Episode 4

David D. Perrodin

My dear fellow applied linguistics researcher friends… At the end of Episode 3, I asked you to stay tuned for the next episode when I would share the challenges of deciding on my final dissertation topic. So, here we go….

I recall when the head of the program asked me for some possible research topics at the end of my first year of study. I was ready… Or I thought I was ready. I had a list of a few topics that I wanted to research. The problem was that I was only curious about these topics; I was not ‘set’ on any of them.

I knew two things about my potential research. I wanted to look at a unique topic, or at least one that was not researched extensively since I would be spending the next three to four years of my life pursuing a Ph.D. And I knew I wanted to make an impact in some way in the world of English Language Teaching.

So, I took a few days to speak with fellow non-native and native English language teachers from several different nationalities. We had naturally flowing conversations about many problems of teaching English as a foreigner in Thailand. There was one main topic that stood out during our discussions. The teachers kept mentioning that they felt alienated and sometimes invisible in their schools and Thai society in general.

Of the two dozen or so teachers with whom I spoke, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, skin color, or gender, everyone mentioned the same sense of estrangement in Thai society. I found this perception of the teachers quite interesting. If you read studies about teacher agency or teacher identity in the English language teaching field, you will find that most research tends to lean towards non-native teachers of color feeling marginalized in their working and living environments and how this marginalization affected their self-image.

However, after speaking with teachers of different skin colors and different genders from both eastern and western nations, I found that everyone had similar stories of being marginalized. Yet, after perusing dozens of previous studies on the topic of both privilege and marginalization of both non-native and native English language teachers, I could not find any studies that looked at both groups as one homogeneous group of English language teachers. I discovered my topic…

I, therefore, decided to look into the perceptions of privilege and marginalization in the working context and social perceptions, and the effect of both on the self-image of non-local non-native and native English language teachers as one homogeneous group in Thailand. I discovered a topic that has never been comprehensively researched, and the findings may have a significant impact in the English language teaching global arena.

Stay tuned for the next episode of “From the Mind of a Developing Researcher,” when I will share with you the challenges of operationalizing the abstract constructs of privilege and marginalization for my research.

My Favorite Books

  1. Mahboob, A. (2010). The NNEST lens: Non-native English speakers in TESOL. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  2. Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford University Press.
  3. Yazan B., & Rudolph N. (2018). Criticality, Teacher Identity, and (In)equity in English Language Teaching. Springer.
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