The Role of Native-Speaker Status and Cultural Background: A Multidimensional Case Study of Teacher-Student Interaction in English Composition Classes
Committee ChairLiu, Jun
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPrevious nonnative-English-speaking teacher (NNEST) research has shown that nonnative speaker (NNS) students' attitudes towards NNESTs improve after exposure to them (Moussu, 2002). Past second language (L2) writing research has found that native speaker (NS) teachers interact with NS and NNS students differently (Thonus, 2002, 2004). Little has been investigated regarding NNESTs in mainstream composition courses that include both NS and NNS students. Also, most past NNEST attitude studies relied exclusively on perception data, without investigating whether or not the expressed perceptions were observed in practice. This study, involving both NS and NNS students and teachers, explored (1) students' attitudes towards composition teachers based on the teacher's NS status, (2) interaction characteristics during individual writing conferences, (3) reflections on expressed attitudes, if any, in actual teacher-student interactions, and (4) student attitude change after exposure to NS and NNS teachers. A questionnaire, distributed to 43 (23 NS and 20 NNS) students in composition classes taught by NS and NNS teachers, explored student attitudes towards teachers. Teacher-student interaction patterns were investigated via 12 (3 NS and 9 NNS) students' video-recorded writing conferences, two each, one with the NS and the other with the NNS teacher. Student attitude change was investigated via post-conference interviews. Several interaction characteristics attributed to the teachers' NS status and the students' linguistic and cultural backgrounds (e.g., turn-taking characteristics, question and advice types, etc.) were identified from the conference data. The questionnaire results showed that teachers' personal traits and teaching styles influenced student attitudes more strongly than NS status. Some student attitudes were found to be only perceptions, not reflected in actual interactions. It was also found that NS students' attitudes towards NNS teachers changed favorably after their conference experience with the NNS teacher. Students consider personally tailored conferences to be most successful, regardless of preconceptions about teachers. The findings that students evaluate and acknowledge teachers based on various factors (e.g., individual teachers' expertise, teaching performance, personality traits, etc.) offer implications for teacher training programs. This study also addresses the issue that NNS students should be treated as individuals, rather than categorized as a general group of NNS students.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching