Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Thai English Teachers' Understanding of "Postmethod Pedagogy": Case Studies of University Lecturers

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Thai English Teachers' Understanding of "Postmethod Pedagogy": Case Studies of University Lecturers

Article excerpt


This qualitative case study aimed to solicit Thai EFL university lecturers' opinions concerning postmethod pedagogy. It was motivated by an interest in how local teachers construe pedagogical innovations such as postmethod pedagogy vis-à-vis their own teaching conditions. More often than not, local teachers encounter many challenges in implementing those innovations in their own teaching. Through semi-structured interviews and unique and snowball sampling, the participants (n=6) were asked a series of questions that delved into their English teaching experiences, especially their understanding of postmethod pedagogy. Results suggested that, although the participants did not spell out exact postmethod strategies, their response patterns pointed to a high level of understanding of the postmethod pedagogy philosophy. Moreover, limitations of the study were provided and the paper was concluded with Hayes' (2008) ecological perspective on language teaching. It is recommended that qualitative research be conducted at a wider scale in order to ascertain whether and to what extent postmethod pedagogy can be successfully implemented in the EFL context.

Keywords: postmethod pedagogy, Thai EFL university lecturers

1. Introduction

Teachers of all stripes are always in search of the most optimal teaching method. All too often, new methods are conceived by Western scholars and introduced to their Asian counterparts and teachers. While one can debate endlessly whether "Western educational research [should serve as] a basis for educational reforms in Asia" (Watkins, 2008), the notion that best teaching practice is as much coveted as elusive can hardly be contested. In fact, Kumaravadivelu (2003) argues that "...methods are based on idealized concepts geared toward idealized contexts" (p. 28) and that "[a]s a predominantly top-down exercise, the conception and construction of methods have been largely guided by a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach that assumes a common clientele with common goals" (p. 28). This challenge to the traditional notion of methods brings to the fore the practical usefulness of methods in general and how teachers construe methods and apply them in their contexts in particular. While research abounds that investigates the pros and cons of existing teaching methods (e.g., Bell, 2007; Kong, 2009; Lyster & Saito, 2010), L2 vocabulary acquisition (Ammar, 2008; Tonzar & Job, 2009), the role of research in teaching effectiveness (Norris & Ortega, 2000) and the role of non-native English teachers (Mahboob, 2004), no research has focused on Thai English teachers' understanding of postmethod pedagogy - arguably a concept that will have a direct bearing on how to teach and learn a second language (L2) in the years to come. In fact, Farrell and Bennis (2013) aptly argue that "...teachers hold a complex set of beliefs about students and pedagogical practices; these beliefs have been shown to influence the instructional judgments and decisions made in the classroom" (p. 163). It is not far-fetched to assume that the same holds true for teachers' understanding of such an educational innovation as postmethod pedagogy.

Given the dearth of research on postmethod pedagogy vis-à-vis local teachers and the importance of teachers' beliefs mentioned above, the purpose of this study is to ascertain the extent to which Thai EFL university lecturers understand the construct postmethod pedagogy. This line of research is of great importance because, oftentimes, whether an innovation such as a new method will be implemented successfully depends on the level of understanding that teachers, direct stakeholders, have about it. Postmethod pedagogy stands out as an appropriate example of the re-conceptualization of best teaching practice, thereby deserving to be studied seriously. Two main research questions guided my analysis:

RQ1: What is Thai EFL university lecturers' understanding of postmethod pedagogy? …

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