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Learning English and Learning to Teach English:

The Case of Two Teachers of English in Pakistan

Ayesha Bashiruddin
Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
University of Toronto


In this study, I have examined how Fatima and Khulood, two experienced secondary school teachers of English in Pakistan, develop their classroom practices in two diverse educational settings: Fatima in a private English-medium school and Khulood in a government Urdu-medium school. In particular, the study examined two interrelated forms of learning: (a) learning English, both in a formal classroom setting and in an informal setting; and (b) learning to teach English by attending formal workshops and courses and by making self-initiated efforts to improve their practices on the job. The study not only depicts and discusses Fatima’s and Khulood’s current teaching practices through four teaching lessons but also takes a broader perspective on the development of their classroom practices over their careers.

This study employed narrative inquiry which places importance on the teachers’ subjective understanding, presenting their experiences, as they themselves understand them. Through the two teachers’ stories, the study provides a detailed analysis of the way English is learned and taught as a second and a foreign language in Pakistan. Two themes emerged from the analysis of Fatima’s and Khulood’s development of classroom practices: (a) continuity and change, and (b) change and continuity. The first theme, continuity and change, traces the various ways in which Fatima and Khulood follow the continuity of their teaching tradition and at the same time initiate minor changes in their teaching development. The second theme, change and continuity, focuses on the ways they bring about such changes within that continuity. It describes what they learned to do on their own while teaching and how they developed their practices over time on the job.

The study demonstrates how teacher development is both a biographical and an experiential process. Teachers develop and understand their classroom practices by:

(a) recalling and reconstructing memories of how they learned English and how others taught English; and

(b) engaging in, reflecting on, adapting, and adding to their day-to-day practices.

This inquiry is significant because it offers a more in depth portrayal of how teachers of English in two different contexts in Pakistan understand the development of their classroom practices.



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