ERG SES C 10, Perspectives in Education
This reserach is part of a Doctoral thesis focusing on the narrative analysis of HE modern langauge teachers' life trajectories. The reserach will be treated as a Case Study of a language teachers' community of practice opertaing in one HE institution context in UK. The main research questions are the folloing ones:
- How is the identity of HE language teachers constructed?
- What are the significant choices in language teachers’ lives who had a significant impact on their professional lives?
- What is language teachers’ relationship to knowledge, to the taught subject?
In the context of a very prestigious research-based HE institution, like the one in which participants in the research and myself are operating, the voice of language teachers is often considered marginal and peripheral in the academic discourse. The department the participants and myself are operating within, not being a research-based department, is very often marginalized and de-legitimized in the context and discourse of academic practice. Language teachers in HE are very often, not only in the institution I am describing, underpaid, under-represented and on many occasions provided with different contracts from the academic ones. This reality places language teachers in positions of marginality and of under-representation within the academic context. I assume that this reality, at times, might have a negative impact on the lack of motivation and of interest in further professional development opportunities; this attitude could potentially undermine language teachers’ professionalisms and professionalization, closing up new opportunities for career progression within the HE academic context.
With this research project, I investigate the choices and motivations that guided the participants to become language teachers and, at the same time, I aim to legitimize language teachers’ voices by including them as active participants in the research process. There is also an assumption that the engagement in the research process itself might promote participants’ self-reflection on their agency in professional change and transformation within HE education and might empower them to embark in new personal and/or professional projects. The resercaher's role throughout the whole research process will be highly reflective since her current position within the department might influence the re-construction of participants’ life-narratives.
The methodology is based on a Case Study using narrative analysis of participants written and oral autobiographical accounts as an investigative tool. The data collection is divided in four phases: a first phase in which participants will be asked to write a short account of their professional life linked to their personal life. The written autobiographical accounts will be followed by a second phase of the research in which unstructured interviews will be conducted. The third phase of the data collection process will be represented by a further meeting with participants in which the researcher will present participants with a concept map activity in relation to both their written and oral accounts. The concept map will be based on some key themes conceptualized by the researchers’ interpretation of participants’ written and oral data and will be presented to participants with the purpose to actively engage them in the validation of the researcher’s interpretation of their life-accounts. With this process, participants will be given active agency and ownership in the research process in order to be co-constructors of meaning in their life-narrative accounts. Because of the auto/biographical participatory nature of this research, a reflective diary will be kept in order to annotate the researcher's thoughts, emotions and flow of events during the research process and to promote self-reflectivity, above all in relation to the researcher's relationship with participants. Written and oral narrative accounts will be analysed within a narrative thematic methodological approach focusing on the concept of life as a journey and on its reconstruction through the narrative process within a psychoanalytical framework of reference.
The main aim of the research is to outline parallel developments between personal life an professional life, highlighting the relationship between professional choices and critical incidents in life trajectories. The expected outcome is to consider language teachers' professional development as closely linked to a language learning life-project , understood as a personal investment in learning, and later in teaching, a foreign language. The study of a new language could be considered, in Bourdieu’s terms, as a social investment, as a form of cultural capital that could lead individuals through transnational and transcultural transformative journeys. The investment and motivation that individuals, language learners and/or language teachers, place in their language learning/teaching project has the potential to guide individuals to re-construct new identities in new social and cultural contexts (Norton, 1995, 2010). Applying psychoanalytical tools of investigation into narrative analysis, is a methodological choice that would facilitate the understanding of deep motivations, of the meaning of choices underneath the surface of events and circumstances (Frosh, 2010).
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