27 SES 09 C, Cultural Traditions in Teaching and Learning
Introduction to the research program:
Many studies reported that one of the major factors hindering worldwide CFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language) learning is the shortage of qualified CFL teachers (Orton, 2011; Zhao & Huang, 2010). The number of CFL teachers employed in German schools is growing; but an urgent problem is the lack of professional teachers with strong professional skills in Germany (Guder, 2012: 247). Most of them have been born in China and educated in Chinese tertiary institutions. My study found that the CFL teachers who graduated from CFL teacher preparation programs in China found it difficult to teach foreign learners effectively. That is why the educational situation these teachers are confronted with in Germany creates different challenges and tensions.
I therefore focus on the intercultural dimension of Chinese teaching; want to investigate how the CFL teachers’ personal biographies and external professional context influenced their professional practice in German schools. A qualitative multiple case study was employed and multiple data sources concerning their professional difficulties and challenges were used with special focus on their professional development in a dynamic process.
(1) On the basis of my case studies, I ask how did the six CFL teachers shift their professional beliefs and reconstruct their professional identity to adapt to the new context in Germany ?
(2) Secondly, what were the major challenges these CFL teachers in my study had encountered with in their language teaching in German classrooms?
(3) Thirdly, how did the CFL teachers develop their professional competence in the way of successfully dealing with their individual professional challenges?
Professional identity is not a stable entity, it cannot be interpreted as fixed or unitary (Coldron & Smith, 1999). There are a large number of studies to teachers’ development of professions identity. It has been widely accepted that identity is multi-faced, constantly evolving and dynamic within a variety of contexts (Beijaard, Meijer & Verloop, 2004; Danielewicz, 2001). Flores and Day (2005) defined the development of professional identity as “an ongoing and dynamic process which entails the sense-making and (re) interpretation of one’s own values and experiences”. CFL teachers abroad are confronted with instructional situations very different from what they have experienced in China. Their previous professional identity has been experiencing an ongoing and dynamic process within the interaction to new German environment.
I firstly want to overview some intercultural characteristics with respect to Chinese and German educational schemata. 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).
I intend to describe the teachers’ professional development with the help of the framework of professional developmental tasks, and I include a focus on the dialectic interaction of teachers and students (Havighurst, 1948; cf. M. Meyer, 2015, p.22). The research program therefore combines the biographies of teachers and students with the instructional process. I do my concrete analyses with the help of a model developed by Uwe Hericks. Hericks (2006) identifies four professional development tasks in respect of teachers’ professional competence: (1) Competence development (2) Mediation of the acquired knowledge (3) Willingness and capacity to acknowledge the “otherness” of the students, and (4) Development of interactional competence in an institution.
Methodology: An ethnographic approach has been chosen because it allows studying people in the naturally occurring setting or ‘fields’ by means of methods which capture their social meanings and ordinary activities. From May 2014 to May 2015, I have selected six CFL teachers from two schools in Hamburg, Germany and conducted an ethnographical research project to collect data. Classroom observation and in-depth audiotaped interviews with the teachers were adopted to understand their daily practices and their perception. In addition, I produced transcripts of the interviews and of the video-taped classroom practices to access the consistence between their explanation and their actual instructional behavior. Subsequently I got six informal and eight semi-structured interviews of my cases and analyzed them with respect to their interpretation of developmental tasks. I could show that critical incidents and critical phases of the teachers’ professional work are especially significant as they can be linked to developmental tasks, sense constructions and by that to the changes of professional behavior.
Research outcomes/findings: (1) The CFL teachers’ previous educational biographies within the frame of the traditional Chinese educational schemata have –as expected - great impact on their professional identity and their adaption to the German teaching environment. Their professional development has experienced a dynamic, unstable process of self-transformation and transition. It is interesting that I could identify some critical incidents and many educational experiences good for self-reflection that are understood as turning points that initiate the changes and transformations of professional identity. (2) My Chinese teachers stick to professional beliefs and perceptions which lead to a number of developmental barriers producing constraints when Chinese and Western educational schemes intersect. They have to realize then try to deal with their developmental barriers regarding the following four developmental tasks concepts as already introduced above: (a) Competence: teacher-centered didactics and student-centered didactics, (b) Mediation: traditional Chinese language approaches and intercultural communicative didactics, (c) Acknowledgment: strict classroom discipline and acknowledgement of the “otherness” of the students, (d) Institution: insufficient professional training and inefficient collegial cooperation. (3) Dealing explicitly and successfully with the developmental challenges turns out to be a significant way to sustainable construction of the CFL teachers’ individual didactics. Their management of the different professional requirements also demonstrates their professional competence. (4) A cross-case analysis on the professional biographies of my six teachers allows identifying generalizable characteristics of overseas teachers’ professional development and of their development of individual didactics. In spite of the limitations in its scope, my findings can be seen to be significant for the future description of CFL teachers’ professional development.
Biggs, J. B., & Watkins, D.A. (1996). The Chinese learner in retrospect. In: D.A. Watkins & J.B. Biggs (Eds.), The Chinese learner: Cultural, psychological and contextual influences (pp 269-285). Hong Kong/Melbourne: Comparative Education Research Centre, the University of Hong Kong/Australian Council for Educational Research. Beijaard, D., Meijer, P., & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 107–128. Coldron, J., & Smith, R. (1999). Active location in teachers’ construction of their professional identities. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(6), 711–726. Danielewicz, J. (2001). Teaching selves: Identity, pedagogy and teacher education. New York: State University of New York Press. Ewald T. (2011). Lehrerberuf und Professionalität: Wandel der Begrifflichkeit-Neue Steuerung als Herausforderung: Pädagogische Professionalität. Beiheft 54 der Zeitschrift für Pädagogik. Weinheim: Beltz, 202-224. Flores, M. A., & Day, C. (2006). Contexts which shape and reshape new teachers’ identities: A multi-perspective study. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22, 219-232. Leng, H. (2005). Chinese cultural schema of education: Implications for communication between Chinese students and Australian educators. Issues in Educational Research, 15(1), 17-36. Meyer Meinert A. (2007). Didactics, Sense Making, and Educational Experience. European Educational Research Journal, 6 (2), 161-173. Meyer Meinert A. (2009). A View on Didactics and Instructional Planning from the Perspective of Research on Learner Development and Educational Experience, Education & Didactique, 2010, Vol. 4, n°2, 87. Meyer Meinert A. (2011). Professional Teacher Development and Educational Experience In: Beyond Fragment: Didactics, Learning and Teaching in Europe, 404-442. Moloney, R. & Xu Huiling (2012). We are not teaching Chinese Kids in Chinese context, we are teaching Australian Kids Mapping the Beliefs of Teacher of Chinese Language in Australian Schools. Journal of Proceedings of Classic, pp. 470–483. Hopmann, S. & Riquarts, K. (2000). Starting a dialogue: a beginning conversation between the Didaktik and curriculum traditions. In I. Westbury, S. Hopmann and K. Riquarts (eds.) pp. 3-11. Teaching as a Reflective Practice: The German Didaktik Tradition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Hericks Uwe (2006). Professionalisierung als Entwicklungsaufgabe. Rekonstruktionen zur Berufseingangsphase von Lehrerinnen und Lehrern. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Hericks, Uwe & Spörlein, Eva (2001). “Entwicklungsaufgaben in Fachunterricht und Lehrerbildung. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit einem Zentralbegriff der Lehrerbildung,” In: Hericks, Uwe et al. (Eds.) Bildungsgangdidaktik. Perspektiven für Fachunterricht und Lehrerbildung. Opladen : Leske + Budrich, pp. 33-50. Robert J. Havighurst (1948/1972). Developmental Tasks and Education. 3rd edition. New York: Longman Inc.
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