Critical friendship circles: The cultural challenge of cool feedback

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English Language Instruction Dept (ELI)

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Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Professional Development in Education

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A critical friend is a friend who offers critique on practice. Critical Friendship Circles (CFCs) are groups of critical friends who meet for feedback using a protocol. A study with 95 participants at an American university in Egypt has revealed challenges specific to the culture of most 'Teaching English as a Foreign Language' student-teachers. A longitudinal grounded theory study used reflective essays, surveys, focus groups and transcripts of CFC meetings as data that revealed four theoretical categories. Cultural intolerance to open negativity, fear and/or rejection of giving or receiving cool feedback, uncertainty about and neglect of the use of protocols and appropriate language, but also usefulness in terms of personal and professional growth were revealed. Professionals teaching English to speakers of other languages who are not familiar with western orientations to critique and feedback often reject CFCs from ignorance and fear. A description of the findings and the steps necessary for student-teachers from a variety of cultural backgrounds to meet the challenges is included. © 2011 International Professional Development Association (IPDA).

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