Identity Construction in a Foreign Land: Native-Speaking English Teachers and the Contestation of Teacher Identities in Hong Kong Schools

  • John Trent
  • Xuesong Gao
  • Mingyue Gu
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 6)


This chapter reports on a qualitative study that explored the discursive positioning of native-speaking English teachers (NETs) within schools in Hong Kong. It draws on insights from discourse theory to examine NETs self-positioning, as well as their positioning by other stakeholders, as part of a dynamic process of identity formation. The participants were eight teachers who were employed in both primary and secondary schools under the Hong Kong Governments Native English Teacher Scheme. In-depth interviews with each of the participants were used to understand how the teachers discursively positioned themselves, as well as how they believed they were positioned by others, within their schools. The findings suggest that the NETs self-positioning as ‘professional language teachers’ was challenged by other stakeholders who questioned the value of their teaching experience and practices within the context of English language classrooms in Hong Kong. The chapter explores how NETs attempted to negotiate the antagonism between different positionings. Implications for attracting and retaining NETs, as well as for future research, are also discussed.


Teaching Practice Language Learning Subject Position Identity Work English Teacher 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Trent
    • 1
  • Xuesong Gao
    • 1
  • Mingyue Gu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of English Language EducationThe Hong Kong Institute of EducationTaipoHong Kong SAR
  2. 2.Department of Curriculum and InstructionThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatin NTHong Kong SAR

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