Harnessing the Professional Value of a Transnational Disposition: Perceptions of Migrant English Language Teachers in Hong Kong

Harnessing the Professional Value of a Transnational Disposition: Perceptions of Migrant English... Abstract This article investigates the experiences in knowledge development and sharing of a group of migrant teachers from different Asian countries who are teaching in secondary schools in Hong Kong. Seeing dispositions as the key to professionalization and professional contributions, it explores the possibilities and challenges in harnessing the professional value of their transnational disposition. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate the participants’ position in the workplace, negotiations of the local curriculum and classroom practice, and professional interactions with colleagues and parents. The findings show that these teachers actively respond to invisibility and marginalization by drawing from their transcultural disposition to creatively but cautiously transform pedagogical practices and discourses. It is found that the presence of migrant professionals in local context provides opportunities for critical reflexivity and transnational awareness among local professionals. It is implied that the changes in thinking and awareness may lead to broad-based ideological and structural changes, which in turn promotes productive knowledge exchange. INTRODUCTION In the context of neoliberal orientations to development, it is argued that the opening of national borders for the free flow of professionals (along with knowledge and material resources) would contribute to a ‘win-win’ situation for both sending and receiving countries (Kuznetsov 2006). While migrant professionals acquire more knowledge and skills in receiving countries and contribute to economic and technological development, they will also contribute to their own communities through investments, consultation, and outsourcing. This perspective on development has dramatically shifted earlier discourses on brain drain (Bhagwati 1976; Appleton et al. 2006) as resulting from the exodus of skilled professionals from less developed communities. Scholars now talk of a brain gain, beyond sending and receiving countries to others as well, as all work involves transnational relations and resources (Kuznetsov 2006). Despite these optimistic discourses on possibilities, critics point out that development can be more fair, constructive, and sustained if all the resources of migrant professionals are harnessed and knowledge sharing takes place in a balanced way (Glick Schiller and Faist 2010). The current approach utilizes the technical knowledge and skills of migrant professionals in terms of dominant ideologies of material development and the needs of receiving countries. This article investigates the experiences in knowledge development and sharing of a group of migrant teachers from different Asian countries who are teaching in secondary schools in Hong Kong. Seeing dispositions as the key to professionalization and professional contributions, it explores the possibilities and challenges in harnessing the professional value of their transnational disposition. While much of the research on skilled migration has been on science, technology, engineering, mathematics professionals, it is not often appreciated that teachers too are part of this demography. Recently there have been signs of scholarly interest in international teacher migration, including a book-length work by Bartlett (2014). The growing recognition that multicultural teachers can bring their knowledge resources to schools and teacher education programs for positive contributions (Appleton et al. 2006; Miller et al. 2008; Sharma 2013) is applicable to migrant teachers as well. Menard-Warwick (2008) offers a rare perspective on what the transnational experience of two nonnative teachers can offer to intercultural education in English language teaching (ELT). There have been relatively more discussions of native speaker teachers who have traveled to colonized countries and missionary settings to teach English for more than 300 years. Scholars have discussed their ideological motivations (Edge 2006), pedagogical possibilities (Holliday 1994), and their communicative resources in intercultural context (Luk and Lin 2007). However, not much attention has been paid to how nonnative teachers are faring outside their countries (including in the developed native speaker communities). In this study, we wish to address the resources they bring in a holistic sense to accommodate their tacit knowledge and transnational dispositions—that is, beyond their professional training and expertise—that can contribute to pedagogical outcomes. THE PLACE OF DISPOSITIONS IN TEACHING We situate this study in recent orientations to teacher development that give importance to issues such as beliefs, values, tacit knowledge, and identities (which we refer to with the broader term ‘dispositions’), in the place of the earlier dominance of skills and explicit/encoded knowledge (Johnson 2006). We treat ‘dispositions’ as an umbrella term to accommodate the new realizations on teacher expertise. By accommodating cognitive resources and behavioral traits that shape expertise, and focusing on their interconnections, dispositions help conceptualize how everyday socialization and practice develop generative capabilities that transcend the mind/body divide. In this study, we treat tacit knowledge as an important component of dispositions. The sociocultural perspective on tacit knowledge has had a major influence on the field of teaching and learning. This body of work on teacher knowledge enables us to move beyond the cognitivist viewpoint which holds that knowledge acquired in one setting cannot be transferred to another, and to recognize that learning and knowing ‘distributed across teachers, students and resources such as books and computers’ (Kelly 2006: 507) moves professionals from peripheral (novice) to full (expert) participation in the work of schools (Lave and Wenger 1991). The sociocultural approach concerns the nature of teachers’ knowledge, its role in teacher education, and how the nature and acquisition of teachers’ knowledge are contextually shaped (Wright 2010). Teachers’ tacit knowledge is theorized as an intuitive and contextually sensitive learning process that is developed by engaging in teaching (Szesztay 2004). As such, focusing on how teachers understand themselves and their working environments permits a deeper understanding of their knowledge construction, and enables teachers to ‘make their tacit thoughts, beliefs, knowledge, fears, and hopes explicit’ and to ‘articulate the day-today problems teachers confront in their professional worlds’ (Johnson and Golombek 2011: 491). Nonetheless, in the classroom context, teachers need to make swift decisions by drawing on their tacit knowledge, which they store subconsciously as they learn to teach; teachers are thus unaware of most of the knowledge they will utilize when in action in classrooms (Dudley 2013). Therefore, a systematic framework is needed to investigate teachers’ ‘invisible’ tacit knowledge, and to reach a more precise and specific understanding of how tacit knowledge can be summoned and utilized in teaching. In borrowing the conceptualization of tacit knowledge from business and technical professions, we demonstrate its relevance for teaching practice. Blackler (2002) highlighted four major categories of tacit knowledge: embrained knowledge is conceptual skills, cognitive processes, and intellectual competencies that differ from product-oriented facts and knowledge; embodied knowledge is practical thinking developed in specific contexts and physical presence, based on sentient and sensory information, through learning in/by doing. We might consider this a form of procedural knowledge (as distinct from propositional knowledge—see Byram 2008); encultured knowledge is made up of shared understandings and values, arising from socialization and acculturation; and embedded knowledge is ecological, tied to specific work settings and environments. It informs how to develop and operationalize knowledge in alignment with multimodal affordances in a given setting. Scholars of professional migration have adopted this schema in the fields of business, science, and technology (Williams 2007; Williams and Baláž 2008), and have recognized the social and local relevance of tacit knowledge that has been interactionally and situationally developed, and thus better contextualized (Seidler-de Alwis and Hartmann 2008). However, these studies have not explicitly addressed the possibility of a transnational disposition that might develop from mobility. In assuming that migrant teachers have much to offer from their transnational disposition, we are building on the insight from Menard-Warwick (2008). She shows how the transnational awareness and experience of the migrant teachers helped them to facilitate insightful culture critique and understanding among ELT students. We expand this exploration beyond classrooms to interactions with parents and colleagues, and beyond intercultural lessons to language teaching more broadly. In this study, building on the theorization of tacit knowledge within sociocultural approaches, we borrow the four categorization of tacit knowledge from business and technical professions, and develop the concept of transnational disposition. Incorporating transnational disposition with the schema of tacit knowledge moves us beyond understanding knowledge transfer within culturally congruent contexts, informed by sociocultural theory, to explore knowledge transfer among professional migrants as they move across cultural contexts and national borders. Further, the detailed categorization of knowledge into embrained, embodied, encultured, and embedded knowledge offers greater precision and specificity, and enables us to understand tacit knowledge transfer in transnational migration in a more systematic and holistic way—conceptually, practically, culturally, and ecologically. Theorizing the relevance of the schema and transnational disposition to language teaching, we aim to advance the theorization of tacit knowledge within sociocultural approaches in the field of language teaching. To this end, we ask the following two research questions in our study: 1. What forms of tacit knowledge constitute the transnational disposition of migrant teachers? 1. What are the challenges and possibilities for migrant teachers for drawing from these dispositions to shape professional practice in migrant contexts? Before we present the perspectives of six non-Chinese migrant teachers of English in secondary schools in Hong Kong, we introduce the pedagogical context and research methods. We conclude the article with the implications for transnational pedagogy and education, in the context of globalization, for learning communities beyond Hong Kong. THE STUDY As part of a larger study on skilled migrants from diverse professions in five countries led by the second author, this qualitative study aimed at understanding migrant teachers’ experiences in knowledge development and sharing and eliciting their narratives from an insider perspective. An industrialized community that welcomed skilled migrants, including migrant teachers, under its Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, Hong Kong’s experience can be instructive. South Asians and Southeast Asians in Hong Kong Hong Kong is seen as a cosmopolitan international city that offers equal opportunities to all people; however, racial discrimination tends to exist at various levels of that society, especially given the relatively low socioeconomic status of South and Southeast Asians (Gu 2015). Although South Asians hail from a variety of nations, regions, ethnicities, classes, and religions, they are often generalized in the mass media. Such individuals tend to be socially constructed as cultural and linguistic others, and are sometimes socially stereotyped as a potential threat to the larger community (Gu 2016). It is noteworthy that the participants in this study are from Southeast and South Asian countries whose cultural and linguistic backgrounds tend to be prejudicially stereotyped in the popular discourse of Hong Kong. Furthermore, under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, these teachers are not granted the professional status native English teachers (NETs) enjoy, as elaborated in the following section. Migrant teachers in Hong Kong Migrant English language teachers can enter the Hong Kong job market either as NETs or as regular English teachers. While migrant teachers who ‘acquire the language in infancy and develop the language through adolescence and adulthood within a community where English is spoken as the first language’ (Hong Kong Education Bureau 2014) can apply for an NET position, nonnative speakers may gain a teaching position by competing with local (Chinese) teachers. As a consequence of this policy, migrant nonnative teachers tend to be treated like other local teachers, occluding the contributions these teachers might make through their diverse transnational dispositions. Though being a former British colony that used English as a second language, Hong Kong is moving to treating English as a foreign language (EFL). Recent studies adopt EFL as the acronym for Hong Kong’s pedagogical status (Lin and Wu 2015). The shift is perhaps because Hong Kong’s national identity has changed after the handover to mainland China, and Cantonese and Mandarin are becoming more prominent in local usage. However, as discourses of globalization and transnational economic relations are important for Hong Kong, multilingualism is valued at the policy level. Some researchers have called for a pedagogy that gives equal value to English, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese, developing trilingual proficiency (Wang and Kirkpatrick 2013). Also, process-oriented pedagogies (such as communicative and task-based methods) are promoted to develop the communicative competence of students (Littlewood 2007). Despite these good intentions, a more traditional product-oriented pedagogy (featuring repetition, modeling, rote drills, and memorization) and a deep-rooted monolingual language ideology still dominate classrooms (Lin 2013). These inconsistencies are partly due to the pressure of standardized examinations such as Territory-wide System Assessment (hereafter, TSA). Since test results are highly valued by school administrators and parents, critical thinking skills, which are difficult to measure in standardized testing, have been ignored in classroom teaching (Mok 2007). Teachers and school principals are under pressure to follow the government’s prescription of teaching only in Chinese or English, despite their awareness that learning will be facilitated by using students’ familiar language resources (Lin 2012). Also, the heritage languages of ethnic minorities (such as Urdu, Tamil, Panjabi, Tagalog, and Indonesian) cannot find a place in education. Data collection and data analysis We focus on six non-Chinese Asian teachers of English in government-subsidized secondary schools in Hong Kong, a gender-balanced group of three males and three females. The participants were solicited using snowball sampling (Lincoln and Guba 1985); the first author was introduced to two participants initially through her relationships with local teachers, while the participants themselves recommended others for the study. The participants, who identified themselves as Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Nepalese, and Sri Lankan, represented an array of social and cultural identities. Table 1 provides biographical information about each participant. All names are pseudonyms. Participants had educational experiences in diverse countries (i.e., their native country, the present host country, and sometimes a third country), including a postgraduate degree in ELT. In this sense, they brought considerable transnational educational and professional exposure deriving from their migrant trajectories. Table 1: Participants Name Gender Country of origin Years of stay in Hong Kong The year levels of the students taught Years of service as teacher in Hong Kong secondary schools Previous educational experience Experience and years of teaching English as a second or foreign language outside Hong Kong Nimuel Male Philippines 6 Years 7, 9, and 11 6 BA in History of Art and Architecture in the USA; PGDE in English in Hong Kong NA Ganika Female India 25 Years 8, 10 and 11 23 BA in Applied Linguistics in India; PGDE in English and MA in Applied Linguistics in Hong Kong Two years in India Chetan Male Nepal 17 Years 7, 8, and 10 6 BA in English in Napal; PGDE in English and MA in ELT in Hong Kong NA Kalpana Female Sri Lanka 14 Years 7, 8, and 9 14 BA in Economics and Japanese and Postgraduate diploma in TESOL in Australia; MA in linguistics in Hong Kong 1 year in Australia and 4 years in Japan Sajid Male Pakistan 12 Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 2 BA in Business Management in the USA; PGDE in English and MA in Linguistics in Hong Kong 3 months in Prague Kiran Female India 3 Years 7, 8, and 9 3 BA in English) and MA in English in India 4 years in India Name Gender Country of origin Years of stay in Hong Kong The year levels of the students taught Years of service as teacher in Hong Kong secondary schools Previous educational experience Experience and years of teaching English as a second or foreign language outside Hong Kong Nimuel Male Philippines 6 Years 7, 9, and 11 6 BA in History of Art and Architecture in the USA; PGDE in English in Hong Kong NA Ganika Female India 25 Years 8, 10 and 11 23 BA in Applied Linguistics in India; PGDE in English and MA in Applied Linguistics in Hong Kong Two years in India Chetan Male Nepal 17 Years 7, 8, and 10 6 BA in English in Napal; PGDE in English and MA in ELT in Hong Kong NA Kalpana Female Sri Lanka 14 Years 7, 8, and 9 14 BA in Economics and Japanese and Postgraduate diploma in TESOL in Australia; MA in linguistics in Hong Kong 1 year in Australia and 4 years in Japan Sajid Male Pakistan 12 Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 2 BA in Business Management in the USA; PGDE in English and MA in Linguistics in Hong Kong 3 months in Prague Kiran Female India 3 Years 7, 8, and 9 3 BA in English) and MA in English in India 4 years in India Note: PGDE: Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Table 1: Participants Name Gender Country of origin Years of stay in Hong Kong The year levels of the students taught Years of service as teacher in Hong Kong secondary schools Previous educational experience Experience and years of teaching English as a second or foreign language outside Hong Kong Nimuel Male Philippines 6 Years 7, 9, and 11 6 BA in History of Art and Architecture in the USA; PGDE in English in Hong Kong NA Ganika Female India 25 Years 8, 10 and 11 23 BA in Applied Linguistics in India; PGDE in English and MA in Applied Linguistics in Hong Kong Two years in India Chetan Male Nepal 17 Years 7, 8, and 10 6 BA in English in Napal; PGDE in English and MA in ELT in Hong Kong NA Kalpana Female Sri Lanka 14 Years 7, 8, and 9 14 BA in Economics and Japanese and Postgraduate diploma in TESOL in Australia; MA in linguistics in Hong Kong 1 year in Australia and 4 years in Japan Sajid Male Pakistan 12 Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 2 BA in Business Management in the USA; PGDE in English and MA in Linguistics in Hong Kong 3 months in Prague Kiran Female India 3 Years 7, 8, and 9 3 BA in English) and MA in English in India 4 years in India Name Gender Country of origin Years of stay in Hong Kong The year levels of the students taught Years of service as teacher in Hong Kong secondary schools Previous educational experience Experience and years of teaching English as a second or foreign language outside Hong Kong Nimuel Male Philippines 6 Years 7, 9, and 11 6 BA in History of Art and Architecture in the USA; PGDE in English in Hong Kong NA Ganika Female India 25 Years 8, 10 and 11 23 BA in Applied Linguistics in India; PGDE in English and MA in Applied Linguistics in Hong Kong Two years in India Chetan Male Nepal 17 Years 7, 8, and 10 6 BA in English in Napal; PGDE in English and MA in ELT in Hong Kong NA Kalpana Female Sri Lanka 14 Years 7, 8, and 9 14 BA in Economics and Japanese and Postgraduate diploma in TESOL in Australia; MA in linguistics in Hong Kong 1 year in Australia and 4 years in Japan Sajid Male Pakistan 12 Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 2 BA in Business Management in the USA; PGDE in English and MA in Linguistics in Hong Kong 3 months in Prague Kiran Female India 3 Years 7, 8, and 9 3 BA in English) and MA in English in India 4 years in India Note: PGDE: Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate the participants’ position in the workplace, negotiations of the local curriculum and classroom practice, and professional interactions with colleagues and parents. All interviews were conducted in English. They lasted around one-and-a-half hours. They were audiotaped and transcribed. Data analysis was done in an interactive manner. We moved between the data, the literature on migrant professionals, and the theoretical constructs described above. The interview transcripts were coded for common themes, adopting methods from grounded theory. As the first step in analysis, ‘codes’ were used to organize the data (Miles and Huberman 1994: 56). We searched for words, phrases, and ideas that occurred and re-occurred in the interviews. These ‘indigenous concepts’ (Patton 2002: 454) used by the participants included ‘marginal’, ‘cannot understand Cantonese’, ‘examination-oriented teaching’, ‘communicative teaching’, ‘old curriculum’, and ‘new curriculum’. By coding them, we identified themes that were consistent across interviews (Strauss and Corbin 1998). The themes that emerged as significant were being invisible in the workplace; shaping the social dispositions of non-local ethnic minority students; shaping classroom instruction by overcoming the limitations of local teaching methods; promoting positive educational and cultural dispositions among migrant/minority community parents; and sharing knowledge with local colleagues by drawing on their transnational experiences. Since the participants claimed to have drawn from their migrant experiences and dispositions to shape knowledge sharing in their work, and considered their dispositions as distinguishing them from the practices of local teachers, we then did selective coding on the types of tacit knowledge deemed significant. We analyzed how the four forms of tacit knowledge (introduced earlier) helped them in their process of knowledge sharing. As a form of member check, we asked the participants to correct any misinterpretations and to fill in inadequacies in the information. Though taking steps to ensure the trustworthiness of findings, we are aware that the opinions and narratives of the participants could be aspirational, as tacit knowledge is by nature untheorized. Yet, even exaggerated claims are important to provide us a window into the participants’ perspectives. FINDINGS Being invisible in the workplace None of the participants indicated encountering open opposition or discrimination in their workplaces. However, they did report experiencing invisibility, as reflected in the following excerpt: Chetan: The school tries to regard me as one of the local teachers. But, after all I am different from them. I speak different Cantonese from them, I don't know their habits and traditions, I use English as my working language and I can speak Nepalese, Urdu, and Hindi. Sometimes, when they talk in Cantonese in faculty meetings, I cannot follow and of course cannot express my ideas and make my contribution based on my previous experiences. Ironically, being treated as a local teacher is a mixed blessing. Chetan’s experiences show that while migrant nonnative teachers are accommodated into the local professional community, their difference is not appreciated or harnessed for teacher development. A particular way in which this exclusion happens is through the use of Cantonese by local teachers in faculty meetings, preventing Chetan from enjoying full participation in professional development. Though the embrained knowledge of multilingual competence of Chetan in English, Nepalese, Urdu, and Hindi can open many other avenues for communication, his local colleagues seem to assume that migrant teachers know Cantonese and understand local norms. In mentioning language as a barrier to ‘mak[ing] my contribution based on my previous experiences’, Chetan signals his eagerness to draw from his transnational disposition to contribute to mutual professional development. Many of the participants argued for the need for greater cultural and linguistic diversity in the workplace so that they could become part of the local professional community. Kalpana stated: They cannot just expect us to be the same as them, speaking the same language, enjoying the same music or movies, etcetera. Very homogeneous … My experiences told me that diversity is good in a school, especially when there are students from different ethnic backgrounds. Students can have more exposure. Kalpana’s awareness of the benefits of diversity comes from her ‘experiences’, and we can argue that criticism of local norms derives from her encultured knowledge on the educational value of diversity. Some reflected on the possibility that the relationships and norms in the school are conditioned by the dominant ideologies outside the school: Sajid: Chinese culture is dominant in Hong Kong and most local people do not know much about the cultures of other minorities. This influences school culture. But to my knowledge, a lot of minorities know about Chinese New Year and other festivals, since they have been here long. They're relatively more aware of the situation of the local people than the other way around. Sajid’s awareness of the limitations of the ideology adopted by the mainstream community that ignores diversity and their shaping effect on school culture, and practice can be attributed to his transnational dispositions. In the following section, we will see below that the embodied and encultured knowledge on how, when, and where one can establish useful social networks, developed through socializing in multiple migrant contexts, helped the participants inculcate similar values in students. Shaping the dispositions of non-local students Among the proactive steps participants took to engage in knowledge sharing in workplace was drawing on their transnational dispositions to shape the values and perspectives of minority/migrant students. Four participants (Nimuel, Kalpana, Sajid, and Kiran) stated that they had made efforts to offer ‘something new’ (in Sajid’s words) to such students as they enjoyed good rapport with them: Nimuel: I have many Filipino students, and many South Asian students. I think the idea that we have some shared heritage or some sort of … I speak in Filipino or Tagalish with the Filipino students. I also tried to learn Hindi and Urdu. In fact, I can carry on a conversation in their language. It does provide some intangible benefits. It is never me versus them. I think they think of me as someone who really allies with them and cares about their interests … I also shared with them my studying experiences in the U.S. and encouraged them to appreciate their own cultures and languages. It seems that they became more confident. The extract above indicates that Nimuel’s encultured awareness of diversity and embrained knowledge of multilingual proficiency help establish rapport with students in their own languages. His reference to learning Hindi and Urdu suggests ongoing language socialization that embrains new language proficiencies (albeit it constitutes a few relevant tokens in the form of ‘fragmented multilingualism’—see Blommaert 2010). More importantly, he draws from his transnational experience to also affirm the heritage languages and cultures migrant students bring with them, as they might be under pressure to shift to dominant ideologies. The rapport he is able to establish with migrant students perhaps provides him the identity of a role model. In all this, he is drawing from his encultured values and embrained language knowledge to practice identity as pedagogy (Morgan 2004). Nimuel’s experience of interacting with migrant students in their own languages was not uncommon among the other participants like Kalpana, Sajid, and Kiran. Accommodating the students’ heritage languages helped teachers establish an insider identity, enabling students to step out of their inhibitions. Going beyond the curriculum, they advised their students on socialization in the host society. Consider Kiran’s example: Interviewer: Do you often give your students advice? Kiran: Yes. I like to share my experience with the students. I will also push them to study harder, because they are really at disadvantage when it comes to equal opportunity in the job market … I will ask them not to be negative or pessimistic in face of some neglect or inequality. Anything happens on the train or in your neighbourhood, let others know. If they don't know about your culture, it's sort of your responsibility to educate them … I think it's realistic to improve things much better because Hong Kong is a very diverse place. I ask my students to get chances to learn Chinese philosophy or culture. Kiran claims to make an effort to empower students to resist negative attributions they might experience outside the school (‘on the train or in your neighborhood’). Thus she inspires them to be agentive, encouraging them to stand up for their culture and rights by educating those from the dominant community about diversity. In turn, Kiran also tries to motivate them to appreciate the Chinese philosophy and culture. She explicitly attributes her role in social adjustment to her minority status (not only in Hong Kong but presumably in the other countries she has been to or lived in) and her desire to ‘share my experiences’, thus testifying to the value of such tacit encultured knowledge. Five participants (Nimuel, Chetan, Kalpana, Sajid, and Kiran) indicated that they were keen to help their students establish hybrid identities, going beyond their own culture and the locally dominant culture. For example, Kalpana shared with students her transcultural experience: Kalpana: I shared my experience of forming new social networks with my students. I tried to convey a message that you don't need to stick with any one ethnic group and you can be multicultural through socializing with people with different ethnicities. Interviewer: What kind of experience? Kalpana: I joined a hiking group where there are a lot of locals. In my circle of friends, they are all different nationalities. For example, my closest friend is Chinese-Filipino. Now she moved to Malaysia. I have German and Malaysia friends. A Malaysia friend is married to a French girl. Also American friends. Not only one nationality … It is like a snowball. My friends in Australia introduced whom they knew in Hong Kong to me when I first arrived, and then these friends made me know more people. I also have some local friends as well. Maybe those people are not really local. They travel a lot … I am not alone even though sometimes it is difficult to befriend colleagues in my school. Kalpana draws from her procedural knowledge on how to establish networks in migrant contexts by identifying possible local members and activities. We see the role of migrant networks when some of her friends in Australia introduce her to their contacts in Hong Kong to ease her transition into the new social context. The notion of ‘snowball’ relationships is a direct benefit of such embodied knowledge. Kalpana’s success in this venture derives from her knowledge on how to form new relationships in migrant settings. Through socializing in multiple migrant contexts, Kalpana has developed some tacit knowledge on how, when, and where she can establish useful social networks. What we see developing is an alternative community with transnational dispositions. In motivating her students not to ‘stick with any one ethnic group’ and to move out of their own ethnic enclaves and socialize with people from diverse cultures, Kalpana is promoting cosmopolitan identities, drawing on her embodied knowledge and encultured knowledge. In a similar vein, Sajid was found to facilitate cultural reconstruction and hybrid identities among their students. Sajid said: A lot of Chinese cultures are very good, and I appreciate them. But it doesn't mean I will totally live as a Chinese and take on all the cultural elements. In my culture, there are also a lot of good things, but at the same time there are things that are sort of not in line or may not make too much sense to me. I can weigh the pros and cons and make something new. I told this to my students and hope they understood. Sajid claims to have helped students avoid essentializing and glorifying cultures, with his encultured knowledge. By ‘weigh[ing] the pros and cons’, he points out the importance of critiquing both their own and the dominant culture, and adopting a more reflexive stand point. By ‘something new’, he is referring to the possibility of constructing hybrid values and practices, emerging from cultural negotiations. Thus he is promoting the idea that ethnic minorities living in a host society can renegotiate the values of different cultures to their advantage. Promoting positive values among migrant parents Migrant teachers also narrated how they drew from their tacit knowledge developed through their transnational experience to facilitate more constructive communication with migrant parents. In this sense, rather than limiting their focus to the classroom, they considered community involvement as equally important for their work. The following statement is illustrative: Nimuel: Last Sunday we had the parents' conference. Filipino parents speak English to me, or even Filipino or Tagalog. Many South Asian parents could speak English for the most part, but our conversation would normally be limited. So I use Urdu or Hindi to them. I guess we try to use the languages that the parents feel most comfortable with to communicate. I can still remember how much I appreciated when one speaks Tagalog to me when I was studying in the US. That is how we are different from the local teachers, who can only speak English and Chinese. As in the earlier extracts relating to students, the embrained multilingual knowledge of migrant teachers helps them establish a rapport with the parents. Nimuel suggests that this is an advantage for migrant teachers, as local teachers, ‘who can only speak English and Chinese’, are limited by their linguistic knowledge. The empathy he displays to shift to the languages preferred by minority community parents benefits from an encultured knowledge from his transnational experience in the USA when one accommodated his language demand and talked in Tagalog. Chetan goes on to illustrate how he draws on his plurilingualism to convey information, knowledge, and values to parents, most of whom are not well integrated into the host society: We have shared languages and they [parents] trust me a lot. So it is easier to explain things to them and talk about the students' performance. For the parents, most of them have little connection with the outer society, so our communication can bring new information to them. I explained why it was important for their children to receive higher education, and to find some jobs different from their own, and why it was important for the girls to continue studying, etcetera. Chetan claims to have conveyed to parents school information on their children’s performance, social knowledge when they are disconnected from ‘outer society’, and relevant values for social mobility. Drawing on the encultured knowledge deriving from their exposure to different communities, other participants also claimed to share positive values on the importance of higher education, social mobility, and gender equality to parents from less-skilled professions or conservative values. Shaping classroom instruction As discussed in the Method section, partially due to the pressure of standardized examinations, a more product-oriented pedagogy and English-only ideology are prevalent in ELT education in Hong Kong (Lin 2013). As several migrant teachers observed in their interviews, since exam results are highly valued by the education authorities and school administrators, teaching in Hong Kong tends to overlook critical thinking skills, but in favor of stuffing knowledge into students. The migrant teachers’ tacit knowledge was found to enable pedagogical renegotiation and change, which then reformed local pedagogical traditions and practices. For example, participants drew from their tacit knowledge to shape pedagogy in creative but strategic ways. Consider Nimuel’s practice: I teach English and literature. But I incorporated humanities-related elements, so I also go over geography, Greek and Roman civilization, and European history. For instance, we read Elie Wiesel's memoir on the holocaust, so I also talked about World War II. I just try to find as many opportunities as possible to incorporate and introduce things that are not in the syllabus or the textbooks. I never really find this kind of English teaching, I mean strictly following the syllabus, very rewarding … I love grammar as a subject, and also like linguistics. But if I were a high school student, I would not wake up thinking ‘oh my goodness, I can't wait to do grammar. Let me go to school now’. More important than the ways Nimuel moved English teaching beyond the typical syllabus and textbooks is his understanding of what contributes to effective motivation and relevant learning. He goes on to say how grammar focused teaching might demotivate the students. In initiating all these changes, he also feels strongly that teachers should move beyond a strict adherence to prescribed curriculum. These dispositions mark his embrained knowledge on effective learning/teaching processes. Kalpana shared how she took the dominant pedagogy on speech beyond memorization of spelling and pronunciation to integrate it with relevant content to contextualize learning and help focus on meaning: The school didn't use phonics in teaching [how to speak], and the students directly prepared for the TSA with no specialized knowledge. The students had no knowledge of basic sounds and simply tried to memorize phrases. I have developed a speaking curriculum in terms of phonics and shared materials among local colleagues. I tried to contextualize students’ learning and helped them focus on meaning when learning new words. The standardized testing seems to have pressured local teachers and students to adopt a more formalistic and memorization-based approach. Kalpana’s strategy leans toward purposeful learning through contextualizing pronunciation in learning. While not detracting from mastery of form, which is important for the test, Kalpana makes the learning more efficient by connecting it to meaningful communication. Kalpana further shared how her integration of content broadened the perspective of the students as global citizens with a transnational disposition: We focused a lot on the US elections recently. We watched debates and speeches, and we analyzed speeches and American political culture … I tried to give them some background or awareness of their place in a bigger world. Kalpana draws from her teaching experience in Australia and Japan to initiate this pedagogical intervention. More than the actual content and method adopted, what is more important is her vision of broadening students’ perspectives and developing transnational awareness, informed by her embrained content knowledge. Migrant teachers also introduced critical thinking to counteract the detrimental effects of dominant form-focused teaching: Nimuel: I want them to be empathic and compassionate, but also creative and innovative. You don't rely on what has been done and you can find your own way. The fixed curriculum will somewhat limit their development. Interviewer: Could you elaborate on that? Nimuel: I am reading the book written by the founder of Khan Academy; the videos on YouTube that teach math. He argues about the traditional classroom model, block time for subjects, making everyone do the same thing. It's really the opposite of creativity when you're forcing uniformity in people. Having a traditional system doesn't necessarily create the condition for innovations and creativity. I reminded my students repeatedly that life has no model answer. If you are only looking for the model answer, then you're gonna live your life not really questioning. You are living your life by the textbook. In referring to the Khan Academy, Nimuel is drawing from his awareness of alternate pedagogies elsewhere and in non-formal sites (such as YouTube). Nimuel argues against the fixed curriculum in traditional classroom models and its negative impact on students’ innovation and creativity. He sets up his own teaching philosophy in opposition to traditional pedagogies and reminded his students to move outside of the textbook to think independently. The following excerpt documents the measures Nimuel took to implement his teaching beliefs through more systematic, ecological, and infrastructural changes. He obtained resources to reshape the classroom ecology and motivate students to promote his new content-based curriculum: One of the big changes recently was that I proposed a reading programme for Form one [Year seven] students instead of relying on the school library, which is very limited. In the past summer, we ordered one hundred and twenty books for four classrooms, so for each classroom there is a collection of books that will stay there forever. One hundred and twenty most famous young adult titles, not just the whole series of Harry Porter, but also science fiction books. Now compared to previous classes, this year's Form one [Year seven] has the pilot programme. They are really reading a lot of books, while other students in our school don't have the opportunity to read. In using the classroom space effectively, Nimuel is drawing from his embedded knowledge from other teaching contexts. This is an ecological awareness of how the arrangement of the learning environment with relevant affordances can subtly motivate students to read more frequently. Nimuel shapes learning spaces to favor his pedagogical priorities, and orders books beyond creative and children’s writing to include non-fiction as well. Thus the participants developed a pedagogy that resisted the dominance of examination-oriented teaching. They introduced more content-based teaching that accommodated diverse readings beyond the literary texts, which also encouraged critical thinking and a cosmopolitan ethos. Interestingly, not only do they themselves boast of a transnational disposition, they claim to shape learning to develop those dispositions among their students as well. The participants went on to note positive changes in their students deriving from their pedagogical innovation. Three of the participants indicated that they observed a transformative process in their local students. Compared with students in the same classes taught by local teachers, their students tended to show ‘more independent and critical thinking’ (Chetan), ‘more courage to challenge model answers’ (Nimuel), and to ‘be better activity organizers’ (Kalpana). Sharing knowledge with local colleagues When asked about local colleagues’ reception of their lesson content and pedagogical practice, participants admitted there were differences and tensions. However, they pointed to the importance of striking a balance between teaching creatively and aligning one’s self with the existing curriculum and school policy. Consider Ganika’s view: I mean, people expect you to … try not to be too innovative or suggest too many things … Yeah, you have to control yourself. But a lot of policies are not really useful. A lot of routines are not so good. I do try to suggest, but people are hesitant to change … I am different from them, because they have been living in Hong Kong and the traditional and conservative way of teaching has become part of them. They need to be more flexible. Though Ganika is aware of the hesitation to change among local teachers, she does not give up. She is cautious in initiating changes, however. She says she ‘suggests’, probably hinting at changes rather than imposing them on others. Also, in saying one ‘has to control’ oneself, she acknowledges the need to refrain from extreme or hasty measures. We may understand these strategies as deriving from her embodied knowledge of initiating judicious pedagogical changes. This is also referred to as ‘conditionalized knowledge’ by Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999: 43), referring to an understanding of how and when what has been learnt can be implemented. Ganika’s attribution of a conservative disposition among local teachers has to be treated with caution though. It is fair to say that she has the ability to defamiliarize herself from locally embedded pedagogies which might be informed by local ideologies and traditional practices. However, it is noteworthy that Ganika here tends to ‘other’ the local Chinese teachers’ pedagogy as conservative. Similar to three other participants, perhaps unwittingly, Ganika may have essentialized her pedagogy to be categorically different from and superior to that of local teachers. Two participants (Nimuel and Kalpana) adopted creative appropriation, rather than undertaking a one-sided knowledge ‘transfer’. They are found to negotiate conflicting pedagogies, accumulating more knowledge of local norms and teaching practices, and adapting new practices to construct a pedagogical change. Nimuel clarified his strategy of pedagogical change as follows: What I like doing is incorporating things from different areas and placing them together. I look at what I learnt before and what I have [learnt] here, and I can see what could be used and integrated with personal experience and background. My understanding of the local culture helped me develop more localized materials, which the students and the school felt was more acceptable. The experience I got in Hong Kong will always be of value to me. Many times I feel the need to learn more about the local, the culture, language and curriculum, to develop better teaching materials. Nimuel is finding ways of acculturating into the local pedagogical context to understand the local preferences and norms. Combining what he had learnt before from other places with what he is learning in Hong Kong allowed Nimuel to envision a pedagogy which is bound to be more appealing to local colleagues. His balanced self-reflective ability is demonstrated in the above extract by his acknowledging the importance and value of local experience and knowledge. Therefore, rather than seeing the local pedagogy and curriculum as inherently inferior, Nimuel shows some openness to understanding their value. With the desire to ‘learn more about the local’, he is also treating his teaching in Hong Kong as having enriched his transnational experience. Thus, despite the tensions and constraints, there was some positive sharing of knowledge between migrant and local teachers. For instance, Kalpana mentioned that the content-based phonetic teaching materials she shared ‘were well received’. DISCUSSION The findings show that while informing teaching with their tacit knowledge gained in transnational life, migrant teachers continue to develop their dispositions in the local pedagogical, linguistic, and social contexts. We might identify the dispositions that participants draw from for their teaching as follows, with the caveat that these categories are not exclusive or air tight: Embrained: understanding of learning as more effective if situated in meaningful content, social context, and purposeful communication; effective strategies of motivating students; and processes of facilitating critical and creative thinking; Encultured: values favoring diversity, critical thinking, creativity, multicultural awareness, self-affirmation, hybrid identities, tolerance, and empathy; and building rapport with minority communities; Embodied: how to negotiate pedagogical change; establish social networks; and negotiate new values and practices; Embedded: using the local ecology effectively for learning outcomes; understanding social and educational practices in their situatedness; and ways of embedding new practices in local ecologies. The participants attribute their difference in social and pedagogical orientation to their transnational dispositions. We have to be open to the possibility that multilingual and multicultural teachers may have the resources and experiences to develop such dispositions locally, especially in a context where the global permeates the local. Besides, as migration scholars point out, mobility has transnational implications to everyone, including those who may not travel (Glick Schiller and Faist 2010). Within the framework of our situated qualitative study, we can only establish the dispositions observed and the claim of the participants that their dispositions are different from locals because of their migrant experiences. We have to examine such dispositions in more broadly framed comparative studies to establish how far this claim can be generalized. Furthermore, while there are no observational data to prove that these dispositions resulted in positive knowledge sharing and development in education, even the self-reported data indicate that transnational dispositions do not automatically translate into constructive changes. There are many factors that prevent knowledge sharing. The following emerges as significant from our interviews: educational ideologies that favor teacher-fronted and form-focused approaches; standardized testing instruments which motivate formulaic learning; institutional cultures that favor local language interactions, dominance of certain professionals and marginalization of others, and traditional pedagogies; and lack of spaces or encouragement for collaboration, networking, and understanding among diverse groups of teachers. Despite these limitations, migrant teachers are found to be able to find some spaces for pedagogical innovation and professional contribution. It is a testament to their transnational dispositions that they strategically strive for limited forms of community and gradual changes. Outside the strict boundaries of the formal teaching environments, they are able to find informal spaces to help migrant/minority students and their parents in their educational and social development. Adopting their embodied negotiation strategy of conditional change, migrant teachers claim to have initiated subtle changes in classroom pedagogy. In ‘teacher identity as pedagogy’ (Morgan 2004), the mere presence of teachers with transcultural disposition is bound to engender effects on students and fellow teachers. In the discourse of globalization, the so-called cultural imperialism of the English language (Phillipson 2000) seems to prevail in Hong Kong. The deeply rooted monolingual (English-only) ideology stipulated in schools’ policies is a general methodological description of ELT education. These factors, together with the prejudicially stereotyped social images of South Asians and Southeast Asians, implicitly placed the migrant teachers in a marginalized position. However, these teachers actively responded to their imposed invisibility and workplace marginalization, argued for diversity in the schools, and attempted to turn their disadvantages to advantages. They drew on the encultured and embedded knowledge they accumulated from different places to construct a new identity as teachers who could exert positive influences on non-local students and enlighten their community, which otherwise tended to limit their children’s education and employment options. This can be understood as a means of motivating non-local students to identify their own positions, interests, ideologies, and assumptions when confronted, rather than use silence as a coping strategy (Sheets and Chew 2002). The findings also indicate that some participants compared local professionals and their pedagogical preferences unfavorably with their own values and dispositions. By establishing a cultural hierarchy in pedagogy, the teachers set up their own pedagogy as implicit referents and exercised power in the discourse. This lack of appreciation might itself have been an effect of the limited networking and collaboration between local and migrant teachers. It would be desirable if teachers were to reflect on their own experiences of being othered, and of othering people from different age, race, ethnic, gender, cultural, and linguistic groups (Menard-Warwick 2008), so as to avoid making sweeping claims about teaching approaches. Interactions among themselves and with local Chinese teachers will be helpful for the further professionalization of the migrant teachers themselves. They provide opportunities for critical reflection on their own dispositions, reflexivity on their knowledge, and conscious development of their practices. We must not glorify tacit knowledge. Its personal and intuitive nature (which we presented earlier as the source of its value) is also the cause of its limitations. It is bound to contain unexamined biases and stereotypes, such as those we noted above. It can also lack effective ways of developing more systematically into explicit knowledge and practices for application in diverse environments. A reflexive awareness is required to develop a more informed, critical, and explicit understanding of tacit knowledge, to be transformed into resources. Kramsch (1993) and Menard-Warwick (2008) offer recommendations to draw from the experiences of teachers for intercultural pedagogies. Activities such as journaling, critical reflection, and autoethnographies can help teachers develop a meta-cognitive awareness of their tacit knowledge resources. In-service training and workshops can also help migrant teachers translate their tacit knowledge for local relevance. They should also be encouraged to form informal communities of practice that can help them build their pedagogies in relevance to ongoing transnational experiences. Initiating changes in relationships between migrant teachers and local communities has to be multifaceted and broad based. It covers the whole gamut of ideological changes at the policy level, curricular changes at the institutional level, and micro-scale changes in interpersonal relationships between professionals. Bartlett (2014) argues that the status of migrant teachers should also be reconsidered from the currently dominant one of ‘transients’ to a more settled and integrated ‘transplants’. While such a list of changes might make us despair, it is heartening to note that subtle changes are already underway. As we mentioned above, the mere presence of migrant professionals in local communities, institutions, and classrooms presents alternate possibilities. They provide opportunities for critical reflexivity and detachment to local professionals. These changes in thinking and awareness could gradually lead to broad-based ideological and structural changes, which can promote more productive knowledge exchange. A focus on dispositions may help us reconsider the current division and hierarchy of English language teachers based on language ownership. The native/nonnative dichotomy in policy lumps migrant nonnative English-speaking teachers together with local Chinese teachers in Hong Kong, while elevating the status of NET, limiting the contributions all teachers might make through their diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. While occluding the possibilities in the transnational dispositions of migrant teachers, it also inhibits collaborations between native and nonnative teachers. Moving beyond language ownership, if we treat dispositions as the key to professionalization, we can appreciate the transnational dispositions NET also bring to other communities through their mobility, the same way nonnative migrant teachers do. This perspective would help treat NET and migrant nonnative English-speaking teachers on an equal footing, not forgetting that local teachers may also draw from their dispositions in a globalized world. The profession can thus move from the debilitating native/nonnative binary and consider the dispositions all practitioners are developing to make positive pedagogical contributions. In the knowledge economy, learners are expected to become portfolio people with diversified dispositions and skills to be relevant and productive. This study sheds lights on how migrant teachers’ tacit knowledge and transnational dispositions can be transformed into resources for local students and schools. Integrating them better into local professional communities would help interrogate educational practices and enable policy makers to shape a learning environment that facilitates knowledge sharing. If skilled migration is to move beyond glorified claims of ‘win win’ situation for all communities in the neoliberal dispensation, we have to explore how knowledge sharing and development can be more multidirectional, balanced, and sustained. Conflict of interest statement. None declared. Acknowledgements We are grateful to the Editors, and Reviewers for their constructive feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript, and to Professor Adrian Bailey for his valuable comments on research design of the study. We would also like to thank Dr Doris Qu for her kind assistance in data transcription. 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Google Scholar Crossref Search ADS © Oxford University Press 2017 This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Applied Linguistics Oxford University Press

Harnessing the Professional Value of a Transnational Disposition: Perceptions of Migrant English Language Teachers in Hong Kong

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0142-6001
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Abstract

Abstract This article investigates the experiences in knowledge development and sharing of a group of migrant teachers from different Asian countries who are teaching in secondary schools in Hong Kong. Seeing dispositions as the key to professionalization and professional contributions, it explores the possibilities and challenges in harnessing the professional value of their transnational disposition. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate the participants’ position in the workplace, negotiations of the local curriculum and classroom practice, and professional interactions with colleagues and parents. The findings show that these teachers actively respond to invisibility and marginalization by drawing from their transcultural disposition to creatively but cautiously transform pedagogical practices and discourses. It is found that the presence of migrant professionals in local context provides opportunities for critical reflexivity and transnational awareness among local professionals. It is implied that the changes in thinking and awareness may lead to broad-based ideological and structural changes, which in turn promotes productive knowledge exchange. INTRODUCTION In the context of neoliberal orientations to development, it is argued that the opening of national borders for the free flow of professionals (along with knowledge and material resources) would contribute to a ‘win-win’ situation for both sending and receiving countries (Kuznetsov 2006). While migrant professionals acquire more knowledge and skills in receiving countries and contribute to economic and technological development, they will also contribute to their own communities through investments, consultation, and outsourcing. This perspective on development has dramatically shifted earlier discourses on brain drain (Bhagwati 1976; Appleton et al. 2006) as resulting from the exodus of skilled professionals from less developed communities. Scholars now talk of a brain gain, beyond sending and receiving countries to others as well, as all work involves transnational relations and resources (Kuznetsov 2006). Despite these optimistic discourses on possibilities, critics point out that development can be more fair, constructive, and sustained if all the resources of migrant professionals are harnessed and knowledge sharing takes place in a balanced way (Glick Schiller and Faist 2010). The current approach utilizes the technical knowledge and skills of migrant professionals in terms of dominant ideologies of material development and the needs of receiving countries. This article investigates the experiences in knowledge development and sharing of a group of migrant teachers from different Asian countries who are teaching in secondary schools in Hong Kong. Seeing dispositions as the key to professionalization and professional contributions, it explores the possibilities and challenges in harnessing the professional value of their transnational disposition. While much of the research on skilled migration has been on science, technology, engineering, mathematics professionals, it is not often appreciated that teachers too are part of this demography. Recently there have been signs of scholarly interest in international teacher migration, including a book-length work by Bartlett (2014). The growing recognition that multicultural teachers can bring their knowledge resources to schools and teacher education programs for positive contributions (Appleton et al. 2006; Miller et al. 2008; Sharma 2013) is applicable to migrant teachers as well. Menard-Warwick (2008) offers a rare perspective on what the transnational experience of two nonnative teachers can offer to intercultural education in English language teaching (ELT). There have been relatively more discussions of native speaker teachers who have traveled to colonized countries and missionary settings to teach English for more than 300 years. Scholars have discussed their ideological motivations (Edge 2006), pedagogical possibilities (Holliday 1994), and their communicative resources in intercultural context (Luk and Lin 2007). However, not much attention has been paid to how nonnative teachers are faring outside their countries (including in the developed native speaker communities). In this study, we wish to address the resources they bring in a holistic sense to accommodate their tacit knowledge and transnational dispositions—that is, beyond their professional training and expertise—that can contribute to pedagogical outcomes. THE PLACE OF DISPOSITIONS IN TEACHING We situate this study in recent orientations to teacher development that give importance to issues such as beliefs, values, tacit knowledge, and identities (which we refer to with the broader term ‘dispositions’), in the place of the earlier dominance of skills and explicit/encoded knowledge (Johnson 2006). We treat ‘dispositions’ as an umbrella term to accommodate the new realizations on teacher expertise. By accommodating cognitive resources and behavioral traits that shape expertise, and focusing on their interconnections, dispositions help conceptualize how everyday socialization and practice develop generative capabilities that transcend the mind/body divide. In this study, we treat tacit knowledge as an important component of dispositions. The sociocultural perspective on tacit knowledge has had a major influence on the field of teaching and learning. This body of work on teacher knowledge enables us to move beyond the cognitivist viewpoint which holds that knowledge acquired in one setting cannot be transferred to another, and to recognize that learning and knowing ‘distributed across teachers, students and resources such as books and computers’ (Kelly 2006: 507) moves professionals from peripheral (novice) to full (expert) participation in the work of schools (Lave and Wenger 1991). The sociocultural approach concerns the nature of teachers’ knowledge, its role in teacher education, and how the nature and acquisition of teachers’ knowledge are contextually shaped (Wright 2010). Teachers’ tacit knowledge is theorized as an intuitive and contextually sensitive learning process that is developed by engaging in teaching (Szesztay 2004). As such, focusing on how teachers understand themselves and their working environments permits a deeper understanding of their knowledge construction, and enables teachers to ‘make their tacit thoughts, beliefs, knowledge, fears, and hopes explicit’ and to ‘articulate the day-today problems teachers confront in their professional worlds’ (Johnson and Golombek 2011: 491). Nonetheless, in the classroom context, teachers need to make swift decisions by drawing on their tacit knowledge, which they store subconsciously as they learn to teach; teachers are thus unaware of most of the knowledge they will utilize when in action in classrooms (Dudley 2013). Therefore, a systematic framework is needed to investigate teachers’ ‘invisible’ tacit knowledge, and to reach a more precise and specific understanding of how tacit knowledge can be summoned and utilized in teaching. In borrowing the conceptualization of tacit knowledge from business and technical professions, we demonstrate its relevance for teaching practice. Blackler (2002) highlighted four major categories of tacit knowledge: embrained knowledge is conceptual skills, cognitive processes, and intellectual competencies that differ from product-oriented facts and knowledge; embodied knowledge is practical thinking developed in specific contexts and physical presence, based on sentient and sensory information, through learning in/by doing. We might consider this a form of procedural knowledge (as distinct from propositional knowledge—see Byram 2008); encultured knowledge is made up of shared understandings and values, arising from socialization and acculturation; and embedded knowledge is ecological, tied to specific work settings and environments. It informs how to develop and operationalize knowledge in alignment with multimodal affordances in a given setting. Scholars of professional migration have adopted this schema in the fields of business, science, and technology (Williams 2007; Williams and Baláž 2008), and have recognized the social and local relevance of tacit knowledge that has been interactionally and situationally developed, and thus better contextualized (Seidler-de Alwis and Hartmann 2008). However, these studies have not explicitly addressed the possibility of a transnational disposition that might develop from mobility. In assuming that migrant teachers have much to offer from their transnational disposition, we are building on the insight from Menard-Warwick (2008). She shows how the transnational awareness and experience of the migrant teachers helped them to facilitate insightful culture critique and understanding among ELT students. We expand this exploration beyond classrooms to interactions with parents and colleagues, and beyond intercultural lessons to language teaching more broadly. In this study, building on the theorization of tacit knowledge within sociocultural approaches, we borrow the four categorization of tacit knowledge from business and technical professions, and develop the concept of transnational disposition. Incorporating transnational disposition with the schema of tacit knowledge moves us beyond understanding knowledge transfer within culturally congruent contexts, informed by sociocultural theory, to explore knowledge transfer among professional migrants as they move across cultural contexts and national borders. Further, the detailed categorization of knowledge into embrained, embodied, encultured, and embedded knowledge offers greater precision and specificity, and enables us to understand tacit knowledge transfer in transnational migration in a more systematic and holistic way—conceptually, practically, culturally, and ecologically. Theorizing the relevance of the schema and transnational disposition to language teaching, we aim to advance the theorization of tacit knowledge within sociocultural approaches in the field of language teaching. To this end, we ask the following two research questions in our study: 1. What forms of tacit knowledge constitute the transnational disposition of migrant teachers? 1. What are the challenges and possibilities for migrant teachers for drawing from these dispositions to shape professional practice in migrant contexts? Before we present the perspectives of six non-Chinese migrant teachers of English in secondary schools in Hong Kong, we introduce the pedagogical context and research methods. We conclude the article with the implications for transnational pedagogy and education, in the context of globalization, for learning communities beyond Hong Kong. THE STUDY As part of a larger study on skilled migrants from diverse professions in five countries led by the second author, this qualitative study aimed at understanding migrant teachers’ experiences in knowledge development and sharing and eliciting their narratives from an insider perspective. An industrialized community that welcomed skilled migrants, including migrant teachers, under its Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, Hong Kong’s experience can be instructive. South Asians and Southeast Asians in Hong Kong Hong Kong is seen as a cosmopolitan international city that offers equal opportunities to all people; however, racial discrimination tends to exist at various levels of that society, especially given the relatively low socioeconomic status of South and Southeast Asians (Gu 2015). Although South Asians hail from a variety of nations, regions, ethnicities, classes, and religions, they are often generalized in the mass media. Such individuals tend to be socially constructed as cultural and linguistic others, and are sometimes socially stereotyped as a potential threat to the larger community (Gu 2016). It is noteworthy that the participants in this study are from Southeast and South Asian countries whose cultural and linguistic backgrounds tend to be prejudicially stereotyped in the popular discourse of Hong Kong. Furthermore, under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, these teachers are not granted the professional status native English teachers (NETs) enjoy, as elaborated in the following section. Migrant teachers in Hong Kong Migrant English language teachers can enter the Hong Kong job market either as NETs or as regular English teachers. While migrant teachers who ‘acquire the language in infancy and develop the language through adolescence and adulthood within a community where English is spoken as the first language’ (Hong Kong Education Bureau 2014) can apply for an NET position, nonnative speakers may gain a teaching position by competing with local (Chinese) teachers. As a consequence of this policy, migrant nonnative teachers tend to be treated like other local teachers, occluding the contributions these teachers might make through their diverse transnational dispositions. Though being a former British colony that used English as a second language, Hong Kong is moving to treating English as a foreign language (EFL). Recent studies adopt EFL as the acronym for Hong Kong’s pedagogical status (Lin and Wu 2015). The shift is perhaps because Hong Kong’s national identity has changed after the handover to mainland China, and Cantonese and Mandarin are becoming more prominent in local usage. However, as discourses of globalization and transnational economic relations are important for Hong Kong, multilingualism is valued at the policy level. Some researchers have called for a pedagogy that gives equal value to English, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese, developing trilingual proficiency (Wang and Kirkpatrick 2013). Also, process-oriented pedagogies (such as communicative and task-based methods) are promoted to develop the communicative competence of students (Littlewood 2007). Despite these good intentions, a more traditional product-oriented pedagogy (featuring repetition, modeling, rote drills, and memorization) and a deep-rooted monolingual language ideology still dominate classrooms (Lin 2013). These inconsistencies are partly due to the pressure of standardized examinations such as Territory-wide System Assessment (hereafter, TSA). Since test results are highly valued by school administrators and parents, critical thinking skills, which are difficult to measure in standardized testing, have been ignored in classroom teaching (Mok 2007). Teachers and school principals are under pressure to follow the government’s prescription of teaching only in Chinese or English, despite their awareness that learning will be facilitated by using students’ familiar language resources (Lin 2012). Also, the heritage languages of ethnic minorities (such as Urdu, Tamil, Panjabi, Tagalog, and Indonesian) cannot find a place in education. Data collection and data analysis We focus on six non-Chinese Asian teachers of English in government-subsidized secondary schools in Hong Kong, a gender-balanced group of three males and three females. The participants were solicited using snowball sampling (Lincoln and Guba 1985); the first author was introduced to two participants initially through her relationships with local teachers, while the participants themselves recommended others for the study. The participants, who identified themselves as Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Nepalese, and Sri Lankan, represented an array of social and cultural identities. Table 1 provides biographical information about each participant. All names are pseudonyms. Participants had educational experiences in diverse countries (i.e., their native country, the present host country, and sometimes a third country), including a postgraduate degree in ELT. In this sense, they brought considerable transnational educational and professional exposure deriving from their migrant trajectories. Table 1: Participants Name Gender Country of origin Years of stay in Hong Kong The year levels of the students taught Years of service as teacher in Hong Kong secondary schools Previous educational experience Experience and years of teaching English as a second or foreign language outside Hong Kong Nimuel Male Philippines 6 Years 7, 9, and 11 6 BA in History of Art and Architecture in the USA; PGDE in English in Hong Kong NA Ganika Female India 25 Years 8, 10 and 11 23 BA in Applied Linguistics in India; PGDE in English and MA in Applied Linguistics in Hong Kong Two years in India Chetan Male Nepal 17 Years 7, 8, and 10 6 BA in English in Napal; PGDE in English and MA in ELT in Hong Kong NA Kalpana Female Sri Lanka 14 Years 7, 8, and 9 14 BA in Economics and Japanese and Postgraduate diploma in TESOL in Australia; MA in linguistics in Hong Kong 1 year in Australia and 4 years in Japan Sajid Male Pakistan 12 Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 2 BA in Business Management in the USA; PGDE in English and MA in Linguistics in Hong Kong 3 months in Prague Kiran Female India 3 Years 7, 8, and 9 3 BA in English) and MA in English in India 4 years in India Name Gender Country of origin Years of stay in Hong Kong The year levels of the students taught Years of service as teacher in Hong Kong secondary schools Previous educational experience Experience and years of teaching English as a second or foreign language outside Hong Kong Nimuel Male Philippines 6 Years 7, 9, and 11 6 BA in History of Art and Architecture in the USA; PGDE in English in Hong Kong NA Ganika Female India 25 Years 8, 10 and 11 23 BA in Applied Linguistics in India; PGDE in English and MA in Applied Linguistics in Hong Kong Two years in India Chetan Male Nepal 17 Years 7, 8, and 10 6 BA in English in Napal; PGDE in English and MA in ELT in Hong Kong NA Kalpana Female Sri Lanka 14 Years 7, 8, and 9 14 BA in Economics and Japanese and Postgraduate diploma in TESOL in Australia; MA in linguistics in Hong Kong 1 year in Australia and 4 years in Japan Sajid Male Pakistan 12 Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 2 BA in Business Management in the USA; PGDE in English and MA in Linguistics in Hong Kong 3 months in Prague Kiran Female India 3 Years 7, 8, and 9 3 BA in English) and MA in English in India 4 years in India Note: PGDE: Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Table 1: Participants Name Gender Country of origin Years of stay in Hong Kong The year levels of the students taught Years of service as teacher in Hong Kong secondary schools Previous educational experience Experience and years of teaching English as a second or foreign language outside Hong Kong Nimuel Male Philippines 6 Years 7, 9, and 11 6 BA in History of Art and Architecture in the USA; PGDE in English in Hong Kong NA Ganika Female India 25 Years 8, 10 and 11 23 BA in Applied Linguistics in India; PGDE in English and MA in Applied Linguistics in Hong Kong Two years in India Chetan Male Nepal 17 Years 7, 8, and 10 6 BA in English in Napal; PGDE in English and MA in ELT in Hong Kong NA Kalpana Female Sri Lanka 14 Years 7, 8, and 9 14 BA in Economics and Japanese and Postgraduate diploma in TESOL in Australia; MA in linguistics in Hong Kong 1 year in Australia and 4 years in Japan Sajid Male Pakistan 12 Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 2 BA in Business Management in the USA; PGDE in English and MA in Linguistics in Hong Kong 3 months in Prague Kiran Female India 3 Years 7, 8, and 9 3 BA in English) and MA in English in India 4 years in India Name Gender Country of origin Years of stay in Hong Kong The year levels of the students taught Years of service as teacher in Hong Kong secondary schools Previous educational experience Experience and years of teaching English as a second or foreign language outside Hong Kong Nimuel Male Philippines 6 Years 7, 9, and 11 6 BA in History of Art and Architecture in the USA; PGDE in English in Hong Kong NA Ganika Female India 25 Years 8, 10 and 11 23 BA in Applied Linguistics in India; PGDE in English and MA in Applied Linguistics in Hong Kong Two years in India Chetan Male Nepal 17 Years 7, 8, and 10 6 BA in English in Napal; PGDE in English and MA in ELT in Hong Kong NA Kalpana Female Sri Lanka 14 Years 7, 8, and 9 14 BA in Economics and Japanese and Postgraduate diploma in TESOL in Australia; MA in linguistics in Hong Kong 1 year in Australia and 4 years in Japan Sajid Male Pakistan 12 Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 2 BA in Business Management in the USA; PGDE in English and MA in Linguistics in Hong Kong 3 months in Prague Kiran Female India 3 Years 7, 8, and 9 3 BA in English) and MA in English in India 4 years in India Note: PGDE: Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate the participants’ position in the workplace, negotiations of the local curriculum and classroom practice, and professional interactions with colleagues and parents. All interviews were conducted in English. They lasted around one-and-a-half hours. They were audiotaped and transcribed. Data analysis was done in an interactive manner. We moved between the data, the literature on migrant professionals, and the theoretical constructs described above. The interview transcripts were coded for common themes, adopting methods from grounded theory. As the first step in analysis, ‘codes’ were used to organize the data (Miles and Huberman 1994: 56). We searched for words, phrases, and ideas that occurred and re-occurred in the interviews. These ‘indigenous concepts’ (Patton 2002: 454) used by the participants included ‘marginal’, ‘cannot understand Cantonese’, ‘examination-oriented teaching’, ‘communicative teaching’, ‘old curriculum’, and ‘new curriculum’. By coding them, we identified themes that were consistent across interviews (Strauss and Corbin 1998). The themes that emerged as significant were being invisible in the workplace; shaping the social dispositions of non-local ethnic minority students; shaping classroom instruction by overcoming the limitations of local teaching methods; promoting positive educational and cultural dispositions among migrant/minority community parents; and sharing knowledge with local colleagues by drawing on their transnational experiences. Since the participants claimed to have drawn from their migrant experiences and dispositions to shape knowledge sharing in their work, and considered their dispositions as distinguishing them from the practices of local teachers, we then did selective coding on the types of tacit knowledge deemed significant. We analyzed how the four forms of tacit knowledge (introduced earlier) helped them in their process of knowledge sharing. As a form of member check, we asked the participants to correct any misinterpretations and to fill in inadequacies in the information. Though taking steps to ensure the trustworthiness of findings, we are aware that the opinions and narratives of the participants could be aspirational, as tacit knowledge is by nature untheorized. Yet, even exaggerated claims are important to provide us a window into the participants’ perspectives. FINDINGS Being invisible in the workplace None of the participants indicated encountering open opposition or discrimination in their workplaces. However, they did report experiencing invisibility, as reflected in the following excerpt: Chetan: The school tries to regard me as one of the local teachers. But, after all I am different from them. I speak different Cantonese from them, I don't know their habits and traditions, I use English as my working language and I can speak Nepalese, Urdu, and Hindi. Sometimes, when they talk in Cantonese in faculty meetings, I cannot follow and of course cannot express my ideas and make my contribution based on my previous experiences. Ironically, being treated as a local teacher is a mixed blessing. Chetan’s experiences show that while migrant nonnative teachers are accommodated into the local professional community, their difference is not appreciated or harnessed for teacher development. A particular way in which this exclusion happens is through the use of Cantonese by local teachers in faculty meetings, preventing Chetan from enjoying full participation in professional development. Though the embrained knowledge of multilingual competence of Chetan in English, Nepalese, Urdu, and Hindi can open many other avenues for communication, his local colleagues seem to assume that migrant teachers know Cantonese and understand local norms. In mentioning language as a barrier to ‘mak[ing] my contribution based on my previous experiences’, Chetan signals his eagerness to draw from his transnational disposition to contribute to mutual professional development. Many of the participants argued for the need for greater cultural and linguistic diversity in the workplace so that they could become part of the local professional community. Kalpana stated: They cannot just expect us to be the same as them, speaking the same language, enjoying the same music or movies, etcetera. Very homogeneous … My experiences told me that diversity is good in a school, especially when there are students from different ethnic backgrounds. Students can have more exposure. Kalpana’s awareness of the benefits of diversity comes from her ‘experiences’, and we can argue that criticism of local norms derives from her encultured knowledge on the educational value of diversity. Some reflected on the possibility that the relationships and norms in the school are conditioned by the dominant ideologies outside the school: Sajid: Chinese culture is dominant in Hong Kong and most local people do not know much about the cultures of other minorities. This influences school culture. But to my knowledge, a lot of minorities know about Chinese New Year and other festivals, since they have been here long. They're relatively more aware of the situation of the local people than the other way around. Sajid’s awareness of the limitations of the ideology adopted by the mainstream community that ignores diversity and their shaping effect on school culture, and practice can be attributed to his transnational dispositions. In the following section, we will see below that the embodied and encultured knowledge on how, when, and where one can establish useful social networks, developed through socializing in multiple migrant contexts, helped the participants inculcate similar values in students. Shaping the dispositions of non-local students Among the proactive steps participants took to engage in knowledge sharing in workplace was drawing on their transnational dispositions to shape the values and perspectives of minority/migrant students. Four participants (Nimuel, Kalpana, Sajid, and Kiran) stated that they had made efforts to offer ‘something new’ (in Sajid’s words) to such students as they enjoyed good rapport with them: Nimuel: I have many Filipino students, and many South Asian students. I think the idea that we have some shared heritage or some sort of … I speak in Filipino or Tagalish with the Filipino students. I also tried to learn Hindi and Urdu. In fact, I can carry on a conversation in their language. It does provide some intangible benefits. It is never me versus them. I think they think of me as someone who really allies with them and cares about their interests … I also shared with them my studying experiences in the U.S. and encouraged them to appreciate their own cultures and languages. It seems that they became more confident. The extract above indicates that Nimuel’s encultured awareness of diversity and embrained knowledge of multilingual proficiency help establish rapport with students in their own languages. His reference to learning Hindi and Urdu suggests ongoing language socialization that embrains new language proficiencies (albeit it constitutes a few relevant tokens in the form of ‘fragmented multilingualism’—see Blommaert 2010). More importantly, he draws from his transnational experience to also affirm the heritage languages and cultures migrant students bring with them, as they might be under pressure to shift to dominant ideologies. The rapport he is able to establish with migrant students perhaps provides him the identity of a role model. In all this, he is drawing from his encultured values and embrained language knowledge to practice identity as pedagogy (Morgan 2004). Nimuel’s experience of interacting with migrant students in their own languages was not uncommon among the other participants like Kalpana, Sajid, and Kiran. Accommodating the students’ heritage languages helped teachers establish an insider identity, enabling students to step out of their inhibitions. Going beyond the curriculum, they advised their students on socialization in the host society. Consider Kiran’s example: Interviewer: Do you often give your students advice? Kiran: Yes. I like to share my experience with the students. I will also push them to study harder, because they are really at disadvantage when it comes to equal opportunity in the job market … I will ask them not to be negative or pessimistic in face of some neglect or inequality. Anything happens on the train or in your neighbourhood, let others know. If they don't know about your culture, it's sort of your responsibility to educate them … I think it's realistic to improve things much better because Hong Kong is a very diverse place. I ask my students to get chances to learn Chinese philosophy or culture. Kiran claims to make an effort to empower students to resist negative attributions they might experience outside the school (‘on the train or in your neighborhood’). Thus she inspires them to be agentive, encouraging them to stand up for their culture and rights by educating those from the dominant community about diversity. In turn, Kiran also tries to motivate them to appreciate the Chinese philosophy and culture. She explicitly attributes her role in social adjustment to her minority status (not only in Hong Kong but presumably in the other countries she has been to or lived in) and her desire to ‘share my experiences’, thus testifying to the value of such tacit encultured knowledge. Five participants (Nimuel, Chetan, Kalpana, Sajid, and Kiran) indicated that they were keen to help their students establish hybrid identities, going beyond their own culture and the locally dominant culture. For example, Kalpana shared with students her transcultural experience: Kalpana: I shared my experience of forming new social networks with my students. I tried to convey a message that you don't need to stick with any one ethnic group and you can be multicultural through socializing with people with different ethnicities. Interviewer: What kind of experience? Kalpana: I joined a hiking group where there are a lot of locals. In my circle of friends, they are all different nationalities. For example, my closest friend is Chinese-Filipino. Now she moved to Malaysia. I have German and Malaysia friends. A Malaysia friend is married to a French girl. Also American friends. Not only one nationality … It is like a snowball. My friends in Australia introduced whom they knew in Hong Kong to me when I first arrived, and then these friends made me know more people. I also have some local friends as well. Maybe those people are not really local. They travel a lot … I am not alone even though sometimes it is difficult to befriend colleagues in my school. Kalpana draws from her procedural knowledge on how to establish networks in migrant contexts by identifying possible local members and activities. We see the role of migrant networks when some of her friends in Australia introduce her to their contacts in Hong Kong to ease her transition into the new social context. The notion of ‘snowball’ relationships is a direct benefit of such embodied knowledge. Kalpana’s success in this venture derives from her knowledge on how to form new relationships in migrant settings. Through socializing in multiple migrant contexts, Kalpana has developed some tacit knowledge on how, when, and where she can establish useful social networks. What we see developing is an alternative community with transnational dispositions. In motivating her students not to ‘stick with any one ethnic group’ and to move out of their own ethnic enclaves and socialize with people from diverse cultures, Kalpana is promoting cosmopolitan identities, drawing on her embodied knowledge and encultured knowledge. In a similar vein, Sajid was found to facilitate cultural reconstruction and hybrid identities among their students. Sajid said: A lot of Chinese cultures are very good, and I appreciate them. But it doesn't mean I will totally live as a Chinese and take on all the cultural elements. In my culture, there are also a lot of good things, but at the same time there are things that are sort of not in line or may not make too much sense to me. I can weigh the pros and cons and make something new. I told this to my students and hope they understood. Sajid claims to have helped students avoid essentializing and glorifying cultures, with his encultured knowledge. By ‘weigh[ing] the pros and cons’, he points out the importance of critiquing both their own and the dominant culture, and adopting a more reflexive stand point. By ‘something new’, he is referring to the possibility of constructing hybrid values and practices, emerging from cultural negotiations. Thus he is promoting the idea that ethnic minorities living in a host society can renegotiate the values of different cultures to their advantage. Promoting positive values among migrant parents Migrant teachers also narrated how they drew from their tacit knowledge developed through their transnational experience to facilitate more constructive communication with migrant parents. In this sense, rather than limiting their focus to the classroom, they considered community involvement as equally important for their work. The following statement is illustrative: Nimuel: Last Sunday we had the parents' conference. Filipino parents speak English to me, or even Filipino or Tagalog. Many South Asian parents could speak English for the most part, but our conversation would normally be limited. So I use Urdu or Hindi to them. I guess we try to use the languages that the parents feel most comfortable with to communicate. I can still remember how much I appreciated when one speaks Tagalog to me when I was studying in the US. That is how we are different from the local teachers, who can only speak English and Chinese. As in the earlier extracts relating to students, the embrained multilingual knowledge of migrant teachers helps them establish a rapport with the parents. Nimuel suggests that this is an advantage for migrant teachers, as local teachers, ‘who can only speak English and Chinese’, are limited by their linguistic knowledge. The empathy he displays to shift to the languages preferred by minority community parents benefits from an encultured knowledge from his transnational experience in the USA when one accommodated his language demand and talked in Tagalog. Chetan goes on to illustrate how he draws on his plurilingualism to convey information, knowledge, and values to parents, most of whom are not well integrated into the host society: We have shared languages and they [parents] trust me a lot. So it is easier to explain things to them and talk about the students' performance. For the parents, most of them have little connection with the outer society, so our communication can bring new information to them. I explained why it was important for their children to receive higher education, and to find some jobs different from their own, and why it was important for the girls to continue studying, etcetera. Chetan claims to have conveyed to parents school information on their children’s performance, social knowledge when they are disconnected from ‘outer society’, and relevant values for social mobility. Drawing on the encultured knowledge deriving from their exposure to different communities, other participants also claimed to share positive values on the importance of higher education, social mobility, and gender equality to parents from less-skilled professions or conservative values. Shaping classroom instruction As discussed in the Method section, partially due to the pressure of standardized examinations, a more product-oriented pedagogy and English-only ideology are prevalent in ELT education in Hong Kong (Lin 2013). As several migrant teachers observed in their interviews, since exam results are highly valued by the education authorities and school administrators, teaching in Hong Kong tends to overlook critical thinking skills, but in favor of stuffing knowledge into students. The migrant teachers’ tacit knowledge was found to enable pedagogical renegotiation and change, which then reformed local pedagogical traditions and practices. For example, participants drew from their tacit knowledge to shape pedagogy in creative but strategic ways. Consider Nimuel’s practice: I teach English and literature. But I incorporated humanities-related elements, so I also go over geography, Greek and Roman civilization, and European history. For instance, we read Elie Wiesel's memoir on the holocaust, so I also talked about World War II. I just try to find as many opportunities as possible to incorporate and introduce things that are not in the syllabus or the textbooks. I never really find this kind of English teaching, I mean strictly following the syllabus, very rewarding … I love grammar as a subject, and also like linguistics. But if I were a high school student, I would not wake up thinking ‘oh my goodness, I can't wait to do grammar. Let me go to school now’. More important than the ways Nimuel moved English teaching beyond the typical syllabus and textbooks is his understanding of what contributes to effective motivation and relevant learning. He goes on to say how grammar focused teaching might demotivate the students. In initiating all these changes, he also feels strongly that teachers should move beyond a strict adherence to prescribed curriculum. These dispositions mark his embrained knowledge on effective learning/teaching processes. Kalpana shared how she took the dominant pedagogy on speech beyond memorization of spelling and pronunciation to integrate it with relevant content to contextualize learning and help focus on meaning: The school didn't use phonics in teaching [how to speak], and the students directly prepared for the TSA with no specialized knowledge. The students had no knowledge of basic sounds and simply tried to memorize phrases. I have developed a speaking curriculum in terms of phonics and shared materials among local colleagues. I tried to contextualize students’ learning and helped them focus on meaning when learning new words. The standardized testing seems to have pressured local teachers and students to adopt a more formalistic and memorization-based approach. Kalpana’s strategy leans toward purposeful learning through contextualizing pronunciation in learning. While not detracting from mastery of form, which is important for the test, Kalpana makes the learning more efficient by connecting it to meaningful communication. Kalpana further shared how her integration of content broadened the perspective of the students as global citizens with a transnational disposition: We focused a lot on the US elections recently. We watched debates and speeches, and we analyzed speeches and American political culture … I tried to give them some background or awareness of their place in a bigger world. Kalpana draws from her teaching experience in Australia and Japan to initiate this pedagogical intervention. More than the actual content and method adopted, what is more important is her vision of broadening students’ perspectives and developing transnational awareness, informed by her embrained content knowledge. Migrant teachers also introduced critical thinking to counteract the detrimental effects of dominant form-focused teaching: Nimuel: I want them to be empathic and compassionate, but also creative and innovative. You don't rely on what has been done and you can find your own way. The fixed curriculum will somewhat limit their development. Interviewer: Could you elaborate on that? Nimuel: I am reading the book written by the founder of Khan Academy; the videos on YouTube that teach math. He argues about the traditional classroom model, block time for subjects, making everyone do the same thing. It's really the opposite of creativity when you're forcing uniformity in people. Having a traditional system doesn't necessarily create the condition for innovations and creativity. I reminded my students repeatedly that life has no model answer. If you are only looking for the model answer, then you're gonna live your life not really questioning. You are living your life by the textbook. In referring to the Khan Academy, Nimuel is drawing from his awareness of alternate pedagogies elsewhere and in non-formal sites (such as YouTube). Nimuel argues against the fixed curriculum in traditional classroom models and its negative impact on students’ innovation and creativity. He sets up his own teaching philosophy in opposition to traditional pedagogies and reminded his students to move outside of the textbook to think independently. The following excerpt documents the measures Nimuel took to implement his teaching beliefs through more systematic, ecological, and infrastructural changes. He obtained resources to reshape the classroom ecology and motivate students to promote his new content-based curriculum: One of the big changes recently was that I proposed a reading programme for Form one [Year seven] students instead of relying on the school library, which is very limited. In the past summer, we ordered one hundred and twenty books for four classrooms, so for each classroom there is a collection of books that will stay there forever. One hundred and twenty most famous young adult titles, not just the whole series of Harry Porter, but also science fiction books. Now compared to previous classes, this year's Form one [Year seven] has the pilot programme. They are really reading a lot of books, while other students in our school don't have the opportunity to read. In using the classroom space effectively, Nimuel is drawing from his embedded knowledge from other teaching contexts. This is an ecological awareness of how the arrangement of the learning environment with relevant affordances can subtly motivate students to read more frequently. Nimuel shapes learning spaces to favor his pedagogical priorities, and orders books beyond creative and children’s writing to include non-fiction as well. Thus the participants developed a pedagogy that resisted the dominance of examination-oriented teaching. They introduced more content-based teaching that accommodated diverse readings beyond the literary texts, which also encouraged critical thinking and a cosmopolitan ethos. Interestingly, not only do they themselves boast of a transnational disposition, they claim to shape learning to develop those dispositions among their students as well. The participants went on to note positive changes in their students deriving from their pedagogical innovation. Three of the participants indicated that they observed a transformative process in their local students. Compared with students in the same classes taught by local teachers, their students tended to show ‘more independent and critical thinking’ (Chetan), ‘more courage to challenge model answers’ (Nimuel), and to ‘be better activity organizers’ (Kalpana). Sharing knowledge with local colleagues When asked about local colleagues’ reception of their lesson content and pedagogical practice, participants admitted there were differences and tensions. However, they pointed to the importance of striking a balance between teaching creatively and aligning one’s self with the existing curriculum and school policy. Consider Ganika’s view: I mean, people expect you to … try not to be too innovative or suggest too many things … Yeah, you have to control yourself. But a lot of policies are not really useful. A lot of routines are not so good. I do try to suggest, but people are hesitant to change … I am different from them, because they have been living in Hong Kong and the traditional and conservative way of teaching has become part of them. They need to be more flexible. Though Ganika is aware of the hesitation to change among local teachers, she does not give up. She is cautious in initiating changes, however. She says she ‘suggests’, probably hinting at changes rather than imposing them on others. Also, in saying one ‘has to control’ oneself, she acknowledges the need to refrain from extreme or hasty measures. We may understand these strategies as deriving from her embodied knowledge of initiating judicious pedagogical changes. This is also referred to as ‘conditionalized knowledge’ by Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999: 43), referring to an understanding of how and when what has been learnt can be implemented. Ganika’s attribution of a conservative disposition among local teachers has to be treated with caution though. It is fair to say that she has the ability to defamiliarize herself from locally embedded pedagogies which might be informed by local ideologies and traditional practices. However, it is noteworthy that Ganika here tends to ‘other’ the local Chinese teachers’ pedagogy as conservative. Similar to three other participants, perhaps unwittingly, Ganika may have essentialized her pedagogy to be categorically different from and superior to that of local teachers. Two participants (Nimuel and Kalpana) adopted creative appropriation, rather than undertaking a one-sided knowledge ‘transfer’. They are found to negotiate conflicting pedagogies, accumulating more knowledge of local norms and teaching practices, and adapting new practices to construct a pedagogical change. Nimuel clarified his strategy of pedagogical change as follows: What I like doing is incorporating things from different areas and placing them together. I look at what I learnt before and what I have [learnt] here, and I can see what could be used and integrated with personal experience and background. My understanding of the local culture helped me develop more localized materials, which the students and the school felt was more acceptable. The experience I got in Hong Kong will always be of value to me. Many times I feel the need to learn more about the local, the culture, language and curriculum, to develop better teaching materials. Nimuel is finding ways of acculturating into the local pedagogical context to understand the local preferences and norms. Combining what he had learnt before from other places with what he is learning in Hong Kong allowed Nimuel to envision a pedagogy which is bound to be more appealing to local colleagues. His balanced self-reflective ability is demonstrated in the above extract by his acknowledging the importance and value of local experience and knowledge. Therefore, rather than seeing the local pedagogy and curriculum as inherently inferior, Nimuel shows some openness to understanding their value. With the desire to ‘learn more about the local’, he is also treating his teaching in Hong Kong as having enriched his transnational experience. Thus, despite the tensions and constraints, there was some positive sharing of knowledge between migrant and local teachers. For instance, Kalpana mentioned that the content-based phonetic teaching materials she shared ‘were well received’. DISCUSSION The findings show that while informing teaching with their tacit knowledge gained in transnational life, migrant teachers continue to develop their dispositions in the local pedagogical, linguistic, and social contexts. We might identify the dispositions that participants draw from for their teaching as follows, with the caveat that these categories are not exclusive or air tight: Embrained: understanding of learning as more effective if situated in meaningful content, social context, and purposeful communication; effective strategies of motivating students; and processes of facilitating critical and creative thinking; Encultured: values favoring diversity, critical thinking, creativity, multicultural awareness, self-affirmation, hybrid identities, tolerance, and empathy; and building rapport with minority communities; Embodied: how to negotiate pedagogical change; establish social networks; and negotiate new values and practices; Embedded: using the local ecology effectively for learning outcomes; understanding social and educational practices in their situatedness; and ways of embedding new practices in local ecologies. The participants attribute their difference in social and pedagogical orientation to their transnational dispositions. We have to be open to the possibility that multilingual and multicultural teachers may have the resources and experiences to develop such dispositions locally, especially in a context where the global permeates the local. Besides, as migration scholars point out, mobility has transnational implications to everyone, including those who may not travel (Glick Schiller and Faist 2010). Within the framework of our situated qualitative study, we can only establish the dispositions observed and the claim of the participants that their dispositions are different from locals because of their migrant experiences. We have to examine such dispositions in more broadly framed comparative studies to establish how far this claim can be generalized. Furthermore, while there are no observational data to prove that these dispositions resulted in positive knowledge sharing and development in education, even the self-reported data indicate that transnational dispositions do not automatically translate into constructive changes. There are many factors that prevent knowledge sharing. The following emerges as significant from our interviews: educational ideologies that favor teacher-fronted and form-focused approaches; standardized testing instruments which motivate formulaic learning; institutional cultures that favor local language interactions, dominance of certain professionals and marginalization of others, and traditional pedagogies; and lack of spaces or encouragement for collaboration, networking, and understanding among diverse groups of teachers. Despite these limitations, migrant teachers are found to be able to find some spaces for pedagogical innovation and professional contribution. It is a testament to their transnational dispositions that they strategically strive for limited forms of community and gradual changes. Outside the strict boundaries of the formal teaching environments, they are able to find informal spaces to help migrant/minority students and their parents in their educational and social development. Adopting their embodied negotiation strategy of conditional change, migrant teachers claim to have initiated subtle changes in classroom pedagogy. In ‘teacher identity as pedagogy’ (Morgan 2004), the mere presence of teachers with transcultural disposition is bound to engender effects on students and fellow teachers. In the discourse of globalization, the so-called cultural imperialism of the English language (Phillipson 2000) seems to prevail in Hong Kong. The deeply rooted monolingual (English-only) ideology stipulated in schools’ policies is a general methodological description of ELT education. These factors, together with the prejudicially stereotyped social images of South Asians and Southeast Asians, implicitly placed the migrant teachers in a marginalized position. However, these teachers actively responded to their imposed invisibility and workplace marginalization, argued for diversity in the schools, and attempted to turn their disadvantages to advantages. They drew on the encultured and embedded knowledge they accumulated from different places to construct a new identity as teachers who could exert positive influences on non-local students and enlighten their community, which otherwise tended to limit their children’s education and employment options. This can be understood as a means of motivating non-local students to identify their own positions, interests, ideologies, and assumptions when confronted, rather than use silence as a coping strategy (Sheets and Chew 2002). The findings also indicate that some participants compared local professionals and their pedagogical preferences unfavorably with their own values and dispositions. By establishing a cultural hierarchy in pedagogy, the teachers set up their own pedagogy as implicit referents and exercised power in the discourse. This lack of appreciation might itself have been an effect of the limited networking and collaboration between local and migrant teachers. It would be desirable if teachers were to reflect on their own experiences of being othered, and of othering people from different age, race, ethnic, gender, cultural, and linguistic groups (Menard-Warwick 2008), so as to avoid making sweeping claims about teaching approaches. Interactions among themselves and with local Chinese teachers will be helpful for the further professionalization of the migrant teachers themselves. They provide opportunities for critical reflection on their own dispositions, reflexivity on their knowledge, and conscious development of their practices. We must not glorify tacit knowledge. Its personal and intuitive nature (which we presented earlier as the source of its value) is also the cause of its limitations. It is bound to contain unexamined biases and stereotypes, such as those we noted above. It can also lack effective ways of developing more systematically into explicit knowledge and practices for application in diverse environments. A reflexive awareness is required to develop a more informed, critical, and explicit understanding of tacit knowledge, to be transformed into resources. Kramsch (1993) and Menard-Warwick (2008) offer recommendations to draw from the experiences of teachers for intercultural pedagogies. Activities such as journaling, critical reflection, and autoethnographies can help teachers develop a meta-cognitive awareness of their tacit knowledge resources. In-service training and workshops can also help migrant teachers translate their tacit knowledge for local relevance. They should also be encouraged to form informal communities of practice that can help them build their pedagogies in relevance to ongoing transnational experiences. Initiating changes in relationships between migrant teachers and local communities has to be multifaceted and broad based. It covers the whole gamut of ideological changes at the policy level, curricular changes at the institutional level, and micro-scale changes in interpersonal relationships between professionals. Bartlett (2014) argues that the status of migrant teachers should also be reconsidered from the currently dominant one of ‘transients’ to a more settled and integrated ‘transplants’. While such a list of changes might make us despair, it is heartening to note that subtle changes are already underway. As we mentioned above, the mere presence of migrant professionals in local communities, institutions, and classrooms presents alternate possibilities. They provide opportunities for critical reflexivity and detachment to local professionals. These changes in thinking and awareness could gradually lead to broad-based ideological and structural changes, which can promote more productive knowledge exchange. A focus on dispositions may help us reconsider the current division and hierarchy of English language teachers based on language ownership. The native/nonnative dichotomy in policy lumps migrant nonnative English-speaking teachers together with local Chinese teachers in Hong Kong, while elevating the status of NET, limiting the contributions all teachers might make through their diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. While occluding the possibilities in the transnational dispositions of migrant teachers, it also inhibits collaborations between native and nonnative teachers. Moving beyond language ownership, if we treat dispositions as the key to professionalization, we can appreciate the transnational dispositions NET also bring to other communities through their mobility, the same way nonnative migrant teachers do. This perspective would help treat NET and migrant nonnative English-speaking teachers on an equal footing, not forgetting that local teachers may also draw from their dispositions in a globalized world. The profession can thus move from the debilitating native/nonnative binary and consider the dispositions all practitioners are developing to make positive pedagogical contributions. In the knowledge economy, learners are expected to become portfolio people with diversified dispositions and skills to be relevant and productive. This study sheds lights on how migrant teachers’ tacit knowledge and transnational dispositions can be transformed into resources for local students and schools. Integrating them better into local professional communities would help interrogate educational practices and enable policy makers to shape a learning environment that facilitates knowledge sharing. If skilled migration is to move beyond glorified claims of ‘win win’ situation for all communities in the neoliberal dispensation, we have to explore how knowledge sharing and development can be more multidirectional, balanced, and sustained. Conflict of interest statement. None declared. Acknowledgements We are grateful to the Editors, and Reviewers for their constructive feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript, and to Professor Adrian Bailey for his valuable comments on research design of the study. We would also like to thank Dr Doris Qu for her kind assistance in data transcription. 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Journal

Applied LinguisticsOxford University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2018

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