This paper studies the identity dilemmas of a teacher negotiating the tensions underpinning the transformations in the language profile of a Hong Kong primary school. Using a rigorous triangulation of written journals and in-depth interviews, the study reconstructs a case narrative personified as “Lily”, an English language teacher at “Lexis Elementary”, a school that previously struggled with low student enrolments. As a solution, the school now enrols students from Mainland China, where the spoken language is Mandarin rather than Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong. Resulting tensions arose because of transformations in the school’s language profile. Lily constructs the language terrain she negotiates in her interactions with cross-border Mainland Chinese and local Hong Kong parents and students, and her responses to interactions among students. This paper provides original conceptual tools to explain complex “born-again” sentiments that trigger people to act in reverse against the stipulated conditions of the powerful. The concept of “born-again reversals” connects to global literature on resistance against “language learning for economic benefits”. Insights from this study reconcile theoretical debates on using economic power as soft power, providing teachers with the conceptual tools to understand the identity dilemmas they experience with language planning initiatives worldwide. Copyright © 2023 National Institute of Education, Singapore.
CitationLee, D. H. L. (2023). Identity dilemmas of an English language teacher: Negotiating tensions underpinning transformations in the language profile of a primary school in Hong Kong. Asia Pacific Journal of Education. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/02188791.2023.2235914
- Born-again sentiments
- Hong kong SAR
- Cantonese/English/Mandarin language
- Soft power