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  Looking at the mental picture of reality ...   179 Ilha do Desterro Florianópolis nº 46 p.179-210 jan./jun. 2004 LOOKING AT THE “MENTAL PICTURE OF REALITY” OFAN EFL TEACHER: A SYSTEMIC FUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS 1  Luciani S. de O. MalatérLuciani S. de O. MalatérLuciani S. de O. MalatérLuciani S. de O. MalatérLuciani S. de O. MalatérUniversidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil AbstractAbstractAbstractAbstractAbstract In this study, I analyze an interview conducted with a Brazilian EFL teacher.Through the analysis of transitivity, I aim at understanding how he 2 encodeshis teaching experience and professional roles. The study highlights some of the potentialities of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) (Halliday, 1994) asa theoretical framework to be used to categorize teachers’ discourse, making both the discussion and interpretation of data more systematic. Analysis of the research participant’s discourse reveals, on the one hand, his concernswith the quality and development of his teaching practice, as well as withhis learners’ needs. The analysis also shows, on the other hand, that he doesnot seem to share his professional responsibilities collaboratively with hiscolleagues and students. These findings may be helpful to debates in languageteacher education for the benefit of both prospective and practicing teachers .Keywords:  EFL teacher; reflective interview; systemic functional linguistics;transitivity.  180 Luciani S. de O. Malatér 1.1.1.1.1.IntroductionIntroductionIntroductionIntroductionIntroductionIn this paper I aim at analyzing a language teacher’s discourse,focusing on his perception of himself as a professional. Morespecifically, I am interested here in seeing how a Brazilian EFL teacherencodes his teaching roles, interweaving his different memories in acontinuous trajectory as a teacher. Through the analysis of transitivity, Itry to see which “mental picture of reality”   (Halliday, 1994, p. 106; Buttet al., 2000, p. 46) he has in relation to his profession. In a Hallidayanperspective, I am interested in how language is used “(…) to makesense of what goes on around them [human beings] and inside them”(Halliday, 1994, p. 106). In other words, the focus is on how a teachersees himself as a subject acting in the context of Teaching English as aForeign Language (TEFL) in Brazil.There is a recognized need to provide FL teachers withopportunities to verbalize their practice. Recent literature on the topichighlights the importance of a critical reflection on teaching (Burns,1999; Knezevic & Scholl, 1996; Richards, 1998, Heberle& Meurer, 2001;Heberle, 2001). In fact, there are many examples of successful attemptsat this kind of inquiry in Brazil, such as: Almeida Filho (1999), Celani(2003), Gimenez (1994), Reichmann (2001), Telles (1996), and Vieira-Abrahão (1999). All these studies agree on the possible contributionsthat a reflective approach may bring to the teaching field. Favoring atext-analysis pursued within its social context, the claim I would like tomake here is that, since Halliday’s theory of language holds the notionthat “there are no meanings waiting around to be encoded; the meaningis created in language” (Halliday, 1994, p. xii), his grammar may be avaluable alternative for text analysis, helping researchers to analyzedata in a systematized context-bound perspective.Within this framework, and taking into account that “one’sdiscourse is an effect of one’s subjectivity rather than vice-versa”(Fairclough, 1992, p. 122), I suggest that teachers’ texts should be furtheranalyzed within the socially constituted nature of language andidentity-construction. In this regard, I propose to analyze a reflective  Looking at the mental picture of reality ...   181 meeting I had with the teacher who participated in my MA study(Malatér, 1998).The focus of this meeting was on this teacher’s teaching practice,about which he talked enthusiastically. The data were transcribed andanalyzed following some of the textual parameters set forth by SFL(Halliday, 1994). In order to fulfill the aim of this study, an analysis of  transitivity  will be presented, focusing on the  participants  (i.e. socialactors), processes  (i.e. verbs) and circumstances  (i.e. “the whys andwhens and wherefores” [Butt et al. , 2000, p. 47]) referred to during thisinformal interview.First I briefly review some of the literature on teacher development,trying to establish a connection between the construction of teachers’identities and their roles. Then, I introduce Halliday’s ideationalmetafunction, which is realized through the system of transitivity,connecting it to my main purpose. Next, I move on to the empiricalcontext of this research, presenting in detail the context of situation, i.e.the who  , what  and how  of the present study, establishing the frame to be analyzed. After that, I present the data analysis and discussion.Finally I suggest some possible contributions of the analysis madehere to the debate about language teacher education.2.2.2.2.2.A concept of teacher educationA concept of teacher educationA concept of teacher educationA concept of teacher educationA concept of teacher educationLanguage teachers are usually seen as friends, as dictators, asmediators, as inflexible or as open-minded people. For each of theseperceptions, there will be a different view on how teachers should beeducated as professionals. Roberts (1998), for example, proposes four models of the person ,   which have different conceptions about theobjectives, content and process of human learning. These models,according to the author, will influence teacher education and the models of the teacher  . In other words, “what a teacher is, what s/he knows andhow s/he learns” (p. 13) will vary according to how the teacher ispictured by herself/himself and by other people, depending on theinteractions s/he establishes. According to these models, the person  182 Luciani S. de O. Malatér may be seen: “as input-output system”, “with self-agency”, “asconstructivist”, or “as social being” (Roberts, 1998, p.13).Although each of these four perspectives throw light on differentfacets of teacher learning, I agree with Roberts (1998, p. 44) when hesuggests a social constructivist approach as a frame for languageteaching education. In this perspective, there is an interdependence between the personal and the social dimensions which will stronglyinfluence our identity as teachers. As pointed out by the same author,“our development will be framed by the relationships and dialoguethat are available to us” (p. 44). In other words, our selfness, as teachers,is influenced by many othernesses. This is in line with Halliday’s viewof humans as social beings (see Halliday, 1978). The present study willhighly consider this socially constructed identity as a reliableperspective in the process of becoming a teacher.It seems that this process needs to be further investigated inForeign Language Teaching (FLT) contexts; and to fulfill this aim,teachers need to propose and/or participate in research of their owninterest (as suggested by Moita-Lopes, 1996; and Burns, 1999). In bothproposing and participating in research, teachers would focus on theirown teaching practices and on their possible impacts on learners’education. By the same token, the pertinent literature considers teachingas a process that requires constant reflection on the part of those whoare involved and interested in it. According to Richards and Lockhart(1994), critical reflection involves the process of questioning, and “inasking and answering questions (...), teachers are in a position to evaluatetheir teaching, to decide if aspects of their own teaching could bechanged, to develop strategies for change, and to monitor the effects of implementing these strategies” (p. 2). This study considers reflection aconstant and principled investigation, an essential element that may helpteachers in their lifelong improvement process. I am aware, however,that — as pointed out by Vieira-Abrahão (2001) — the FLT communityneeds to achieve a better understanding of the contributions andlimitations that a reflective approach may bring to FL teacher education.
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