Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
The globalization of the English language has rendered both positive and negative impacts to countries around the world. With the ever-increasing pervasiveness of the English language, many non-native-English-speaking (NNES hereafter) people and countries have shown growing interests in teaching and learning English. Some governments of these NNES countries have decided to implement “English” as a mandatory school subject into their compulsory curriculum in order to “connect with the world” and/or to increase their nation’s international image. However, in these NNES countries, English often does not hold official capacity and is taught as a foreign language (EFL). Although English (language) education can bring positive changes to a nation, it is not free of problems. Essentially, English education influences many NNES countries and their citizens in sociocultural, economic, and educational arenas. Some scholars, such as Tsuda (2008), assert that the “problems” and impacts are inseparable from “English language hegemony.” My country of origin, Taiwan, is one of the EFL and NNES countries that implements English education in our nation’s compulsory education. In recent decades, communicative-based English educational approaches have received great support from the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. In an EFL setting, such as that in Taiwan, the said educational approaches have complicated English education even further. In particular, the communicative-based approaches focus on teaching and practicing English oral proficiency, which average Taiwanese citizens do not need in their daily lives. Many Taiwanese people experience identity struggles and self-esteem issues because of their less-than-desirable English oral proficiency. In addition to Taiwanese, native-English-speaking (NES) teachers who are recruited to teach English in Taiwan are an integral part of the Taiwanese English education. As a Taiwanese citizen and an intercultural communication scholar, I recognize the intricate complexity of Taiwanese English education and am compelled to examine it in this dissertation as it has not received much attention in the discipline of Communication Studies. In this dissertation, I employ Identity Management Theory (IMT) (Cupach & Imahori, 1993; Imahori & Cupach, 2005) as the primary theoretical framework to examine Taiwanese English education. Particularly, I utilize IMT to study the identity construction and management (such as identity freezing), facework strategies, and intercultural relationship development among NES teachers, Taiwanese English teachers, and Taiwanese students. To carry out this research, I employ critical complete-member ethnography (CCME) (Toyosaki, 2011) as the central research methodology, because I see myself as a complete-member researcher with my research participants. I share complete-memberships with them in nuanced, complex, and contextual manners. Methodologically, CCME entails ethnography of communication, autoethnography, and critical ethnography; all are informative of my data collection methods, including ethnographic participant observation, ethnographic interview, and autoethnographic journaling inside and outside of English classes at different Taiwanese universities. These three methods helped me gather rich data for this research. To analyze and discuss the data, I employed thematic analysis (Owen, 1984) and critical examinations of consensual and conflictual theorization (Fiske, 1991; Toyosaki, 2011). Both methods render complex findings. In particular, the analysis and discussion reveal and explain (a) how the research participants manage cultural identities through marking scope, salience, and intensity with different English educational participants, (b) how they apply facework strategies to cope with identity freezing experiences, and (c) how they establish and maintain intercultural relationships with other English educational participants as they transition across different relational phases of their relationships. I deliver the findings thematically in an analytical and narrative-like manner, as I layer and weave together the field notes, the interview responses, and my autoethnographic journaling. Ultimately, I argue that English hegemony has glocalized in Taiwanese English education and is manifested through research participants’ identity management politics and their intercultural relationships. Essentially, my research shows that identity management politics is inseparable from the power differentials and inequalities imbued in Taiwanese English education. Voluntarily and/or involuntarily, the research participants and I have normalized English hegemony, embodied its presence in our knowledge production and consumption, and given English/Western ideologies consent to dominate our communicative choices, our (sub)consciousness, and our intercultural relationships. Aside from perpetuating English hegemony, I have also observed resistance against the said hegemonic impacts inside and outside of the English classrooms. In a power-laden intercultural communication context, such as Taiwanese English education, critical analyses and examinations play essential roles in revealing the identity management politics and power differentials embedded in the (mythically) “innocent” English classrooms. I further recognize how this research serves as an example to other EFL and NNES countries. In due course, I conclude that my research makes contributions to the scholarships of intercultural communication and to English education in Taiwan and beyond.
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