International Teachers' Cross-Cultural Teaching Stories: A Tragic Comedy

By Huang, Yi-Ping | Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, January-December 2010 | Go to article overview

International Teachers' Cross-Cultural Teaching Stories: A Tragic Comedy


Huang, Yi-Ping, Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue


Most research on international teaching assistants (ITAs) or international associate instructors (IAIs) focuses on their common challenges in foreign cultures, including their lack of English proficiency (Luo, Grady, & Bellows,, 2001; Spooner-Lane, Tangen, & Campbell, 2009) and insufficient vocabulary (Alberts, 2008). Research also suggests that accents, organization of class presentations, use of practical examples, ways of handling questions, and teacher confidence all have an impact on how their native speaking students perceived the quality and clarity of teaching (e.g., McCalman, 2007; Spooner-Lane et al., 2009). Studies have often concluded that international teachers generally needed to know more about their host country educational systems in order to display "appropriate" communication skills (Alberts, 2008; Luo et al., 2001), pedagogical skills (Luo et al., 2001; McCalman, 2007), and pedagogical content knowledge; and that students could do better to acknowledge the international perspectives of teachers (Alberts, 2008). Research-based recommendations include implications at the microlevel of instruction (e.g., self-assertive presentation, provision of handouts, and etc.) and the level of teacher development (e.g., supervision, hands-on workshops and microteaching) (e.g., Alberts, 2008).

The above research on IAIs or ITAs, however, fails to recognize the importance of moral, emotional and spatial-temporal dimensions of how teachers maintain and negotiate their identities through narrative inquiry (e.g., Connelly & Clandinin, 1999). Williams (2007) research is exceptional in that he advocated exploring the ITAs' teacher identities in specific contexts using narrative research. He found that the ITAs adopted different roles and perspectives on teaching, needed to negotiate with their students, coped with cultural differences, and held different degrees of investment in teaching due to different career visions. Yet this important work only shows the ITAs' perceptions of their teacher roles in general rather than exploring the subtle nuances of each participant's teaching plots.

The temporal and cultural aspects of teachers' identity become particularly important in cross-cultural encounters because "cultures do provide specific types of plots for adoption by their members in their configuration of self" (Phelan, 2000, p. 290). For instance, many scholars have observed that Asian students (e.g., Cortazzi & Jin, 1996; Hsieh, 2006; Yang, 1993), preservice teachers (e.g., Spooner-Lane et al., 2009; You & Jia, 2007), or teacher educators (e.g., Wang, 2004, 2006) have difficulty adjusting to the Western culture, most likely because of their collective culture (diligence, harmony, and respect for teachers) as juxtaposed to individualism (egalitarianism, self-assertion, and confrontation) (e.g., Scollon & Scollon, 1995). Scollon and Scollon (1999) also speculate on the Asian Confucian discourse (teachers as role models, virtue learning, written rhetorical appreciation, and learning for self-improvement or understanding) as juxtaposed to a Socratic one (teachers as midwifes, dialogic reasoning, oral argumentation training, and independent thinking). Although generalities, these value differences may lead Asian teachers to grapple internally with their own interpretations of silence, softness, cooperation and a sense of learning community, as well as externally with students' disrespect for teachers, entitlement for negotiation over grades, or lack of hard work.

Yet pigeonholing the West and the East has been criticized for its essentialism (e.g., Kubota, 1999), and so recent narrative studies have attempted to unfold immigrant teachers' cross-cultural teaching stories (e.g., Guo, 2006; He, 2002a, b, c; Li, 2005; Wang, 2004, 2006). For instance, He (2002a, b, c) has described how she was acculturated to Western culture from China, recognized the differences between the Western culture she had imagined and the one she experienced, appreciated and questioned her native culture as she tried to be a part of the West, as well as being caught in-between cultures.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

International Teachers' Cross-Cultural Teaching Stories: A Tragic Comedy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.