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Title: The English 'native speaker' teacher as a language resource : conversation analytic examinations of backstage interactions in Japanese high schools
Author: Leyland, Christopher Patrick
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2013
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Faced with fewer employment opportunities at home, more British and American university graduates are moving abroad to teach English as ‘native speakers’. In 2013 Japan’s JET Programme employed over 4000 ‘native speaker’ ‘Assistant Language Teachers’ (ALTs)1. While ALT’s primary professional responsibility is widely considered to be teaching English to elementary, junior high and high school students, this study reveals they frequently provide their Japanese co-workers with English language help. After collecting around 80 hours of audio-recordings from two Japanese high school staffrooms, this study underwent a Conversation Analytic examination of English language learning encounters between ALTs and their Japanese co-worker English teachers. There is a considerable body of Conversation Analytic research examining Second Language Acquisition processes in formal educational environments. However, with second language users engaged in formal learning constituting but a small fraction of the global L2-user community, “[w]hy, then, are the doors of classrooms still locked?” (Wagner, 2004: 615). This study considers English language learning processes occurring outside the classroom - in Japanese high school staffrooms. Analysis reveals these language learning encounters invariably consist of three distinct actions: the English L2 user requests help, the English L1 user provides help and the sequence is closed. Within this basic structure, however, various phenomena occur. Rather than considering learning in the teachers’ “frontstage” setting of a classroom, this study examines learning occurring in the “backstage” (Sarangi & Roberts, 1999) setting of school staffrooms. Staffrooms are considered an important site for identity construction (Richards, 2007). Indeed, this analysis of language learning processes reveals complex identity negotiations. ALTs and their co-workers show themselves to be particularly resourceful communicators - utilizing different multilingual competencies, and dealing with various interactional ‘troubles’ and ‘hesitancies’. This study adds to the body of SLA research using a ‘social’ approach - thus contributing to a redressing of an imbalance in the field (Firth & Wagner, 1997), and examines language learning in an under-researched site. Furthermore, the findings indicate that language learning is interwoven with identity work related to knowledge. This utilizes and informs Heritage’s recent influential work on ‘epistemics’ (2012a, 2012b), applying it to L2 interaction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available