International Teaching Assistants and teacher identity
This paper reports on a study of International Teaching Assistant (ITA) teacher identity construction at a U.S. tertiary institution, an example of an ‘atypical’ research site neglected by the current perspective of Western dominated applied linguistics. The researchers adopt a critical perspective to explore complex micro classroom interactions as well as macro dimensions of the D/discourses woven intertextually into introductory courses in sciences and business. The study focuses in particular on the educational function ITAs perform as NNE speaker teachers, the extent of their accommodation to U.S. pedagogical norms, and the construction of their identities as expert teachers. Video taped classroom sessions as well as interviews and retrospective accounts of five participants comprise rich data for 23 extracts of talk and discussion of ITA pedagogical practices, challenges and conflicts, and attitudes towards negotiation of U.S. norms and their own teacher identities. This interview-based case study raises issues related to teacher training of both ITAs and NE speaker teaching assistants, the role of NNE speakers as sources of diversity and multiculturalism, and the need for increased awareness of U.S. institutions of world Englishes and movement away from the deficit view of international teaching personnel so often observed.
Author: Virginia LoCastro, Gordon Tapper
Agar, M. H. (1996) The Professional Stranger: an informal introduction to ethnography.
(Second edition.) San Diego: Academic Press.
Attardo, S. (2003) Introduction: the pragmatics of humor. Journal of Pragmatics 35:
Bailey, K. (1984) A typology of teaching assistants. In K. M. Bailey, F. Pialosori and
J. Zukowski-Faust (eds) Foreign Teaching Assistants in US Universities 110–130.
Washington, DC: National Association for Foreign Student Affairs.
Bauman, R. (2000) Language, identity, and performance. Pragmatics 10: 1–6.
Borjas, G. J. (2000) Foreign-born teaching assistants and the academic performance of
undergraduates. American Economic Review 90: 355–359.
Bourdieu, P. (1991) Language and Symbolic Power. (Translated by J. Thompson.)
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Braine, G. (ed.) (1999) Non-native Educators in English Language Teaching. Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Braine, G. (2002) Academic literacy and the nonnative speaker graduate student. Journal
of English for Academic Purposes 1: 59–68.
Briggs, S. and Plough, I. C. (2005) Acculturation versus assimilation in ITA testing and
evaluation. Paper presented at TESOL ’05, San Antonio, Texas (April).
Briggs, S., Clark, V., Madden, C., Beal, R., Hyon, S., Aldridge, P. and Swales, J. (1997) The
International Teaching Assistant: an annotated critical bibliography. (Second edition.)
Ann Arbor, MI: The English Language Institute, The University of Michigan.
Brown, P. and Levinson, S. C. (1987) Politeness: some universals in language usage.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brutt-Griffler, J. (2002) World English: a study of its development. Clevedon: Multilingual
Canagarajah, S. (2005) Conclusion. TESOL Quarterly 39: 745–753.
Cazden, C. B. (2001) Classroom Discourse: the language of teaching and learning.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Chen, J. F., Warden, C. A. and Chang, H. T. (2005) Motivators that do not motivate:
the case of Chinese EFL learners and the influence of culture on motivation. TESOL
Quarterly 39: 609–633.
Clayton, M. (2000) Foreign teaching assistants’ first test: the accent. The Christian Science
Monitor. Retrieved 20 July 2006, from http://www. Csmonitor.com/2000/0905/p14s1.
Cortazzi, M and Jin, L. (2002) Cultures of learning: the social construction of educational
identities. In D. C. S. Li (ed.) Discourses in Search of Members: in honor of Ron Scollon
47–75. New York: American Universities Press.
Davis, K. A. (1995) Qualitative theory and methods in applied linguistic research. TESOL
Quarterly 29: 427–454.
Dweek, C. S. (1999) Caution – praise can be dangerous. American Educator 23: 4–9.
Erickson, F. and Schultz, J. (1982) The Counselor as Gatekeeper: social interaction in interviews.
New York: Academic Press.
Ferrari, M. (ed.) (2002) The Pursuit of Excellence through Education. Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Gardner, R. (1985) Social Psychology and Language Learning: the role of attitudes and
motivation. London: Edward Arnold.
Gass, S. M. and Mackey, A. (2000) Stimulated Recall Methodology in Second Language
Research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Gee, J. P. (2005) An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: theory and method. (Second edition.)
New York/London: Routledge.
Gorsuch, G. (2003) The educational cultures of international teaching assistants and US
universities. TESL-EJ 7(3). Retrieved 20 July 2006, from http://writing.berkeley.edu/
Greenholtz, J. (2003) Socratic teachers and Confucian learners: examining the benefits
and pitfalls of a year abroad. Language and Intercultural Communication 3: 122–130.
Gutierrez, K. D., Baquedano-Lopez, P. and Tejeda, C. (1999) Rethinking diversity: hybridity
and hybrid language practices in the third space. Mind, Culture, and Activity 6(4):
Jenkins, J. (2003) World Englishes: a resource book for students. London: Routledge.
Jin, L. and Cortazzi, M. (2006) Changing practices in Chinese cultures of learning.
Language, Culture and Curriculum 19: 5–20.
Kachru. B. B. (1982) The Other Tongue: English across cultures. Urbana, IL: University of
Kaufman, D. and Brownworth, B. (eds) (2006) Professional Development of International
Teaching Assistants. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
Matsuda, P. K. (2003) Coming to voice: publishing as a graduate student. In C. P.
Casanave and S. Vandrick (eds) Writing for Publication: behind the scenes in language
education 39–51. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
McCormack, E. (2005) Enrollment of foreign students falls for the 2nd year. The Chronicle
Weekly. Retrieved 20 July 2006, from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i13/13a00101.
Medgyes, P. (1999) Language training: a neglected area in teacher education. In G.
Braine (ed.) Non-native Educators in English Language Teaching 177–195. Mahwah, NJ:
Moll, L. C. (ed.) (1990) Vygotsky and Education: instructional implications and applications
of sociohistorical psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Morgan, B. (2004) Teacher identity as pedagogy: towards a field-internal conceptualization
in bilingual and second language education. International Journal of Bilingual
Education and Bilingualism 7: 172–188.
Norris, J. M. and Ortega, L. (2007) The future of research synthesis in applied linguistics:
beyond art or science. TESOL Quarterly 41: 805-815.
Norton, B. (1995) Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly 29:
Norton, B (1997) Language, identity, and the ownership of English. TESOL Quarterly 31:
Pawan, F. and Groff Thomalla, T. (2006) Making the invisible visible: a responsive evaluation
study of ESL and Spanish language services for immigrants in a small rural county
in Indiana. TESOL Quarterly 39: 683–705.
Pickering, L. (2004) The structure and function of intonational paragraphs in native and
nonnative speaker instructional discourse. English for Specific Purposes 23(1): 19–43.
Pratt, D. (1992) Chinese conceptions of learning and teaching: a westerner’s attempt at
understanding. International Journal of Lifelong Education 11: 301–319.
Rowe, M. B. (1974) Relation of wait-time and rewards to the development of language,
logic, and fate control: part II, rewards. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 11:
Silverman, D. (2000) Analyzing talk and text. In N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln (eds)
Handbook of Qualitative Research 821–834. (Second edition.) Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Simon, R. I. (1995) Face to face with alterity: postmodern Jewish identity and the
eros of pedagogy. In J. Gallop (ed.) Pedagogy: the question of impersonation 90–105.
Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press.
Smith, D. G. (1996) Identity, self, and other in the conduct of pedagogical action: an East-
West inquiry. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing 12: 6–12.
Spradley, J. (1979) The Ethnographic Interview. New York: Holt, Reinhart & Winston.
Stormont, M. A., Covington, S. and Lewis, T. J. (2007) Teacher implementation of
precorrection and praise statements in Head Start classrooms as a component of a
program-wide system of positive behavior support. Journal of Behavioral Education 16:
Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. (1998) Basics of Qualitative Research. (Second edition.)
Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Trent, J. (2006) A reader responds… speaking in a foreign language academic community
of practice: toward a holistic understanding. TESOL Quarterly 40: 430–435.
Tsui, A. B. M. (2007) Complexities of identity formation: a narrative inquiry of an EFL
teacher. TESOL Quarterly 41: 657–680.
Tyler, A. (1995) The co-construction of cross cultural miscommunication: conflicts in
perception, negotiation, and enactment of participant role and status. Studies in Second
Language Acquisition 17: 129–152.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1962) Thought and Language. (Edited and translated by E. Hanfmann and
G. Vakar.) (Original work published in 1934.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Williams, G. (2005) Examining the perceptions on the teaching identity of international
teaching assistants. Paper presented at TESOL ’05, San Antonio, Texas (April).
Wood, L. A. and Kroger, R. O. (2000) Doing Discourse Analysis: methods of studying action
in talk and text. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Woods, D. (1996) Teacher Cognition in Language Teaching: beliefs, decision-making and
classroom practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.