Between learning and business : ESOL teachers’ perceptions of their professional practice in post-school private training establishments. (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
This thesis investigates English-for-speakers-of-other-languages (ESOL) teachers’ perceptions of their own professional practice in post-school private training establishments. This broadly phenomenological case study was grounded in five cases of teachers that described each teachers’ work life experiences in response to their immediate work context as well as their work milieu. The context of the study included private training establishments (PTEs) in Christchurch, New Zealand. PTEs are for-profit educational organisations with goals that generally seek to maximise revenue. Teaching in this type of educational context presented a particular work context which shaped ESOL teachers’ professional practice. This study examines how teachers perceived their interaction with the particular aspects of work context in PTEs, such as private institutions’ values, fee-paying students, curriculum deliberation, and relationships with colleague teachers. In addition, the study sheds light on teachers’ professional choices, identity formation, sense of agency, and resilience-building in a commercialised ESOL teaching milieu.
Private ESOL teaching is still an under researched area and generally uncharted waters for researchers. Although there is some published literature on the impact of ESOL teachers’ performance on students’ outcome, few studies focus on teachers’ perception of their own professional practice. In New Zealand, there is limited research which focused on ESOL teachers’ perceptions of the relationship between their professional practice and work conditions in PTEs. Private ESOL teaching work environment seems to pose challenges to teachers which affect their performance, professional knowledge, and career progress. In private training establishments, ESOL teachers’ perception of their ability to reconcile between educational principles and business values provoked heated discussions in the literature regarding private higher education.
An interpretative approach has been utilised to set the theoretical basis for this broadly phenomenological case study. The use of transcendental phenomenology allowed teachers’ views of the phenomenon of ESOL teachers’ professional practice in PTEs to emerge from the interwoven five narratives written to represent participants’ stories as described by them in the interviews. From the individual narratives, key themes were identified in relation to the specific experiences and perceptions of each of the participant teachers, and subsequently cross-case themes were identified to describe the phenomenon of teaching English language in PTEs as noted by teachers. Findings from this case study revealed various perceptions of private ESOL teaching and how this interacted with their professional practice. Teachers’ daily work seemed like a complex and multi-layered practice; a socially situated activity. The findings of this research also revealed the tensions and complicated relationships teachers have to grapple with to be able to achieve their moral and ethical goals. The findings provide insights into the need for changes in ESOL teacher training and education programmes to ensure they are more clearly aligned to the actual teaching conditions in PTEs, and prepare ESOL teachers to work in such a business oriented environment.