Modern foreign language teaching in UK universities stands out among other subjects in the Humanities for two main reasons: on one hand, the highest level of qualification required for staff who apply for these posts is often a postgraduate teaching certificate: there is no expectation that these teachers will be educated at doctoral level, since they will not be required to actively participate in research; in fact, the engagement of language teaching staff both in research (by carrying it out) and with research (by reading it and using it in their practice) is minority (Borg, 2010). When research does take place, it tends to be practice-based, that is, around attempts to apply the outcomes of previously published research to their own teaching contexts (Crandall, 2000). This practice, which in some institutions is designated as "scholarship" to distinguish it from "pure" research, is seen as second-class academic work, devaluated by its association with teaching (Borg, 2010; Puntil, 2019); staff who carry out these duties make up what Shelley M. Park (1996) called "the intellectual proletariat" of academia. Another distinctive feature of foreign language teaching posts is that they are often filled with "native speakers": however complex the notion of "native speaker" is, the term is used by institutions as a synonym of high quality teaching (or, as one teacher puts it, "the real thing"; Puntil, 2019) to advertise their language courses. The "native teacher" tag is still successful in attracting potential language learners. Nevertheless, it implies that shortcomings in academic and professional qualifications are overlooked in recruiting and hiring processes in favour of the "native" character of applicants (Crandall, 2000).
As a result, the academic and professional profile of modern foreign language teaching staff in UK universities is often out of line with the aspirations of universities and departments in their pursuit of teaching and research excellence. This presentation will offer an overview of the profiles of this academic community in the wider context of UK higher education, and will identify professional development needs of different groups of teachers. Strategies to enhance the professional profile of these tutors will be considered, with a view to working towards the full integration of language teaching professionals in the academic community.
Entre las disciplinas que forman parte de los departamentos de Humanidades en las universidades del Reino Unido, la enseñanza de lenguas modernas destaca por dos razones: por un lado, no se espera ni se exige que el profesorado a cargo de esas materias haya adquirido formación ni ejerza como investigador. Por otro lado, en los procesos de selección de personal, el carácter de hablante nativo de algunos de los candidatos es considerado favorablemente, a veces en detrimento de factores como la formación académica y profesional. Teniendo en cuenta este contexto y las peculiaridades del grupo profesional que, de este modo, se ha establecido, la presentación ofrecerá una perspectiva de los perfiles académicos y profesionales del profesorado de lenguas extranjeras en el Reino Unido. Se considerarán posibles vías de desarrollo profesional con vistas a la plena integración de este colectivo en el ambiente académico de las universidades británicas.
- Borg, S. (2010). Language teacher research engagement. Language teaching, 43(4), 391-429
- Crandall, J. A. (2000). Language teacher education. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 20, 34-55
- Park, S. M. (1996). Research, teaching and service: why shouldn't women's work count? The journal of higher education, 67(1), 46-84
- Puntil, D. (2019). Becoming a language professional in higher education: a psychosocial case study. In M. Gallardo (ed.), Negotiating identity in foreign language teaching (91-116). Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Marion Coderch is Assistant Professor at Durham University (United Kingdom), where she coordinates the Spanish language programme at the Centre for Foreign Language Study. She has taught Spanish and Catalan language and culture in various public and private institutions, in the UK and Spain. She has a background in medieval literature, a subject that she has been teaching, researching and publishing on for years. In her professional practice as a language teacher, her scholarship interests include the development of autonomous learning and the integration of assessment for learning in university curricula.