Academic journal article Utrecht Studies in Language and Communication

NNS Imagining a Future Self as Teachers in Bilingual Education

Academic journal article Utrecht Studies in Language and Communication

NNS Imagining a Future Self as Teachers in Bilingual Education

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

Our purpose is to examine, through a case study of teacher candidates who are likely to engage in instructional activity through their second language within bilingual/bicultural education programs, the variation of responses to written assignments as a way of exploring how the past and present enter their future-oriented identity constructions.

Within the two-way immersion and dual language bilingual programs, in particular, bilingual teachers who are teaching in their second language, also known as non-native speakers (NNS), are likely to have students who are first language speakers of that language. This situation creates insecurities for some of the teachers, particularly if they do not feel confident in their second language (Pavlenko, 2003). We propose that such a situation generates not just linguistic insecurities that mediate their instruction and communicative capacities (Richards and Lockhart, 1994; Medgyes, 1994; Boyle, 1997; Samimy and Brutt-Griffler, 1999; Rajagopalan, 2005; Braine, 2010) but cultural insecurities. In order to become effective as bilingual teachers, we believe the candidates have to engage in a process of acknowledging their linguistic and cultural insecurities, live with them as a reality with material consequences, and move to a more positive view of the multicompetent self (Cook, cited in Pavlenko, 2003) as teacher in the second language. This, we deem, is part of their individualized life journeys in thriving as bilingual teachers. Nonetheless, we take a situated look at the beginning of the journey as it is manifested in the concerns the teacher candidates express in one of the teacher education courses, the cultural foundations course, with the intention of learning from the teacher candidates themselves (Zeichner and Liston, 1985; Urzúa and Vázquez, 2006) about this process of identity exploration and development.

We understand teacher candidates' views expressed in this cultural foundations course about multilingualism/multiculturalism as symbolic and situational, as a construction of self - a moment-to-moment production of their identity that is constructed in relation to the second language and its speakers. More specifically, within, we examine how teachers conceptualize their positionality and subjectivity in relation to interculturality, how they view themselves and others as historized (Engeström, 2008), and their futureoriented perceptions (Pavlenko, 2003; Urzua and Vazquez, 2006) as teacher in a bilingual classroom.

We examine the teacher candidates' responses to course assignments as reflective of identity construction and their struggle with what it means to position themselves as historically situated beings that reflect on actions of the past (Schon, 1983), stepping into and having to reflect for action (Urzúa and Vásquez, 2008) as they imagine themselves performing in a world different from that in which they feel most comfortable. We particularly wanted them to focus on their friture oriented views of themselves as teachers, their strengths and challenges they perceive they will have as inter and crosscultural communicators within instruction and as collaborators with parents and community.

We consider in this chapter, the process of identity exploration and development of teacher candidates, both mainstream and international, who must demonstrate pedagogical processes and their multicompetence. We continue to use the NNS because when they come to us this is how they have situated themselves, even though we understand they are in the process of becoming aware of their multicompetence. We understand the examination of the views of NNS teacher candidates to be important within the United States because, on the one hand, the pool from which the teaching profession is culling its friture bilingual colleagues is from mainstream students who are second language learners of the language of the children with whom they will be working. On the other hand, the international group of teacher candidates, who are second language learners of English, are also learning to teach in bilingual settings and might end up teaching in their second language (i. …

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