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Teacher crossings : reflections on multlingual lives in language teaching Jope, Gilmour

Abstract

This qualitative study explored the lives of five language teachers from a range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds who have achieved high levels of fluency in other languages and how they believe their experiences have shaped their understandings of language learning and teaching. Taking a narrative approach to the study of making meaning of human experience, teachers' stories were found to be deeply embedded in their personal, social, cultural, educational, and professional histories. Continued personal agency, language play, and pronunciation were central features of their reflections on language learning, and their stories revealed an emerging intercultural identity characterized by an increasing acceptance of difference, an awareness of the commonalities of humankind, and a deeper appreciation of their first linguistic and cultural heritages. Teachers' evolving professional knowledge and practice had been informed by a range of influences, yet personal experience with language learning was reported as an important influence on their teaching, resulting in an increased empathy and awareness of difference concerning their students' approaches to language learning and their own, the importance of self-directedness on the part of their language students, and an increasing emphasis on flexibility, willingness, and ability to adapt their practices to the different educational contexts in which they teach.

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