BECOMING LAOSHI IN US HIGH SCHOOLS: CASE STUDIES OF THREE FOREIGN-BORN CHINESE LANGUAGE TEACHER CANDIDATES
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The foreign-born Chinese speakers that currently make up the largest component of those training to become Chinese language teachers encounter challenges during their internship that differ significantly from those experienced by interns who are more familiar with U.S. culture and institutions. Qualitative case studies of three Chinese language teacher candidates (CLTCs) follow their journeys to becoming Chinese language teachers in order to 1) identify the key influences that shape their experiences in their internship; 2) understand in what ways these influences have created resonances and contradictions for them; and 3) explore strategies CLTCs have adopted in order to navigate through the US education system during their internship. Based on themes that emerged from in-depth interviews, document reviews, and observations, consistencies as well as variations in their experiences are presented in forms of single case and cross-case analysis. A sociocultural conceptual framework which incorporates elements from Cultural Historical Activity Theory and Legitimate Peripheral Participation was created to analyze three cases. The framework highlights three domains of influences, namely "Key Stakeholders" "Culture and Institution", and "Pedagogical Tools and Resources". The interactions that CLTCs had with the three domains of influences were explored. The three CLTCs were hired by three high schools that were vastly different in terms of social economic status of student population. Findings revealed that "Key Stakeholders" (such as mentors, administrators, other staff and faculty, and students) was the most prominent influence that shaped their experiences. Key stakeholders' support created the most resonances for their experiences as well. CLTCs experienced most contradictions in interpreting the US education framework and managing their classes. To navigate through their internship, CLTCs used a variety of strategies to strengthen classroom management and develop their teaching styles. Promoting Chinese language programs in the community was also found to be an important part of their job. The results suggested that all stakeholders (teachers, teacher educators, and policy-makers) should work synergistically to help CLTCs harvest the most from the cross-cultural teaching experience. Specific suggestions are made on how to better prepare CLTCs.