An Investigation of the Impact of Bilingualism on the Identity of a Sample of Bilingual English Teachers

| December 6, 2014

Title: An Investigation of the Impact of Bilingualism on the Identity of a Sample of Bilingual English Teachers


Akiko Asada


Bilingualism and its impact on the identity of such speakers has been widely discussed in the academic field, yet there is little attention paid to the relationship between bilinguals’ self-perception and their identity as bilingual/non-native English teachers.  In our multilingual world, ever greater numbers of bilingual teachers of English can be seen in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) profession.  This dissertation describes a study of qualitative research based on a case study approach and narrative inquiry of interviewing six bilingual English teachers who were not born in English speaking countries and who are currently studying to obtain their Master’s degrees in TESOL in the U.K.  The most unexpected finding that emerged was, despite being fluent in two languages, none of the participants, except one, perceived themselves as being bilingual.  Their understanding of being bilingual was different from the way the term is categorised in the literature, based on how well they speak the language, how often it is used and at what age they learnt it.  Being equally competent in two languages was most of the participants’ definition of being bilingual.  Moreover, most of the participants did not believe that their core identity was changed through being bilingual.  The analysis however revealed that all participants were aware of their behavioural changes such as being more open-minded to people from different cultures and more tolerant of differences through intercultural communication.  Furthermore, as bilingual/non-native English teachers, the participants felt they were more empathetic towards the needs and problems of their students, having gone through a similar experience themselves and able to share this experience with their students.  Finally, the implications of this study for the development of bilingual language teachers in the TESOL field are taken into consideration.

Category: Thesis