Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Arab English Language Teaching Candidates Climbing the IELTS Mountain: A Qualitatively Driven Hermeneutic Phenomenology Study

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Arab English Language Teaching Candidates Climbing the IELTS Mountain: A Qualitatively Driven Hermeneutic Phenomenology Study

Article excerpt

English and English Language Teaching Today

No one can dispute the importance of the English language today as a global lingua franca and a fundamental tool for achieving different purposes. It has established, developed, and legitimized its power through the support it has been receiving from the USA and UK throughout the contemporary history. Globalization, or "Americanization," to Phillipson (2008), has a linguistic dimension manifested in the new imperialism and neoliberal empire led by the Americans and English as an ideologically initiated project by UK and continued by the USA to promote English as a product and process. Phillipson (2008) wrote that "linguistic capital, its acquisition and investment, is a prime example of symbolic power in use" (p. 29) and that "language is a central dimension of ideological control, perpetuating the subordination of colonial times into the present" (p. 10).

Millions of individuals thus learn English for employment and economic development (Johnson, 2009; Roshid & Chowdhury, 2013; Seargeant, 2012) to achieve the required proficiency in the globalization-orchestrated and led era by the USA. Competence in the target language is a prerequisite for Non-Native English Speaking Teachers (NNESTs) at present (Gan, 2012, 2013; Mullock, 2003; Richards, 2009, 2010; Shin, 2008; Taqi, Al-Nouh, & Akbar, 2014; Tuzel & Akcan, 2009) to help provide quality teaching and to positively affect students' learning and development through good communication. In fact, Coe, Aloisi, Higgins, and Major (2014) associated effective teaching with deep knowledge of the subject matter and stress that "... when teachers' knowledge falls below a certain level it is a significant impediment to students' learning" (p. 2). This is particularly the case after the inception of the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach, which has redefined and reconceptualized English Language Teaching (ELT) and placed substantial linguistic demands on teachers.

ELT has thus evolved and developed over the last 50 years or so and CLT has been sitting at the peak of this development for decades now. Teachers are more conscious about their level and the challenges awaiting them within and beyond the classroom, as students today are different from those found 20-30 years ago. This is especially the case with the speedy spread of communications and media technology, which provide variable exposure to the uses and users of the language and its cultures leading to confirming its uncontested supremacy and position as the world's first international language.

English and ELT in Oman

As a developing country, the Sultanate of Oman could not resist the powerful current of English and its politically and economically powerful and imperial promoters. This led Oman to accept English as its only official foreign language and instrument for national development in 1970. English has become one of the distinct necessities of life in the Sultanate. The Omani government thus decided in 1998 to revolutionize and introduce a new educational system--The Basic Education System (BES)--to help rectify the prevailing unsatisfactory and disappointing status quo of ELT prior to that time (Al-Issa & Al-Bulushi, 2012). The BES implements a CLT-based approach. Teachers were trained to understand the new philosophy underlying the innovation, new textbooks were produced, and sophisticated educational technology was incorporated into the system to expand students' exposure to and practice of the target language.

The Context of the Problem

One of the persisting problems the Omani ELT system has experienced for the past 4 decades or so has been the linguistically inadequate graduates of the Omani ELT school system, which includes the Omani Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) graduate teachers (Moates, 2006). The linguistic inadequacies shown by SQU graduate teachers drove the Omani MOE to pursue an internationally recognized benchmark to define those teachers' language level. …

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