. Moreover, schools are crucial source of public culture, and their classrooms are discursively-formed organisational domains shaped through teacher-student interaction, that form individual learners’ language and cultural evolution (Hall and Walsh, 2002). Thus, I chose to research about the effects of cultural difference on variations in TESOL delivery strategies.
As Hensen (cited in Hine, 2013, p. 152) claims, action research promotes development of new knowledge for teachers, encourages reflective teaching and thinking, reinforces the connection between teaching process and student achievement and increases effective teaching practices (Hine, 2013, p. 152).
Warschauer (2000) researched informationalism, as a new step in global capitalism, that brings the following critical issues to English language teaching: further dissemination of the English language, shift of power to nonnative speakers, which will raise concerns around basic concepts of language, culture, and knowledge, and the interaction between ESL and EFL. He mentioned that in the late 20th century, English language programs for different groups of nonnative speakers, like refugees, were provided with no consideration of their identity or culture, while in 21st century the value and role of L2 English speakers became so significant and influential that the English language can be seen as an additional language, rather than an object of foreign studying. Additionally, this tendency decreases inequalities between the countries, strengthens international connections and encourages TESOL professionals to promote students’ identity and “empowering discourse”.
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TESOL is a widely spread educational campaign. Nowadays, the teaching of English to speakers of other languages is having even more impact than in the 20th century. Scientific journals have triggered global research around proper teaching theories and methods. Significant number of teachers across the world largely rely on academic researchers for professional development. However, the teachers almost never use the opportunity to undertake their own research in the classroom as the direct practitioners of the subject. Nevertheless, action research, both qualitative and quantitative, can help teachers raise questions of civil, cultural and political contexts in TESOL education, which will positively influence students’ learning motivations (Anwaruddin, 2013).
Additional research, accomplished through qualitative analysis of face-to-face interviews with students on the international study program who both had ELT and personal intercultural experience, showed that all in all intercultural citizenship was positive, however classroom instructions gave very limited opportunities to understand intercultural interaction. In addition, the respondents reported development of their intercultural awareness, open mindedness, but for some of the participants the understanding of diversity of other communities focused only on the national scale in terms of identity, content and language (Fang and Baker, 2017).
The research was conducted with 607 Colombian students and 122 of their teachers, as well as with 824 U.S. foreign language students and 92 teachers. The questionnaire revealed the difference between students and teachers’ perceptions regarding the role of clear grammar instruction and corrective feedback in foreign language study. Data collected and compared demonstrated a high level of agreement between students as a group and teachers as a group across cultures on most of the questions. There were, however, some culturally triggered disagreements between student and teacher beliefs, comparable to the same between the two groups across cultures, specifically in terms the role of formal grammar instruction in language learning. Noting that the diversity in student and teacher belief systems can be harmful to learning, teachers should explore their students’ perceptions regarding those matters to improve the learning of a new language and to avoid the potential conflicts between student beliefs and instructional practices (Schulz, 2002).
The recognition of cultural differences and multiculturalism demands a strong critical examination of teacher’s fundamental believes about the place and function of the English language and about what should be considered as native language competence. Through questioning the perfected idea of a native speaker, Kramsch (as cited in Benke and Medgyes, 2005) discloses the positivity of being non-native speaker, who can have much more possibilities for self-expression as representative of linguistic diversity, thus learning a foreign language enriches the mind (Benke and Medgyes, 2005).
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Other researchers argue for the knowledge development of a TESOL teacher in order to acquire a greater awareness of the sociocultural and political content of English teaching to non-native speakers. It shares the concerns over teacher’s role change, findings from classroom research and some modern views in critical applied linguistics, that is connected to traditional sophistication of language teaching, implicates modification of the curriculum. The written paper highlights three key components to be integrated into current TESOL teacher education study programs: First, discussion of cross-cultural diversity in language teaching and implementation of rules and methods for finding these variations; Second, analyses of pedagogical innovation management; and third, auditing of the sociopolitical environment of English teaching as an international language. Appropriate integration of the suggested procedures will let TESOL teachers develop their sociocultural and political professional awareness (Seran, 2006).
This action research is planned to be performed in form of an investigation. I created this open questionnaire about the professional development to administer with the participants of my research. Each questionnaire will contain gender and age specification fields to be used for the data analyses. I will also include a confidentiality clause into the questionnaire to maximize the objectivity of the answers.
The participants are teachers from Australian education providers who teach international students from diverse cultural backgrounds. I will ask about the cultural background of the respondents and the students they teach. I will also clarify whether they taught the students of their cultural background and whether they experienced any difficulties on finding the connection with the students of both cultures, and how the professional development practices increase the teachers’ interaction with foreign students. Lastly, I will ask which professional development helped them to create positive language study environment.
The following questions are created for the action research purposes:
- What is your first and second (if any) language?
- In which country did you receive your teaching degree?
- What is your highest qualification?
- Have you ever taught students from your country or other countries? If yes – please list those countries.
- Did you have any difficulties in teaching native or foreign students and, if so, which group posed difficulties?
- Do you develop your cultural awareness when teaching foreigners, and if so, how?
- How did the cultural difference of your students affect your language teaching strategy? Please give an example.
- Have you ever attended any professional development activities or courses on cultural awareness?
- How accessible do you believe professional development activities or courses on cultural awareness are, in terms of cost and choice?
- What professional development activities or courses do you believe were the most efficient for cultivating a rich language-learning environment?
I’m planning to hand out personally or send via email the questionnaire to the teachers in Australia within a few education providers. Upon the receiving the answers I will analyze the data and answer the questions for my research. I will interpret the data and the evaluate it and make a conclusion (Burns, 2002).
However, the following issues can be faced during my action research: Although I thoroughly constructed the questions for the data collection, the respondents can misunderstand them or answer inappropriately, because of the lack of information on my research subject. I will inform the respondents about the reasons of my survey, but they will still have a limited understanding of the whole project, thus I may not get useful answers.
Another problem that is anticipated is that not many teachers who I will approach have had professional development experience, because of financial difficulties or no desire to attend any professional development activities.
This research proposal will be discussed though the power point presentation.
- Anwaruddin., S. (2013). Contemporary Approaches to Research in TESOL. Journal of Education and Learning. Vol. 7 (4) pp. 205-212.
- Burns, A. (2002). Collaborative action research: An Australian experience. In G. Tinker Sachs (Ed.), Action research in English language (pp. 7-22). Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong press.
- Eszter BenkePeter Medgyes (2005). Differences in Teaching Behaviour between Native and Non-Native Speaker Teachers: As seen by the Learners. In: Llurda E. (eds) Non-Native Language Teachers. Educational Linguistics, vol 5. Springer, Boston, MA. Pp. 195-215
- Fang, F. and Baker, W. (2017). ‘A more inclusive mind towards the world’: English language teaching and study abroad in China from intercultural citizenship and English as a lingua franca perspective. Language Teaching Research, 22(5), pp. 608-624.
- Hall, J. and Walsh, M. (2002). 10. TEACHER-STUDENT INTERACTION AND LANGUAGE LEARNING. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 22.
- Hine, G.S.C. (2013). The importance of action research in teacher education programs. Issue in Educational Research, 23(2), pp.152-163.
- Kramsch, C., & Zhu Hua (2016). Language, Culture and Language Teaching. In G. Hall (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of English Language Teaching. Pp. 38-50. London: Routlege.
- Macalister, J. (2018). Professional Development and the Place of Journals in ELT. RELC Journal, 49(2), pp. 238-256.
- Renate A. Schulz (2002) Cultural Differences in Student and Teacher Perceptions Concerning the Role of Grammar Instruction and Corrective Feedback: USA‐Colombia. The Modern Language Journal. Vol. 85 (2) pp. 244-258.
- Seran Dogancay-Aktuna (2006) Expanding the Socio-Cultural Knowledge Base of TESOL Teacher Education. Language, Culture and Curriculum Vol. 19, 2006 – Issue 3
- Warschauer, M. (2000). The Changing Global Economy and the Future of English Teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 34 (3), pp. 515-535.
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