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Dialogicality and Racialized Discourse in TESOL Recruitment



The investigation and unmasking of racial inequality have been one of the cornerstones of the critical turn in TESOL, so much so that a significant body of literature on the topic now exists. Yet, there is often a lack of reflection on the fact that discourse surrounding contentious social issues like race is inherently dialogical in that it consists of constant interaction between different voices (heteroglossia) and ideologies (polyphony). This paper presents the findings of a study focussing on the dialogicality of discourse surrounding the recruitment of non‐local teachers of English in Thailand. This research, framed by the existence of significant inequalities between teachers of different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds in the Thai educational system, examined the role race played in interactions in a Facebook group for non‐local teachers of English seeking employment in Thailand. The analysis focussed on identifying points of struggle, salient topics around which particularly intensive concentrations of dialogicality could be found. Two are presented in this paper, the struggle for discursive space to debate racial inequality and the struggle over the assignment of victimhood and perpetratorhood. I conclude by arguing for more attention to be paid to how global inequalities in TESOL are debated and challenged locally.
Dialogicality and Racialized Discourse
in TESOL Recruitment
Faculty of Liberal Arts, Prince of Songkla University
Hat Yai, Thailand
The investigation and unmasking of racial inequality have been one
of the cornerstones of the critical turn in TESOL, so much so that a
significant body of literature on the topic now exists. Yet, there is
often a lack of reflection on the fact that discourse surrounding con-
tentious social issues like race is inherently dialogical in that it con-
sists of constant interaction between different voices (heteroglossia)
and ideologies (polyphony). This paper presents the findings of a
study focussing on the dialogicality of discourse surrounding the
recruitment of non-local teachers of English in Thailand. This
research, framed by the existence of significant inequalities between
teachers of different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds in the
Thai educational system, examined the role race played in interac-
tions in a Facebook group for non-local teachers of English seeking
employment in Thailand. The analysis focussed on identifying points
of struggle, salient topics around which particularly intensive concen-
trations of dialogicality could be found. Two are presented in this
paper, the struggle for discursive space to debate racial inequality
and the struggle over the assignment of victimhood and perpetrator-
hood. I conclude by arguing for more attention to be paid to how
global inequalities in TESOL are debated and challenged locally.
doi: 10.1002/tesq.3013
Much attention has been paid over the last decades to racial
inequalities in TESOL. Indeed, there can be little arguing against
the position that many social practices linked to the teaching and
learning of English are embedded in racialized discourses. There is
clear evidence that the “native speaker” vs. “non-native speaker” (NS
vs. NNS) dichotomy, widely relied upon in both academic and profes-
sional discourse despite its many problematic aspects (Dewaele, 2017),
TESOL QUARTERLY Vol. 0, No. 0, 0000
©2021 TESOL International Association
perpetuates significant geopolitical inequalities, legitimizing in particu-
lar discrimination toward English speakers of color (Kubota, in press;
Kubota & Lin, 2006; Ruecker, 2011; Shuck, 2006). More broadly, the
association of “nativeness” and “whiteness” is mobilized to justify the
existence of continued imbalances of symbolic and economic capital
around English at the geopolitical scale, with white-majority nations in
Europe and North America assigned ownership of English and non-
white-majority nations in the global South placed in a state of perpet-
ual peripherality and, by extension, dependency on the center (Motha
2014). To a large extent, the myth of the “(white) NS” thus perpetu-
ates existing (neo)imperialist patterns of cultural hegemony and eco-
nomic exploitation (Holliday 2015), an unsurprising state of affairs
given that the concept and its use to legitimize the assignment of
high/low value to particular English are part of the historical legacy of
colonialism (Pennycook, 1994).
While the issue of racial discrimination has therefore seen much
engagement by contemporary TESOL scholarship, key avenues of
research remain relatively underexplored. Specifically, while much
scholarly attention has been paid to how inequality on the basis of
race (and/or non-nativeness) is legitimated in discourse (see e.g. Com-
prendio & Savski, 2020; Jenks, 2019; Ramjattan, 2019; Ruecker & Ives,
2015) and how it is experienced (see e.g. Appleby, 2013; Hickey, 2018;
Rich & Troudi, 2006; Stanley, 2013; West, 2019), comparably little
work has examined how such legitimation is challenged or how grass-
roots resistance to it is formed. The importance of examining how
racial inequality in TESOL is challenged is highlighted by a series of
narrative studies of L2 speaker identity in which participants were
found to voice resistance to key tenets of dominant ideology and con-
struct their own counter-narratives. The participants in Choi’s (2016)
ethnographic study among South Korean students at a US university
for instance resisted being positioned as “NNS” and rejected the
implied learning goal of “native-like (monolingual) competence,”
instead of assigning prestige to bilingual speakers able to seamlessly
transition from one language and culture to another. Other studies
have found broadly similar evidence of resistance to dominant ideol-
ogy and the construction of counter-narratives by both “NS” and
“NNS” (e.g. Aboshiha, 2015; Aneja, 2016; Gu and Canagarajah, 2017;
Kim, 2017; Schreiber, 2019).
The results of such research foreground a characteristic of discourse
that Bakhtin (1981; 1984) termed dialogicality, referring to the fact
that any discourse inherently consists of the interaction between differ-
ent voices (heteroglossia) and ideologies (polyphony). In discourses
on contentious social issues like racial inequality, this is particularly
acute, since while it is through semiotic practices that the status quo is
upheld, it is also in public discourse that resistance to the dominant
order is articulated and mobilized in most visible ways (see e.g. Gar-
rett, 2014). This dynamic plays out through struggle between different
viewpoints in public discourse, where resistant actors enter into inter-
action with others, those seeking to challenge the status quo, and
those seeking to uphold it. It is in such public interaction that grass-
roots actors can attempt to demystify key ideological constructs, mobi-
lize other actors in resistance and gain sufficient momentum to shake
the otherwise unquestioned conceptual foundations of hegemony. It is
also in such public interaction that hegemony is continuously upheld,
both through the reproduction and consequent naturalization of key
ideological constructs and through the explicit suppression of dissent-
ing voices.
This article aims to shed further light on how hegemonic racial ide-
ology is upheld and challenged by investigating the interactions in a
Facebook group for non-local teachers of English seeking employment
in Thailand. Before describing this research and discussing its results,
I begin by contextualizing the study of enforcement of and resistance
to hegemony in theories of discourse and ideology, drawing on critical
discourse studies and the work of Bakhtin to construct a framework
centered on the examination of dialogicality among ideologies and
voices in racialized discourse.
The theoretical starting point of this article is that while racial injus-
tice consists at its core of political-economic imbalances, these are
inevitably accompanied by constellations of discursive practices
through which the existence of such inequality is legitimated. While
this is now a widely accepted premise, what I wish to draw particular
attention to in this paper is that discourse is also not one-dimensional,
but that it involves interaction between different people holding differ-
ent viewpoints on a given social issue (Fairclough, 1992; Reisigl &
Wodak, 2015). Any discourse is a pluralist semiotic sphere, one in
which different ways of construing the world co-exist in continuous
interaction, and in which individual discursive actions exist not in iso-
lation but as part of complex, interwoven dialogues (Bakhtin, 1981;
1984). My contention in this paper is that taking such pluralism into
account by focussing on dialogicality in racialized discourse is crucial
in order for research in TESOL to fully describe the inequalities that
persist in the field and, in turn, find ways of reducing them.
In public discourses, dialogicality may be observed from two overar-
ching points of view. The first reflects the fact that discourses are
polyphonic in the sense that they are sites of interaction between dif-
ferent ideologies, seen as viewpoints that consist of “related mental
representations, convictions, opinions, attitudes, values and evalua-
tions” and which are shared among a particular group (Reisigl &
Wodak, 2015, p. 25). Polyphony consists of the co-existence of differ-
ent, competing ideological value judgments (Bakhtin, 1981; 1984),
though discourses are often characterized by the presence of ideologi-
cal hegemony, i.e. the cultural domination of a particular world view
(Gramsci, 1971). A key point to be made about such hegemony is that,
while it appears static, it is, in fact, a dynamic phenomenon in the
sense that it, just as the political-economic status quo it legitimates, is
actively upheld through discursive actions, in particular through the
suppression of dissent (see e.g. Savski, 2020). In this sense, hegemony
is a local phenomenon, anchored to the social structure of particular
settings, not merely a global one, though hegemonic patterns may also
be geopolitical. For instance, while there are significant global imbal-
ances of power in TESOL and while these are related to race from a
macro-structural perspective (i.e. as a “global” white privilege), it is
through social actions, which occur in concrete discursive spaces at
the local scale, that this hegemony is enacted or challenged on a
daily basis.
The embeddedness of hegemony in discursive action at the local
scale calls attention to the second point of view on the dialogicality of
discourse. While polyphony primarily highlights beliefs of social
groups and their semiotic practices, discourses are also heteroglossic,
being instantiated in and continuously reformed through social
actions, which are situated in particular interactional contexts and
which reflect the voices of the individuals who act (Bakhtin, 1981).
Discourses are comprised of voices in the most literal way, since they
are arrays of semiotic units (texts, utterances, signs) produced by con-
crete individuals, being thus structured by the linguistic choices made
by individuals (see also Savski, 2020). However, voice also reflects an
individual’s life trajectory, their experience of and narratives about
prior events, their socialization into different social groups, and their
emotions (Pietik
ainen & Dufva, 2006). From this perspective, voice is
highly relevant to the investigation of racialized discourse, since dis-
crimination on the basis of race is inherently emotional and subjective,
not a merely objective fact, to those who experience it (Mahboob,
2006). Existing research has highlighted the somewhat ambivalent
position race plays in individuals’ narratives, in some cases fore-
grounded and embraced (e.g. for reasons of solidarity building, see
Foerster, 2004) and in others backgrounded (e.g. as a form of tacit
resistance toward a discursive order in which racial macro-categoriza-
tion for instance, into “whites” and “non-whites” is often imposed
upon individuals without regard for their own positioning, see Perkins
et al., 2019). This highlights that voice is both dialogical and dynamic
in that individuals do not necessarily have a coherent or stable set of
beliefs but rather a diverse array of dispositions, often at odds with
one another when considered from a logical or essentialist ideological
Voice is particularly indispensable to the study of discrimination
because it is through a voice that the top-down force of ideology can
be challenged. While ideologies provide ready-made, value-laden legiti-
mations of social relations, it is in examining the voices of individuals
that critical reflection may be found and that demystification of ideo-
logical distortions through cognition can occur (Bloch, 1985). While
such demystification is a form of discursive struggle akin to the con-
flicts that occur when different ideologies come into contact (e.g.
nationalist and neoliberal agendas in language policy, see Savski,
2017), it is also distinct from such debates in that it is the site of
potential liberation from hegemony. Namely, by sharing narratives and
identifying common experiences, members of discursive communities
are able to form alliances and build counter-ideologies through which
broader resistance to unjust social relations may be mobilized. With
this in mind, it is unsurprising that voices are often policed into con-
formity with hegemonic ideologies. P
erez (2013) examined the instruc-
tion given to students at a US stand-up comedy school, observing that
non-white students were encouraged to form their voices as comics by
engaging in racial humor in ways that often reproduced racist stereo-
types. Such policing can be seen as a form of counter-subversion, as it
prevents individuals from liberating their voices from hegemonic ideol-
ogy, instead steering them along paths which, while engaging in some
level of social critique, ultimately do not challenge the dominant ideo-
logical or political-economic status quo in significant ways.
The analysis presented here is part of a broader project examining
the discourse surrounding the migration of teachers of English to
Thailand. It is thus bound to the broader topic of mobility of
human, intellectual, and material resources which characterizes
transnational fields like TESOL in the globalized era (Appadurai,
1990). Accompanying such mobility is inequality, both between the dif-
ferent political-economic contexts involved (e.g. developing vs. devel-
oped world) and between mobile resources (e.g. more or less highly
valued labor). These inequalities are acutely relevant to TESOL in
Thailand, where two migratory streams come into contact. The first is
a relatively traditional movement of teachers from less developed con-
texts, particularly those in Asia (e.g. Philippines) and Africa (e.g. Nige-
ria), in search of improved economic conditions. The second stream is
less typical, involving movement from the developed world (particu-
larly Europe and North America) to a country typically classified as
developing. Aside from the locations and geopolitical classifications of
the countries of origin, these streams contrast in various ways, particu-
larly in terms of race, with one involving primarily the movement of
people of color and the other of whites. Further differences may be
found with regard to gender (migration from white-majority nations
tends to be mostly male) and age (many teachers from white majority
nations are retirees or close to retirement age) (Howard, 2008; 2009).
A key contrast, however, is in the symbolic and economic capital
afforded to these groups, with white teachers typically viewed as more
prestigious hires and commanding higher salaries than teachers of
color (Comprendio & Savski, 2020; Hickey, 2018).
The existence of such inequality is underlined by the setting investi-
gated here, a Facebook group aimed at non-local TESOL practitioners
based in Thailand. While the group, which has existed since 2007 and
had in excess of 40,000 members at the time of writing, sees a number
of different discussion topics (e.g. sharing teaching experience, dis-
cussing teaching materials), it is predominantly a site for recruitment
and thus features a significant amount of posts advertising TESOL
jobs. An examination of the jobs advertised in the group offers consid-
erable evidence that such inequality extends beyond mere perceptions.
Of the 135 full-time English teaching jobs advertised during a 4-week
period in May 2019, 60 (44.4%) were reserved specifically for “NS,” a
further 27 (20%) used various types of ambiguous language to signal a
preference for white applicants (e.g. “native or European” or “native
or South African”), 38 (28%) did not specify a preference or explicitly
stated that all teachers may apply, and ten (7.4%) were open to NNS
applicants specifically. Significant differences could also be observed in
terms of the salaries offered, with NS-only jobs offering on average
higher amounts (38,817 baht per month) when compared to positions
open to both NS and NNS (34,486) and especially those specifically
aimed at NNS applicants (23,388)
I note here that these average salaries should not be seen as representative of the
TESOL job market in Thailand as a whole. In general, the jobs advertised in the group
tended to be based at government schools or smaller private schools but did not include
prestigious international schools, where ‘native speaker’ teachers with relevant qualifica-
tions may secure much higher salaries than those found in the group.
In the context of researching teacher migration, the aim of analys-
ing interaction in this Facebook group was to examine the dynamics
of the discourse surrounding such inequalities in a participatory space
where different viewpoints come into contact. To an extent, such an
aim can be achieved in a social media environment by following tradi-
tional methods and focus on the collection of textual data by, for
instance, selecting particular pages or interactions for detailed linguis-
tic analysis. While such an approach continues to be valuable as a
means of producing insight into online discourse, new challenges
emerge when dealing with the many affordances of social media, par-
ticularly with regard to whether static models of context (see e.g.
Wodak, 2008) can sufficiently account for the fluidity of online com-
munities and the evolving nature of the platforms on which they exist
(KhosraviNik & Unger, 2015). In response, Androutsopoulos (2008)
argued for the adoption of ethnographic methods, such as observa-
tion, in order to supplement textual analysis and provide a more holis-
tic description of online interaction.
Taking into account the need to get a comprehensive sense of the
online space in which interaction was to be examined, data collection
was conducted in two phases. The first phase consisted of passive
observation over a period of approximately 9 months, supported by
the continuous taking of field-notes when potentially salient phenom-
ena were observed. This initial stage, while in no way claiming to be
an online ethnography (Androutsopoulos, 2008) owing to its lack of
direct engagement with group members (e.g. through interviews), was
a key element of the research as it allowed me to gradually acquire a
sense of the discursive dynamics in the group. I was able, for instance,
to get an implicit sense of what conventions governed the use of lan-
guage in the group (e.g. how job advertisements were structured, what
norms of politeness applied to interactions, etc.). It also enabled me
to gain insight into the ideologies present within the discourse (e.g.
what sets of beliefs appeared to be shared among specific members of
the group, what beliefs appeared to be contested) and the types of
subjective dispositions injected into it by its members (e.g. ways that
the specific migratory backgrounds of particular members became rel-
evant in interaction). The observation was relatively broad in its nature
and did not specifically focus on issues of race rather, it was through
my prolonged exposure to the dynamics of the group that it became
clear that race was a particularly salient point of contention among its
members. It was on this basis that a more specific focus on race was
selected for the second stage of data collection, in which all posts
published during a three-week period in May 2019
were examined
and all those in which race had emerged as a salient topic were col-
lected for more detailed analysis. This included both posts which
raised race as an issue from the beginning and those in which it was
raised later in the comments. This yielded a total data set of 31 posts,
each collected with all comments (66.06 comments per post on aver-
age, the highest number being 179 and the lowest 6).
The analysis followed a multi-staged approach. Initially, I examined
the data set multiple times, taking note of particular emergent topics
and arguments and thus gradually building up a set of themes, before
examining the interactions related to each theme in a more detailed
manner. Here, the particular aim was to conduct the analysis in a way
that would avoid imposing homogeneity upon the data and would
instead preserve the dialogicality of the discourse, which was achieved
in two ways. At the micro-level, I focussed on holistically examining
comment threads rather than individual comments, analysing them as
a dialogical chain of interwoven fragments and not as a sequence of
separate texts. In such a way, what was foregrounded were not simply
individual voices or ideologies but rather the interplay between them
in individual dialogical interactions. At the macro-level, the significant
amount of information I had accrued by observing the group before
collecting the textual data proved key, as it enabled me to relate each
of the micro-level interactions to the broader dynamics of the group
(e.g. hegemonic and counter-hegemonic ideologies) and to the sub-
ject positions taken up by specific individuals within the group (e.g.
how frequently they participated and in what manner). For instance,
when examining the interaction under post 2.0 below, I was able to
make sense of comment 2.3 in the context of previous instances of the
same user responding to accusations of racism with comments that
evoked contrasting reactions, with some members finding them
humorous and others offensive.
What emerged through this analytic approach can be described as
“points of struggle,” conceptual nexuses around which particularly
dense concentrations of dialogic discourse could be observed. These
reflect the fact that discourses on social issues are often organized
around questions to which differing ideologically-driven answers exist,
leading to particularly intense and diverse debate around them. While
in political discourse such questions are often strategically constructed
and evoked as society-wide “wedge issues” (Hillygus & Shields, 2008),
the four points of struggle identified in this analysis were specific to
While this time-frame was not specifically targeted, it should be noted that it coincided
with the summer school break in Thailand, a period of high activity in the group owing
to the increased number of positions being advertised.
the group, its members, and TESOL as a professional field. Two cen-
tered on language questions (acceptance or rejection of particular
Englishes and of multilingualism in group interactions), whereas two
(availability or non-availability of space to debate racism and assign-
ment of victimhood-perpetratorhood roles) were more explicitly tied
to the issue of race and are examined below.
In this research, several ethical issues were considered. The first was
whether the data was collected from the public domain, a pressing
issue on social media (Willis, 2019). In this case, given the size of the
group (40,000 members) and its privacy setting (“Public,” meaning
that the group and its contents are visible to anyone, including non-
members of Facebook), I judged that no reasonable expectation of
privacy existed. Nevertheless, I have presented all interactions in anon-
ymized form (i.e. with Facebook names omitted) to not bring undue
attention to specific individuals considering the contentious nature of
the topic. A further issue was researcher positionality, an area of con-
flict for myself given that my personal and scholarly commitment to
social justice was as much of a motivation for conducting this research
as was my own experience of being a non-local TESOL practitioner
and, as a white “Westerner,” a beneficiary of the very status quo whose
injustice this paper seeks to critique. While this potentially placed me
in the position of studying “my own kind” (Lee & Simon-Maeda,
2006), my experience was rather marked by ambivalence, as I was occa-
sionally able to empathize with particular views but largely felt
removed from much of the struggle, a reflection of my own disassocia-
tion from the identity of a farang, as the imagined racial/cultural com-
munity of white Westerners is referred to in Thai, due to differences
in both professional practices and lifestyle.
Discursive Space
A fundamental point of struggle in the Facebook group centered
on the availability of discursive space, by which I refer to the fact that
the very ability of actors to engage in debate about race was often at
issue. On the surface, such struggle for space often manifested itself in
debates regarding the extent to which race was relevant to the group,
or indeed whether it was at all pertinent to TESOL in Thailand. As
explained above, the advertisements posted in the group typically artic-
ulated preferences for particular teacher groups in terms of “native-
ness,” and there are strong indications that such “nativeness”-centred
discourse is by default racialized since the dichotomy at its center
excludes non-white English speakers from positions of power (Motha,
2014). Such a racialized view of “nativeness” appeared particularly rele-
vant to this context due to the often ambiguous language used by
advertisers. One poster for instance included the following caveat in
their advertisement, which listed a series of jobs open to either NS or
NNS applicants: “Unfortunately non native for these positions would
include European, South African and South American, not Asian or
African (South African is okay as mentioned above).” Similar refer-
ences to “NES or European” or simply “European” could be found
elsewhere in the group.
While such vague provisos may be seen as blatantly racist owing to
their singling out of white-majority geographic regions, their meaning
in the group was subject to a significant amount of discursive struggle.
In the comments below the above advert, for instance, the following
exchange occurred:
1.1 A: Sooooo ... ...white people only need apply?
1.2 B: @A You guessed correctly.
1.3 A: @B do I win a prize?
1.4 B: Only if you’re Caucasian.
1.5 C: I think it’s more related to accent as South Americans are okay.
1.6 D: Nothing about race mentioned, just nationality
1.7 C: discrimination in language teaching is worldwide due to accent, in most cases a
foreigner that has mastered the English language, more often than not retains an
accent. Institutes looking for language teachers prefer natives. There is discrimination
between natives, some prefer British some American, there are natives that speak with
very strong accents that are at times incomprehensible to other natives
In this example, it is evident that two meanings are being con-
structed for the language used by the advertisement. A’s comment
immediately invokes race as a relevant topic (1.1), with the interpreta-
tion being supported by B through a playful exchange (1.2-4). C (who
had originally posted the advertisement) and D, in contrast, dismiss
the issue of race. While D simply asserts the irrelevance of race (1.6),
C offers an alternative interpretation centered on quality of pronuncia-
tion (1.5), going on to provide a significant amount of detail in sup-
port of this argument (1.7). Most significant among the information C
provides is the apparent naturalization of discriminatory employment
practice, which is presented as fact, without moral assessment or miti-
gation, and rather ascribed to the dynamics of the job market. Most
crucially, perhaps in anticipation of further accusations of racism, C
attempts to shift the debate away from race and toward linguistic issues
(the NS-NNS dichotomy and the issue of “accent”).
Similar tension over discursive space could be observed when group
members attempted to demystify and challenge racism in more
explicit ways. One for instance posted a picture of two people in a job
interview, an Asian-looking interviewer and a white-looking applicant,
with the superimposed dialogue reading:
2.0 Interviewer: Do you have any experience teaching children?
Applicant: No, but I am a white person
Interviewer: Perfect, how soon can you start?
This image, which the poster captioned with the description “Sad
reality”, spawned a significant number of comments (179). Among
these, some appeared to signal agreement and show solidarity with the
original poster by writing supportive comments (e.g. “so true”) or by
sharing personal experience of racism. However, other commentators
appeared to overtly challenge this attempt at demystifying racism:
2.1 A: Proper bitter flipper post is this.
2.2 B: The ever famous white privilege card being used ... followed by its competitor, the
race card.
2.3 C: Sad reality? He’s smart, he’s wearing a tie, and he looks professional. No
experience? I problem. He’s young and we all start with no experience, don’t we?
These examples are, in isolation, quite different from each other.
In one case, an offensive term (“flipper”, a derogatory word for Fili-
pino nationals) is used and the implication made that the poster is
“bitter”, presumably due to not being hired (2.1). Another comment
accuses the poster of using “the [ ...] white privilege card” and “the
race card”, drawing on global right-wing discourse (2.2; see below for
further discussion of such recontextualization), with another member
making a somewhat ambiguous remark with a humorous subtext
(2.3). Despite their differences, the three point to the existence of a
pattern in the group, namely that attempts at demystifying, subverting
or challenging hegemonic ideology were consistently countered by
members seeking to uphold the dominant order. Of particular note
here is that these actions appear to be geared toward repositioning
any attempt at challenging hegemony as essentially self-serving, borne
not out of a sense of justice but motivated by the individualistic
motives of particular job-seekers. Such repositioning of counter-hege-
monic voices can be seen as a strategy key to the enforcement of
I note here that my reading of this as potentially humorous stems from my prior observa-
tion of this user’s behaviour. I refer the reader to my discussion of this example in the
methodology section.
hegemony, since it likens any dissent to a violation of the accepted
moral order, thus delegitimizing those arguing against injustice.
A further type of tension around discursive space during the data
collection period concerned not attempts at its policing but rather its
occupation through trolling, that is, actions conducted under the
guise of group membership but ultimately intended “to cause disrup-
tion and/or to trigger or exacerbate conflict” (Hardaker, 2010, p.
237). This concerned the activities of one particular user, who during
this period was a particularly active member of the group both with
regard to contributing to discussions (commenting on the posts of
other group members) and starting them (creating new posts in the
group). The latter activity was particularly remarkable, with the “troll”
publishing 31 new posts during the 3-week data collection period. The
posts varied in terms of content, with some containing TESOL materi-
als that the user had developed and others offering up broad ques-
tions (e.g. “Teaching English is a waste of time for over 90% of Thais,
and it is not working. Is it time to throw in the towel?”) which led to
lengthy discussions in the comments section. Several posts, however,
touched upon issues of race. In one case, the “troll” posted a series of
images cropped from an advertisement for skin whitening cream, with
the added comment: “Some people here should lighten up!”. Such
posts received numerous comments, some humorous and approving
while others accused the poster of behaving in a racist manner, accusa-
tions which the “troll” invariably engaged with and in several devel-
oped into lengthy discussions.
Ultimately, this mixture of genuine participation and troll-like
behavior placed the user at the center of much interaction, both
humorous and serious, around the issue of race. Below is an example
of how this occurred below a job advertisement the user posted in the
3.0 A: 32K, <location>, P1 teacher, year-round contract, help with getting legal, fuck off
early when you haven’t got classes, 20 X 50, paid for sick days, shit money, cushy job ...
Start this week? PM only.
3.1 B: I like that you forget to mention for NES only
3.2 A: We are equal opportunity racists.
3.3 C: Hahahahha
I don’t see any racism here
Tasteless without it
Follow the trend plz
As can be observed, the advertisement (3.0) flouts many of the lin-
guistic maxims of the genre with its use of slang (“getting legal” as a
reference to obtaining immigration clearance) and profanity (“fuck
off” and “shit”) as well as its avoidance of other norms particularly in
its references to conditions that are typically explicitly vetoed from the
specific genre (e.g. the opportunity to leave work early). While these
flouts raise questions regarding the seriousness of the ad, many group
members appeared to see it as genuine, requesting further details
about the job, which were in turn supplied by A
. Much of the interac-
tion, however, continued with similar flippancy, with the original pos-
ter (A in 3.2) and other users (B and C) engaging in humorous
interaction around the topic of race (3.1 and 3.3). Interpreting such
interactions is not without its difficulty due to their inherent ambiva-
lence. While it may be argued that humor served to defuse racial ten-
sion by bringing together group members who had previously sparred
over the issue, research on racial humor has also remarked that it ulti-
mately also serves to perpetuate existing divides (see e.g. Winkler Reid,
2015; Wolfers et al., 2017). In this case, it might be argued that the
injection of levity into the discourse served to normalize racial inequal-
ities and thus delegitimize efforts by other group members to high-
light them.
With regard to the broader issue of discursive space, it is key to
point out that trolling and troll-like behavior, as forms of overcommu-
nication (Hansson, 2015), can also act as powerful instruments of dis-
course control. Through the sheer amount of communicative events
they involve, including those from other users who respond to their
controversial statements, trolls are able to saturate discursive space
and, by extension, silence or background other interaction. Here, this
was most clearly illustrated by how the “troll” became the subject of
struggle in interactions among group members. In one case, a mem-
ber created a poll asking whether the “troll” should be tolerated,
excluded from the group or even awarded the status of group modera-
tor, a proposition which again led to a mix of serious and humorous
interaction in which the “troll” was the focus. Ultimately, such debates
tended to have a largely ad hominem orientation, illustrating how trol-
ling can serve to stifle debate on more serious issues by making their
own presence in the discourse “the issue.”
As commented by a reviewer of this paper, the form of this ad calls its seriousness into
question. An exchange that appears to lend credibility to it involved a member com-
menting “I like when employers talk real.”, to which A responded: “We’re looking for
someone who will stay the distance. The two farang teachers have been here for 14 years
and 10 years.” This apparent switch of tone and subsequent references to the hiring pro-
cesses in other posts are indications that the ad was indeed genuine, though there is lit-
tle possibility of removing all doubt.
Victimhood and Perpetratorhood
Above, I examined how the availability of discursive space was con-
tested when it came to discussing the topic of race in the group. A fur-
ther point of struggle that emerged from the interactions in the group
concerned the assignment of particular subject positions to those
members engaging with race-related issues. Much of this tension
related specifically to two subject positions typical of discourses about
race, those of “victim” and “perpetrator.” As existing research on dis-
courses about race has documented, the identification of actors with
victimhood and perpetratorhood and the assignment of those subject
positions to others is a complex issue and the site of much struggle
(see e.g. Kolber, 2017; Nelson, et al., 2018; Rivers, 2017). The con-
tested nature of these categories was mirrored by the data collected in
this research, as illustrated by the following exchange:
4.0 A: A common practice for hiring teachers in Thailand: job applications with the
questions: “What color are you?” Followed by a question that asks your college GPA.
<thinking face emoji >Is “color” considered the equivalent of asking one’s race? How
are those questions directly correlated to a teacher’s performance and qualifications?
<thinking face emoji>
4.1 B: There are plenty of people of color in high paying positions here. I know of several
who run International schools and departments. Playing the victim instead of the victor
will get you nowhere. If you’re good enough, you’ll get hired irrespective of your color.
4.2 A: I never play the victim just sharing my experiences is all.
4.3 C: @B She shared her experience here and you call it playing the victim? A wise man
would just either remain silent about it or put forth logical encouraging words. I hope
you or your dear ones don’t get cut up in this same web as the world faces a radical
4.4 B: @C No where did I state that she was playing the victim. Just a general observation
for all. And that statement is about encouraging people
4.5 D: @B Well said. But playing the victor requires effort. Being a victim is easy. Less
rewarding spiritually, though.
4.6 A: A victim leaves defeated. No victim over here. I’ve been living here in Thailand,
learning Thai and taking every experience in with an open mind sweetheart. A victim
would just take the easy route and go somewhere else. Don’t confuse me sharing
experiences with a loser mentality.
Here, it can be observed how, after a teacher shared her experience
of what she perceived as racial discrimination by TESOL employers in
Thailand (4.0), the “victim” subject position became the subject of
struggle. The exchange begins with a commentator (B) explicitly
accusing the original poster (A) with “playing the victim” (4.1),
ostensibly as a result of personal underachievement, mirroring the
aforementioned tendency to position challenges to the status quo as
self-serving. This is followed by turns in which A and another member
(C) challenge the assignment of victimhood (4.2 and 3), leading to a
partial retreat by B (4.4). After further discussion (shortened here for
economy), including a post by D in which the assignment of victim-
hood to the original poster is reinforced (4.5), A concludes the
exchange with an explicit rejection of the “victim” subject position
(4.6). Notable here is the apparent attribution of negative characteris-
tics to victimhood, which is seen as contrary to being a “victor” (4.1),
as “easy” and morally questionable (4.5) and as equal to defeatism
(4.6). A’s rejection of the “victim” subject position is particularly of
interest due to the force with which it was uttered. While existing
research on experiences of people of color with perceived discrimina-
tion has highlighted examples of rejection of victimhood, this is often
uttered in less explicit terms, as part of a general dissociation from
race as a salient category (see e.g. Perkins et al., 2019). Here, A overtly
rejects victimhood and instead expresses pride in her ability to over-
come adversity, constructing a more agentive subject position that that
of, in her words, “a loser mentality”.
A further feature of the above exchange is B’s apparent reference
to the existence of an essentially meritocratic and ostensibly color-
blind employment market in which opportunities for persons of color
are available. Another example of this denial of racism can be seen in
the following exchange, which took place in the comments section
below an advertisement for a job for which applications from Africans,
except South Africans, had been discouraged:
5.1 A: This is being racist how can u say no African but u accept South Africans? U mean
to say South Africa is in Europe or America. U dump ass foolish racist
5.2 B: @A what the school meant was white South African but don’t worry you’re not
alone. They also discriminate against Asians, we don’t look good standing at the gate
for the parents to see. Hahaha
5.3 A: @B it seems so funny that in the 21st century people still promote racist. So sad
5.4 C: @A why are you in Thailand if you have so much hate in your heart. There are
many jobs available for Africans. Rather just keep it to yourself instead of blatantly
calling people out. It isn’t a good impression for us South Africans. Be humble instead
of acting like a child.
5.5 D: @C did I just read a comment of a white guy telling a black guy to not think racism
is such a big deal? And then called him a child?
Is that really what I just read?
5.6 C: @D unfortunately I don’t have time to argue with a simplistic mind such as yourself.
Ive seen numerous people such as <A>try to gain attention by playing stunts such as
these. Please calm yourself and gain some knowledge on what South Africans go
through on a daily basis and then come and tell me how you feel about the matter.
The interaction in these comments closely resembles those pre-
sented above, with some actors attempting to expose the racist nature
of the advertisement (A in 5.1 and 5.3 and B in 5.2, supported by D in
5.5) and another appearing to deny the relevance of race or the exis-
tence of racism (C in 5.4 and 5.6). In C’s utterances, recontextualiza-
tion of right-wing rhetoric may be found, in this case making specific
reference to the commentator’s home country of South Africa. While
one comment provides a further example of how references to color-
blindness and meritocracy may serve to delegitimize voices challenging
the status quo as self-serving (5.4), a second offers a tacit reference to
victimization of whites may be found (“what South Africans go
through on a daily basis”, 5.6). Such claims to white victimhood have
become increasingly common in contemporary discourse about race
(Bloch et al., in press; Kolber, 2017), being a particularly salient fea-
ture of right-wing political rhetoric seeking to exploit disquiet among
white working-class voters (e.g. Wodak, 2015). While the reference
above is specific to the purported disadvantages faced by whites in
post-apartheid South Africa, other instances of such recontextualiza-
tion drew particularly on the discourse surrounding race in the US. In
another exchange, a group member had claimed that racial discrimi-
nation affected whites and, when asked to identify a context where it
could be observed, responded “yes, it is called “Affirmative Action” in
the USA”. Elsewhere, terms like “SJW” (referring to “social justice war-
rior”), “snowflake” and “playing the race card” were drawn upon to
dismiss challenges to the status quo. Aside from victimhood and its
contested nature, it is worth pointing out the transnational nature of
such references, reflecting the complex nature of the collective habi-
tus of this group of migrant individuals.
In addition to such debates about the assignment of victimhood,
exchanges in which perpetratorhood, i.e. responsibility for the status
quo, was discussed could also be found. Here, in contrast to victim-
hood, there appeared to be more agreement on who responsibility was
to be assigned to:
6.0 A: *Warning long post*Me and my team ( consisting of Thai and Phillipino staff )
have met many school administrators, parents and school directors. We established that
many ordinary Thai citizens are completely unaware that NES means they can be from
different races and also, not necessarily, are white or be fair skinned. [ ...] On another
note, some school director (s) yes, thats plural folks, make quite a few quid here and
there from showing off their white skinned teachers as a marketing tool. [...]
6.1 B: people like you make me sad and ashamed, don’t come to other peoples country
and change them or their ways of thinking to suit your thinking. go back to your
country and change things. Just teach their children that’s what your getting paid to
do, and mind your own business. [ ...]
This final example presents a post in which a group member
reflects on her efforts to battle racial inequality (6.0) and a comment
under this post (6.1). The example, similarly to 4.0 above, presents an
instance of projecting voice through narrative in order to demystify
hegemonic ideology as A discusses the experience of attempting to
challenge specific ideological constructs at the grass-roots. In response
to this threat to the dominant order, B attempts to enforce hegemonic
beliefs by delegitimizing her efforts at resistance. However, what is
remarkable about this exchange is their apparent agreement regarding
the perpetratorhood of local actors, Thais. In 6.0, this is done by
essentially positioning Thais as ignorant in issues of race, the allega-
tion also being made that some local actors in positions of power
abuse this purported ignorance to obtain financial benefit. In 6.1, the
same premise of ignorance is represented effectively as a feature of
local culture (cf. Persaud, 2005). Such deep agreement, also observed
elsewhere in other interactions, indicates that, as fractured as the dis-
course in the group could become, some common ideological ground
did exist, pointing to the presence of a shared sense of common
belonging among group members. In this case, bonds between group
members, as non-local actors, are forged through the assignment of
perpetratorhood (blame) to an Other, i.e. local actors.
In this article, I presented an examination of dialogicality in dis-
courses about race in TESOL recruitment. The findings of my study of
a Facebook group for non-local teachers of English in Thailand found
evidence of continuous struggle in the discourse of this group, with
attempts at subversion and demystification of hegemonic ideology con-
sistently challenged by actions geared toward the enforcement and
legitimation of the status quo, and vice-versa. In particular, the article
presented the struggle that occurred around two issues that play a key
role in the discourse around discrimination, the availability of space to
discuss injustice, and the assignment of victimhood/perpetratorhood.
As outlined, there was much debate around both issues, with actors
making use of various discursive strategies both to legitimize and
enforce the status quo and to subvert or challenge it.
The analysis above has shed particular light on the crucial role that
agency plays in both enforcing and challenging hegemonic ideology
in racialized discourse. Critical discourse analysis has often tended
toward foregrounding the structural dimension of ideology, its role as
a force which is perpetuated by particular semiotic practices that indi-
viduals subconsciously absorb and largely fall in line with as they par-
ticipate in public discourse (for a review, see Wodak & Meyer, 2015).
Yet, as illustrated by the interactions above, hegemony is not simply a
fixed state of affairs but rather a dynamic discursive status quo that is
continuously reconstituted through struggle. In Gramsci’s (1971)
understanding of hegemony, such reconstitution was seen to be the
purview of establishment intellectuals, whose voices were key in sup-
pressing dissent and maintaining by cultural means the dominance of
the elite. In each of the above extracts, actions geared toward sup-
pressing dissent and upholding the status quo can also be observed,
including denying relevance of race (extract 1), troll-like behavior (ex-
tract 3), and self-victimization (extract 5).
What must also be highlighted, however, is that these actions of
enforcement occurred as part of dialogic interactions, typically in
response to expressions of dissent. This is a crucial outcome of the
analysis, since it can be argued that the very presence of actions seek-
ing to overtly suppress dissent and secure hegemony through discur-
sive force is an indication of inherent weakness. It suggests that the
ideological constructs underlying the status quo were no longer
unquestioned in this Facebook group and that the political-economic
order they legitimize (i.e. higher economic valuation of white teach-
ers) was perceived to be under sufficient threat that it had to be
explicitly defended. Key to creating this threat was the engagement of
group members in voicing opposition, for instance by demystifying ide-
ological constructs (extracts 1, 2, and 5) or by sharing personal narra-
tives (extracts 4 and 6). By doing so, resistant actors took up positions
not unlike those of Gramscian organic intellectuals, individuals who
challenge hegemony by reflecting on its injustices and articulating a
counter-narrative from the perspective of the subjugated.
These findings underline that there is a pressing need to continue
pursuing the progressive, counter-discriminatory research agenda that
has emerged in TESOL, but that attention should also be paid to the
fact that discrimination is a complex phenomenon around which
dynamic and dialogical discourses develop. The motivation for doing
so stems principally from the nature of contemporary TESOL and the
practical implications this has for transformative research and its orien-
tation toward facilitating social justice. With the global spread of Eng-
lish, TESOL has evolved into a diverse mega-field, one in which the
common set of core, identity-building practices (i.e. those related to
teaching English) is often juxtaposed with great contrasts, particularly
when comparing the relatively affluent, often egalitarian and color-
blind settings in which “academic TESOL” takes place to the everyday
practices of English teaching and learning in developing contexts,
which are often fraught with inequality and discrimination (Tupas,
2015). The inherent challenge of conducting transformative research
in such a field is to avoid a situation where a center, represented by a
compendium of wealthy corporate and academic institutions, dictates
to the periphery the terms on which justice should be implemented,
thus undercutting the very commitment to inclusivity that is supposed
to lie at the center of the critical endeavor in research (Habermas,
2012). To avoid perpetuating such a center-periphery divide, it is para-
mount for critical research in TESOL to, as I have aimed to do here,
focus not merely on the injustices that exist in such settings but also
to find ways to take into account how local actors engage in the strug-
gle against injustice.
An early version of this work was presented to members of the Student Organiza-
tion of Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy at Michigan State University. I
am grateful for the feedback given by the audience on that occasion and the many
suggestions made by all three reviewers of this manuscript. Any errors or inaccura-
cies are my own sole responsibility.
Kristof Savski is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Prince of Songkla University in
Hat Yai, Thailand. His research contributes to sociolinguistics, applied linguistics,
language policy, and critical discourse analysis and has been published in journals
such as Language Policy,Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development and
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... Such beliefs are shared within communities, where ideologies mediate relations of power, being often mobilized to legitimate a particular social status quo and establish hegemony. However, as exemplified below, ideologies can also mediate resistance to hegemony in cases where the emergence of a common set of beliefs in a community allows for a challenge to the status quo to be formulated (Savski, 2021). ...
... Similarly to how static understandings of culture have the effect of backgrounding the fact that culture consists of human action (Scollon et al., 2012), static models of ideology carry the danger of understating the agency that all ideologies mediate, whether such agency is directed at maintaining or enforcing the status quo, or to challenging and subverting it. In Savski (2021), I examined how the members of a Facebook group for migrant ELT practitioners in Thailand related to hegemonic ideologies of race and native-speakerism. This research highlighted how such ideologies were actively enforced (e.g. through silencing of critique) and resisted (e.g. through demystification) by group members, rather than simply being passively reproduced. ...
... Such beliefs are shared within communities, where ideologies mediate relations of power, being often mobilized to legitimate a particular social status quo and establish hegemony. However, as exemplified below, ideologies can also mediate resistance to hegemony in cases where the emergence of a common set of beliefs in a community allows for a challenge to the status quo to be formulated (Savski, 2021). ...
... Similarly to how static understandings of culture have the effect of backgrounding the fact that culture consists of human action (Scollon et al., 2012), static models of ideology carry the danger of understating the agency that all ideologies mediate, whether such agency is directed at maintaining or enforcing the status quo, or to challenging and subverting it. In Savski (2021), I examined how the members of a Facebook group for migrant ELT practitioners in Thailand related to hegemonic ideologies of race and native-speakerism. This research highlighted how such ideologies were actively enforced (e.g. through silencing of critique) and resisted (e.g. through demystification) by group members, rather than simply being passively reproduced. ...
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Neoliberal regimes of language have now become a particularly widespread feature of English language teaching (ELT) across the globe, largely because local actors in the Global South have appropriated key elements of neoliberalism. However, as ideologies like neoliberalism are transferred to new contexts and combined with existing ideological regimes, they undergo conceptual transformation. This chapter examines the conceptual nexuses that emerged between neoliberalism and other ideologies in three books from a Thai ELT textbook series (Expanding Readings Skills, published by Chulalongkorn University Press). Drawing on the discourse-historical approach to critical discourse analysis, the chapter examines the use of discourse strategies in order to study how elements of neoliberal ideology have been localized through emergent synergies with other ideologies. The findings indicate that only certain elements of neoliberalism were present in this textbook, namely those associated with consumer culture. These are linked with ideological elements specific to the Thai educational context, for instance those linked to Thai nationalism and conservative morals. The results also highlight that, while it generally avoided controversy, Expanding Reading Skills did provide some windows for the formulation of more critical classroom discourse, providing greater cultural authenticity than is often the case with ELT textbooks.
... (p. 472) Since that seminal special issue, several "scholar-practitioners" (Kubota & Lin, 2006, p. 472) have responded by continuing to contribute to the growing body of scholarship on race and race-related issues in TESOL (see Savski, 2021) as well as in the overlapping field of Applied Linguistics (see Motha, 2020). ...
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Drawing upon elements of collaborative autoethnographic inquiry and shared narrative inquiry, this trioethnographic inquiry reports on how three transnational-translingual pracademics from the Global South with diverse personal-professional trajectories in the Global North critically examined their experiences being transracialized across transnational contexts. Although we, the co-authors, represent raciolinguistic majorities in their countries of birth (i.e., South Asia), we, ironically, have also experienced transracialization within minoritized communities of fellow immigrants in the US. Furthermore, building on Alim’s (2016) proposition that transracial subjects’ “raciolinguistic practices have the potential to transform the oppressive logic of race itself” (p. 34), this collaborative inquiry proposes that actively agentive transnational transracialized participants question and challenge the systems of essentialized racial categorization across geographical, national, and linguistic contexts, especially when their fluid racial identities become salient and/or they are racialized in transnational contexts. The overarching goal of this trioethnographic inquiry was to engage in a critical dialogue and examine overlapping racializing experiences as well as to constructively challenge the raciolinguistic marginalization of minoritized ‘transnationaltranslingual pracademics’ from the Global South in the Global North. Our collaborative inquiry underlines how this can be achieved through critical dialogue, professional practices, critical pedagogies, and advocacy work within and outside the classroom, ultimately leading to a more socially-just, decolonized, and anti-racist applied linguistics.
... (p. 472) Since that seminal special issue, several "scholar-practitioners" (Kubota & Lin, 2006, p. 472) have responded by continuing to contribute to the growing body of scholarship on race and 6 race-related issues in both TESOL (see Savski, 2021) as well as the overlapping field of Applied Linguistics (see Motha, 2020). ...
Drawing upon elements of collaborative autoethnographic inquiry (Yazan et al., 2023; Chang et al., 2016) and shared narrative inquiry (Barkhuizen, 2011; Peercy et al., 2019), this trioethnographic inquiry (Gagné et al., 2018) reports on how three transnational-translingual pracademics (Jain et al., 2021, 2022) from the Global South, with diverse personal-professional trajectories in the Global North, critically examined their experiences being transracialized (Alim, 2016; Thu & Motha, 2021) across transnational contexts. Although we, the co-authors, represent raciolinguistic majorities in their countries of birth (i.e., South Asia), we, ironically, have also experienced transracialization within minoritized communities of fellow immigrants in the US. Furthermore, building on Alim’s (2016) proposition that ‘transracial subjects’ “raciolinguistic practices have the potential to transform the oppressive logic of race itself” (p. 34), this collaborative inquiry proposes that actively agentive ‘transnational transracialized participants’ question and challenge the systems of essentialized racial categorization across geographical, national, and linguistic contexts, especially when their fluid racial identities become salient and/or they are racialized in transnational contexts. The overarching goal of this trioethnographic inquiry was to engage in a critical dialogue and examine overlapping racializing experiences as well as to constructively challenge the raciolinguistic marginalization of minoritized ‘transnational-translingual pracademics’ from the Global South in the Global North. Our collaborative inquiry underlines how this can be achieved through critical dialogue, professional practices, critical pedagogies, and advocacy work within and outside the classrooms -- for a more socially-just, decolonized, and anti-racist Applied Linguistics.
... For example, two decades ago, Kubota (2002) pinpointed that institutionalized racism manifests itself in everyday practices through teaching materials, pedagogical practices, and school curricula. Very recent scholarship similarly notes racialized discursive practice in TESOL recruitment (Savski, 2021) and TESOL lecturers' identity negotiation and struggle in the context of racial discrimination (Louber, 2021). As one kind of racism, linguistic racism has permeated every corner of our society and shaped social relations, interpersonal discourses, and institutional structures. ...
This article seeks to understand a Chinese international student's (Hong's) encounters with linguistic racism as symbolic violence as well as why and how he resisted different forms of linguistic racism in different situations. Data findings suggest that linguistic racism as symbolic violence takes different forms through both verbal and nonverbal language under the scrutiny of the white gaze, which produces arbitrary power, control, and domination. This triad of linguistic racism, symbolic violence, and the white gaze formed an intersection, which was practiced through visible and hearable linguistic modalities immediately to subordinate and oppress Hong as a victim. The researchers argue that the triad of linguistic racism, symbolic violence, and the white gaze works hand in glove with each other to construct an intersection, which reproduces and reinforces structures of domination and hierarchy. The researchers, therefore, suggest that more research is needed to deconstruct the complexity and subtlety of the intersection of linguistic racism, symbolic violence, and the white gaze. Educational implications for recognizing and combating linguistic racism are also addressed.
... Moving beyond mentor roles, mentoring itself needs to be set within broader global developments. This is because mentoring in English language education is currently being enacted within a rapidly changing social world in which critical consciousness-raising of all forms of discrimination is accelerating (Curtis & Romney, 2010;Savski, 2021). We should never forget that mentees, particularly those sometimes positioned as '"other" by virtue of the intersection of gender, race, class, ethnicity, ability, or sexual orientation, may experience difficulties initiating and participating in informal mentoring relationships' (Hansman, 2002: 39). ...
This book focuses on mentoring in English language education internationally, as it applies to students, language teachers, practitioner researchers and research mentors themselves. It aims to provide an in-depth understanding of current mentoring practices in diverse contexts worldwide, drawing on case studies from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and the USA; China, India, Japan, Nepal, and Vietnam; Australia; parts of Africa; Oman and the UAE; North Macedonia, Turkey and the UK. Areas of focus include peer mentoring, mentor courses, cross-cultural issues, and modalities such as face-to-face or online mentoring, and the chapters also highlight the value of different methodological tools for exploring mentoring situations, including cultural-historical activity theory and conversation analysis. The book’s conclusion highlights the potential of mentoring to widen access to learning and therefore address issues that relate to social injustice and inequality, particularly in, but not limited to, under-resourced contexts. This volume will be of particular interest to teacher educators, pre-service and in-service language teachers, and students and scholars of applied linguistics and English language teaching.
The phenomenon of Unequal Englishes pervades Chinese contexts; however, more can be done to find out how it is embedded in Chinese college English textbooks. A study of Chinese college English listening and speaking textbooks shows that there are only few surface manifestations of Unequal Englishes in these textbooks which might be explained by the Chinese government’s deliberate ideological control of English learning, thus confirming profound political influences on the production of English textbooks in China to a certain degree. This study, however, conducts a Critical Discourse Analysis which surfaces manifestations of Unequal Englishes in a specific lesson of a Chinese college English listening and speaking textbook published by a prestigious press in China. Keywords: Unequal Englishes, Chinese college English textbooks, Critical Discourse Analysis
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Despite efforts to acknowledge the legitimacy of nonnative English speakers (NNES) in English language education, the unequal treatment of them and the superiority attributed to mainstream-English-speaking teachers from inner circle countries persist. Conceptualized as a dynamic process rather than as a predetermined product, race has been given more visibility in TESOL scholarship to promote anti-racist educational practices. From a raciolinguistic perspective, this study delineates the racialized experiences of an Asian, non-mainstream-English-speaking teacher, and elucidates the shifts in her conceptualization of race, as well as the (re)construction of her identities and ideologies as a teacher. It illuminates how language, race, and other interrelated categories are discursively (un)marked in the racializing process. The chapter concludes with suggestions to promote anti-racist research and to enact socially just practices.
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The multi/translingual turn in sociolinguistics has highlighted a number of ideological entanglements of foundational concepts, most significantly the way that the notion of ‘named languages’ as bordered entities is intertwined with ideologies of nation and race. In this article, I consider what the conceptual place for linguistic borders is within a ‘trans’ framework of language and propose a focus on bordering, social actions in which indexical meanings at different scales are mobilized to exert control over discursive space by erecting boundaries within or around it. I draw on data from a Facebook group for non-local teachers of English in Thailand, examining how bordering served interests of hegemonic power when linguistic borders were policed with reference to ideologies of nation, as well as how it enabled counter-hegemonic resistance when borders were erected to separate teachers of colour from the intense discursive struggle in the group.
In this chapter, we look at mentoring through history and its shifting definitions, and then discuss the rise of mentoring in English language education. We then turn to key issues in mentoring practices, considering mentee-mentor roles, peer mentoring, judgementoring, facilitative mentoring, and dialogic mentoring processes. We then discuss the range of educational contexts in which mentoring is taking place, with language learners, teachers in pre- and in-service education, teacher-researchers, and research mentors, through face-to-face and online channels. We consider how mentoring supports professional learning activities involving reflective practice, exploratory practice and collaborative action research, and processes centred on achieving fuller identity growth, enhanced self-efficacy beliefs, greater autonomy, and emancipation. We then introduce the contents of this volume that address these various dimensions of mentoring.
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Analysing online threads, we show how nativist extremist forum participants use the term “race card” within their anti-illegal immigration rhetoric in three ways. First, they employ abstract liberalism to argue that immigrants use the race card to gain undeserved access to resources. Secondly, participants disassociate the issue of immigration as a racial issue. Both tactics are cloaked within a colour-blind framework. Third, they use a White injury narrative casting themselves as victims and immigrants as villains/perpetrators, paradoxically highlighting race while arguing for colourblindness. We conclude with a discussion on how “new racism” and “new nativism” among our participants represent a transition in the rise of ethnonationalist populism among Western democracies.
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Existing research has highlighted the complexity of the discourse surrounding ‘(non-)native speaker’, particularly with regard to how teachers are perceived by learners. This complexity has been compounded by globalisation, which has increased transnational mobility of teachers. Thailand has been particularly affected by this, as its population of local teachers has been complemented by a growing yet highly diverse contingent of migrant teachers. In this paper, we present the results of a study conducted at three secondary schools in Southern Thailand, which used a combination of interviews and focus groups to examine how various local participants in English teaching and learning (teachers, students, parents, administrators) perceived migrant (i.e. non-Thai) English teachers, focussing particularly on how these perceptions used ‘(non-)nativeness’ as a point of reference. Our analysis focusses on two overarching themes, ‘race’ and ‘inequality’, which also invoke links with broader discourses: Firstly, we show that the perceptions of migrant teachers were heavily racialized, with ‘nativeness’ equated with whiteness and Westernness and ‘non-nativeness’ associated with Asianness. Secondly, we find that the participants’ perceptions involved significant reference to inequality, as access to ‘nativeness’ represented a symbolic resource accessible only to learners with sufficient economic capital.
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Contemporary public discourses are, despite the growing array of technologies and spaces for participation, becoming increasingly characterized by polarization – the formation of two distinct and relatively homogeneous ‘sides’. However, while such polarization may be commonplace, it is not an inherent property of discourse but rather a result of strategic polarizing actions taken by specific actors in order to establish control over the debate. In order to describe the process of polarization in a public discourse about language policy in Slovenia, this paper presents a theoretical framework based on Bakhtin’s concepts of heteroglossia (diversity of voices), polyphony (diversity of ideology) and dialogicality (relatedness of voices and ideologies) and on the central concepts of critical discourse studies (CDS). The case study is based on a qualitative analysis of a sample of 48 newspaper articles reporting on the language policy debate, collected from two major Slovene newspapers during 2016. Additionally, the case study also relies on field notes and transcripts obtained from a public hearing held in the Slovene parliament. The analysis of these two data sources uncovers a debate which was heavily polarized due to both ideological difference as well as continuous reinforcement of the Manichean dichotomy. In particular, the paper shows that this polarization was strengthened by explicit practices of identity construction and suppression of dissent which allowed the construction of a homogeneous Self and Other in discourse.
Recent scholarship in sociolinguistics and language education has examined how race and language intersect each other and how racism influences linguistic and educational practices. While racism is often conceptualized in terms of individual and institutional injustices, a critical examination of another form of racism—epistemological racism—problematizes how racial inequalities influence our knowledge production and consumption in academe. Highlighting the importance of the intersectional nature of identity categories, this conceptual article aims to draw scholars’ attention on how epistemological racism marginalizes and erases the knowledge produced by scholars in the Global South, women scholars of color, and other minoritized groups. In today’s neoliberal culture of competition, scholars of color are compelled to become complicit with white Euro-American hegemonic knowledge, further perpetuating the hegemony of white knowledge while marginalizing women scholars of color. Valorizing non-European knowledge and collectivity as an alternative framework also risks essentialism and male hegemony. Conversely, the ethics promoted by black feminism emphasizes a personal ethical commitment to antiracism. Epistemological antiracism invites scholars to validate alternative theories, rethink our citation practices, and develop critical reflexivity and accountability.
Research over the past decades has demonstrated the harmful effects of native speakerism in English language teaching, including how perceptions of native speaker status are deeply intertwined with race and national identity. Recently, scholars have begun to investigate how teacher training programs might push back on native speakerism by providing classroom opportunities for students to challenge their assumptions about native speakers. This article discusses the disruptive potential of an online intercultural learning activity in which MA TESL students in Sri Lanka communicated through digital platforms with undergraduates in New York City. Drawing on data from interviews and students’ online writing, this study suggests that, as students shared videos and “linguistic landscape” images and discussed language differences, the MA TESL students confronted linguistic and racial diversity in the United States, recognizing the presence of dialects like African American Vernacular English and drawing on shared English as a second language status to gain confidence in communicating internationally. Ultimately, both groups of students began to question their beliefs about the superiority of inner circle speakers. The article concludes by discussing the benefits of the increased awareness of linguistic variation, considering how this might encourage teachers to move beyond native speaker standards in the classroom, and offering practical suggestions for implementing similar projects.
Neoliberal policies in education have created a focus on profits and competition, systemically casualized teachers as workers, and commodified language and race in ways that impact teachers and how they navigate the morality of their work under these conditions. This article investigates teachers as they construct moral selves in the neoliberal context of private English language institutes in South Korea. Drawing on data from a two-year longitudinal study, it offers new insights on teacher morality construction using positioning analysis of narratives. Narrative analysis allows for situated, interactive, layered examinations of how teachers create moral selves. In their stories, explanations, justifications, and other linguistic devices mark positions in which teachers disagree with, yet align to neoliberal policies. These tensions illustrate how neoliberalism comes to be viewed as immutable, and how teachers adopt an individualized sense of justice in response, while also facing pressure to maintain privileges they gain through the system.
Private English language schools market the language as a tool that helps one connect with others from different cultures. Despite their promotion of English aiding in intercultural communication, these institutions may believe that only the white native speaker is the ideal teacher of the language. This valuing of the white native speaker can consequently act as an organisational inequality regime that marginalises nonwhite teachers. Using qualitative interviews with 10 nonwhite instructors working in schools in Toronto, Canada, this article investigates the ways in which these teachers experience the inequality regime of the white native speaker at work. The findings indicate that the teachers experience this inequality regime as a series of microaggressions that involve space, competence and customer desire. The article concludes with suggestions to dismantle inequality regimes in private institutions. © 2019
This article investigates the experiences in knowledge development and sharing of a group of migrant teachers from different Asian countries who are teaching in secondary schools in Hong Kong. Seeing dispositions as the key to professionalization and professional contributions, it explores the possibilities and challenges in harnessing the professional value of their transnational disposition. Semistructured interviews were conducted to investigate the participants' position in the workplace, negotiations of the local curriculum and classroom practice, and professional interactions with colleagues and parents. The findings show that these teachers actively respond to invisibility and marginalization by drawing from their transcultural disposition to creatively but cautiously transform pedagogical practices and discourses. It is found that the presence of migrant professionals in local context provides opportunities for critical reflexivity and transnational awareness among local professionals. It is implied that the changes in thinking and awareness may lead to broad-based ideological and structural changes, which in turn promotes productive knowledge exchange.
Race talk within discourse analytic traditions have largely focused on the discursive construction of racism in majority groups. This article extends this work by examining how Black adults discursively engaged in race talk. Across focus groups, two conversations emerged: explanations of racialized experiences and how racialized experiences should be dealt with. In explanations of racialized experiences, participants highlighted their own negative behaviours or constructed experiences as imprecise or an artefact of ignorance. These discourses functioned to circumvent inequitable relations premised on White normativity. In explanations of how racialized experiences should be dealt with, participants constructed themselves as having responsibilities, downplayed their racialized experiences or framed them as inevitable. Each of these discourses functioned to construct racialization as something that could be corrected through good behaviour or they placed ideological limits for what is possible for Blacks in society. Implications for the existing literature on race talk are discussed.