Unsilencing the Silenced: The Journeys of Five East Asian Women with Implications for TESOL Teacher Education Programs

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Park, Gloria G.
Van Sledright, Bruce A.
The study focused on five East Asian women matriculated in U.S. TESOL teacher education programs. Han Nah Jung, Liu Li, Xia Wang, Yu Ri Koh, and Shu-Ming Fung recounted journeying through their educational experiences in their native countries as well as in the United States. The purposes of this study were to (1) deepen and enrich our understanding of the women?s diverse educational journeys, (2) uncover the ideological nature of the lives of these women who may have become marginalized due to the issues of race, gender, and language, (3) look at their experiences as juxtaposed to my own as a person with both insider and outsider perspectives, and (4) use the women?s narratives to make recommendations for improving TESOL teacher education programs. This study explored the lived experiences of five East Asian women, utilizing a past-present-future timeline (e.g., Looking Back, Reflecting On, and Thinking Forward), grounded in critical and feminist perspectives, to examine how those experiences shaped their identities in different learning and teaching communities. This was accomplished through the utilization of electronic reflective autobiographical questions, electronic educational journal entries, in-depth interviews, and informal/formal conversations. The analysis of their narratives, as grounded in critical and feminist perspectives, revealed the interconnectedness between language, race, gender, and social class which were all deeply embedded in their educational journeys. Specifically, the women, despite being from primarily privileged backgrounds, experienced varying degrees of marginalization within their TESOL programs as a result of issues pertaining to language, gender, and race. However, their pre-service and/or volunteer teaching experiences served to heighten their identities as burgeoning English (Korean) language teachers. Findings from the studies such as this should serve to begin dialogues around renewing and reconceptualizing better TESOL curricula and teacher education programs and provide some momentum for instituting improvements in these TESOL programs over the coming years.