- Advances and Current Trends in Language Teacher Identity Research ed. by Yin Ling Cheung, Selim Ben Said, and Kwanghyun Park
Edited by Yin Ling Cheung, Selim Ben Said, and Kwanghyun Park
London/New York: Routledge, 2015. 262 pp.
Teacher identity, an analytic tool to understanding teachers' development (Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009) and a key to improving and sustaining teaching quality (Day et al., 2006), has become a popular topic in the academia over the past two decades. The volume Advances and Current Trends in Language Teacher Identity Research, edited by Yin Ling Cheung, Selim Ben Said and Kwanghyun Park, is an excellent addition to the body of research which focuses on language teacher identity (LTI). This remarkable collection enables a fuller understanding of "what it means to be language teachers in the twenty-first century and how teachers' construction of their 'selves' is situated within the social, cultural and political contexts they are in" (p. xi).
The book comprises four parts. In the introduction, the editors make it clear that this book is not just intended for experts in teacher education and research, but more targeted at those non-specialists who want to learn about theories and current advances in the area (p. xiv). Therefore, purely philosophical and theoretical discussions are not what this book aims for. Instead, it collects both theoretical and empirical research papers, with the former placed in Part I and the latter in Part II, III, and IV. Such theoretical-first-and-empirical-second arrangement makes the book easier to follow, especially for less seasoned readers.
In Part I Theoretical orientations, Hallman contends that the Bakhtinian notions of dialogical rhetoric, genre, and heteroglossia are [End Page 117] useful tools for illuminating LTI construction as a dialogic response to others. Pennington promotes a frames perspective and categorizes practice-centered frames and contextual frames that represent different facets of teacher identity in TESOL. Reis draws on the Vygotskian sociocultural theory and discusses the impact of emotions on Non-native English Speaking Teachers' (NNESTs) professional identity construction, calling for socially mediated and supported professional development opportunities for them. Trent's chapter proposes a multidimensional, multifaceted framework which foregrounds the role of practice, language, and discourse in examining teacher identity.
The case studies, discussions, and theoretical reflections in Parts II, III, and IV share two common characteristics. One is that teacher identity is viewed as socially constructed, contextually situated (pp. xi), multifaceted (Gee, 2001), dynamically evolving (Beijaard et al., 2004), and influenced by multiple factors. Second, with such a conceptual resonance, the majority of the studies adopt a methodological approach of narrative inquiry, exhibiting how teacher stories and reflections can be powerful instruments in exploring LTI construction, maintenance, and negotiation in diversified contexts.
Part II Negotiations and reflexivity subsumes five studies, among which three adopt an ethnographic approach: Costley applies the concept of figured worlds to examine how an assistant teacher in a London primary school actively navigated and constructed her identity; Herath and Valencia delineate how their multiple identities were negotiated and developed along their doctoral journeys through their autoethnographies; Taking multiple theoretical perspectives like agency and critical race theory, Zhang and Zhang explore how two Chinese NNESTs' use of English intertwines with identity construction in the New English context of Singapore. Drawing on narrative interviews and self-discrepancy theory between actual and ideal self, Bilgen and Richards discuss the impact of mid-career redundancy on identity shifts and reconstruction of two university teachers in Northern Cyprus. Nagatomo's study focuses on the relationship between gender and professional identity and explores how female EFL teachers manage their competing identities (teachers, researchers, wives, mothers, etc.) in various racialized and gendered discourses in Japan.
Part III Tracing identity through narratives centers on novice teachers. Chapters 10, 12 and 14 concern LTI construction of student teachers in MA programs. Basing on the notion of reflexivity, De Costa [End Page 118] investigates the professional identity development of a South Korean NNEST beginning teacher in the US; Riordan and Farr conduct a Labovian narrative analysis of different discourses between student and tutor, highlighting the importance of experienced "other" in scaffolding identity...