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Archived Content from Conference Held in May 2003 

Creating Teacher Community:
Third International Conference on Language Teacher Education


Summary of Theme II Plenary Presentation:
"Language Teacher Education as Critical Practice"

Bonny Norton, University of British Columbia, May 30, 2003

While Freeman & Richards (1993) make the case that language teacher education is best informed by an understanding of teachers’ conceptualizations of teaching, their belief systems, and their decision-making processes, I wish to adopt a different point of departure in this presentation. Specifically, I wish to examine language teacher education from the perspective of a diverse set of language teacher educators, working with teacher learners in different parts of the world. Furthermore, extending the work of Reagan & Osborne (2002), I wish to better understand the sociocultural context in which these language teacher educators work, focussing on their attempts to engage critically with teacher education practices in their respective communities. I use the term "critical" here in the sense in which it is used by such educators as Allan Luke (in press), who argues that "to be critical is to call up for scrutiny, whether through embodied action or discourse practice, the rules of exchange within a social field." In this work, Luke reflects on the practices we take for granted in language education, challenging us to better understand whose interests are served, and whose are neglected, in any given educational enterprise.

In this presentation, I focus on innovative teacher educational practices in six contexts with which I have become particularly familiar (e.g. Norton & Toohey, in press). I will examine the work of (i) Angel Lin (in press), who has sought to introduce a critical pedagogical curriculum in an MA TESL program at the City University of Hong Kong; (ii) Alastair Pennycook (in press) who critiques a TESOL practicum in Sydney, Australia; (iii) Tara Goldstein (in press) who examines the transformative potential of what she calls "performed ethnography" in Toronto, Canada; (iv) Aneta Pavlenko (in press), who encourages bilingual language teacher learners in the USA to reclaim powerful identities; (v) Kelleen Toohey and Bonnie Waterstone, who reflect on the challenges of teacher/researcher collaboration in Vancouver, Canada; and (vi) Judy Sharkey and Karen Johnson (in press) who have sought to encourage vibrant dialogue between language teachers and language researchers. In my presentation, I will draw on insights from this diverse group of language educators, as well as my broader research (e.g. Norton, 2000), to consider the ways in which language teacher education could be conceived of as "critical practice".



Bonny Norton
Associate Professor, Department of Language and Literacy,
University of British Columbia

Bonny Norton is Associate Professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education of the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her research addresses the sociocultural context of language learning and teaching, focussing in particular on identity, language learning, and critical literacy. A winner of two international awards for research, she has published widely in such journals as the TESOL Quarterly, Harvard Educational Review, Applied Linguistics, and the Canadian Modern Language Review. She edited a special issue of TESOL Quarterly on "Identity and Language Learning" in 1997, and is co-editing (w. Yasuko Kanno) a special issue of the Journal of Language, Identity, and Education on "Imagined Communities and Educational Possibilities". Work in press includes a co-edited book (w. Kelleen Toohey) on "Critical Pedagogies and Language Learning" to be published by Cambridge University Press, and a co-edited book (w. Aneta Pavlenko) on "Gender and TESOL" to be published by TESOL International. Her book, "Identity and Language Learning: Gender, ethnicity, and educational change" was published by Longman/Pearson Education in 2000.


Freeman, D. & Richards, J. (1993). Teacher Learning in Language Teaching.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lin, A. (in press). Introducing a critical pedagogical curriculum: A feminist reflexive account. In Norton & Toohey.

Goldstein, T. (in press). Performed ethnography for critical language teacher education. In Norton & Toohey.

Luke, A. (in press). Two takes on the critical. In Norton & Toohey.

Norton, B. & Toohey, K. (in press). Critical Pedagogies and Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Norton, B. (2000). Identity and Language Learning: Gender, Ethnicity, and Educational Change. Harlow, UK: Longman/Pearson Education.

Pavlenko, A. (in press). "I never knew I was bilingual: Re-imagining teacher identities in TESOL. In Y. Kanno & B. Norton (Guest Eds), "Imagined communities and educational possibilities", Journal of Language, Identity, and Education.

Pennycook, A. (in press). Critical moment in a TESOL practicum. In Norton & Toohey.

Reagan, T. & Osborne, T. (2002). The Foreign Language Educator in Society: Toward a Critical Pedagogy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sharkey, J. & Johnson, K. (in press). The TESOL Quarterly Dialogues: Rethinking Issues of Language, Culture, and Power. Alexandria, VA: TESOL

Toohey, K. & Waterstone, B. (in press). Negotiating expertise in an action research community. In Norton & Toohey.


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