Religious Faith and Teacher Knowledge in English Language Teaching
The field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) stands at an active crossroads – issues of language, culture, learning, identity, morality, and spirituality mix daily in classrooms around the world. What roles might teachers’ personal religious beliefs play in their professional activities and contexts?
Until recently, such questions had been largely excluded from academic conversations in TESOL. Yet the qualitative research at the core of this book, framed and presented within a teacher knowledge paradigm, demonstrates that personal faith and professional identities and practices can, and do, interact and interrelate in ways that are both meaningful and problematic. This study’s Christian TESOL teacher participants, working overseas in Southeast Asia, perceived, explained, and interpreted a variety of such connections within their lived experience.
As a result, the beliefs-practices nexus deserves to be further theorized, researched, and discussed. Religious beliefs and human spirituality, as foundational and enduring aspects of human thought and culture, and thus of teaching and learning, deserve a place at the TESOL table.
Now at Moody Theological Seminary and Graduate School in Chicago, Bradley Baurain has taught for more than 20 years in the United States, Canada, China, and Vietnam. He has co-edited two books and published articles in journals including ELT Journal, TESOL Journal, and the Journal of Language, Identity, and Education. His scholarly interests also include teacher development, narrative inquiry, and literature in language education.
"Baurain’s interviewees are moving in their appreciation of Jesus as a master teacher, and this book is thought-provoking, and even convicting, to those who spend their time training Christians in the language teaching profession."
Thor Sawin Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey International Journal of Christianity and English Language Teaching, 4 (2017)
"Eloquently written and thought-provoking, this book is a must-read for those in the field, and for anyone wanting to explore the belief-practice connection as it relates to religion and English language teaching."
Theresa Catalano University of Nebraska
"The role of teachers’ personal religious beliefs in English Language Teaching (ELT) is a “hot potato” issue within the international TESOL community. Baurain’s careful research, candid analysis, and nuanced findings are a welcome addition to the sparse but growing number of empirical studies in this field."
Elfrieda Lepp-Kaethler Providence University College, Alberta
"The intersections among religious beliefs and teaching practices raise timely and difficult, yet too often obscured or hidden, questions that are deeply embedded within the work of teaching and learning. By making these issues, relationships, and questions more visible, Baurain’s research significantly enlarges readers’ understandings of language, teaching, and learning."
Margaret Macintyre Latta University of British Columbia
"In an age when identity is central to so much of life and work, Baurain’s qualitative study offers thoughtful new perspectives on the integration of faith and learning in English language teaching. The first book-length study of which I am aware, it offers insight into the complexities of individual teachers’ experiences and realities, as well as highlighting the need for continuing dialogue and research on these issues."
Michael Lessard-Clouston Biola University; Co-Editor, International Journal of Christianity and English Language Teaching
"Identity is an issue of longstanding importance in TESOL. Given that one’s personal religious beliefs are part of what makes up identity, teachers need to be aware of how these beliefs affect their professional activities. Baurain’s research, analysis, and discussion make a significant contribution to our growing understanding in this area."
Kitty Purgason Biola University
"Baurain offers a careful and intriguing study of evangelical Christian ESOL teachers and their struggles with how they conceive the intersection between their faith and their teaching. He shows that these teachers are committed to their evangelical mission yet circumspect in how or whether that mission should enter into their teaching. This is an important book for anyone interested in a nuanced understanding of the role for the religious and the secular in teaching."
Karl Hostetler University of Nebraska
"In this groundbreaking work, Baurain explores the dynamic relationship between teachers' religious beliefs and their teaching, specifically, their teaching of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). Baurain's work adds a much-needed perspective that refuses to be mired in the debate of whether or not teachers' religious beliefs should play a role in teachers' professional lives. Rather, this book helps us understand how religious beliefs inform and guide teachers. Baurain adds a fresh, informed perspective on TESOL teacher knowledge, beliefs, and identity."
Jenelle Reeves University of Nebraska
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