Tiptoeing through the minefield: teaching English in Higher Educational Institutes in the United Arab Emirates
Hudson, P. 2013. Tiptoeing through the minefield: teaching English in Higher Educational Institutes in the United Arab Emirates. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University English and Language Studies
In the context of rapidly expanding English-medium higher education in the UAE (United Arab Emirates), this thesis investigates how a group of native speaker English language teaching professionals perceive the social aspects of the environment in which they are working and the extent to which these perceptions affect the conceptualisation of their professional identities. Specifically, it focuses on how a complex interplay of cultural, economic, religious and political ideologies may impact upon the working lives of the respondents.
This research was carried out at eleven higher educational institutes in the UAE and data was gathered through interviews with English language teachers, teacher trainers and managers. The study’s findings reveal a complex, diverse and often conflicting picture of the way the respondents perceive the context in which they are working and a wide variety of attitudes regarding the ideological issues identified as impacting upon ELT in the region. However, emerging from the data was a dominant discourse of fear related to issues of power, religion, gender and money, maintained by uncertainty regarding the extent to which a censorial approach to teaching was required. The perceived precariousness of the respondents’ employment was also identified as the source of practises which raise ethical questions about the construction of professionalism in a context dominated by a discourse of fear and, in turn, implications for both practitioners and institutions.
Overall, this study reveals that in a context where ‘Gulf Arab/Muslim’ students interact with ‘Western native-speaker’ teachers, the preconceptions that often adhere to such labels in their respective societies may bear little resemblance to the attitudes, actions and beliefs of the individuals concerned. This raises implications both for the training of English teachers in the importance of contextual considerations and for the construction of the native speaker teacher in the literature.
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|Deposited||15 Jul 2013|
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