#AusELT/English Australia Journal Article Discussion: The two cultures in Australian ELICOS

book-club

The article is available to read online here, or a pdf here (scroll to page 28).

The two cultures in Australian ELICOS: Industry managers respond to English language school teachers


Introduction

The paper is about what Phiona Stanley calls the ‘two cultures problem’, in which the ELICOS industry, she argues, is culturally divided between the ‘teachers’ and ‘higher ups’. The paper argues that this cultural ‘wall’ is talked into being, and that it divides the sector as follows:

“Teachers and some DOSes perceive that ‘the board’ and ‘the management’ and ‘the industry’ are all about profit and not students … [teachers cite] students’ keenness to learn as their motivation. This is very different from the talk of ‘profit’ that they perceive dominates the culture on the other side of the wall. Together, these distinct narratives construct an industry that is riven by a professional identity wall between ‘them’ and ‘us’. This is the two cultures problem”. (page 38)

A note on the methodology used in the study. Phiona interviewed 15 experienced management, marketing and sales people from colleges, both university and private. These 15 people held the following roles: school directors, managers, marketing managers, sales managers, business consultants, directors of studies, and a CELTA trainer.

You’ll see on page 32 that the following prompts were used in the interviews:

How do you feel about the following: Teachers’ salary step system and salaries more generally; casual teacher contracts and seasonality; agent discounting and the role of agents more generally; some teachers’ feeling that goodwill is being exploited; teacher attrition from ELICOS; teachers’ professional self-esteem and the image of the sector more generally.

Phiona analysed the interviews in three ways: analysing the content of what was said, assigning themes to the content, and also conducting a linguistic analysis of what was said. This was all aimed at uncovering how the group of ‘ELICOS higher ups’ that Phiona interviewed construct the identities of ELICOS teachers.

Perhaps we can start the discussion by considering our own responses to the prompts in the second box above, and how we each feel that the findings in the article align with our own feelings.

Head on over to https://www.facebook.com/groups/AusELT/ to join the discussion.

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