Cultural Voices and Representations in EFL Materials Design, Pedagogy, and Research
Phaisit Boriboon B.A. (English), M.A. (TESOL)
A thesis submitted in fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
to Linguistics and English Language School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences University of Edinburgh
Copyright 2008 by Phaisit Boriboon All rights reserved.
To My Parents, ปอบุญมา แมคําปน บริบูรณ, in Heaven
This study presents a multi-faceted analysis of EFL learners’ voices in a Thai context, aimed at testing a hypothesis that the discourse of foreign, western-compiled textbooks project identities disconnected from EFL learners’ lived experiences, adversely affecting their meaning-making during discursive practices. I employ a multi-modal, multi-case study for data collection: 1) the use of two sets of materials in mini-course action research with two groups of learners — one group using published materials selected from New Headway Elementary Course (Soars & Soars, 2000) and the other using modified, parallel ‘Third Space’ materials; 2) audio- and video-recordings of classroom interactions and their transcriptions; 3) post-lesson and post-course questionnaires; 4) semi-structured interviews; and 5) video-based stimulated recall interviews. Drawing from Bakhtinian-Vygotskian sociocultural theories, I show through a microscopic analysis of learners’ interactions and utterances how dialogic relations between Other-discourse and Self-discourse shape learners’ meaning construction during their appropriation of mediating discourse for activities such as role-play. A macroscopic analysis of learners’ attitudinal voices based on the questionnaires and interviews is then provided for triangulation. The findings are 1) both groups have marked potential to infuse their contextual meanings into the Other-discourse of their materials for Self-representation; 2) ‘Third Space’ materials have more potential to enrich linguistic resources and opportunities for learners’ meaning-making and scaffolded learning than ‘Headway’ materials; 3) the majority of participants prefer the coexistence of voices and meanings between their culture and Other cultures as the mediating discourse for
speaking activities, rather than the conventional models. The study thus supports the use of a dialogic framework for inclusion of cultural voices and representations in EFL materials design, and also offers other implications for pedagogy and future research.
Declaration of originality
I hereby declare that I have composed this thesis myself, and that it contains no material previously submitted for the award of any other degree. All work presented in this thesis is my own, unless specifically stated otherwise.
First I would love to express my utmost gratefulness to the Royal Thai Government who granted me the scholarship covering travel costs, tuition fees, and living stipends throughout this academic journey in the UK, without which the completion of my study would not have been possible. As traditionally practised by Thai students, I am now considering myself a student of Mikhail M. Bakhtin, Lev S. Vygotsky, and their followers. I am grateful for their wisdom which I have explored through my reading of their works and appropriated for the present study. True to what Bakhtin has said about the construction of an authorial voice which grows out of a dialogic encounter, I would not have been able to complete this thesis, had I not engaged in intellectual conversations with certain people over the course of four years. My heartfelt gratitude goes to the main dialogic interactant, Professor John Joseph, my research supervisor, for having been the greatest source of encouragement, insightful and detailed feedback, as well as relentless, benevolent assistance in shaping my academic voice. Thanks also to Dr. Tony...
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