Exploring the Intercultural Learning of TESOL Global Educators
Sabbah, Manal Jomaa
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
1. to publish my research in a book. 2. The thesis contains politically-sensitive information that may potentially harm the participants.
The emergence of English as a global language has led to a huge demand for TESOL language educators around the world (Davies, 2009). This has resulted in greater intercultural encounters with the cultural Other; hence, the need to understand the experiences of these teachers to prepare teachers for their work and support them to achieve favourable outcomes of intercultural learning emerges. This is especially important in light of the failure of teacher education programs to prepare these teachers for the realities of their work and in light of inadequacy of intercultural learning theories to theorize intercultural learning based on these teachers’ experiences. This thesis sought to explore TESOL teachers’ experiences using a grounded approach that is based on the teachers’ experiences as central to their intercultural learning. Drawing upon the intercultural experiences of seven global TESOL teachers who are working in Saudi Arabia, this thesis sought to understand the types of intercultural experiences that they went through, the factors that affected these experiences and the intercultural learning that these experiences generated. Interpretative qualitative study methodology was employed in my study to examine the TESOL global teachers’ lived intercultural experiences in Saudi Arabia. Qualitative data were collected through conducting in-depth narrative interviews and examining personal correspondence (where available), with seven experienced global TESOL teachers. The findings suggested that the global TESOL educators’ intercultural experiences were enormously complex with many factors and four facets affecting these experiences. The global TESOL educators’ experiences of interculturality were mainly found to be Othering experiences. The factors related to the global educators’ social positions and the four facets were wider discourses, dispositional positions, contextual realities and situated value systems in Saudi Arabia. The findings highlighted the importance of “translocational positionalities” in understanding the TESOL global teachers’ intercultural experiences and learning. Contrary to the literature, the thesis suggests that intercultural learning was not about intercultural competencies and developmental stages, but about how the participants negotiated their positionalities and developed awareness of their positionalities in relation to the Other. The thesis also uncovered two insights that have potential to contribute to preparing and supporting global TESOL educators in global contact zones. These insights related to the educators’ need to talk about their intercultural experiences and the need to interrogate these educators’ understanding of culture. The findings and the insights offer some theoretical and practical implications for understanding intercultural learning experiences in a new light. The theoretical implications suggest a new experiential model for intercultural learning in global contact zones. The practical implications highlight suggestions for a pedagogy of dialogue for teacher education programmes to promote favourable intercultural learning outcomes.