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The perspectives of female Emirati pre-service teachers on the use of English as a medium of instruction: An ethnographic investigation

VAN-DEN-HOVEN, MELANIE,MATHILDE,ELIZABET (2017) The perspectives of female Emirati pre-service teachers on the use of English as a medium of instruction: An ethnographic investigation. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This qualitative study examines an era in the history of English education in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by investigating the perspectives of English offered by 16 female Emirati pre-service teachers. As important stakeholders of education reform, these Emirati women are on the cusp of a linguistic transformation: They are learning in English while preparing to use English as a medium of instruction in classrooms of their own. Within an Arabian context characterised by dynamic change, conceptions of English and how it should be used in relation to Arabic have, undoubtedly, shifted in status and focus. This study explores the complex and diverse ways English is conceptualised and used by Emirati pre-service teachers during a particular phase of educational reforms shaped by expectations of bi-literacy in English and Arabic.This study has two main research questions. They are: 1) What are Emirati pre-service teachers’ conceptions of English in light of its use as a medium of instruction? 2) What are the social influences mediating their conceptions of English? This study, conceptualized as an unfolding, exploratory study, draws on ethnographic methods across three phases of data collection: focus group discussions, participant observations and ethnographic interviews. It also relies on theoretical assumptions about the role of language in the construction of knowledge across diffferent phases of learning, as set by Berger and Luckman (1971).

The findings shared in this study shed light on the meanings Emirati pre-service teachers have of English in light of its use as a medium of instruction and the social influences mediating their conceptions. The study offers two main contributions to the field. The first includes a report on the range of ways that English and Arabic are used, modified and incorporated into the participants’ linguistic repertoires, showing that the use of EMI reflects several discrete types of conversational practices. The second contribition highlights awareness of a rich linguistic backdrop. In Abu Dhabi, English and Arabic constitute foregrounded roles in a diverse and multilingual capital city where other languages are experienced and ranked in social importance. The findings conclude that English is regarded as more than a resource serving pragmatic purposes and creative impulses, English is also seen as a feature of Abu Dhabi as a social space. The themes shared in this study are intended to promote clarity of the sociolinguistic dynamics of a particular sub-group of Emirati pre-service teachers and their understandings of the use of English as a medium of instruction in higher education and stimulate discussion about the ways in which English is integrated into daily life on this peninsula in the Arabian Gulf.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Arabian Gulf; United Arab Emirates; perspectives of English; English as a medium of instruction; ethnographic methods; focus group discussions; social construction of reality; translanguaging; linguistic repertoires; language mode; Emirati females
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 May 2017 11:50

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