Guofang Li


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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

New hierarchies, new middle class: a critical ethnography of English as a medium of instruction policy in Nepal's public schools (2022)

Despite continued calls for the “multi/plural turn” (Kubota, 2016a; May, 2014) for instructional practices and “linguistic human rights” for education through mother tongue (Skutnabb-Kangas, 1988), there is currently a global surge of English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in school education that situates English in a dominant position. This study is motivated by such a widespread of EMI in Nepal. Guided by the theory of “Critical Language Policy Studies” (Tollefson, 1991, 2006), this study explores the development and enactment of EMI policy at Nepal’s public schools and what they mean for diverse students along the lines of language, ethnicity, gender, and social class. I used “critical ethnography” (Anderson, 1989) and “critical policy analysis” (Diem et al., 2014) as research methods to provide a holistic and thick understanding of the EMI policy in Nepal. The data were gathered through participant observations of EMI lessons, interviews with policymakers, school administrators, teachers, parents, focus group interviews with students, field notes, and written artifacts. The findings demonstrated how EMI has evolved as a de facto medium-of-instruction policy through the state’s hidden agendas of envisioning education as a service industry, eventually creating privatization in public education that favors EMI. Aligning with the macro-level discourses, meso-level policy agents (e.g., parents and students) have been socialized into “neoliberal imaginations” (Abbinnett, 2021) of EMI to enter the new middle-class identity, which has become a founding ideology to support the growth of EMI in Nepali public schools. At the micro-level, through the mechanism of EMI, the school has served as a reproducer of social class and language hierarchy. The results further showed how EMI practices without planning and prerequisites (e.g., qualified teachers) resulted in the poverty of content learning and, therefore, epistemic inequalities. The classroom discourse analysis further revealed how teachers carried an agentic role to scaffold the limited English proficiency of their students by using Nepali (a dominant national language) as a supplementary language, yet perpetuated unequal languaging in the absence of students’ mother tongue. Together, these findings indicate a caution against a rush to policy overhaul to EMI in low- and middle-income multilingual countries.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Teacher conceptualizations of academic writing and genre (2021)

Research has shown that a genre approach to academic writing grounded in systemic functional linguistics (SFL) can give teachers the metalinguistic awareness necessary to deconstruct the language of academic writing. However, teachers require considerable training to gain full control of an SFL-based genre approach, and the influence of this approach is still in its infancy in British Columbia. How then are BC teachers approaching academic writing instruction for ELLs and to what degree has the genre approach made in roads? Informed by SFL-based genre approach to academic writing, this multiple case study addresses this question by investigating 3 BC high school ELL teachers’ approaches to writing instruction to determine 1) how the participants conceptualized academic writing and genre and 2) how their conceptualizations impacted their practice as writing teachers. Data was collected through interviews, classroom observations and document analysis. Thematic analysis was used to develop descriptions of individual cases and to compare and contrast cases. The findings showed that although the genre approach had impacted the practices of all three teachers, only with considerable training did teachers develop a rich conceptualization of genre that could impact all aspects of writing instruction. Furthermore, data also showed that the base level of training required to teach certain ELL courses did not prepare them with an explicit understanding of the linguistic characteristics that distinguish the genres students are being asked to compose.

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Written corrective feedback and writing performance: a study of the effects of learner preferences on accuracy development of Iranian English language learners (2021)

Written corrective feedback (WCF) is defined as language teachers’ responses to the appropriateness or accuracy of students’ writing in second language production (Li & Vuona, 2019). Although written corrective feedback (WCF) has been investigated through different lenses, the relation between learner preference to the explicitness of WCF and their performance in writing is scarce in the literature. This quasi-experimental study aims to bridge this gap by studying the impact of learner feedback preference on writing accuracy in text revision in the EFL context in Iran. Sample for this study included intermediate-level students (N=15) from an English language institute. Learner feedback preferences to either direct or indirect feedback were collected through a questionnaire. The same group of students were then asked to complete two writing tasks and received a different type of feedback each time. For the first task, the students received their unfavored feedback type (the type that they did not like) and revised their writings in the classroom. For the second task, the written feedback was adjusted according to their preferred types. The revision was done in the classroom after each feedback cycle. The error ratios of writings and revisions in both sessions were calculated and compared. The results of the paired samples t-test between the error ratio reductions show that there is a significant difference between two sessions of feedback. The large effect size (Hedges’ g=0.87) indicates that the provision of feedback according to learner preferences may have a positive impact on writing performance of language learners. The study has important implications for writing instruction in the EFL context.

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