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A critical Jungian investigation of student resistance to English in an Emirati university foundation-year programme.
Hill, Mark Richard
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
The thesis includes a political critique of an official UAE language policy.
This thesis is directed towards investigating the nature of English language learning in a foundation-year programme in one public university in the United Arab Emirates. The aims of the thesis were based on the need to provide a possible explanation for the significant number of learners achieving low results, or failing their English language courses, in this programme. It was felt that a critical Jungian perspective could help uncover the existence in the Emirati tertiary system of both conscious and unconscious student resistance to English and of, synchronous, discursive forms of linguistic imperialism. This notion was based on findings in the literature, principally in Analytical Psychology, which suggest that the individual psyche is composed of profound and powerful personal and collective unconscious elements as well as critical theory, which maintains that the language classroom cannot be extricated from the influence of surrounding political, or even geopolitical, forces. The thesis sought, through the use of both a critical discourse analysis and critically-oriented case studies, to provide insight into the nature of the dialectical tension believed to exist, in this milieu, between the propagators of the language and those adopting it. The findings provided considerable evidence of a tension operating both at the discursive level and at the psychological level in the use of English in the foundation-year programme. The findings suggested that the discourse presented to learners, from western textbook writers and editors, is heavily Anglo-Saxon in its use of motifs and topics and that there is room, at least on a macrostructural level, to offset this tendency and reconsider the cultural weighting of topical content so as to more appropriately cater to an Arabic and Muslim audience. Also, the primary data revealed that the study’s participants were critical of the use of English as the university’s medium of instruction and there was consensus among them that a significant number of Emirati students, as well as some members of the public, were not receptive to the intrusion of this foreign language into their lives. Critical Discourse Analysis and critical case studies were combined in the shaping of the research methodology and this enabled the researcher to gain an in-depth and qualitative insight into the nature of English propagation and adoption. Key data collected from the research interviews was placed into a Jungian taxonomy and combined with the critical discourse analysis. Upon examination, it provided the researcher with information, supported by relevant literature, that led to a number of recommendations directed, in particular, to language teachers (and publishers) regarding the need to shape discourse to cater to the cultural needs of the learners and to consider the psychological impact that the tertiary English language policy was having on the Arab student body. The thesis strongly maintains that the discursive content of the language materials delivered to such students needs to be more extensively adapted in order to cater to the student body so as to minimize, as much as possible, potential cultural alienation. It also advocates the provision of Jungian psychological counseling in English language programmes because it would encourage policy makers to acknowledge the role of the unconscious in learning as well as provide invaluable support to language learners who are experiencing conscious or unconscious resistance to the English language in such a setting.
EdD in TESOL