Reflecting on different worlds: How experiential knowledge from learning Japanese has informed the teaching practice of ELT teachers

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Peter Burden, Okayama Shoka University


Deliberating on and analyzing ideas about teaching can lead to an improvement in our teaching practice. By taking a reflexive stance, we can thoughtfully grapple with issues of theory-practice dichotomy. Cognitive “received knowledge” from books or teacher training, and emotional “experiential knowledge” which can come from participating in language learning often do not “gel” and this is manifested in tensions in practice. Classroom learning experience can feed back into received knowledge to develop classroom practice, so an interest in where one’s teaching knowledge comes from can lead to a better understanding of practice. Through interviews, six university English teachers who are studying or have formally studied Japanese reflected on their experiences as learners and how those experiences have informed their teaching practices. Results show that although situated in different contexts and settings, the participants are not fixed upon any one method and that self-understanding emerges through engagement and reconsidering received knowledge to gain new perspectives on classroom reality.