Shall the twain ever meet?
: exploring Bangladeshi university teachers’ beliefs and perception of collaborative research in ELT policy and practice

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate in Education


The globalization of English has led many South-Asian countries, including Bangladesh, where English is of postcolonial-currency and has the official status of a second/foreign language, to adopt major policy reforms to improve its English Language Teaching (ELT) provisions and practices. Recent studies however, contest that nearly two decades of major curricular-reforms namely, the introduction of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), has not produced the desired ‘improvement’ in learner proficiency. One key reason for this has been attributed to ‘teacher resistance’ – teachers’ perceived unwillingness to change and incorporate CLT principles in their teaching. The situation is further complicated for non-native English speaking teachers (NNESTs) in these contexts who are constantly struggling to claim ownership of a language and their legitimate place in a profession that is deeply entrenched in the ideals of native speaker authority.

The aim of my study is twofold. Firstly, I explore the nature of this so-called ‘teacher resistance’ by exploring the beliefs of NNESTs in their teaching-learning contexts. Secondly, I examine the key role teacher research could play in creating the growing demand for sustained localized and decentered knowledge-bases in the field by enabling practitioners to devise location-specific solutions to their pedagogical issues. To this end, teacher-participants were asked to reflect on their experiences as English language teachers and learners to explore their complex belief-systems. In investigating how these practitioners navigate, manipulate and/or resist/reconcile policy changes within their existing practices, the study probes into why, despite its purported efficacy, teacher research remains a minority activity in the ELT field, especially in postcolonial contexts. Therefore, alongside looking at the huge potential it holds for empowering NNESTs, the study also problematizes teacher research by probing into the challenges these practitioners face and the feasibility of conducting research in the situated contexts of their practices.

In light of the growing recognition in the current postmethod era that there is no single best method for teaching-learning a language, the focus is gradually shifting to the central role that long neglected teachers can play, not merely as policy enactors but as theorizers and researchers. However, despite considerable consensus in the field on the efficacy of teacher-research, what practitioners from postcolonial communities actually say, think or believe about this rather radical role reversal, has remained considerably underreported. The study hopes to address this research gap by investigating the feasibility of practitioner research in the context of Bangladesh. It examines whether collaborative research can actually promote a better understanding of teachers’ own beliefs and policy level changes, thereby empowering them to make informed choices and devise context-sensitive pedagogies in their unique teaching-learning contexts.
Date of Award1 Sept 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorMartin Dewey (Supervisor) & Constant Leung (Supervisor)

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