This article reports the results of a discourse-theoretic study that considered the perspectives of one group of preservice mainstream teachers in Australia concerning their preparedness to teach English language learners (ELLs). Framed by a theory of teacher identity and using in-depth interviews, the paper explores the perceptions and experiences of six preservice teachers, revealing the presence of two dominant discourses of ELLs: a discourse of equity and inclusiveness and a discourse of difference. The results suggested that these discourses interacted in ways unanticipated by policy makers and that an unintended consequence of this discursive interplay was that participants experienced conflict between the professional identity positions that were made available to them within these discourses. The ways in which this conflict might be overcome to support the identity construction goals of teachers of ELLs are discussed and suggestions for future research considered. Copyright © 2015 Australian Research Council.