Language Teachers' Stories from their Professional Knowledge Landscapes
Language Teachers’ Professional Knowledge Landscapes is a collection of fourteen narratives from teachers of different languages, at different school levels, in different contexts across Australia.
This volume brings together not simply language teacher stories, but also more political stories of the problems associated with school programs and contexts. Highlighted through these stories are some of the major political issues in schools that impact language teachers’ work, and their students’ success in sustained language study. The book is conceptually framed by the work of Clandinin and Connelly (1996) and their notion of ‘levels’ of stories told by teachers about their classrooms: the secret, the sacred and the cover stories. The term ‘professional knowledge landscape’ is used to indicate how teachers can critically situate their work, and thereby understand it better.
The collection includes the stories of two outstanding primary language educators, and a story of mixed success in a rural program in teaching the local Aboriginal language (Ngarrabul). There are stories of frustration with policy failures, particularly in supporting the learning of Asian languages. Many of the teacher narrators ask the confronting question: ‘What blocks language learning in Australia?’ They offer the strategies which they have developed, that they see making a difference. Other narratives offer autoethnographic tracking of careers, for example, as a teacher of Latin and Classics, Japanese, French, Spanish, Russian, and of teachers’ ongoing vigour and creativity in advocacy. A number of teachers examine their own identity story for the intercultural learning, which they then offer and extend in student learning. Consistently expressed, there is the need for teachers to take up individual responsibility, while still being strongly supported by their professional community: ‘It is us’ who make the difference, one teacher concludes.
Supported by a strong Foreword by Canadian scholar F. Michael Connelly, this ground-breaking collection of narratives represents a form of social research in providing critical illustrations of the issues needing attention for national language education enhancement. It is the only extended inquiry into language teaching in the context of an active policy initiative environment, and the first volume to address the language education landscape through the voices of active language teachers.
Lesley Harbon is Professor and Head of the School of International Studies at the University of Technology Sydney. She has been involved in language education in Australian schools and universities since the early 1970s, when she trained as a secondary school teacher of Indonesian and German. Between 2007 and 2010, Lesley was President of the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers’ Associations (AFMLTA), the national peak body for language teachers in Australia. She has authored and co-authored and edited numerous book publications, book chapters and refereed journal articles, and has supervised a number of higher degree research doctoral projects. Together with Robyn Moloney, she edited the first book in this series, Language Teachers’ Narratives of Practice, in 2013.
Robyn Moloney is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University. She teaches Methodology for Languages and Methodology for English as a Second Language, in the Teacher Education Program, and lectures on issues of Literacy in a Multicultural Society. She supervises PhD projects in areas of language, literacy and identity, and has pursued a special interest in the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language. Her research projects and many publications focus on the areas of language pedagogy, teacher development, heritage language learners, and intercultural competence in teacher education. Robyn was a secondary school teacher of Japanese, French and German for many years, and retains close ties with schools and remains committed to giving language teachers a published voice.
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