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Title: A Linguistic Ethnography of Learning to Teach English at Japanese Junior High Schools
Author(s): Hall, James M
Supervisor(s): Copland, Fiona
Viana, Vander
Keywords: linguistic ethnography
activity theory
English education in Japan
critical incident
teacher development
Japanese junior high schools
reflective practice
expanding circle
Issue Date: 22-Jul-2017
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: Hall, J. M. (2014). Conducting Reflexive Ethnography on Three Novice Teachers in Japan: Its Impact on the Researcher and the Researched. Paper presented at the Doing Research in Applied Linguistics 2/ Independent Learning Association Conference, Bangkok, Thailand.
Hall, J. M. (2017). Methodological lessons learned from conducting reflexive linguistic ethnography. Paper presented at the Doing Research in Applied Linguistics, Bangkok, Thailand.
Abstract: The study examined three Japanese junior high-school English teachers’ initial years of full-time employment. It investigated the type of pedagogical puzzles these teachers experienced, how their practice developed over 18 months, and my role as a Teacher of Teachers (TOT). Drawing on linguistic ethnography, this study took an ethnographic approach to understanding the teachers’ social context and used techniques from discourse analysis to consider how they interpreted their puzzles and constructed their practice. These techniques were also used to analyze my working relationship with the teachers. The purpose of this endeavor was to contribute to the understanding of novice teacher development in an ‘expanding circle’ country. Over the course of the study, I observed the teachers’ classes and interviewed them once or twice a month. Using the coding of interview transcripts and class fieldnotes, I identified Critical Incidents that represented the teachers’ pedagogical puzzles and typical practice, as well as my role as a TOT. Using Cultural Historical Activity Theory(CHAT), I analyzed how elements of the social context brought about the teachers’ pedagogical puzzles and affected their capacity to address them. Coding of the interviews and a microanalysis of the interactions showed my role as a TOT. Overall, the CIs gave an emic portrait of each teacher’s experience and my efforts to support them. The pedagogical puzzles the teachers faced were a result of their personal histories and school conditions. These puzzles did not change, which indicates that teachers will face complex issues that cannot be resolved. Understanding them, however, can promote teacher development. Applying CHAT, I could identify the conditions that helped determine the types of pedagogy in which teachers engaged. I tried to fulfill my role as a TOT by conducting a form of reflective practice (RP). An examination of the RP I conducted with the teachers challenged the notion that it involves the sequential steps of identifying issues, attempting to resolve them, and reflecting on one’s efforts. This dissertation concludes with a discussion about the contributions it has made toward the field of English teacher development: using CHAT to understand the English teaching experiences, the development of an understanding of RP as it can be carried out in the field, an understanding of novice teachers in expanding circle countries, and the value of linguistic ethnography for researching novice teachers.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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