Becoming a teacher: The identity construction experiences of beginning English language teachers in Hong Kong

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Abstract

Debate over educational reform in many countries has addressed the question of how to attract and retain teachers. As part of a multiple case study that includes eight beginning English language teachers in Hong Kong, this paper offers an in-depth analysis of the experiences of two participants, Christine and Samuel, during their initial year of full time teaching in Hong Kong schools. The data, collected during an entire academic year, suggests that Christine used her experiences of becoming a teacher to justify and reaffirm her determination to pursue a career within English language teaching. In contrast, Samuel’s preliminary year of full-time teaching culminated in his decision to leave the teaching profession. A contribution of this study is to explore these very different experiences and outcomes using a framework of teacher identity construction. From this perspective, findings suggest that the participants’ engagement in the practices and activities of teaching, their relations with colleagues, and their positioning within different discourses of teaching and learning by their schools as well as by the wider educational environment, shaped their decisions about whether to continue to pursue a teaching career. Implications for attracting and retaining teachers, as well as for future research, are discussed.Copyright © 2012 The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-383
JournalAustralian Educational Researcher
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

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English language
Hong Kong
Teaching
teacher
experience
career
educational reform
school
profession
discourse
learning
education

Citation

Trent, J. (2012). Becoming a teacher: The identity construction experiences of beginning English language teachers in Hong Kong. Australian Educational Researcher, 39(3), 363-383.

Keywords

  • Beginning teachers
  • Teacher identity
  • Discourse analysis