English language teacher education in Cuba : context, pedagogy and identity
Author(s)Smith, Steven John
Keywordsbilingual, case study, communicative approach, communicative competence, context, Cuba, culture, education, english language teacher education, identity, intelligibility, internationalism, linguaculture, pedagogy, ‘pedagogy of tenderness’
postcolonial theory, speaking, teaching strategies
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AbstractIn this study, I investigate the model of English language teacher education developed in Cuba. It includes features that would be considered innovative, contemporary, good practice anywhere in the Western world, as well as having distinctly Cuban elements. English is widely taught in Cuba in the education system and on television by Cuban teachers who are prepared in five-year courses at pedagogical universities by bilingual Cuban teacher educators. This case study explores the identity and pedagogy of six English language teacher educators at Cuba’s largest university of pedagogical sciences. Postcolonial theory provides a framework for examining how the Cuban pedagogy of English language teacher education resists the negative representation of Cuba in hegemonic Western discourse; and challenges neoliberal Western dogma. Postcolonial concepts of representation, resistance and hybridity are used in this examination. Cuban teacher education features a distinctive ‘pedagogy of tenderness’. Teacher educators build on caring relationships and institutionalised values of solidarity, collectivism and collaboration. Communicative English language teaching strategies are contextualised to enhance the pedagogical and communicative competence of student teachers, and intercultural intelligibility is emphasised. The collaborative pedagogy of Cuban English language teacher education features peer observation, mentoring and continuing professional development; as well as extensive pre-service classroom teaching and research skill development for student teachers. Being Cuban and bilingual are significant aspects of the professional identity of case members, who regard their profession as a vocation and who are committed to preparing good English language teachers.