The spatiality of English language teaching, gender and context

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2005
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- This thesis uses a theoretical framework of time and space to extend understandings of the relationship between English language teaching, development and context. Drawing on perspectives from postcolonialism and feminist geography, it suggests that modernist paradigms of education, English language teaching and development share in a metanarrative that privileges 'time', in its guise as teleological history and progress, over 'space', and its alignment with the particularities of place and context. This privileging of temporal narratives enables the abstraction of disciplinary knowledge from the actual places of students' experience, and supports the reproduction of colonial and patriarchal discourses in development contexts. An alternative paradigm would focus on ways in which the social, political and the spatial are mutually constituted, thereby enabling a more flexible and complex opening of English language teaching to the cultural and political dimensions of local places or contexts of learning. The thesis draws primarily on semi-structured interviews with expatriate teachers who worked in the international aid effort in East Timor following its decolonisation from Indonesian rule. Themes and theoretical constructs were developed through phenomenological analysis of the transcribed interview data and an earlier reflexive ethnography of my own teaching experience in East Timor. The thesis discusses the teachers' disidentification with the exclusionary attitudes and behaviours they perceived amongst the expatriate community that were expressed in the detached social spaces carved out within the local context, and their sense of alienation from the local community they had come to work amongst. It shows how the conventions of English language teaching, constrained by a temporal narrative of progress, reproduced a similar detachment from local contexts, and restricted teachers' ability to engage with salient alternative discourses emerging from local places and spaces beyond the classroom walls. The discussion also suggests that patriarchal and sexist regimes produced in the development context significantly affected teachers' spatial mobility and required careful negotiation both outside and inside the classroom. By relating teachers' narratives to a broader framework of spatial politics, the thesis rethinks the dynamic relationship between global and local space, patriarchal regimes and English language teaching.
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