Values in English Language Teaching

Values in English Language Teaching

Values in English Language Teaching

Values in English Language Teaching

Synopsis

This book offers a new perspective on language teaching by placing moral issues-that is, questions of values-at the core of what it is to be a teacher. The teacher-student relation is central to this view, rather than the concept of language teaching as merely a technical matter of managing students' acquisition of language. The message is that all language teaching involves an interplay of deeply held values, but in each teaching situation these values are played out in different ways. Johnston does not tell readers what to think, but only suggests what to think about. Matters addressed include connections between the moral and political dimensions in English language teaching, and between values and religious beliefs; relationship(s) between teacher identity and values; the meaning of professionalism and how it is associated with morality and values; the ways in which teacher development is a moral issue; and the marginality of English language teaching. All the examples are taken from real-life teaching situations. This book will change the way teachers see language classrooms-their own or those of others. It is a valuable resource for teachers of ESL and EFL and all those who work with them, especially teacher educators, researchers, and administrators.

Excerpt

English language teaching (ELT) is not merely a matter of training students in a particular set of skills. Rather, the occupation of ELT is profoundly imbued with values, and these values furthermore are complex and riven with dilemmas and conflict. This book offers an extended analysis of the values underlying our work in ELT. I believe many teachers will find that what I have to say resonates with their own experiences and their own views; I hope this is so, and I do not believe that what I write here is “new” in the sense that no one has thought it before. However, from my knowledge of the literature of ELT it seems that these matters are rarely if ever raised in print in the professional dialogue of our field, and they are certainly not given the sustained attention they deserve.

In a way, the book falls under the category of philosophy of education. However, this is not the dry, abstract philosophy with which the word is often associated. The philosophical analysis in this book is built around real-life dilemmas faced by language teachers in a variety of settings. My aim is to produce what might be called a practical philosophy of language teaching, in which abstract conceptualizations not only relate to, but actually arise from, real situations.

This book is written above all for English language teachers. Although I hope that what I have to say will influence researchers, administrators, policymakers, and especially teacher educators, my primary audience are those who actually teach English as a second or foreign language. I hope this book will appeal to thinking teachers who are continually striving to understand their own classrooms. However, I do not offer neat, ready-made solutions to language teaching problems. My work is in the spirit of what Edge (200 Ib) wrote in the context of action research: “The thinking teacher is no longer perceived as someone who applies theories, but as someone who theorizes practice” (p. 6). The perspective on ELT that I set out in this book is . . .

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