Identity Matters: Stories of Non-native English-speaking Teachers’ Experiences under the Shadow of Native Speakerism.
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis develops a better understanding of the lived experiences of NNES teachers, coming from diverse racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and the complex negotiations and constructions of their professional identities against the prevalent NS fallacy in the Arab Gulf states. This study employs a Postcolonial theoretical framework. In order to unravel NNESTs’ perspectives and understand how they make sense of their experiences, this study adopts a life history approach. The results suggest that participants view nativeness as a fixed identity, dependant on elements, such as being born into a language and learning it in early childhood. The participants had both confidence and concern about their linguistic abilities, which indicated that their non-native identity resulted in complex situations for them to deal with. The findings also revealed that the participants managed to find ways in which to inhabit these non-native identities confidently and to construct themselves as effective teachers who did not have to be NSs by nature. The participants narrated that the issue of pronunciation and accent had a significant impact on their professional identities. NS norms in accent was seen as eliciting stereotyped judgements of NNESTS as the inferior Other, and resulting in hiring policies that were greatly skewed against NNESTs. The participants also believed that stereotyped notions about the superiority of education acquired from the Center privileged NESTs in employment and led to the devaluation of indigenous knowledge. The participants also spoke about encountering direct and indirect challenges, which made it difficult for them to position themselves as legitimate teachers of English. They also believed that perceptions about the superiority of the NS would be impossible to overcome in the near future since the language policy of the Gulf states was strongly intertwined with its economic and political interests. The study, therefore, provides recommendations for theory, practice, and policy.
EdD in TESOL