"Just say something and we can all argue then": community and identity in the workplace talk of English language teachers
Vaughan, Elaine Claire
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This thesis addresses the professional talk of English language teachers. In doing so, it differs from the vast majority of the previous research by focussing on naturally occurring professional interaction outside the language classroom. Teacher meetings were recorded in two different settings: 1) the English department of a public university in México and 2) a private language school in Ireland. In all, approximately 3.5 hours of data, c. 40,000 words, were transcribed and analysed. The principal research question focuses on how the existence of community and identity can be linguistically codified. To address this question, the Communities of Practice (CoP) framework is operationalised. The tripartite CoP criteria, joint enterprise, mutual engagement and shared repertoire are used to provide an over-arching narrative for the quantitative findings generated by using corpus-based tools and the qualitative insights provided by exploring these findings in depth using discourse analytic methods, particularly conversation analysis (CA). Pragmatic analyses provide a further, crucial scaffold in the interpretation of the data. Analyses explore everyday language that has taken on specialised meaning within the community and how the professional knowledge encoded within it is representative of a vast and intricate shared repertoire. This repertoire is constructed, ratified, reified and continually re-negotiated through regular, mutual engagement in the joint enterprises of the community. The nexus of personal and professional identities, evidenced in the complexity of reference within you, we and the particular reference encoded in they, instantiate the construction of professional and community identity. Issues of power and solidarity are explored through the prism of politeness theory and the phenomenon of hedging. Humour and laughter are shown to provide a frame within which to vent frustrations, resist institutional strictures and even criticise students without compromising the teachers’ professional code.
KeywordsLinguistic markers of community
English language teaching