ERG SES G 07, Health and Language in Education
Chinese language teachers in Europe and by that in Germany are confronted with an instructional situation very different from what they have experienced in China. Most of them have been born in China and have been educated in Chinese tertiary institutions. The professional identity developed in these institutions has been greatly influenced by traditional Chinese educational schemata. Thus these teachers are confronted with challenges and problems for their professional development. In my study I therefore focus on the intercultural dimension of foreign language teaching. My study shows the transformation of self-concepts and of professional practices of four Chinese language teachers at two Hamburg schools. A qualitative multiple case study was employed, and multiple data sources concerning the teachers’ professional biographies were used with special focus on intercultural challenges, difficulties and perspectives. Thus I am able to depict the changes of the teachers’ professional beliefs and of their individual didactics.
(1) On the basis of case studies I ask how the four Hamburg teachers adapt to their new educational situation in Germany and what kind of transformation of self-concepts and professional beliefs they undergo.
(2) Secondly, I identify professional developmental tasks of these teachers in their biographies under the intercultural settings.
(3) Last but not least, I describe the Chinese language teachers’ individual didactics in order to find out what may improve their educational practice and what their future professional training may look like.
Chinese conceptions of education have always been influenced by Confucian thinking (Biggs, 1996b; Lee, 1996; Scollon, 1999). Education in the Confucian heritage cultures finds its foundation in three top sense constructions, namely humanism, harmony and hierarchy (Starr 2012, p. 8). Differences already start with the word for “education”, “jiaoshu yu ren (教书育人)” which literally means to “teach the books and cultivate the person” with respect to humanism, harmony, and hierarchy (Leng, 2005, p.17). In contrast, traditional German didactics views the purpose of teaching in “Bildung”, meaning the formation of mind, the cultivation of liberty and human dignity, and the development of individuality (cf. Hopmann, 2000, p.67). The basic difference of meanings leads to very different instructional conditions for teaching which in turn produces intercultural challenges of existential dimensions fostering a process of teachers' self-transformation.
I take as my framework “Bildungsgang” didactics and research (research on learner development and educational experience) and identify three core parts of this theory, namely educational experience, developmental tasks and sense-construction. In my study I intend to describe the teachers’ professional development with the help of these three basic concepts, and I include a focus on the dialectic interaction of teachers and students (M. Meyer, 2015, p.22). The research program therefore combines the biographies of teachers and students with the classroom instructional process.
Ewald Terhart describes different approaches to teacher professionalization, focusing on a functional structure, a competency structure and a professional biographical structure (Terhart, 2011, p.p. 205-210). My identification of the teachers’ professional development with the help of sense constructions places my study within Terhart’s third approach, and I do my research with the help of a model developed by Uwe Hericks. Hericks (2006) identifies four professional tasks: (1) Competence development in the narrower sense, in particular in the subjects the teachers teach or want to teach; (2) transfer or mediation of the acquired knowledge in the instructional process, i.e. the teachers’ task to develop didactical competence; (3) willingness and capacity to acknowledge the “otherness” of the students, i.e. their right to be different; and (4) development of interactional competence with respect to students, colleagues, principals etc. in the school as an institution.
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