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Teachers’ experiences in a UK international school : the challenges of adaptation

By Vasiliki I. Papaioannou


This research is a qualitative case study which explores teachers’ past and present\ud experiences and beliefs in a multilingual, UK International School: ‘Dombey\ud School’. This school employs teachers from eight nationalities and enrols students\ud from more. Two research questions guided this study: In what ways (if any) are\ud teachers’ experiences in such a multilingual school distinctive? Is there any evidence\ud that the multilingual – multicultural identity of such a school offers particular\ud advantages or disadvantages to teachers in terms of work or professional\ud development?\ud Semi-structured interviews with forty-seven secondary cycle teachers shed light on\ud their educational and teaching backgrounds and explore their experiences in a school\ud dedicated to the promotion of multilingual and multicultural education. Fieldnotes,\ud memos, classroom observation and documents were also used as data in the study.\ud This research explores teachers’ cultural differences and their impact on teachers’\ud work, relationships and adaptation to the school. It also highlights some of the\ud professional challenges faced by teachers in a culturally diverse context which draws\ud them towards linguistic and cultural ghettoes. Teachers’ behaviours in the school are\ud explained in terms of Hofstede’s four dimensional model (1986) and the analysis\ud also draws on other work by Hofstede as well as that of Triandis. My findings\ud discuss teachers’ values and attitudes in the school taking into account the\ud individuality and the particular characteristics of the existent school culture.\ud This thesis points to the need for cross-cultural teacher training programmes and an\ud induction phase in schools of this sort in order to help teachers acquire skills which\ud will help them respect and appreciate cultural differences, prepare them to teach in a\ud school of cultural and linguistic diversity and lead to their successful integration into\ud the school culture. The conclusion highlights the neglect of teachers’ needs\ud compared to the importance given to students in this type of education

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