ELT, Gender and International Development: Myths of Progress in a Neocolonial World

Author: Roslyn Appleby

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For believers in the power of English, language as aid can deliver the promise of a brighter future; but in a neocolonial world of international development, a gulf exists between belief and reality. Rich with echoes of an earlier colonial era, this book draws on the candid narratives of white women teachers, and situates classroom practices within a broad reading of the West and the Rest. What happens when white Western men and women come in to rebuild former colonies in Asia? How do English language lessons translate, or disintegrate, in a radically different world? How is English teaching linked to ideas of progress? This book presents the paradoxes of language aid in the twenty-first century in a way that will challenge your views of English and its power to improve the lives of people in the developing world.

The book's focus on gender relations in development contexts, its superb deconstruction of aid agencies in situ, the gendered space of ELT classrooms and the voices of ELT teachers working in development contexts is unique. This book should be read not only by sociolinguists, sociologists, critical theorists and theorists of development working in the academy but also NGOs and aid agencies working in post-trauma societies. There is much to be learned here.

This book presents a penetrating analysis of teachers' narratives about their everyday experiences of English language teaching (ELT) in international aid programmes in East Timor and Indonesia. Starting from these narratives, the author interrogates the social and cultural significance of ELT in such contexts and unpacks some of the discourses and practices that produce gendered subjectivities in international aid projects. The book is a very welcome contribution to the all-too-sparse literature on language in development.

Appleby's book is well theorised and well written, presenting vivid, intriguing and engaging accounts of white women language teachers in development contexts, not so much as 'agents of change', but rather as participants in a complex process where multiple trajectories and shifting identities play out in language teaching practice. Overall, many will find this book extremely instrumental in understanding the complex nature of ELT as a contact zone between multiple cultures and communities, not as an apolitical, ahistorical and autonomous enterprise.

Language and Education, Vol. 25, No. 3, May 2011, 257-266

The overall impact of the book is that of a much-needed resource to provoke deeper thought about the three issues – ELT, gender and development aid – which it addresses. This is a book that informs deeply about the aid context in general, about the need for locally responsive ELT practices, and about gender in the aid context. However it does more than that. In offering ways to rethink the interplay between space and time, Appleby effectively contributes to long-running debates about context in English language teaching. Additionally, through the insights it offers on the experiences of women teachers in ELT aid contexts, both as teachers and as women, the book also has the potential to 'teach' those of us who may never have considered the political aspects of ELT, gender and aid. It is a book which should be read by all who are responsible for ELT aid programs, by those who teach on aid programs, by anyone interested in issues of language planning and above all, by anyone interested in asking "what would a decolonized, dewhitened, postcolonial English language teaching actually look like?"

Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 2011 34,2.

Roslyn Appleby is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney. She holds a PhD in education, and her scholarly work has been presented and published in the fields of applied linguistics, English language teaching, and international development. Her transdisciplinary research brings together critical language studies, gender and sexuality, spatiality and development. She has extensive experience as a teacher of English language and academic literacy development in higher education.

Introduction: This is where it crashed and burned

Part I Understanding English language teaching in development

1 Models of development and English language teaching

2 Time and space in English language teaching, gender and development

3 Spatial context: East Timor, Indonesia and Australia

Part II Teachers' narrative accounts

4 Being there: Teachers' spatial engagements with development contexts

5 It's a bubble: English language teaching practices in development

6 Doing the washing up: Teaching and gender in development

Conclusion: Spatial practices in the contact zone

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate
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