Discovery of future-selves as TESOL professionals: Exploring the Identity Formation of Nonnative Preservice Teachers

| January 3, 2014
Discovery of future-selves as TESOL professionals: Exploring the Identity Formation of Nonnative Preservice Teachers

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Younju Kong

The present study explored the process through which nonnative TESOL students construct their professional identities and discover their future professional-selves. In particular, this study found nonnative tutors (NNSTs) to have a significant influence upon the social circumstances of nonnative students (NNSSs). This was a qualitative research employing a case study as a basic framework, and involving semi-structured interviews with 3 NNSTs and 4 NNSSs on an MSc TESOL programme at the University of Edinburgh. In the findings of the study, three overarching themes emerged: (1)Confidence, (2)Identity, and (3)Fairness. Drawing on a sociocultural approach as a theoretical lens, the findings showed that the presence of NNSTs exerted a positive influence on students’ self-perceptions as NNSs and on their professional identity formation. More notably, this study found that negotiating identity is a situated, dynamic, and contextualised social process and the NS construct is a significant parameter in the NNSSs’ professional identity formation in terms of being “a lived reality” (Brutt-Griffler and Samimy, 1999:429) in NNSSs’ sociocultural contexts. Based on the discussion of findings and the main outcomes, this study makes the following recommendations for teacher education programmes (TEPs): 1) As an important coconstructor of NNSSs’ professional identities, TEPs should be sensitive to various local contexts and address how these contexts contribute to frame students’ beliefs and identity constructions. 2) TEPs should enable NNSSs to challenge the validity of the NS construct and empower them as ELT professionals by offering alternative discourses such as a sense of ownership of English and the notion of expertise. 3) TEPs should provide NNSSs opportunities to foster a critical awareness of their own contexts in order to allow them to make more informed decisions about establishing their legitimacy as ELT educators by recognising inequitable constraints imposed by contexts and deconstruct them. Finally, based on the findings of the study, I argue that research on NNS preservice teachers’ identity formation should consider the various contexts in which they were, are and will be situated for in-depth accounts of the situated nature of identities.

Category: Thesis