The denial of ideology in perceptions of “nonnative speaker” teachers

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The Denial of Ideology in Perceptions of ‘Nonnative Speaker’ Teachers ADRIAN HOLLIDAY Canterbury Christ Church Unversity Canterbury, England PAMELA ABOSHIHA Canterbury Christ Church Unversity Canterbury, England There is now general acceptance that the traditional ‘nonnative speaker’ label for teachers of English is problematic on sociolinguistic grounds and can be the source of employment discrimination However, there continues to be disagreement regarding how far there is a prejudice against ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers which is deep and sustained and connected to an inherent racism within the fabric of Western society This article argues that there is such a deep and sustained prejudice but that it is not recognised because of a denial of the ideology which underpins it on two fronts The first is perceptions of objectivity and accountability in the dominant modernist research paradigm The second is common descriptions of other cultures, under the headings of individualism and collectivism, which appear on the surface to be neutral, but are in fact underpinned by cultural prejudice However, a postmodern qualitative research methodology is able to engage with the subjectivities of the unspoken discourses of TESOL professionalism, and therefore to uncover elements of global positioning and politics behind the ‘nonnative speaker’ teacher label, which in turn reveal an ideology of racism growing number of teachers and researchers claim that there is a hidden racism within TESOL professionalism which is directed at so-called ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers However, others feel there is insufficient objective evidence that this phenomenon is widespread We address this issue of evidence by evaluating first the research methodology, and then the dominant beliefs about culture which affect the way in which race is perceived The article concludes with an alternative explanation of the ‘nonnative speaker’ teacher label which is related to cultural politics A TESOL QUARTERLY Vol 43, No 4, December 2009 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:32 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) 669 ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS AND RACE There has been a growing discussion in the past 20 years regarding the traditional ‘native–nonnative speaker’ distinction This is mapped by Moussu & Llurda’s (2008) state-of-the-art article They argue that the distinction is losing its relevance within the context of the expanding nature of English, the increased recognition of teachers with a wide variety of language backgrounds (p 316), and evidence that language learners not find it meaningful (p 328) Other factors in the discussion are that so-called ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers are no longer confined to a home country status and compete with so-called ‘native speaker’ teachers in every respect across the world (Holliday, 2008, p 128) with the added dimension to their repertoires of bi- or multilingual experience and layered identities (Petric´, 2009) It is also now fairly well established that ‘nonnative speakers’ have been discriminated against in employment because of a historical widespread belief in the dominance of presumed ‘native speaker’ standards in language and language teaching methodology (e.g., Aboshiha, 2008, p 129; Ali, 2009; Braine, 1999, p xiii; Holliday, 2005b, p 13) There is also a growing understanding that this discrimination can be racist—where the image of a ‘native speaker’ teacher is associated with Whiteness (e.g., Aboshiha, 2008, p 129; Holliday, 2008, p 124; Kubota & Lin, 2006) This association is complex On the one hand, many so-called ‘nonnative speakers’ may be considered White and may therefore pass as ‘native speakers’ (Connor as cited in Kubota et al., 2005) and, on the other hand, racism may no longer be associated with colour, now recognised as an indefinable notion, but with any Other group which is imagined to be deficient (Delanty, Jones, & Wodak, 2008, p 1) However, there seem to be differing views about how deeply rooted this discrimination is Whereas some believe it may be solved by establishing antidiscrimination principles in major professional bodies such as TESOL (Moussu & Llurda, 2008, p 330), others believe it is hidden within the discoursal structure of the profession and much harder to address An example of the latter is the recent report of one of the authors (Aboshiha, 2008) concerning a sustained, powerful chauvinistic discourse among British teachers directed at both ‘nonnative speaker’ colleagues and students Aboshiha observed that The profession seemingly does nothing to examine these ‘‘loaded discourses’’ either at the beginning of teachers’ careers or during them, so in this way it is possible for such discourses to be unendingly perpetrated and the superior identity of the ‘‘native speaker’’ teacher endlessly reinforced throughout the teachers’ careers (p 149) 670 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) This report adds to descriptions of the perpetuation of a chauvinistic professional discourse in Anderson’s (2003) ethnography of professional practice in a British language centre and Baxter’s (2003) ethnography of British teacher training, both reported at length in Holliday (2005).This discourse is further evidenced in two empirical works investigating the status and experiences of ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers in England (Unsain Giraudo, 2007) and Mexico (Armenta, 2008) These studies suggest that there is a cultural chauvinism toward ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers and students that resides so deeply within the ideological structure of the profession that teachers can be either unaware of it or ignore it Ideology can be defined as a system of ideas put to work to justify, maintain, or act as weapons for vested social interests (Berger & Luckmann, 1979, p 18; Gellner, 2005, p 2; Spears, 1999b, p 19) But it is indeed very possible that someone can be ‘‘typically unaware’’ of their own ideological position, or to hold ideological positions which are ‘‘incompatible with his or her overt political or social beliefs and affiliations, without being aware of any contradiction’’ (Fairclough, 1995, p 42) This is the basis of the liberal–essentialist duality which we discuss later It is thus quite probable that if there is a sustained racist ideology deep within the fabric of TESOL professionalism, it is hard to establish its existence and easy to deny The research methodology which is able to address this question needs to be equipped to dig deep to address issues of hidden ideology in professional practice ISSUES WITH RESEARCH METHODOLOGY In this respect there are significant divisions between what we will call modernist and postmodern viewpoints, while appreciating that there are many positions in between Most modernist viewpoints emphasize efficiency, objectivity, dependability, accountability, and liberation from ideology Most postmodern viewpoints acknowledge ideology within everything and engage with the pervasive subjectivity which this implies The Struggle to be Objective At the more modernist end of the spectrum is Moussu and Llurda’s (2008) problematization of what they consider to be the more subjective forms of evidence They comment that much of the work concerning race and ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers has been ‘‘based on nonempirical think-pieces’’ which rely on personal experiences and narratives which, they say, although possessing verisimilitude and an important background THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 671 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) to research, lack the required empirical verification to achieve proper social science status They argue that ‘‘excessive reliance on this kind of work poses a clear danger to the field’’ with an ‘‘inflationist repetition of the same ideas in different words and by different authors’’ (pp 333–334) This is a very important point, which relates in some way to the warning presented by Spack (1997) that successive referencing of ideas from one writer to another results in a distortion of knowledge (p 771) A similar point is made by Waters (2007) in his critique of one of the authors’ own use of a description of a conference event as evidence of chauvinistic native-speakerism (Holliday, 2005, p 25) Waters argues that the participants in the session were assumed to have used it [the conference presentation] to construct a racial stereotype of the members of the culture in question However, no empirical evidence (for example, interview or questionnaire data) is provided to support it The analysis appears to be based entirely on the author’s own presuppositions (2007, p 357) The reply to Waters was as follows: The conference event must not be seen in isolation, but as part of a thick description which extends across the whole book within which it is presented The analysis of the event is thus made in the light of a broader picture emerging from email interviews with 36 colleagues from 14 countries, descriptions of professional behaviour in conferences and other events, two ethnographic studies of teaching and training in British ELT , and my own personal narrative of professional experience as depicted in documents and reconstructed events (Holliday, 2007b, p 361, original emphasis) Thick description is a well-established method for building understanding from pieces of data within a specific research setting which, because of richness of their interconnection, contribute more than the sum of their parts (Geertz, 1993, p 6) However, the normal understanding of thick description is stretched in this reply to Waters to a wide range of instances from different locations and times This more creative, postmodern research approach is in stark contrast to the more modernist approach advocated by Moussu and Llurda (2008) Scientific Engagement with Subjectivity The difference between a modernist and a postmodern approach to qualitative research is discussed by a number of theorists (Clifford, 1986; Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p 11; Gubrium & Holstein, 1997; Hammersley 672 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) & Atkinson, 1995) The modernist, or postpositivist, or naturalist approach, while acknowledging the need to access deeper social meanings, seeks to maintain scientific objectivity by keeping the researcher detached from research subjects as though a fly on the wall and to maintain the control of variables found in quantitative research Moussu and Llurda (2008) suggest the same type of rigour for interviews, where ‘‘researchers should be very serious about not exerting any influence on subjects’ responses’’ and ‘‘in which the population is strictly controlled’’ (p 336) In contrast, the postmodern approach, which relates to critical theory, constructivism, and feminism, feels the need to engage with subjectivity It is asserted that researchers cannot help but interact with the social worlds they study, and that they bring their own ideologies to this interaction Within a postmodern approach, scientific rigour does not therefore reside in methods such as interviews per se, but in the manner in which researchers manage their subjective engagement with the world around them Rather than claiming validity on the basis of objectivity, postmodern qualitative researchers thus need to provide detailed justification for how their choices of research design suit the specificities of the social setting and the researcher–subject relations which they generate (Holliday, 2007a, pp 9, 151) These choices relate to the nature of the research setting as it is revealed, and a wide range of data types are available These can include descriptions of behaviour, of events, of institutional settings, of the appearance of locations, and of research events; personal narratives, subjects’ accounts, talk (what people say), visual records and documents (pp 62–63) Just as survey and interview design can easily be invalidated by superficial design (Moussu & Llurda, 2008, p 334), so too can narratives, and one of the shortcomings of published journal articles is the lack of space to allow a full account of the various types of methodological rigor which need to be applied The ‘‘postmodern researcher is in a position to dig deeper and reveal the hidden and the counter’’ (Holliday, 2007a, p 19), which is particularly relevant to the uncovering of hidden racism in TESOL One such example is Honarbin-Holliday’s (2005) ethnography of Iranian university fine art departments, where she incorporates descriptions of herself as a participant researcher in ethnographic accounts and takes photographs of students with whom she coconstructs the nature of their pose to demonstrate how her own presence as a practising artists is instrumental in encouraging her participants to reveal previously unheard discourses Duan (2007) also uses progressive conversations, and then, a year later, more formal interviews, to uncover at the same time parallel and conflicting THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 673 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) discourses among Chinese high school students with regard to the pressures of the national university entrance examination The function of such studies is different to that of surveys or interview research which sample populations to achieve statistical evidence of phenomena Their purpose is instead to illuminate or to problematize; and it may indeed be the juxtaposition of such individualistic studies which create a macro thick description of what might be going on Working With Rich Data A particular example of a postmodern qualitative methodology in action, employing thick description, is one of the authors’ study, referred to above, of British ‘native speaker’ teachers (Aboshiha, 2008) The core data are taken only from seven experienced career teachers However, the aim is not to prove a statistical point through the statements of a representative sample, but to drill down into the workings of a professional discourse in order to critique established positions This methodology develops in dialogue with what is found; and the interviews are complemented with descriptions of critical incidents which ‘‘were flashbulbs, creating and illuminating’’ the researcher’s ‘‘own realizations about the everyday discourses at work’’ (p 78) Because the researcher is a practising teacher who shares considerable professional experience with her subjects, she is able to uncover ‘‘a social world formed by the words, actions and expressed intentions of the teachers’’ juxtaposed with her ‘‘own perspectives on their ideas and reactions’’ (Aboshiha, 2008, p 75) Hence, Teachers in the group and one teacher in particular, tell professional stories over time They also tell the stories to another teacher, the researcher, who is involved in the same or similar professional contexts It is thus important to acknowledge that these narratives are then ‘‘positioned,’’ that is reconstructed ‘‘by a particular person [the researcher], at a particular moment, in a particular location, for a particular audience, and for a particular purpose The understandings of experience constructed through each storytelling are necessarily situated understandings.’’ (Aboshiha, 2008, p 79, citing Fay) The outcome, informed by Atkinson (1990), is thus a text which presents the reader not only with the complex surface of the writer’s ideological commitments but also with those interwoven stretches of ‘‘voices’’ of respondents, that is small glimpses of the social world the respondents inhabit The persuasiveness of the ethnography is due to this continued interplay of commentary and exemplification as the story moves from voice to 674 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) voice a kaleidoscope of differing and complementing dialogues which shift from the abstract to the concrete, from my researcher’s voice to the voices of the researched, from the past time of the teacher respondents and the researcher as teacher to the present time of the reader and the researcher as analyst (Aboshiha, 2008, pp 79–80) Throughout, the researcher responds to this complexity with careful accounting for each step she takes in working out how to respond rigorously There is considerable discussion of how to manage researcher–subject relationships, for example ‘‘the problem of ‘overrapport’ with participants who are involved in the same field and are enthusiastic or irritated by similar issues as the researcher in his/her normal daily role’’ (pp 89–90) An Unspoken ‘Native Speaker’ Teacher Discourse There is a particular breakthrough in the thesis resulting from observation of the researcher’s own role in an interview with one of the teachers about how a colleague has been discriminated against because of being a ‘nonnative speaker’: In this exchange with Jane it appears that the learners reject the teacher in question because he is not ‘‘white,’’ although the word is not articulated when explaining why the learners have rejected the teacher Moreover, Jane and I both refrain from saying ‘‘coloured,’’ although I say ‘‘brown.’’ However, earlier I have refrained from asking ‘‘So they really want a white teacher?’’ In fact Jane even talks about this teacher as ‘‘the one,’’ rather than ‘‘the teacher,’’ demarking him as different in her own mind I also say ‘‘someone who’d been born in London,’’ again avoiding having to say ‘‘a coloured teacher’’ but we are both aware that this was the issue and yet continue to avoid the reality (Aboshiha, 2008, p 130) It is as a result of this and other incidents that it is possible to uncover an ‘‘unspoken discourse that the learners (and probably the other staff) would not accept a ‘non-native speaker’ teacher’’ (Aboshiha, 2008, p 133) As the researcher compares what the teachers says with critical incidents in which she herself is involved, she understands her own implicatedness in the chauvinism which is deeply embedded within the discourse (p 110) After herself witnessing a highly skilled Argentinean teacher being overlooked in favour of less skilled British teachers, she recollects, ‘‘I said once I thought it was unfair but then kept quiet because I knew nothing would change’’ (p 133) The discourse of the British teachers unfolds gradually to reveal THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 675 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) a superior professional identity, based on their pronunciation, classroom practices, ethnicity, British educational backgrounds and their relational stance to ‘‘non-native speaker’’ teachers a considerable discrepancy between the lived reality of the ‘‘native speaker’’ teachers’ professional lives and the new understandings of academics about English language teaching in a globalizing world (Aboshiha, 2008, p 6) The teachers also express considerable anger at what they considered to be unuseful, impractical, ivory tower academic research However, as their e-mail correspondence with the researcher continues, they begin to send ‘‘admissions’’ or ‘‘corrections’’ to their initial stance and begin ‘‘dropping the names’’ of well-known theorists they have read and acknowledging the impact they have had on textbooks (Aboshiha, 2008, pp 170–172) At this point the researcher begins to realize, again, from her own professional experience, that the teachers’ initial reticence in making their academic knowledge public resulted from feelings of unsureness about their own academic status (p 177) and feelings of ‘‘being relegated to a plateau of ‘practical’ knowledge by line-managers and institutions’’ where ‘‘they were afforded little scope to progress once they were technically competent’’ (p 183) being bored with there being nothing new in teacher training and development (p 184), and their employers’ superficial ‘‘lip-service’’ to professional development (p 186) A particular case of one teacher reveals that, aided by a sympathetic manager, she begins to get actively involved in writing and presenting at conferences on critical pedagogy and professional development (p 207) There is, however, a note of caution, because this teacher ‘‘admitted , at the end of an interview how careful she would need to be in communicating some of her opinions to colleagues for fear of upsetting them’’ (p 212) One might consider the possibility that a plausible reason for the superior Othering of the ‘nonnative speaker’ may be the result of feelings of professional marginalization on the part of the British teachers, which may explain this expression of anger from British teacher Alex (a pseudonym), as he summarizes the content of a conference presentation he attended: Basically, ‘‘white man ‘native speaker’ bad.’’ We are all cultural and linguistic imperialists, probably racist as well Whatever merits his argument might have they will never be debated fully, only repeated ad nauseam by his sycophants who have already elevated his argument to the level of self-evident truth Everybody only seems to focus on a one way system of cultural imperialism i.e western (white) over non-western (non-whites) It is utterly OK for non-westerners to rubbish, trash etc anything done by ‘‘whites’’ but should a ‘‘white’’ argue back, or try to defend a position he is immediately condemned as a ‘‘cultural imperialist’’ or as a ‘‘racist,’’ or both What most 676 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) people don’t, or won’t, recognise is that ‘‘western’’ teachers in foreign lands have to put up with criticism of their culture, country, government on a regular basis from their students The teachers are just being too polite, or are not prepared to risk their jobs by arguing with students who might go to the administration and complain about the teacher (Aboshiha, 2008, p 193, citing interview) Not only racist Othering of ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers but also the nature of the professional ideology which makes it possible thus begins to become evident The emergent picture of an ideology of superiority based on a ‘native speaker’ birthright which is under attack both by a lack of academic status and accusations of linguistic imperialism corresponds with the suggestion made at the beginning of this article that the controversy around the ownership of English has diverted attention away from issues of race Alex’s outburst indicates a full recognition of being threatened by the linguistic imperialism while at the same time indicating a denial of complicity in the Othering of ‘nonnative speaker’ colleagues Alex may also be resisting a perceived hegemony of ‘‘political correctness’’ which Waters (2007) says is imposing an ‘‘ideological power-structure of its own’’ and ‘‘exaggerates the extent to which both NSs [native speakers] actually exercise hegemony over NNSs [‘nonnative speaker’s], and the extent to which they are perceived by NNSs to so’’ (p 358) It needs to be emphasized here that a crucial part of a postmodern methodology, as employed in this study, is researchers using their own professional experience as a basis for dialogue with the data, which is an added basis for pinning together thick description (Holliday, 2005a) ISSUES WITH CULTURE The second key to a possible lack of awareness with regard to race and perceptions of speakerhood is the preoccupation with culture as a neutral entity We define neutral to mean something which is a matter of technical fact or science which is therefore devoid of chauvinism, and which can therefore be associated with the modernistic notion of research methodology discussed so far Professions depend on neutral technical terms to define expertise in such a way that the products of their work are accountable and valued by clients and customers At a very obvious level, this can be seen in the use of ‘native speaker’ and ‘nonnative speaker’ as though they are neutral terms despite the evidence that they can no longer be validated on linguistic grounds (Moussu & Llurda, 2008, p 351) Other examples are the concepts of ‘‘skills, learner-training’’, and ‘‘autonomy’’ being treated as neutral terms even though they are deeply contested in critical literature within THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 677 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) TESOL and education (e.g., Anderson, 2003; Clark & Ivanicˇ, 1997; Holliday, 2005b; Palfreyman & Smith, 2004; Usher & Edwards, 1994) The preoccupation with culture in TESOL is long-standing and derives from a strong association between the second languages of our students and their national cultures As such, culture is the established location of ‘‘problems’’ associated with language learning behaviour and content The ‘‘problem’’ may, however, not be with culture per se, but with the manner in which culture has become a safe heading under which to discuss difference related to a foreign Other The outcome is a neoracism, which rationalizes the subordination of people of colour on the basis of culture [but] is still racism, in that it functions to maintain racial hierarchies of oppression Its new ideological focus on culture has the same function, and provides a vast new field to mine for supposed causes of the lower achievement of groups of colour base on dysfunctional attitudes, values, and orientations (Spears, 1999b, p 15) (See also Delanty, Wodak, & Jones, 2008, p 2; Jordan & Weedon, 1995, p 157; Kubota & Lin, 2006, p 476.) It is thus possible to draw a direct parallel between a possible racism which remains hidden within our ‘‘nice TESOL profession’’ with racism which is hidden beneath an apparent celebration of cultural diversity in Western liberal multiculturalism (Kubota, 2002, 2004; Lentin, 2008; Wodak, 2008) Multiculturalism is a set of beliefs through which education, the media, government policy and other institutions, deal with an influx of people from different national and cultural backgrounds It has been criticized for its superficial focus on food, clothing, festivals, and ceremonies, which has been considered patronizing and an oversimplification of complex identities (e.g., Hall, 1991b, p 55; Y Y Kim, 2005; Kumaravadivelu, 2007, pp 104–106; Latour, 2006; Spears, 1999b) This attitude to difference has also influenced the way in which the West looks out upon the world as a place to experience and collect culture, as an exotic commodity, through tourism and other activities (e.g., Jordan & Weedon, 1995, p 150; McCannell, 1992, pp 158–170; Urry, 2002, pp 2, 5), and can also be connected to a dominant image of globalization which suits Western markets (e.g., Bhabha, 1994, pp 207–209; Canagarajah, 1999, 2006, p 230) It is argued that racism nevertheless persists ‘‘in every corner of society’’ (Kubota & Lin, 2006, p 479; also Spears, 1999a, p 8) There are thus deep contradictions, following the point made earlier regarding contradictory ideology, with stated egalitarian principles conflicting with chauvinistic attitudes toward a foreign Other: 678 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) Ideas of equal rights, universalism, humanism, and democracy were not extended to the ‘‘others.’’ The contemporary European dilemma is based mainly on the contradictory nature of the ‘‘imagined creed’’ of universalism, equal treatment and humanism, whose selective application is based upon imagined ‘‘races’’ and ‘‘cultures’’ that divide humanity in a hierarchy ordered around superior ‘‘us’’ and inferior ‘‘them.’’ (Kamali, 2008, p 301) Associating the ‘native–nonnative speaker’ issue with a hidden racism in this way thus taps into an established discussion within critical sociology The Professionalization of ‘Culture’ as a Problem The teachers in the study described in the first half of this article not hold back from categorizing their colleagues and students in Japan, the Gulf, and Portugal as culturally deficient because of inferior educational systems (Aboshiha, 2008, p 105), cultures which they identify as ‘‘hostile to change,’’ being subdued by memorization, lacking in academic skills, never having been taught logic and philosophy (p 107), being out of touch owing to a lack of literature translated into English (p 108); teachers not wanting their students to be creative, interactive, and happy (p 109); lacking autonomy, and, when they demonstrate autonomy, this is not aimed at language learning but at getting through exams (p 112); not interested in culture (p 118); teachers not wanting to lose face by having their authority undermined (p 143); and ‘‘lack of knowledge of the real world,’’ by which is meant ‘‘Western knowledge’’ (p 198) Aboshiha carefully checks out several of these accusations and discovers that they are blatantly untrue The obvious chauvinism in these descriptions can, however, go unnoticed because of the manner in which cultural difference is professionalized within TESOL so that it appears neutral The characterizations of the cultures of so-called ‘nonnative speakers’ used by the teachers correlate closely with the long-standing notion of collectivist cultures, which Triandis (2004) describes as located very specifically in geographical regions Hence, ‘‘people from collectivist cultures’’ are ‘‘Latin Americans, Southern Europeans, East and South Asians, Africans.’’ These are contrasted with people ‘‘from individualist cultures,’’ who are ‘‘North Americans of European backgrounds, North and West Europeans, Australians, New Zealanders’’ (pp ix–xi) If this gross oversimplification does not speak for itself, several critical theorists have pointed out that associating individualism with the always-positive attributes of being consistent, open to new experiences, having fun, and self-reliance, and collectivism with the always-negative attributes of circular thinking, being closed to new experiences, and deferential to group tradition (Triandis, 2004, pp x–xi) are far from neutral and THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 679 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:33 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) represent the ideological projection of an imagined superior Western Self on an imagined inferior Other (e.g., Kumaravadivelu, 2007, p 15; Moon, 2008, p 16) M.-S Kim (2005) argues that the individualism– collectivism division Others non-Western people as ‘‘barbarians (p 108).’’ Individualism and collectivism can thus be said to be neoracist categories because of the role they play in a dominant Western TESOL discourse which seeks to ‘‘correct’’ the cultures of ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers and students based on the conviction that these cultures are lacking in individualist abilities to think critically, to be autonomous, to speak out, and to plan and manage, citing (Holliday, 2005b, p 19; Pennycook, and Kubota: see also Kumaravadivelu, 2003; Nayar, 2002) This form of Othering is recognised by a number of critical theorists to be a postcolonial successor to the Western Orientalist characterization of the non-West as culturally deficient (e.g., Hall, 1991a, 1991b; Pennycook, 1998; Said, 1978) Locking Action Within Structure Nevertheless, despite these accusations, individualism and collectivism continue to stand firm as neutral categories within both TESOL and intercultural communication studies to the extent that they have become a convenient everyday language for explaining behavior Along with similar categories in the work of Hofstede (2003), they have sustained theory building for more than 25 years, despite being criticized for being too ˇ egarac, & Spencer-Oatey, 2000, pp 52–53; simplistic (e.g., Bond, Z McSweeny, 2002) They have succeeded because they provide the security of precise, calculable, predictive, behavioral formulae for how to act in the presence of people from specific national cultural groups The modernistic desire for neat national culture explanation (Dobbin, 1994, pp 124, 126) can trace its claim to validity back to basic sociological theory Structural–functionalism, which can be traced back to the work of Emile Durkheim (e.g., 1933), and developed by Talcott Parsons (1951), presented society as an organism which achieved equilibrium through the functioning of its parts A national culture is therefore treated as a system which contains the complementary elements of every aspect of social life—social structure, behaviour, values, and ideology, each telling us something about the other What is observed about social behaviour can thus be explained and indeed predicted in terms of the other parts and the functions of the whole Although this model helps us to understand the structural workings of society, its holistic incorporation of everything within a solid, describable system presents problems The theory can be used to set norms in that 680 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:34 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) it evaluates behaviour and values depending on whether they are functional or dysfunctional (or deviant) to the equilibrium of the whole Therefore, if a culture is deemed collectivist, any behaviour within it can be explained as contributing to (or as an exception to, or deviant), and also determined by, its collectivism Ideology is similarly contained as a functioning part of the culture (Parsons, 1951, p 331) This suits modernism because descriptions of culture appear neutral because ideology is part of the nature of what is being described rather than as a driving force of the description The methodology for describing and predicting culture is positivist in that it takes as a starting point the notion that national cultures exist as solid entities with a known type of structure within a world which is organized in a known manner It is also essentialist in that it presents people’s individual behaviour as entirely defined and constrained by the national cultures in which they live, so that the stereotype becomes the essence of who they are (Keesing, 1994, p 303) Social science then takes on the modernist business of confirming, measuring and pinning down the details in such a way that their social truth is enhanced Liberal–Essentialist Duality Spack (1997) explains well the danger in this hunger for neat definitions in her discussion of the ‘‘the rhetorical construction’’ of socalled ‘nonnative speaker’ students: [It] may at first glance appear to be merely descriptive in nature But when teachers and researchers exercise the power to identify, we actually may be imposing an ethnocentric ideology and inadvertently supporting the essentializing discourse that represents cultural groups as stable or homogeneous entities Certainly we are limiting our world view (p 773) We feel the reference to ‘‘inadvertently supporting an essentializing discourse’’ (emphasis added) is significant because it relates to the apparently neutral, ‘‘descriptive,’’ ‘‘detached’’ picture of ‘nonnative speaker’ which hides an effective essentialism and is resonant with the suggestion that we may be unaware of our own chauvinistic ideologies referred to earlier in this article The result is what we would like to term a liberal–essentialist duality, in which there is a schizophrenic layering of a liberal intention and an essentialist effect Figure (Holliday, 2009a) attempts a dangerously simplistic architecture of how this duality operates The liberal side of the duality, on the left of the figure, represents what we believe to be a genuine desire to oppose essentialist cultural chauvinism There is, however, also a desire for truth and fairness which is seduced by the apparent neutrality of cultural description in the THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 681 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:34 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) FIGURE The liberal denial of ideology essentialist package (centre of the figure), which hides the propensity for cultural chauvinism (right of the figure) The dotted line in the centre of the figure is thus crossed, and the dark side is courted There is thus a liberal naăvety which, because of its modernistic denial of ideology, does not possess the degree of criticality to find chauvinism within its own structures (Delanty, Wodak, & Jones, 2008, p 14; Jordan & Weedon, 1995; Y Y Kim, 2005) This results in a dominant paradigm for looking at culture which remains neo-essentialist, which mirrors neoracism implicit in the right of the figure This thinking is reinforced within intercultural communication studies Despite an apparent appreciation of the problems of essentialism in much current work, there is a clinging on to the essentialist structures such as those of Hofstede (Holliday, 2009b) The positivism implicit in essentialism suits very well theory building in the academy (Moon, 2008; Shuter, 2008, p 38) SEARCHING FOR NEW STRUCTURES So far we have described a state of affairs which may be nonconvertible It may well be that the liberal–essentialist duality is necessary for the workings of modernism, and that modernism is necessary for efficient professional life Berger and Luckmann (1979, p 107) note that constructing social reality in this way is not a ‘‘perversion’’ or ‘‘a sort of cognitive fall from grace,’’ but a natural social process common in theoretical and nontheoretical thought This reminder does not, however, mean that we should be complacent By the same token we could have said that racism is part of who we are as tribal beings, and it may be that attempting social change in this respect has simply succeeded in sending it underground Such complacency simply falls into the structural–functionalism trap There are other social theories that show us a way out Culture as Social Action and Politics It can be argued that structural–functionalism is only one of three early sociological traditions, the other two being Marxism and social action theory Social action theory can be traced back to the work of Max 682 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:34 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) Weber (e.g., 1964, 1968), who, while carrying out extensive investigations of the nature of society and culture, made it a major point of his methodology to say that the precise nature of human behaviour could never be determined and that social structure, behaviour, and values could not be neatly packaged into a solid organic system Weber did produce detailed explorations of major religious orders such as Confucianism and Protestantism (e.g., Weber, 1977), but only to suggest how they might influence the social structures against which the social action of individuals needed to be expressed (Bendix, 1966, p 261; Dobbin, 1994, p 118) Social action theory therefore places social structure, politics, religion, the economy and so on, and ideology and culture, all in dialogue with each other From this dialogue can be generated a trajectory of action which can also develop new cultural behaviour Culture is therefore connected with, but not necessarily confined by, the other aspects of society We say not necessarily because sometimes political and other circumstances may severely reduce the degree to which such choices can be acted out It may therefore be the case that particular educational structures may restrict the behaviour of teachers and students, but this does not mean that they lack the ability to act in other circumstances Action can be a number of things—rational, inspirational, traditional and so on (Weber, 1964, p 115) This action is able to generate something which has at least the potential of something different Indicative of this, Weber is interested in the power of individuals to change existing orders, for example by means of charisma (Bendix, 1966, p 265) Different to the structural–functionalist model, ideology can be a creative agent, as well as an inhibitor, in this process The social action view would therefore be open to the idea that collectivism, as a cultural description, could be ideological in its projection, rather than being a neutral description of the social system itself This resonates with the concern amongst political sociologists in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s with regard to collectivism as an anti-individualist doctrine and imposed order within totalitarian ‘‘closed societies’’ (e.g., Popper, 1966, p 9, note 1) Although Popper does associate individualism with ‘‘Western civilization’’ and Christianity, and traces collectivism to ‘‘tribalism’’’ (p 102), he by no means sees this an exclusive and fixed relationship, making it clear that Christianity has sometimes, for example during the Inquisition, imposed collectivism and has the potential to so in the future (p 104) It is therefore a very different matter from fixing collectivism as a permanent feature of culture in the south and non-Europe This multi-active-political picture of culture is also consonant with the picture in King’s (1991) edited volume, in which a group of sociologists write about culture not as sets of discrete describable entities, but as shifting, sometimes indescribable phenomena that are deeply interconnected THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 683 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:34 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) and politically and economically placed within worldwide processes such as globalization and Centre–Periphery relations The phenomenon of national culture is itself perceived as either gaining or losing in importance, in different ways in different places, dependent on these forces (e.g., Hall, 1991a) Considering the ‘Native Speaker’ Label as a Political Act We therefore find it useful to look at the apparent perceptions of the British teachers in the study reported in the first half of this article in a different way—not as possibly neutral descriptions of so-called ‘nonnative speaker’ teachers in cultural terms, but as an ideologically motivated Othering of colleagues using the ‘nonnative speaker’ label Figure presents a possible beginning of such an analysis FIGURE Explaining cultural acts 684 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:34 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) The parameters on the left of Figure recognise that ‘collectivism’ and ‘individualism’ are statements about culture rather than accurate descriptions of it (Row [a]), and that these statements are motivated by professional and global identities, positioning, and politics (Rows [b– c]) Significantly, the final row also indicates that the manner in which the teachers project the foreign Other is an artefact of actual professional cultural behaviour which is of a universal nature This reiterates our earlier comment that Othering is a natural part of human group behaviour, but that this does not make it inexcusable CONCLUSION The analysis presented in this article is based on understandings of British teachers in a doctoral study carried out by Aboshiha (2008) and other literature referred to in this aricle We suggest that the rigour of this research is capable of revealing a convincing picture and may indeed qualify to position such an analysis somewhat outside what Moussu and Llurda (2008, p 333) refer to as ‘‘think pieces.’’ Our purpose has not been to establish that there is a deep racist ideology within the fabric of Western TESOL professionalism, but to suggest how we need to look at our professionalism to address its possibility, and to reassess what counts as evidence We would, however, maintain that the danger of Western TESOL, in its apparent concern for equality, often unknowingly, imposing Othering meaning on the majority of teachers is certainly there, and cannot be addressed without a more realistic attitude toward ideology Spack (1997), again, provides some insight regarding the way forward in her discussion of students: If we are concerned about the construction of students’ identities, perhaps we should ask not ‘‘What should we name students?’’ but ‘‘Should we name students?’’ As teachers and researchers of English, we also need to examine our own identities, to own up to the position of power from which we name students, and to find room in our pedagogy and scholarship for students to name themselves and thus define and construct their own identities (p 773) The reference to so-called ‘nonnative speakers’ ‘‘naming themselves,’’ and the struggle which this may imply, relates to critical cosmopolitan literatures which say that we need to listen to Periphery voices (e.g., Bhabha, 1994, pp xv–xvi; Delanty, 2006, p 27; Guilherme, 2007, p 75; Hall, 1991a, p 34; Stevenson, 2003, p 66) and somehow overturn what appears to be the incessant meaning-imposing which characterizes the Centre position of the West (Hannerz, 1991, p 107) ‘‘Owning up to the THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 685 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:35 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) position of power’’ requires recognising the ‘nonnative speaker’ label, and the attendant descriptions of what teachers from particular cultures can or cannot do, as ideological—as embodying a politics of chauvinism which is, in effect, racist This recognition requires an analysis, not of difference, but of the cultural psychology of insisting on imposing difference An understanding of culture should therefore be used not to label people, but to get to the bottom of how and why they label the Other THE AUTHORS Adrian Holliday is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, England, where he supervises doctoral research in the critical sociology of language education and intercultural communication and is also the Head of the Graduate School Pamela Aboshiha is Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, England, where she directs the MA TESOL program She is also an assessor for Cambridge ESOL Teaching Awards Her main interest is teacher education, particularly the integration of theory with practice REFERENCES Aboshiha, P (2008) Identity and dilemma: the ‘‘native speaker’’ English language teacher in a globalizing world Unpublished doctoral thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, England Ali, S (2009) Teaching English as an international language (EIL) in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries: The brown man’s burden In F Sharifian (Ed.), English as an international language: perspectives & pedagogical issues (pp 34– 57) Bristol, England: Multilingual Matters Anderson, C (2003) The dominant discourse in British EFL: The methodological contradictions of a professional culture Unpublished doctoral thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, England Armenta, I (2008) Non-native English speaker teachers in a Mexican institution: An ethnographic study Unpublished masters thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, England Atkinson, P (1990) The ethnographic imagination London: Routledge Baxter, A (2003) The reproduction of professional culture through teacher education for ELT Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, England Bendix, R (1966) Max Weber: An intellectual portrait London: Methuen Berger, P., & Luckmann, T (1979) The social construction of reality Harmondsworth: Penguin Bhabha, H (1994) The location of culture London: Routledge ˇ egarac, V., & Spencer-Oatey, H (2000) Culture as an explanatory Bond, M H., Z variable: Problems and possibilities In H Spencer-Oatey (Ed.), Culturally speaking: Managing rapport through talk across culture (pp 47–69) London: Continuum 686 TESOL QUARTERLY Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:35 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - 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London: Sage Usher, R., & Edwards, R (1994) Postmodernism and education: Different voices, different worlds London: Routledge Waters, A (2007) ELT and ‘‘the spirit of the times.’’ ELT Journal, 61(40), 353–359 Weber, M (1964) The theory of social and economic organizations New York: The Free Press Weber, M (1968) The interpretive understanding of social action In M Brodbeck (Ed.), Readings in the philosophy of the social sciences (pp 19–33) London: Macmillan Weber, M (1977) The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism London: Allen and Unwin Wodak, R (2008) ‘‘Us and them’’: Inclusion and exclusion In G Delanty, R Wodak & P Jones (Eds.), Identity, belonging and migration (pp 54–77) Liverpool, England: Liverpool University Press THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS 689 Tesol Quarterly tesol205415.3d 31/12/09 18:23:35 The Charlesworth Group, Wakefield +44(0)1924 369598 - Rev 7.51n/W (Jan 20 2003) ... for the superior Othering of the ‘nonnative speaker’ may be the result of feelings of professional marginalization on the part of the British teachers, which may explain this expression of anger... be the incessant meaning-imposing which characterizes the Centre position of the West (Hannerz, 1991, p 107) ‘‘Owning up to the THE DENIAL OF IDEOLOGY IN PERCEPTIONS OF ‘NONNATIVE SPEAKER’ TEACHERS. .. FIGURE The liberal denial of ideology essentialist package (centre of the figure), which hides the propensity for cultural chauvinism (right of the figure) The dotted line in the centre of the figure
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