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English as a second language teachers and culture : an interview study of role perceptions Defoe, Tracy A.


Culture - how do ESL instructors deal with it? This document reports on an interview study into the intercultural role perceptions of a group of ESL teachers of adult learners. Thirty-five ESL instructors in general, vocational and academic preparation programs at a community college in Vancouver, Canada were interviewed in the spring of 1985. The objectives of the project were 1) to provide an account of ESL instructors' perceptions of their role as mediators of culture 2) to arrive at an analysis of their viewpoints taking into account the type of program, the crosscultural experience of the teachers, and their definitions of their roles in teaching and interpreting North American culture to immigrant adults in their classes. The research method focussed on ethnographic interviews aimed at recording the cultural aspects of the individual ESL teacher's work from his or her own point of view. Analysis of the findings identified a range of viewpoints regarding the role dimensions of 'being an example,' 'explaining and interpreting,' 'teaching interculturally,' and 'listening and helping - being a friend.' Differences on some role dimensions were found between informants from different programs and between informants with different cultural reference groups. Many informants reported an instrumental orientation to culture teaching.

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