On Becoming a Language Educator: Personal Essays on Professional Development

On Becoming a Language Educator: Personal Essays on Professional Development

On Becoming a Language Educator: Personal Essays on Professional Development

On Becoming a Language Educator: Personal Essays on Professional Development


These personal essays by first and second language researchers and practitioners reflect on issues, events, and people in their lives that helped them carve out their career paths or clarify an important dimension of their missions as educators. Their narratives depict the ways in which professionals from diverse backgrounds and work settings have grappled with issues in language education that concern all of us: the sources and development of beliefs about language and education, the constructing of a professional identity in the face of ethical and ideological dilemmas, and the constraints and inspirations of teaching and learning environments. They have come together as a collective to engage in a courageous new form of academic discourse, one with the potential to change the field. Many of the authors write their stories of having begun their work with voices positioned at the margins. Now, as established professionals, they feel strong enough collectively to risk the telling and, through their telling, to encourage other voices.

This volume is intended to provide graduate students, teachers, and researchers in language education with insights into the struggles that characterize the professional development of language educators. Both readers and contributors should use the stories to view their own professional lives from fresh perspectives -- and be inspired to reflect in new ways on the ideological, ethical, and philosophical underpinnings of their professional personae.


D. Jean Clandinin University of Alberta

As a reader and writer of narrative inquiry, I approached this book with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm: a book of personal stories of language educators, many of whose work provided ways for me to engage in my own work. But even so, I was unprepared for the richness and depth of this carefully edited collection.

Each story, skillfully written, left me wanting to know more about its author. And, as I found myself caught up in each narrative, I was surprised at the power of the stories as they connected with mine and at the courage it had taken to write these personal pieces. When Lily Wong Fillmore described her career choices as "anything but intentional," I knew her plot line. When Sandra Schecter described her unquestioning attitude to university researchers in her classroom, I remembered similar moments. Trudy Smoke's stories of school as no longer a safe place for teachers or for students resonated with the stories teachers tell me of their lives in school. With each new chapter I had to "stop and think," as Hannah Arendt writes, in order to consider my own stories of becoming a teacher educator.

And, as I thought about my stories, I found myself recollecting memories from a time about 12 years ago. a small group of European, Israeli, and North American researchers had planned a conference intending to explore the autobiographical underpinnings of our research programs. Initially, at home writing, I had been excited and wrote about my experiences using a metaphor of finding myself a stranger living in the spaces between my rural background and my home in urban academe, as well as living in the spaces . . .

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