When I first met my two classes of English as a Second Language (ESL) pre-service teacher education students in 2005, I could see and hear that they were a very diverse group, linguistically, ethnically and culturally. Early in the year, and for the second year running, the office organizing the fourth year practicum placements took a call from a school requesting that no ESL pre-service teacher with a foreign name be sent to their school for the practicum. Although legally on thin ice, the school was in fact making a claim about the English language competence of native speakers in ESL classrooms, and the assumed lack of competence of those from linguistically diverse backgrounds. In an age of globalization and given the hugely diverse population of Australia, where a quarter of the population were born elsewhere, I found this a bizarre request. The assumption that the student teachers’ names might be an index to their language use and competence seemed appalling, yet also required an empirical response. In any case, in this cohort Susie Sakamoto was a red-haired Aussie; Katelin Fisher was half-Chinese; Elodie was Belgian and spoke only Flemish and Japanese at home; and Imaniji Obenyo was an English-speaking monolingual from Kenya. Their names would not have helped anyone ‘pick the Anglo’. I have used pseudonyms here, but retained the ‘ethnicity of the name’, so to speak. How did the pre-service teachers construct their own identities?.
|Title of host publication||Language Learning and Teaching as Social Inter-action|
|Editors||Zhu Hua, Paul Seedhouse, Li Wei, Vivian Cook|
|Place of Publication||United Kingdom|
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2007|