Intercultural dialogue and English language teaching: Indonesian teacher educators’ narratives of professional learning

2017-01-31T04:52:53Z (GMT) by Manara, Christine
This study critically and reflexively explores the professional learning of five English language teacher educators (of Indonesian nationality) in an Indonesian context. The main focus of this qualitative study is an investigation into how the five teacher educators from a single private university in Indonesia understand their professional work and lives in dialogic (Bakhtin, 1981) relationship with various national policy documents and with international ELT professionalism discourses. I explore how the Indonesian teacher educators experience and understand their work and professionalism in the area of English Language Teaching (ELT), their commitment to their profession and the various factors that mediate these experiences and understandings. In this exploration, there is a particular focus on the nature of language, identity and culture in intercultural teacher education settings. I use a narrative-based inquiry framework (cf. Cole & Knowles, 2000; Doecke & Parr, 2009; Riessman, 2002) to generate critical accounts of these teacher educators describing, reflecting upon and conceptualizing their teacher ‘professionalism’ within the context of Indonesian society and culture. The data is drawn from extended narrative interviews with individual teacher educators, and the interview responses were approached as narrative accounts (Mishler, 1986). In processing the teacher educators’ narratives, I firstly constructed short biographies of their professional learning experiences. Subsequently, I analysed the different commonalities and the particularities of the teacher educators’ experiences, teaching beliefs, professional identities, the issues with which they were grappling in the course of their professional learning, and the place of imagination in the work of ELT teacher educators in Indonesia. Since I myself have also worked as a teacher educator in Indonesia, I was able to build in an additional critical perspective by interweaving reflexive autobiographical observations vis-a-vis certain experiences and issues emerging from the study of the teacher educators. The study overall demonstrates the complex, nuanced and dynamic nature of professional learning and intercultural identity construction, involving multiple, sometimes competing discourses of professionalism in ELT. The teacher educators’ professional learning narratives provide an insight into their “struggle for voice” (Britzman, 2003) in their immediate teaching and learning context as well as internationally. I show how it is through this struggle that the teacher educators encounter and engage with these discourses and continuously negotiate their understandings of their professional work and lives. From the teacher educators’ critical discussion on ELT paradigms and practices in Indonesia, this study also emphasises the importance of revisiting, re-evaluating, and reimagining the teaching paradigm of ELT in Indonesia in engaging with today’s globalized world. I call for pedagogical and curriculum reform in ELT that takes into account Indonesian learners’ linguistic and cultural identity and that will enable them to use English as a language that mediates their identity work as national, international and intercultural selves.