English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 27.1
EA Journal Volume 27 No 1 29 In answer to the first research question, ‘Are initial experiences of disruption crucial in shaping TESOL teachers’ development?’, initial experiences may be important, but context appears to be a highly significant variable. Personal and professional circumstances are naturally diverse. One factor that the narratives do reveal about initial experience is that TESOL work often shows disjuncture between training and work in the field. How can TESOL teachers be prepared adequately for work in other cultures when the sands are continually shifting under their feet? Graham and others believe that it would be difficult to build such preparation into training except in a very generic way. However, it appears that the experience of difficult beginnings leads to greater resilience, as Morgan et al (2010) suggest; Maria confirms that it is indeed ‘g ood fun on the edge’. Regarding the second question, ‘How might such incidents change their sense of professional and cultural identity?’, moments of disruption appear to promote self- questioning regarding personal and professional identity. Changing self-perception emerges regarding roles as both teacher and representative of ‘Western’ culture, this is extremely so in Shelley’s experience of racism. In terms of professional identity, the teachers appeared to develop methodologically, their experience enhancing reflective and postmethod practices (Kumaravadivelu, 1994). Teaching contexts often threw up educational or linguistic mismatches, for example in Deborah’s and Maria’s experiences of inappropriate curriculum content in Africa. As teachers they were powerless; administrations believing that an education oriented to western goals and models was beneficial. However, these teachers were empowered as their resourcefulness developed along with the realisation that their job was to empower others, echoing Simon-Maeda’s (2004) findings that teachers are directed to more progressive ends through uncovering the field’s sociological and political underpinnings. As regards the third question, ‘How are the teachers repositioned with regard to these identities?’, all the teachers described themselves as repositioned due to cultural and temporal distancing from ‘home’. Their educational experiences led them to question the tenets of method critiqued by Phillipson (1992), and their broader intercultural experiences disturbed core elements of identity. Overall, there was disruption to a general sense of things once taken for granted, and the result of this is an increased awareness of difference and a development of intercultural competence, supporting Hanvey’s (1979) model of the later stages of development of cultural awareness. Deborah experienced disruption of ‘progress’ in her home country, which led her to question what such progress meant. Prolonged absence from home disrupted Ian’s cultural-linguistic patterns; even phatic responses to everyday situations were no longer automatic. The ‘cosy slippers’ wear out, the ‘cracks’ begin to show.
English Australia Journal 27.2