Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Impact of Canadian Social Discourses on L2 Writing Pedagogy in Ontario

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Impact of Canadian Social Discourses on L2 Writing Pedagogy in Ontario

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper attempts to illustrate the impact of Canadian social, political, and academic discourses on second language writing pedagogy in Ontario schools. Building upon the views that regard teacher knowledge as teachers' sociocultural interactions and lived experiences, and not merely intellectual capabilities gained within teacher preparation, this article proposes that the impact of dominant social discourses on classroom practice might be more profound than teachers' creativity and initiative. This idea is demonstrated by examining the findings of a grounded theory study of frequently employed strategies that can deal with intercultural rhetoric in EAL (English as an additional language) academic writing. Guided by Foucauldian critical discourse analysis, this article approaches the experiences of five Ontario EAL teachers with intercultural rhetoric in order to show the significance of the influence of dominant Canadian social discourses on their practice. This report, in particular, explores possible connections between the popularity of strategies that employ students' first languages in EAL academic writing and dominant social, political, and academic discourses in Canada over the past 50 years. This paper, finally, poses questions about the future of EAL writing pedagogy as anti-multiculturalism discourses gain more dominance in Canada.

Keywords: second language writing, intercultural rhetoric, teacher knowledge, discourse analysis

1. Introduction

This article attempts to question the impact of EAL (English as an additional language) writing teachers' creativity and knowledge of pedagogy on actual classroom practice. It tries to illustrate that classroom practice is formed as the result of power/knowledge relations in a network of numerous institutions, bodies of knowledge, and individuals. This paper argues that the knowledge of the teacher is indeed an important factor yet with significantly less influence than usually assumed since classroom practice is mainly tailored by dominant social discourses. This idea is explored in this paper by examining the findings of a grounded theory study of the experiences of five Canadian teachers of strategies that can deal with intercultural rhetoric in EAL academic writing. Guided by Foucauldian critical discourse analysis, this article analyzes the influence of dominant Canadian social discourses on the practice of the participants of this study. This paper, in particular, discusses possible connections between the popularity of strategies that employ students' first languages in EAL academic writing and dominant social, political, and academic discourses in Canada over the past 50 years. This paper, finally, poses questions about the future of EAL writing pedagogy as anti-multiculturalism discourses gain more dominance in Canada.

Teacher education, educational policy making, and the educational industry are usually guided by the assumption that teacher knowledge or awareness will automatically translate into effective classroom practice (Freeman & Johnson, 1998; Larsen-Freeman, 1991; Richards, 1998; Tarone & Allwright, 2005). In other words, the mechanisms by which teachers are employed and rewarded reflect the underlying belief that teachers with considerable understanding of pedagogy not only possess effective methods but also use them at will.

(Gatbonton, 2000) writes, "Pedagogical knowledge or teachers' constructs of the task of teaching is ... the teacher's accumulated knowledge about the teaching act (e.g., its goals, procedures, strategies) that serves as the basis for his or her classroom behaviour and activities" (p. 586). This intellectual "basis" is commonly targeted in the employment process -- suggested in different policy documents, for example the Ontario College of Teachers' the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession (Ontario College of Teachers, 2013) and is believed to be maintained and complemented by professional development programmes (Eun & Heining-Boynton, 2007; Fielstein & Phelps, 2001). …

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