The Role Of World Englishes in Supporting International Teaching Assistants' Professional Identity and Development

Aleksandra Kasztalska, Purdue University


This study examines the experiences of International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) who taught composition in the Department of English at Purdue University. The main goal of this project is to understand how these non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) develop their professional identities and how the discourses of native-speakerism, as well as insights from World Englishes can influence these student-teachers’ professional growth and practice. These issues are explored from the theoretical framework of World Englishes and theories of social identity. The data in this study were gathered from a series of focus group discussions, follow-up interviews, and individual interviews. In addition, a short written questionnaire was used. These data were analyzed using a mixture of descriptive, pattern, and interpretive codes, yielding results that suggest many ITAs face pedagogical, cultural, and linguistic challenges in their first year of teaching at Purdue. Moreover, it was found that even highly proficient ITAs struggled with reconciling their identity as non-native speakers of English with their identity as teachers of composition. Consequently, some ITAs felt that their professional authority and credibility were undermined, but these ITAs also found comfort and confidence in World Englishes. Moreover, World Englishes had significant implications for ITAs’ teaching practice, but these teachers nonetheless were uncertain how to apply World Englishes in teaching composition. Based on these findings, a number of conclusions is drawn. First, I outline several recommendations for supporting ITAs, such as encouraging open discussions of NNEST issues and helping ITAs reframe their non-nativeness as multicompetence. Finally, I discuss the implications of this study for World Englishes theory, research and practice, identifying some in-class applications of World Englishes for teaching composition and calling for the creation of more World Englishes-informed teaching resources.




Berns, Purdue University.

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