Paula Golombek is a senior lecturer in applied language studies and the ITA program coordinator at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, United States.
Becoming “Black Lambs” Not “Parrots”: A Poststructuralist Orientation to Intelligibility and Identity
Article first published online: 4 JAN 2012
2005 TESOL International Association
Volume 39, Issue 3, pages 513–533, Autumn 2005
How to Cite
GOLOMBEK, P. and JORDAN, S. R. (2005), Becoming “Black Lambs” Not “Parrots”: A Poststructuralist Orientation to Intelligibility and Identity. TESOL Quarterly, 39: 513–533. doi: 10.2307/3588492
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 4 JAN 2012
How do international speakers of English assert their identities as legitimate teachers of English given the privileged position of the native speaker? To answer this question, we present case studies of two students from Taiwan in their first year of study in a 2-year master of arts in TESOL (MATESOL) program. The data included interviews after the course and reaction papers written in a pronunciation pedagogy course in response to readings that challenged the native speaker myth. Using a poststructuralist concept of identity to frame the data, we found that these preservice teachers, not surprisingly, had multiple and conflicting identities as legitimate speakers and teachers of English. Though deeply influenced by the native speaker myth and educational practices that equate Whiteness with native speakers, these teachers were able to appropriate and imagine new identities as legitimate speakers and teachers of English through the linguistic resources provided by the course readings. These teachers also recognized that they had other means, besides native-like pronunciation, to establish their legitimacy. We argue that the value of teacher education lies in its ability to offer alternative discourses, for example multicompetence (Cook, 1992), to enable preservice teachers to imagine alternative identities. In imagining these identities, teacher learners can also develop alternative instructional practice, practice that may be contrary to the norms of the educational institutions in which they work.